selling leave in the military
General Military Questions

Selling Leave In The Military: 6 Things To Know

 Selling leave in the military is an important benefit of service.

It allows service members to get compensated for any unused time off.

Often, selling leave is a way to earn some additional money prior to discharge.

As a result, find out 6 things you need to know about selling leave in the military.

Related ArticleMilitary Terminal Leave: 6 Things You Need To Know

Selling Leave in the Military

selling leave days army

There are various types of leave in the military.

In general, service members are allowed to sell back unused time off prior to discharge.

However, the decision to use or sell leave is an important consideration.

There are many advantages, as well as a few disadvantages (more information, below) to selling leave in the military.

For example, some military personnel elect to use the time off for relaxation or for securing housing and employment.

Meanwhile, others find it more beneficial selling leave in the military.

Doing so puts extra money back into the pockets of service members but also features a few stipulations.

In general, using or selling military leave is a matter of personal preference and may revolve around your current needs or circumstances.

Therefore, if you are considering selling leave in the military, there are several things you should know beforehand.

Types of Military Leave

There are several types of leave in the military:

  • Regular Military Leave
  • Emergency Leave
  • Convalescent Leave
  • Terminal Leave

Terminal leave, also known as transitional or accumulated leave, is available just prior to discharge.

The paid time off represents all the unused leave you’ve accumulated and haven’t used during active service.

It grants military personnel critical time off for making arrangements for after leaving service.

However, service members also have the option of selling military leave instead of using it.

For this reason, here are 6 things you should know if you are thinking about selling leave in the military:

#1. How much leave do you receive?

Terminal leave allows service members to receive regular pay and military benefits without having to report to the duty station.

In general, military personnel earn 30 days per year, which they can use on any type of military leave.

The amount service members accumulate over their time in the military continues to collect until the expired – terms of service (ETS) date.

Nevertheless, military personnel are only allowed to carry over a maximum of 60 days from one fiscal year to the next.

It’s worth mentioning, however, that some of these guidelines have changed, especially in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During that time period, many service members were not authorized to take time off.

Accordingly, the Department of Defense (DoD) has expanded the amount of unused leave certain military personnel may possess, increasing it to 120 days.

Terminal leave is available to service members in all branches of the military along with National Guard and Reserve components.

Military personnel may request leave at any time, but they may also want to use discretion and save toward the conclusion of service.


In many circumstances, military personnel should consider selling leave in the military to capitalize financially.

#2. What should you do with military leave?

Let’s say you have less than a month remaining on your service contract before you reach ETS.

You may be conflicted over using your terminal leave as an opportunity to secure employment and housing. You could, instead, sell it back for extra money.

If you know that you have the maximum allocated time remaining — 60 days — you know you essentially have 2 options:

  1. Use the terminal leave as PTO.
  2. Sell back the military leave.

What should you do?

In many situations, it depends on personal circumstances.

For example, if you’re stressing over finding affordable housing or landing the next job, time off may be necessary.

In other situations, it makes far more sense selling military leave because the extra income is substantial.

Be that as it may, service members should be mindful when making a final decision that there are a few guidelines.

For starters, individuals cannot carry more than 60 days total, meaning that’s the maximum payout.

Additionally, you can only sell back a total of 60 days over the course of your career. 

There are two circumstances for selling leave in the military: 1) during reenlistment or extension, and 2) when separating from the military.

If you’ve already sold back leave previously when you reenlisted, selling leave when you separate may be restricted.

Related ArticleReenlistment Codes For Each Military Branch

#3. How much do you earn selling military leave?

Did you know that you can earn money back by selling military leave?

It’s true, but only one option when determining what is best to do with terminal leave.

Often, service members have a couple of different opportunities to sell back leave.

First, when they reenlist.

Secondly, when a service member separates or retires from the military permanently.

Regardless of the situation, personnel are allowed to sell back a maximum of 60 days.

In general, military leave is sold back at the base pay rate.

Unfortunately, the benefit does not include any special pay or allowances when calculating a final payment.

Furthermore, selling leave in the military is only authorized for those separating from service with an honorable discharge.

Service members earn 1/30th of their basic pay for each day they sell back.

In other words, an E-5 Sergeant in the military typically receives $2,614 per month in basic pay.

Let’s say that same Sergeant decides to sell back his military leave — How much does he receive?

First, it depends on the number of days of military leave remaining (maximum 60 days).

Then, input the following calculation: [Days of Remaining Military Leave] x 1/30 Basic Pay = Amount of Payout

For example, the Sergeant would receive selling leave in the military:

  • 30 Days = $2,614
  • 60 Days = $5,228

Please keep in mind that selling back military leave is taxable at a rate of 25% for federal taxes.

This means that they’ll hold back a quarter of that payout. You’ll get credit for it when you file your income tax return, but it won’t be money in your pocket. 

Therefore, check with the pay office to determine a tax withholding rate and how that might impact the entitlement.

#4. What are the advantages of selling military leave?

The decision to use or sell terminal leave is entirely up to you.

As previously mentioned, the payouts for selling military leave are substantial.

Nevertheless, there are some pros to using leave instead of selling it back to the military.

Often, the final decision is made based on financial circumstances.

Of course, everyone would like to use paid time off but there may be more of an argument for selling back to earn additional money.

Those that do not have immediate plans for work, or have already found civilian employment may have no purpose for using terminal leave.

It’s especially true in situations where housing is also secured.

So, the additional income from selling military leave can go toward many things.

In many situations, selling leave allows service members to pay off debt or have more money for relocation.

Ultimately, the choice is yours, so make sure to spend some time and effort thinking about what’s best, given your personal circumstances.

#5. What are the disadvantages of selling military leave?

It’s not always wise to sell back leave.

There are many different strategies for managing military benefits, including terminal leave.

Accordingly, despite the lucrative opportunity of cashing in, some feel it’s best to use terminal leave rather than lose it.

Of course, there is nothing that can replace time off, especially when preserving special moments with family and friends.

Therefore, using the time off to unwind and relax may be exactly what a service member needs before returning to the civilian world for good.

Moreover, you may be assigned to a unit that is deploying soon or have kids in school.

In these scenarios, it might make more sense for military personnel to use the time off.

After all, the military reserves this time to assist with the transition of finding housing and employment.

Therefore, using terminal leave is more likely to grant service members with a smooth transition back into civilian life.

Furthermore, it’s important to note that once an individual sells back leave, they also lose certain other benefits.

Consequently, special duty pay and other incentives may cease to exist.

You’ll no longer receive Basic Allowance for Subsistence (BAS) and Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) assistance, as well.

More importantly, health care and insurance may be threatened, so make sure to ponder all options.

In the end, the biggest argument for using military leave is that service members deserve it.

#6. What if you want to use and sell military leave?

The good news is that in certain military units, there is an option to use some of the leave while selling back other days.

Often, service members take as much terminal leave as the unit allows while selling back any remaining allocation.

Therefore, if the service member has 60 days of terminal leave they may want to consider taking a month off while earning extra pay for the additional 30 days.

It’s always wise to take into account how selling military leave influences taxes since the government does take a large chunk of each payout.

The choice is ultimately yours, or at least in theory.

Please keep in mind that certain situations or military units may force individuals to take terminal leave, or remain on duty until the expiration term of service (ETS).

In the latter scenario, the service member will be at least allowed to still sell back their leave.

Related ArticleHow To Get A Copy Of Your DD 214: 5 Fastest Ways


There are various strategies for using leave, if, at all.

Often, in many situations, it’s more beneficial to sell back leave if the unit allows it.

Service members can receive a significant payout for selling military leave.

As a result, it’s very important to consider all the options – along with the pros and cons of selling or using military leave.

Often, the best advice is if you already have a civilian job and housing is selling back the leave.

Otherwise, it may be best to take the terminal leave and enjoy some much-needed time off from service.

Rob V.
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Selling military leave is a benefit that is afforded to certain members near the conclusion of service. Find out how to sell back leave.

Originally posted on 01/26/23

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