Phone cards are a very common item for people to purchase and donate to those serving in the military. After all, they are a simple gift that in many cases is relatively inexpensive, and of course, very small. They are also a great way for civilians stateside to show their appreciation without going overboard and generally speaking, they are a safe gift, as they can be used by virtually anyone. However, before purchasing a phone card for those serving their country, there are a few things to consider.
Do your research. Before purchasing a phone card (or cards), be sure you know who your buying from and what to expect from those services. Or rather, what the person receiving the card should expect. Because there are so many cards to choose from, it can easily become a challenge and be all varieties of confusing if you don’t know what you are getting into. This so-called “clutter” of card choices makes it easy for scummy individuals to hawk their cards and hope someone buys it unsuspecting that it isn’t all it appears to be.
Scams to look out for? Most of these scams revolve around poorly or non-communicated fees. Some companies try to obscure fee information as much as possible, such as hiding it in walls of fine print, something far too many people have a habit of glossing over or skipping. Also look out for potential hidden fees. These might include maintenance fees which can include activation fees and fees simply to keep the card or account active. Some card may also have connection and disconnection fees, which the user will be charged for even if establishing a call is unsuccessful. Again, watch out for the fine print.
Use the internet. When choosing a card, make a list of potential purchases and look up those cards and services online. Users may have posted their reviews and opinions on those cards. Read through their experiences. Don’t forget to look up reviews specifically from those serving in the military for more specifics.
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Know what to look for. Look for cards with long usage period or no expiration date. Since phone cards are such a popular item to send to people in the military, occasionally there may be an overabundance of the cards. However, the problem isn’t that there are too many cards, since they remain incredibly useful; the problem is the expiration date on many cards. If a card gets purchased and sent overseas, then sits in a drawer waiting to be used, time will tick away and by the time someone gets to that card, it may have to be tossed.
Shop and Compare. Since there are so many choices, don’t be put off to do some comparison shopping. You don’t have to go with the popular company, one which is going to come with higher costs. The great thing about choice is the competition, which helps keep prices reasonable. You can get the most out of your money and ensure a service member has the resources they need to call home, their family and their friends, as they absolutely deserve to do.
This article was written by Andrei Milosevic, an international student, traveler, and writer. Over the past few years, he has been studying international business and providing advice and insight into international calling. In his free time he kayaks and Skypes with his best friend back home in Serbia.