One of the most frequently asked questions I see in my various deployment support groups is, “How the heck do I use/purchase/set up/reload/send instructions for this calling card thing?” Today, we’re breaking down the basics of how to purchase your Ship to Shore deployment calling card.
*Keep it mind this information is only relevant for Sailors & Marines since they frequently deploy together and I have first hand experience to backup all information presented.
Step 1: Find the Correct Calling Card to Purchase
You can purchase your card at a NEX (Navy Exchange Card) or online here. I’ve seen rumors that people say you can only purchase the correct card on base at a NEX and that’s just not true. Think about all the families and loved ones who want to talk to their deployed member. You reaaaaaallllly think AT&T is going to lose out on that additional revenue by not accepting online sales? #didntthinkso
They also sell a limited number of cards on each ship daily as a last resort but I’ve heard they sell out frequently so I’d recommend stopping by the NEX before the deployment begins or heading over to AT&T’s site.
If you purchase at the store
I found mine up by the register with all the other gift cards and calling cards. If you have any trouble, ask an Exchange employee, they can help you locate the correct card. I’d also recommend picking one up a little bit before the deployment so they don’t run out the day before and then you’re stuck without a card.
If you purchase online
Make sure you’ve selected the Navy or Marines drop down from the website. They’ll both take you to specific landing pages but the information & products are the same. If you spend some time poking around, you’ll see that Army, Coast Guard, and Air-Force have different cards available that meet their deployment needs so make sure that you’ve selected either Navy or Marines.
You can see the dedicated landing pages below and that both offer the same calling card options.
Step Two: Select Your Calling Card
If your significant other is on a MEU deployment or working frequently on a ship, make sure you select the bottom option – FOR USE ON LAND AND SELECT NAVY SHIPS. This calling card will allow them to call from the pay phones on the ship. They can also use it at port from other pay phones or their cell phones if they’d like but the #1 feature of this card is again, that they can use it to call you from the ship.
Step Three: Purchase Your Calling Card
After you’ve selected the Ship to Shore card, you’ll add it to your cart. You’ll then complete the check out process.
Step Four: Getting Your Access Number and Pin
If you purchased your card in store, you’ll flip it over to find the access number and after scratching off the metallic security protector, you’ll find the PIN (personal identification number).
Once you complete your purchase online, you’ll receive a number with your access number & pin.
Make sure to take a photo of the back of your card or save the confirmation email if you’d like to reload your card online.
Step Five: Make Sure Your Man Knows How To Use The Card
This is the second most important step after actually purchasing the correct card. Pass along the information to your Sailor or Marine and make sure they know what to do to make a call using the ship phone. Instead of picking up the phone and typing in their number to call you, they’ll type in the Access Number. They’ll then enter their PIN to access their virtual wallet of minutes.
*I also like to note at this time that you should not share your access number and pin number with anyone who would you wouldn’t trust to use your minutes. Post in a FB group as an example to help another spouse, ehhhhh I’d play it safe… Grandma asking so she can reload minutes? Share away.
Now your Sailor or Marine will follow the instructions on the back of the card to type in your number (US and International phone numbers have different country codes) and then hopefully you’ll receive that glorious call from an UNKNOWN number!
If you have any issues with your cards, feel free to leave me a comment below and I’ll help you out!
Looking for a little deployment inspiration and motivation? Check out My Favorite Quotes for Deployment here.
Need ideas for your Open When… letters? I’m sharing fifty ideas here!