This subject came up today at lunch, so I did a little research. It seems that the calling cards purchased through the Army Air Force Exchange Service (AAFES) are the way to go.
I don’t know that EVERY calling card will work from Iraq, but most probably will. The international rates are very high, though, for “regular” cards.
The cards purchased through AAFES, however, are a much better deal and will be sure to work for anyone with access to a phone. It’s a special deal through AT&T. They’ve set up a site for non-approved buyers (us civilians) to order cards through AAFES.
It appears that the rates are quite a bit better than just going out and buying a card in the store. A regular card used in Iraq is “10 units = .05″ while an AAFES card is “3 units = .07″. And the rate per minute with these cards is about half of the normal rate. If I’m doing the math right, it seems that a regular 550 Unit card is worth about six minutes of talk time while a 550 Unit AAFES card is worth about an hour. I’m sure your mileage may vary, though.
Here’s an FAQ about the deal: https://thor.aafes.com/scs/info/faq_550.aspx
Here’s an article about it: http://www.afrc.af.mil/news/NewsXtra/callingcard.htm
You can “recharge” them from home if they start to run low by using an 800 number and a PIN.
Here’s the link to order them: https://thor.aafes.com/scs/default.aspx
Pass it on. And to anyone else who’s got loved ones in Southwest Asia.
Guys out in the field, of course, might not have a lot of chances to use any calling card.
If anyone has any experience with these cards or better suggestions be sure to let us know in the comments section.