MONEY-SAVING MOMENT: The fastest-growing cell phone company in the United States is not AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon. It's StraightTalk.com, a joint venture between Wal-Mart and Carlos Slim, the world's wealthiest man.
Straight Talk is probably going gangbusters because its business model is so simple. There are only 2 basic monthly plans -- either $30 or $45 -- with no contracts, no gotchas and no gimmicks. The $30 plan gets you 1,000 minutes and 1,000 text messages, while the $45 plan has unlimited talk, text and web. (But I don't want to glorify the web surfing capability because it's not all that good!)
Right now, Straight Talk is running a secret promotion. If you are customer and can lay out the dough, you can get 12 months of service for $499. That drops the monthly cost down to around $42 instead of $45. (I guess this is a good way for them to lock you into a contract without actually doing contracts.) To get this deal, you must call 1-877-430-2355.
Meanwhile, I have told people over the last year that if you're into limited volume calling, the best deal in America was from CommonCentsMobile.com. The offer from Common Cents was 7 cents a minute for calls and 7 cents for texts. It was the cheapest rate in the country for low-volume users.
But Common Cents failed in the marketplace and will be folded into Virgin Mobile in May. Existing Common Cents customers will be grandfathered in at 7 cents a minute indefinitely, as far as I can tell. Just be sure you don't let your plan lapse, your minutes expire or the money in your account drop to zero...or you're out of luck.