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.

Image of Clark Howard About the author: Clark Howard

Clark Howard is a consumer expert whose goal is to help you keep more of the money you make. His national radio show and website show you ways to save more, spend less and avoid getting ripped off. View More Articles

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