6 Ways to Get Cheap Internet in 2023

Get cheap internet service by evaluating your usage, negotiating your bill or switching to a less expensive service.
Stephen Layton
By Stephen Layton 
Edited by Courtney Neidel

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Saving money feels good, especially on costly (but often necessary) expenses like internet.

If you’re happy with your provider, but not your bill, try negotiating or bundling your services. Looking to make a change? If you’re lucky enough to have options, switching providers can help you score a great deal.

6 ways to get cheap internet

1. Buy your own modem and router

Plan to stay with an internet provider for a few years? It might be more cost-effective to buy your internet hardware rather than renting it.

Many providers charge $10 to $15 per month to rent their equipment. If you stay with that company for two years, the total rental costs would be $240 to $360. You can buy a top-rated modem and router for less than $200.

Keep in mind that some providers won't offer support or troubleshooting for your personal hardware.

2. Reduce your internet speed

Internet providers are taking high-speed to the next level, with plans that promise download speeds of 100 Mbps or more. That’s great if you need that level of service. Most families don’t.

Dropping to a lower, perhaps more appropriate speed could reduce your monthly bill by around $27 or more, depending on your carrier. Consult the chart below to help determine what speed you need, then consider contacting your provider to lower your plan. The recommended speeds assume multiple devices doing the activities listed, so you can adjust down if you only have one device gaming or streaming HD video at a time, for example.

Light use

Moderate use

High use

1 user on 1 device

3-8 Mbps.

3-8 Mbps.

12-25 Mbps.

2 users or devices at a time

3-8 Mbps.

12-25 Mbps.

12-25 Mbps to more than 25 Mbps.

3 users or devices at a time

12-25 Mbps.

12-25 Mbps.

More than 25 Mbps.

4 users or devices at a time

12-25 Mbps.

More than 25 Mbps.

More than 25 Mbps.

Federal Communications Commission. Household Broadband Guide.

Mbps (megabits per second) is a measure of internet data upload and download speed.

Light use: Basic functions such as email, web browsing, basic video, VoIP and internet radio.

Moderate use: Basic functions, plus one high-demand application, such as streaming HD video, multiparty video conferencing, online gaming and telecommuting.

High use: Basic functions, plus more than one high-demand application running at the same time.

3. Negotiate your internet provider bill

You don’t need to be a fast-talking salesperson to lower your bills. Your negotiating position is simple: I know of a better deal elsewhere, and I’m prepared to leave your company to get it.

Be polite, but firm. Don’t bluff. The better you can back up your position, the more leverage you’ll have. Research the promotional prices that your provider and its competitors are offering to new customers — and be prepared to actually cancel your service and change providers.

4. Bundle your services

If you already have cable, you can save with some providers by bundling your cable and internet service. But beware of the up-sell. Carriers may try to talk you into extra speed or channels for $5 or $10 more per month. Even small monthly increases add up over time, and defeat your goal — to save money.

5. Check on government subsidies

The government offers subsidies for broadband internet if you fall below a certain income threshold or are enrolled in certain government programs. The nonprofit EveryoneOn can help you find out if you qualify.

Additional government programs have been proposed, particularly during and shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as following recent hurricane disasters. With the status of such relief often in flux, it's best to contact your local provider to see what assistance is currently available in your area.

6. Get bare-bones internet service

If you need to save money while maintaining an internet connection, you might want to downgrade to a limited-data mobile hot spot plan. For instance, you can get 5 gigabytes of data per month on a Verizon prepaid plan for $40.

These plans might be suitable for activities such as checking your email or social media a handful of times per month, but perhaps not for streaming video or gaming.

If you can trim $10 to $20 or more off your monthly internet bill, the savings could provide a great start on your emergency fund or a little more leeway in your budget.