Even if you’re happy with your current internet service, you might be paying too much for it. We’ve rounded up some ways to find cheap internet service and lower your monthly bill.
In this article
- Buy your modem and router
- Reduce your speed
- Negotiate your bill
- Bundle your services
- Check on government subsidy
- Get cheap, bare-bones service
1. Buy your modem and router instead of renting
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 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, more appropriate speed could reduce your monthly bill by $35 or more, depending on your carrier. Consult the chart below to help determine what speed you need, then contact 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.
What internet speed do you need?
|Number of devices (computers, tablets, smartphones, etc.)||Online activities||Recommended download speed|
|1-3||Basic: Email, web browsing, music and SD video streaming||10.5 Mbps|
|1-3||Standard: Email, web browsing, music and HD video streaming||18 Mbps|
|1-3||Enhanced: Email, web browsing, music and HD video streaming, video conferencing||30 Mbps|
|1-3||Gaming: Email, web browsing, music and HD video streaming, online gaming||30 Mbps|
|4-7||Basic: Email, web browsing, music and SD video streaming||24.5 Mbps|
|4-7||Standard: Email, web browsing, music and HD video streaming||42 Mbps|
|4-7||Enhanced: Email, web browsing, music and HD video streaming, video conferencing||70 Mbps|
|4-7||Gaming: Email, web browsing, music and HD video streaming, online gaming||70 Mbps|
3. Negotiate your bill
You don’t need to be a fast-talking salesperson to play the negotiation game. Your 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 more than $1,000 over two years 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. That small monthly increase adds up over time, and defeats your goal — to save money.
You could be saving up to $50 per month on your bills. See how much you could save.
NerdWallet can help you lower your bills and find you more ways to save money.
5. Check on government subsidy
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.
There’s more information on the Federal Communications Commission website. If your income is at or below 135% of federal poverty guidelines or you participate in government programs such as Social Security Income, Medicaid or others, you could qualify for a broadband subsidy.
For a family of four, 135% of the 2017 federal poverty level income is $33,210 per year.
6. Get cheap, 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. You can find cheap prepaid data-only plans here. For instance, you can get 1 gigabyte of data per month on a Verizon prepaid plan for $20.
These plans would be suitable for activities such as checking your email or social media a handful of times per month, but not for streaming video or gaming.