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6 Ways to Lower Your Internet Bill

Get the best value from your internet service by evaluating your usage. Then look into negotiating your bill or switching to a cheaper service.
March 2, 2017
Bills, Personal Finance
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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.

Here are six things you can do to lower your internet bill.

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.

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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 activitiesRecommended download speed
1-3Basic: Email, web browsing, music and SD video streaming10.5 Mbps
1-3Standard: Email, web browsing, music and HD video streaming18 Mbps
1-3Enhanced: Email, web browsing, music and HD video streaming, video conferencing30 Mbps
1-3Gaming: Email, web browsing, music and HD video streaming, online gaming30 Mbps
4-7Basic: Email, web browsing, music and SD video streaming24.5 Mbps
4-7Standard: Email, web browsing, music and HD video streaming42 Mbps
4-7Enhanced: Email, web browsing, music and HD video streaming, video conferencing70 Mbps
4-7Gaming: Email, web browsing, music and HD video streaming, online gaming70 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.

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.

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.

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