Shopping for Cheap Internet Service
Whether you’re moving into a new home or balling on a budget, there are many ways to shop for cheap internet plans. Pricing and availability vary depending on where you live, but don’t let that deter you. There are government assistance and cheap provider plans for every stage and circumstance in life from student discounts to low-income households.
Be aware of hidden costs like overage fees or price hikes, though, as those can throw your carefully curated budget for a loop if unchecked. To get you started, we break down the best internet deals and additional ways to save below.
Most Affordable Providers
Up to 50 Mbps for $19.99/mo.*
Up to 100 Mbps for $35.00/mo.
Fiber speeds up to 940 Mbps for $65.00/mo.*
Plans start under $50/mo. w/ Auto Pay†
Pricing, speeds, offers, and availability vary by service address and are subject to change at any time. Additional fees, taxes, and terms may apply. As of 12/15/21.As of 8/23/21.
*CenturyLink Offer Details.
†Frontier Offer Details
Internet Deals Under $50/mo.
100 Mbps – 1000 Mbps
20 Mbps – 940 Mbps
30 Mbps – 1000 Mbps
50 Mbps – 1200 Mbps
500Mbps – 940 Mbps
Special Discounts and Cheap Deals
Much like holiday savings, there are special seasons in our lives that warrant a little extra help. For seniors, low-income households, students, veterans, and active military, there are plenty of opportunities to save more money. While qualifications for government-assisted programs and special rates vary by provider and location, all it takes is a simple credit, age, or address verification for eligibility. See below ways you can save today.
Cheap Internet for Seniors
It’s time to cash in on your new status. There are many internet discounts for senior citizens if you know where to look. Many providers such as Spectrum and AT&T offer cheap internet deals for eligible customers when it counts the most. Spectrum Internet Assist plan for seniors aged 65+ includes speeds up to 30 Mbps for $14.99/mo. and unlimited data. And, AT&T Access brings speeds up to 10 Mbps to rural and urban communities for $10.00/mo. and in-home WiFi included.
Cheap Internet for Low-Income Households
In an effort to bring affordable internet service to low-income households, the FCC created the Lifeline Assistance program in partnership with internet service providers nationwide. Lifeline is a government program that grants qualifying recipients $9.25/mo. to go towards their monthly internet or phone bill. Providers then pledge to create solid internet and phone deals for as little as $10.00/mo. So, while this doesn’t get you free internet, it significantly reduces the monthly cost for service.
Cheap Internet for Students
If you’re a student, you may be enjoying the perks of BOGO deals at movie theaters and cheap gym memberships. Student discounts are one of the few things that make kids feel rich in school, and luckily, they also extend to internet services. Some internet providers offer cheap internet for students knowing it’s essential to learning today. The best deal is Cox Communications’s Connect2Compete plan that offers internet with speeds up to 25 Mbps for just $9.95/mo. to low-income households with students.
Cheap Internet for Veterans & Active Military
Active-duty military and veterans risk their lives each day to protect our country. To show their support, internet providers, wireless carriers, and nonprofits offer discounted or free internet service to these heroes and their families. From financial aid to significantly reduced internet rates, it never hurts to ask what special savings are available. Providers and tech companies including AT&T, T-obile, Samsung, and Verizon all provide cheap internet for veteran and active military families. View our Guide for Veteran & Active Military Discounts to explore even more ways to save.
Additional Ways to Save
Don’t stop searching for ways to save once you’ve selected an internet plan. There are many ways to trim costs on your service if you’re living on a budget. Depending on which provider you go with, you could use any of these tips below to reduce your monthly payment.
1. Use Your Own Internet Equipment
While providers typically lease their own equipment for a $10 – $25 monthly fee, you don’t always have to accept. Some providers allow customers to use their own router and/or modem, which adds up quickly over the span of a year. A decent router costs roughly $70 today.
Potential Savings: $10 – $20 a month
2. Negotiate a Service Contract
Even if your provider doesn’t require a contract, you can always request one for a chance at lower rates. While the worst they can say is no, offering to sign a service agreement may give you room to negotiate a better price on your monthly bill.
Potential Savings: $5 – $20 a month
3. Shop for No Contract Plans
Whether you move a lot, have a tight budget, or don’t like being stuck in a plan you may not like, you may want to shop for internet plans with no contract options. This gives you the freedom to cancel service without having to worry about large termination fees or dings on your credit score.
Potential Savings: $100 – $200
4. Bundle Services
Bundling services is an easy way to save more money if you already need multiple services. When you bundle internet with TV, phone, and/or home security, your consolidated bill may be significantly lower than if you were to purchase each service separately.
Potential Savings: $10 – $40 a month
5. Watch Your Data Usage
Some providers impose data caps and overage fees up to $50 on customers’ monthly bills if limits are exceeded. They do this to regulate their network and prevent congestion during peak hours. To help curb frustration, providers often provide data trackers for customers to monitor their monthly usage. Checking this regularly can help you avoid unnecessary overage fees and save money in the long run.
Potential Savings: $50 – $100 a month
6. Lifeline Assistance
Providers often extend Lifeline Assistance programs in partnership with the FCC. It provides discounted services to qualifying households in their coverage area. Eligible candidates can receive high-speed internet with speeds up to 30 Mbps for as little as $10/mo. depending on where they are located and what providers are available.
Potential Savings: $10 – $50 a month
7. Service Installations Waiver
Most providers require a professional installation for their services. This costs anywhere from $60 – $120 depending on what provider you go with. What some people don’t know is that it’s possible for your new provider to waive your installation fee if you simply make a request. It never hurts to ask.
Potential Savings: $60 – $120
8. Contract buyouts
If you switch providers before your service agreement is up, you may incur an early termination fee (ETF) on your last bill with your old provider. Luckily, many providers now offer contract buyouts where they will reimburse customers for an early termination fee (ETF). For reference, if you switch to Spectrum from your current provider, you can get a credit of up to $500.
Potential Savings: Up to $500
9. Referral Program
Take advantage of referral programs when your provider offers them. It’s very common for internet providers to incentivize customers to recruit friends and family to sign up. Generally, providers reward both parties with a one-time credit up to $100 to be used on a future bill.
Potential Savings: Up to $100
10. Money-Back Guarantee
In good faith, internet providers typically offer 30-day money-back guarantees to customers in case they are unsatisfied with their service in the beginning. This guarantees customers full refunds on services if canceled within the first 30 days of subscribing, which may include the first month of service, installation, and equipment rental fees.
Potential Savings: $100 – $200
In addition to promotional periods ending, providers also have to keep up with operating expenses and scaling network infrastructures, which results in annual price increases customers must bear. Be sure to talk this out with your provider upon signing up for new internet service, so you aren’t blindsided with a price increase.
Similar to bundling, signing a contract comes with special pricing because providers see you as a committed customer. On the other hand, month-to-month service is great for families on a budget or those who move often. Without a contract, you can cancel your service without worrying about a termination fee.
DSL and cable internet are typically cheaper connections as they run on pre-existing infrastructures and don’t provide as much bandwidth or home coverage as fiber internet. The exception to the rule is satellite. Satellite internet prices vary greatly due to the extra equipment and installation support needed.
- Save $10-$15 a month by using your own equipment rather than paying an equipment rental fee.
- Save $5-$30 a month by negotiating a lower price with your provider in exchange for signing a term agreement.
- Save $10-$20 a month by bundling your internet, TV, and/or phone services under one provider.