How to Save Money on Internet: Free and Low Cost Broadband
You can qualify for a $50 free internet benefit from the federal government if you meet the following qualifications:
- Any member of your household is enrolled in SNAP, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, or Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit or a specific Tribal program (like Tribal Head Start), or received a Pell Grant in the current year, or received free and reduced school lunch program benefits
- Experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020 with a total household income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers
To apply visit this EmergencyBroadband.org.
If you don’t qualify for free internet, you can still save money on your current broadband expenses.
8 Tips to Lower Your Internet Bill
If you’re reading this, there is a very good chance you are in that majority and there also is a good chance you are paying more than you need to for internet service. HighSpeedInternet.com says the average internet bill should range from $50-$60 per month, but many services try to get $90-$100 a month from customers.
If you’re one of the consumers getting gouged, read on to find out how to lower your cost.
1. Cut the Cord & Unbundle
There is plenty of free entertainment on the internet. Ask yourself if you really need to be paying extra for the cable package. The average cost for cable television alone is over $100 a month in most households, depending on where you live and the number of channels you want.
If you do want premium content, look to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus and other streaming services. The prices on these services range from just $7 to $13 a month.
If you need live TV, consider an antenna, and you’ll get NBC, ABC, CBS, FOX, PBS and more for free. SlingTV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV and Hulu Live are far cheaper options for cable channels.
The corona virus pandemic has led to a massive increase in cord cutting in the 1st quarter of 2020. Wall Street analyst firm MoffettNathanson estimated a loss of 1.8 million pay-TV subscribers according to variety.com.
Cutting the cord has saved them money. It can save you money, too.
2. Threaten to Cancel
You can bargain with internet companies on prices, but you’ll need some leverage before you start negotiations. Test your internet speed with www.speedtest.net, and compare the results with what was advertised.
Gather this information and use it to build your case:
- Current amount you pay per month
- Amount you paid when you signed up
- How long you have been a customer
- Any issues you have had with the service
- Alternative internet plans in your area
- Special offers or sign-up bonuses being offered by your provider
At the end of the day, you are the customer, and you have the leverage to bargain. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) will cut deals if you threaten to take your business elsewhere.
3. Bundle Your Services
If you can’t drag yourself away from cable, at least make sure you bundle that service with your internet. Having cable and internet packages from separate providers can mean you’re losing out on anywhere from $10-$30 a month.
Bundling cable and internet can save you hundreds of dollars over the course of a year. Spectrum, Xfinity by Comcast, and Cox all have tv and internet bundle packages under $90.
A disadvantage is cable companies often hook customers with cheap promotional rates that bundle internet and TV packages. When the promotion ends, the companies hike rates, and before you know it, you’re paying way more than what you signed up for. Be careful and read the fine print so you are not on the hook for a contract you cannot afford.
4. Reduce Your Speed
Sometimes less is more, or at least it’s cheaper. Reducing the speed of the internet could save you up to $25 a month.
Internet speed quality depends on the number of users in your home and what you’re using it for. Grandparents aren’t going to have the same need for internet speed as their grandchildren. Smaller households can have email web browsing, music, and HD streaming by using as little as 18 Mgps of download speed. Email, web browsing, gaming, and HD video streaming for three devices can be achieved with as little as 30 Mgps of download speed.
If you have a larger family that is into Netflix streaming or Twitch gaming, reducing speed will drop the quality of the internet. Now that kids are on the internet more than ever, it is vital to have quality internet to ensure a less chaotic household as we continue to stay safe indoors.
5. Buy Your Own Equipment
If you have ever changed providers, you know that you need to return the router and the modem. A little-known fact is that they charge you to rent that equipment. It may only be $5-$10 per month buried in your bill, but you can find a good router and modem for under $50 each. You’ll break even in less than a year, the rest is all savings. Just make sure the equipment you buy is compatible with the ISP you sign up for.
6. Switch to a Mobile Hotspot
If you’re only using the internet to check emails, pay bills and read up on the news, then you might be able to get away with just a hotspot. That is a wireless device that creates a personal WIFI network through cellular data. Mobile hotpots are traditionally used by individuals who are constantly on the go.
You can purchase a stand-alone hotspot device or use your smartphone to transmit the signal. AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint all have various plans that can be prepaid or added onto your cellphone plan. FreedomPop and Cricket Wireless are cheaper alternatives priced for around $10 per GB of data.
7. Low-Income Subsidies
Internet access has become a basic need, and in 2016 the U.S. government ruled as much, classifying high-speed internet as a public utility.
Lifeline is one of those programs and offers at least $9.25/month toward either your phone or internet bill. Households qualify with income at 135% or less than the poverty guidelines that depend on family size. In 2020, a family of four would qualify if their income was $35,370.
8. Start Cutting Costs Now
Saving money each month – even if it’s only $20 to $40 – is a starting point toward financial safety. Another step would be to get in touch with a credit counselor from a nonprofit credit counseling agency. They have a free service that helps you build on budget based on what is a necessity and worth the money versus what could be labelled as a luxury.
The reward of staying out of debt leads to better housing, access to education, and down the road, maybe some of the luxuries you cut out. If you still feel like you are drowning in debt or can’t make ends meet consider speaking with a credit counselor from InCharge Debt Solutions who can help you create a budget and eliminate debt.
About The Author
Joey Johnston has more than 30 years of experience as a journalist with the Tampa Tribune and St. Petersburg Times. He has won a dozen national writing awards and his work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Sports Illustrated and People Magazine. He started writing for InCharge Debt Solutions in 2016.
- Anderson, M, Perrin, A, Jiang, J, Kumar, M (2019, April 22) 10% of Americans Don't Use the Internet. Who Are They? Retrieved from https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/04/22/some-americans-dont-use-the-internet-who-are-they/
- Dilley, J. (2020, January 17) How Much Should I Be Paying for High-Speed Internet. Retrieved from https://www.highspeedinternet.com/resources/how-much-should-i-be-paying-for-high-speed-internet-resource
- Shuman, T. (2020, January 14) Should I Get a TV and Internet Bundle or Just an Internet Plan. Retrieved from https://www.inmyarea.com/internet/guide/bundling-services-really-save-money
- Spangler, T. (2020, May 8) Cord-Cutting Explodes in Q1 as Pay-TV Sector Deliver Worst-Ever Losses. Retrieved from https://variety.com/2020/digital/news/cord-cutting-explodes-q1-pay-tv-worst-losses-1234601796/