Save on your monthly internet bill with these 8 tips

This story is part of Home tipsCNET’s collection of practical tips for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

And the slowing or growing economy? We are deal with a recession or not? There is growing anxiety about the rising cost of goods and the resulting impact on our shrinking budgets. Where can we make cuts? What can we live without? And could ours home internet connection fall into that category?

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According to recent data from Parks Associates, US households spend an average of $116 a month on home Internet, which is a considerable part of the change. If you use it for remote work, stream your favorite shows, the online game or video chat with family, it’s hard to live without the Internet. We have it. But to keep your budget in check, there may be a few ways you can cut your broadband costs. Here are some tips:

1. Know your account

Before you can find ways to save, you first need to know how much you’re currently paying. Read your bills from several previous months and try to figure out what your Internet Service Provider is actually charging. What download speed you should receive? You have a data limit? If so, do you stay within that data limit or are you typically charged for overage? It’s important to see how much you pay for your internet speed and data usage. While some fees can’t be removed, you’d be surprised how many can be removed if you ask. So having this information handy will be crucial when it comes time to negotiate with your provider.

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2. Do a speed check

You want the fastest speed available, right? Some people have access to a 25Gbps plan, for charity! Let’s be honest: while most of us like the idea of ​​having the the maximum speed of the Internet available, probably not need it. Having an adequately fast internet package is probably high on your priority list if you work from home and have others in the house (be it several roommates or a family). But that could still mean that you might be able to lean into a 500Mbps plan instead of going straight to a full gigabit tier or even multi-gigabit plan.

But if it’s just you and a roommate or spouse, or you don’t work remotely and use your Internet service for little more than email and checking a few sites, you might want to consider reducing your speed further of the internet. Maybe you can upgrade from a 500Mbps plan to a 200Mbps tier. This could be an easy way to reduce your bill without affecting the quality of your internet experience.

3. Minimize devices if you can

This is difficult because our homes have become increasingly filled with connected devices, including smart televisions, phones, game consolesvoice assistants, smart thermostats, security cameras, smart watches and so on. The more smart home gadgets you have, the more they will consume your bandwidth. If you’re the only one in your household, you might be able to fix them, so they don’t eat up your data limit (if you have one) or start reducing the overall speed in your home. Fewer devices means you could avoid paying data overage fees and get better internet service.

On the other hand, this probably won’t work if you have other people in the house, like family members or roommates, and they all have multiple devices. It’s one thing to ask your family or roommates to turn off (or minimize usage of) their devices so you can stream a big game, but it’s another to ask them to give it up altogether. .

4. Look into low cost internet options

Another potential way to reduce your home internet spending is to dig into what discount programs might be available to you. You should start your search with government programs to help eligible customers cut costs. This starts with Lifeline, a program that offers assistance to low-income families. You’ll get just over $9 a month off your broadband bill if you qualify.

If you qualify for Lifeline, you will also be eligible for the Convenient connectivity programa government subsidy from the Federal Communications Commission that offers $30 a month off your Internet service (and up to $75 a month for families in tribal lands).

Finally, while you can use the money and discounts from those federal programs on any internet plan in the more than 1,600 participating ISPs, you can also pair those subsidies with low-cost plans from providers, almost all of which are $30 or less. This means that you could get your home internet service for free. In the past, that might have meant paltry speeds of 10Mbps or less, but in 2022, many the providers have pledged to offer low-cost plans with a minimum download speed of 100Mbps. This is a significant difference.

5. Check available competitors

Now that you know your Internet speed, what you use the Internet for, and how much you’re paying to get your home broadband, it’s time to shop around. Many competitors are vying for your business. For instance, TMobile and Verizon they are aggressively entering the home internet space with their 5G home internet products. Other providers will happily give you an introductory fee that is lower than what you currently pay. Sometimes smaller local ISPs can provide a better rate than internet giants like AT&T extension And Comcast Xfinitybut that’s not always the case. Use our comparison shopping tool below to do your research suppliers in your area.

Before you sign up, get an idea of ​​your monthly costs when you switch your Internet service to a new provider. Compare what you are paying now with what you will pay next month, six months and year. Along with that, what is the cost at the end of the promotional plan? Also consider your long-term use. With the competitive landscape out there, try to avoid signing long-term contracts unless you know for sure that you are getting the best possible rate at your address.

6. Consider using your modem and router

Some Internet service providers charge an additional monthly fee for modem and router rentals. Sometimes it’s just an extra $5 a month, but some ISPs charge up to $15 a month. In the long run, it may prove cheaper to buy your own, which may even increase speed and performance. My CNET colleague, Ry Crist, goes into more detail about how you can save money by using your own modem and router.

7. Combine broadband with other services

Of course, your Internet connection isn’t the only home service you pay for. You could pay less bundling the Internet with other services, such as cell phone and cable TV plans. Check if your provider offers discounted bundle packages. If you like the offer, it’s usually easy to sign up via the company’s website.

This is a good idea if you use what you buy. If you’ve cut the cord and are now a streaming family, buying a cable TV package might not be the best move.

8. Try negotiating with your Internet provider

You reviewed your bill and checked your internet speed. You’ve counted how many devices you own and compared competing offerings. Now you can negotiate with your current ISP and call them with confidence.

This isn’t always the easiest or most time-efficient step, but it’s an important one. If you’ve had the same provider for a few years, they’re more likely to work with you to lower your bill. Many will ask the same questions: Can you slow down your internet speed? Can you increase your internet speed (they will often try to lure you into a faster speed by offering better promotions and a better cost per Mbps)? You are now equipped to better answer these questions.

Do your research on the competition. If you mention offers from competitors you’ve encountered, your customer service representative may be able to offer you a deal to keep you a happy customer. Knowing about competing offerings gives you an edge: Your provider knows you can switch to another ISP if you don’t like what you currently have or what’s on offer.

Ask your current provider if there are any promotions available for new customers that you would like to receive too. If you haven’t found a deal that fits your budget (or have come across an inflexible sales rep), you can hang up the call and try again later, or plan to terminate service with that provider.

Don’t be afraid to cancel the service. It may take some time to close one account and open another, but if you’re saving a significant amount, it’s worth it. But remember, it’s not just the promotion period. If not, you may need to trade the bill this time next year when the promotional rate has ended.

Save Money Internet Bill FAQ

Is it possible to get home internet service for free?

Yes. To do that, you’ll need to take advantage of certain federal programs. To start with Lifeline, a government program that allows eligible customers to save just over $9 on their monthly Internet service cost. If you qualify for Lifeline, you are eligible for the FCC Convenient connectivity program, which gives you $30 off your home broadband connection. Many Internet service providers around the country have plans for download speeds of up to 100 Mbps for $30 or less, so you can use your federal rebates to get free home Internet.

What is the cheapest type of internet connection?

This is a tricky question because a lot depends on what’s available in your location. In general, fiber internet often offers the best value in terms of cost per Mbps, where you’ll get the most download and upload speeds for your money. However, as far as the cheapest internet goes, at least in terms of what you’ll pay upfront, which usually comes from cable internet providers. Their first year promotional prices can be hard to beat. Just be sure to avoid signing long-term contracts so you can opt out once the price goes up.

Do internet prices always go up after a year?

Often they do. Many providers will offer an attractive price for the first 12 months of service and then raise the price after a year. However, we see the practice declining as more competition has developed. Some vendors – like AT&T extension, Spectrum And VerizonFiosfor example — do not do promotional prices, while others — included Optimal And Verizon 5G home internet — offer price guarantees of two to three years. Not to be outdone, some other vendors (including T Mobile Home Internet) will offer a price freeze guarantee for the entire duration of the contract.