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10 ways to save on your internet bill

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Headshot of Brittany McGhee
Researched by
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Reviewed by
Updated 5/17/23

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The cost of living keeps going up, and your internet bill is full of opportunities to save money. Here are our top tips for lowering your monthly costs, including buying your own router, negotiating with your provider, and getting discounts.

Take a close look at your current internet bill

Before looking for ways to save on your internet service, it's important to know how much you’re paying each month and what fees are included. Our guide to understanding your internet bill can help you figure out what each charge is for, and the rest of our tips will help you lower them.

1. Get discounts for paperless billing and auto-pay

Some internet service providers (ISPs) will give you a discount of around $5 per month to sign up for paperless billing and automatic payments. Often, providers will advertise their plans with these discounts already included, so if you don't sign up for paperless billing and auto-pay, your bill could be higher than you thought. As a bonus, you're less likely to forget to pay your bill if it's on auto-pay.

Aside from paperless billing or auto-pay, there are other possible discounts for these groups of people:

Don't be afraid to do some research on possible discounts you can qualify for and ask your provider to apply them!

2. Buy your own modem and router

Certain internet companies will provide a modem and router at no extra cost, while others charge around $7–20 per month to rent them to you. You can avoid modem and router rental fees by buying your own, and they'll probably pay for themselves after a year. If you switch providers, it's easy to take your router with you to use with a different company. A modem is harder to use across different companies, but you can sell it to get some of your money back.

You will need to pick a modem that's compatible with your provider, and both your modem and router need to be compatible with your plan speed. Once you purchase your own gear, make sure it’s up and running before you return your provider’s router.

Learn how to choose a modem and router.

3. Watch your data usage

If your internet plan has a cap on how much high-speed data you can use per month, it's a good idea to set reminders to check your data usage throughout each month to avoid being charged for additional data. It may be more cost-effective to switch to a plan with unlimited data if you regularly exceed your data limit.

The average person uses 536 GB of data each month, (1) which doesn't sound like much. But if you live with other people, work from home, or stream a lot of videos or TV shows, your household might need a lot more than that.

Data overage charges are usually around $10 for every 50 GB block of data. But if you go over your limit by even one GB, you'll have to pay for the entire 50 GB. Meanwhile, adding unlimited to your data might cost $20–$50 depending on the company. Find out what your provider charges for both, and weigh your options.

4. Bundle with other services

If your ISP also offers TV, home security, or phone service, bundling may be a cheaper option than paying for each service individually. You might also get faster speeds or more TV channels if you choose a bundle deal. Your provider may require you to sign a contract if you bundle services, so be sure to read the fine print.

We commonly see bundling discounts of $5–$20, depending on what they include. But before you sign up, look at the deal closely. Just because a provider advertises a bundle doesn't mean it includes a discount. Compare prices between the company's standalone services and bundles. Then, compare prices with competitors too. Sometimes it's cheaper to get services from multiple companies instead.

5. Find out whether you qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program

If you’re enrolled in certain federal assistance programs, you may be able to qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program, which is a permanent replacement for the Emergency Broadband Benefit that gives discounts of up to $30 per month on internet service. You could also qualify based on income depending on how many people are in your household and how much you make. We have a guide to getting free or low-cost internet, which can help you find more ways to stay connected on a tight budget.


6. Lower your plan speed

Switching to a plan with less speed can potentially save you hundreds each year. But you should consider a slower plan only once you know how much speed your family needs. If you live alone, 50 Mbps might be plenty. If you have a big family, however, you might need 200 Mbps or more. But it depends on what you use your internet for.

Activities that are usually fine with slower speeds (4 Mbps or less) include email, streaming music, streaming standard definition video, and browsing social media. Activities that do better with faster speeds (5–25 Mbps) include video calls, streaming high definition videos, downloading large files, or multiplayer online gaming.

It's worth noting that while some providers are selling speeds faster than 1 Gbps, almost no one needs them.

Before downgrading your plan, check your contract if you have one. Many providers charge early termination fees if you opt for a cheaper plan.

7. Consider contracts carefully

If an internet provider gives you the option to skip the contract, it probably comes at a higher price tag. That makes it tempting to sign a contract. But before you do, read the fine print. Usually, providers have steep early termination fees if you can't keep your commitment. Often, fees amount to $10–$15 for every month still left on your contract.

Consider how likely you are to want to switch providers before your contract is up and how much it'll cost you. Then, compare that to the monthly savings the contract gives you. You might save more money if you skip the contract altogether.

8. Cancel before your price goes up

Internet providers tend to impose steep price increases after the first year of service, and sometimes again in the second year. If you intend to switch providers before your price goes up, we recommend setting yourself a reminder to cancel your service before the price hike. Or just pay close attention to your bill each month so you catch the price the first month it's applied.

Some providers hike up your price by just $10–$15 per month. Others, like Astound, might nearly double your rate.

9. Negotiate with your provider

Negotiating with an internet provider can feel scary and annoying, but it can also help you avoid price hikes. Many providers have annual price increases, so learning how to negotiate with them now can save longtime customers a ton of money.

Different tactics work better with different providers, but in general, you can start by quickly shopping around for plans available in your area. Our internet provider finder can help with that.

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Find internet providers in my area.
See all options in your area within seconds.

After shopping around, call your internet service provider and let the representative know you’re considering switching to another company because you’ve found a better price elsewhere. Ask if there’s anything they can do to keep the cost of your plan within your budget without downgrading your speed. They may be able to work with you to find a solution for lowering your bill, like restoring your initial promo price or giving you a discount to match what a competitor is offering.

If they don’t budge the first time you call, try again later. Or ask to speak to someone from the retention department because those representatives usually have more power to negotiate.

10. Switch providers

Since prices increase after the first year of service with many providers, you can anticipate the best time to switch and plan accordingly.

When you’re shopping around for providers, have a look at our top picks for the best cheap internet providers and consider the best deals on internet service. ISPs usually give new customers low introductory pricing. Some internet providers will buy you out of your old contract or give signup bonuses, like a gift card or access to a streaming service.

If you buy a plan online, you can often get installation and activation fees waived. Internet plans with no contract are becoming more common, and you can sometimes find plans with price-lock guarantees of a year or more.

For more savings tips, check out our guide to saving money on your TV bill.

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The people behind our research
We believe the best information comes from first-hand customer experience and methodical research by subject-matter experts. We never source information from "content farms," and we don’t generate content using artificial intelligence (AI). You can trust that our recommendations are fact-checked meticulously and sourced appropriately by authentic, industry-recognized people.
Contributing researchers
Headshot of Kathryn Casna
Researched by
Kathryn CasnaSenior Staff Writer

Kathryn is a consumer advocate writer who helps people quickly and easily find the best products and services for their needs. Over the last decade, she's helped people navigate everything from Internet companies to Medicare plans to business software. When she's not geeking out about saving her readers time and money, you'll find her climbing the rocks of Utah—or asleep in her favorite hammock.

Headshot of Brittany McGhee
Researched by
Brittany McGheeContributing Writer

Brittany is a Contributing Writer for Switchful with over five years of experience writing about technology in the US and Europe. Her primary focus is on mobile and internet topics. She is passionate about helping people choose the right tech for their needs at the right price.

Contributing reviewers
Headshot of Bri Field
Reviewed by
Bri FieldAssigning Editor

Bri Field has a background in academia, research writing, and brand marketing. She has edited scientific publications, conference papers, digital content, and technical communications. As Assigning Editor, she enjoys ensuring all content is accurate, clear, and helpful. In her free time, you can find her in the kitchen trying a new recipe, out on a hike, or working through her massive TBR list.

Headshot of Michal Ash
Reviewed by
Michal AshManaging Editor

Michal directs the Switchful content strategy and leads the editorial team. With a bachelor’s degree in Communications, she has more than a decade of experience in the world of marketing communications. Her diverse career has included public relations, brand development, digital strategies, and more; her key skillset has always been centered around strategic efforts for consumer-focused initiatives. In her free time, you can find her camping with friends, chasing waterfalls on her kayak, or searching for the best restaurants in Salt Lake City.

Endnotes and sources

1. "Broadband Insights Report," Open Vault. Accessed 17 May 2023.