10 ways to save on your internet bill
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
The first step to saving on your internet service is finding out 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.
- Get discounts for paperless billing and auto-pay
- Buy your own router
- Watch your data usage
- Bundle with other services
- Find out whether you qualify for the Affordable Connectivity Program
- Lower your plan speed
- Avoid contracts
- Cancel before your price goes up
- Negotiate with your ISP
- Switch internet providers
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.
2. Buy your own router
Certain internet companies will provide a router at no extra cost, while others charge about $10–15 per month to rent you one. You can avoid this router rental fee by buying your own, and it’ll probably pay for itself after a year. Plus, if you switch providers, you can take your router with you to use with a different company or sell it to get some of your money back.
You will need to pick a router that’s compatible with your plan speed. Once you purchase your own router, you should 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 reach 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 will need a lot more than that.
4. Bundle with other services
If your ISP also offers TV 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.
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. 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, 50Mbps might be plenty. If you have a big family, however, you might need 200Mbps 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 work Zoom calls, streaming high definition video, 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.
7. Avoid contracts
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.
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.
9. Negotiate with your provider
After shopping around, call your ISP and let them know you’re considering switching to another provider 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.
10. Switching to a different internet provider is a great way to save
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, you can 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 online, you can often get installation and activation fees waived. Internet plans with no contract are 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.
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.
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.