For many of us, it can be hard to imagine going even a day without the Internet. And with so many of us working from home now, it’s about more than just streaming your favorite Netflix series. But getting online isn’t cheap. According to a report from OpenVault, the average American pays $64 per month for their Internet access.
If you’re thinking there must be a better way, you’re right. Here’s your guide on how to save on home Internet:
Before you can shop around for prices, you first need to see what’s available in your area.
There are technically hundreds of different Internet Service Providers (ISPs), but there will likely only be a handful offering services in your area.
You can check out what’s available by entering your ZIP code into Broadband Now or In My Area. Note that these sites do collect money when you search through their recommendations, but general consensus is that these sites have the best, most accurate data.
Alternatively, you can turn to broadbandmap.fcc.gov for a government-maintained website, but this data may be out of date. Once you enter your address, you’ll see a list of available fixed residential broadband providers near you.
Finding out what ISPs are available near you is just the first step. Now you need to choose the right service for you.
Depending on where you live, you’ll likely have several different options, which can include: fiber, cable, DSL, or other.
Fiber is the preferred option today. It offers the best upload and download speed potential with superior reliability. However, availability of fiber is relatively low still; unless you live in or near a big city, it will likely be unavailable to you.
Cable Internet, then, is your next best bet for Wi-Fi. It may have slower upload speeds than fiber and be a little less reliable, but it has much more widespread reliability.
Finally, DSL or fixed wireless Internet is the next most popular option you’ll likely consider. While it simply can’t compete performance-wise with fiber or cable Internet, it is a quality option if you live in a rural area with limited choices.
When it comes to having a stable Internet connection, it isn’t all fun and games. Today, 42% of Americans are working from home, which makes having reliable Wi-Fi more important than ever.
But alongside more reliable Wi-Fi, you also need more affordable Wi-Fi to help you get the job done. Here’s what you can do to start taking advantage of cheap Wi-Fi:
Did you know you can buy your own modem and router? Most ISPs will “let you” rent their modem and router for a small monthly fee. But while this monthly fee may seem small up front, it can really add up as the months turn into years.
If you plan on staying connected for the next few years, you can end up saving a significant sum by investing in your own modem and router now and ditching those regular monthly fees. Then, even if you move or swap providers in the future, you can always bring your modem and router with you to your new setup.
Another way to hack cheap home Internet? Stop paying for Internet that you don’t need.
ISPs are always trying to upsell you on bigger, faster, and better Internet packages. But the reality is that most of us simply don’t need the fastest Internet out there—and accepting a small downgrade can make a big difference in slashing the price of your Internet bill.
If you’re looking for ways to save money on Internet, talk to your ISP about the plan that’s one step down and see if it will still be adequate for your needs.
Internet, cell phone, home phone, maybe even cable. The list of monthly expenses can quickly add up. If you’re not ready to let go of any of these entirely, consider bundling your services as a way to get cheaper Wi-Fi prices.
Many service providers will bundle Internet with cable and/or phone—and this can spell big discounts for you. For example, AT&T bundles Internet and cell phone services together at a 25% discount, alongside other deals from Verizon, Xfinity Mobile, and more.
If you’re not interested in changing your Internet speed or looking for a new bundle, you can cut right to the chase by reaching out to your Internet Service Provider to negotiate.
Most people may be too hesitant to make the call, but the truth is that most ISPs are willing to budge on your Internet bill if you get them on the phone and ask for it. Keep in mind the two golden rules of haggling: 1) You have to be prepared to actually walk away; 2) Always be polite.
If you’re not up for the challenge of negotiating just yet, you can still reach out to your ISP to see if you can get cheaper home Internet.
Many times, ISPs will run special discounts or promotions, just like any other business. You can take advantage of these to reduce your bill—if only for a few months.
Pro tip: If you’re setting up a new plan, many ISPs will offer a discount just for ordering online, as they’ll usually drop the activation or installation fee.
Finally, if you’re enrolled in any federal or state assistance programs, you may qualify for subsidized, low-cost Internet.
This is not a comprehensive list, but certain programs that may include aid for Internet may include:
Working, studying, and playing from home means Internet is a must-have today, but that doesn’t mean it has to be crazy expensive. If you play it right, you can hack cheap home Internet.
About Dan VanPatten: Dan is a full-time technology writer with interests in gaming, gadgetry, and all things PC tech related. He writes about a variety of topics including technology news, product reviews, and software. His experience stems from years of experience writing & producing content for technology newsletters & publications.