Paying for the internet can be a huge drag in the U.S. because diversified options in the market scarcely exist. Internet service providers (ISPs) are notoriously monopolistic, but the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has done little to regulate Internet companies and prevent them from price gouging customers with shady advertising and pricing tactics (especially when the ISP is the only provider in the area, leaving customers with no option but to continue service with them).
If you’re frustrated with your current Internet provider and want to learn how to lower your internet bill, then here are 8 different strategies you could try.
Assess Your Wi-Fi Needs
Firstly, do you need your current level of Internet speed and monthly data allotment? If you’re not downloading massive files on a regular basis, then a high GB or uncapped data plan may be excessive for your data needs and you could get away with a cheaper plan offering fewer GB of data per month.
For speeds (in Megabits per second or Mbps), you may not need more than 25-50 Mbps if you only connect 2-3 devices to your Internet at a time for casual purposes like surfing the web or streaming TV shows and movies. If you have a family or some roommates, then you may need more data and faster Internet – especially if someone needs to download large files or play web-based video games requiring lightning speeds – but even then, you likely don’t need more than 100-150 Mbps and can afford to downgrade your current service to save more money on Internet bills.
Get Your Own Modem & Router
Are you currently paying a $5-10 monthly lease fee for a modem and/or router? ISPs love renting out equipment to unsuspecting consumers because it’s much cheaper to simply buy your own modem (which connects to the Internet) and router (which connects devices to Wi-Fi). For example, you can get a decent, brand new modem for just $40-70 on average, instead of paying $5 per month ($60 per year) to rent a modem from your ISP.
Routers typically cost somewhere between $60-90 on average, which means you’ll recoup the costs of both a modem and router in less than two years of your Internet service contract. Best of all, you can continue using the modem and router indefinitely, which makes this the best option for anyone who wants to know how to lower Internet bills.
Get Promo Offers in Writing
Another way to save money on Internet bills involves new customer discounts. Unfortunately, ISPs aren’t known for being 100% honest and transparent with their customers, which means it’s critically important to get any special pricing or promotional offers in writing before you agree to any contract.
Sometimes representatives from Internet companies verbally offer customers great pricing but conveniently exclude the disclaimer that the promo offer is only good for a few months and/or other hidden fees may be involved.
Call to Ask for a Discount
If you’re already an established customer with an ISP company, you could potentially score a discount simply by asking nicely. For instance, you could cite your long-time loyalty to the company as a reason why they should give you a discount (for customer retention purposes), or you could compare prices with other ISPs in your area to offer warrants as to why you deserve a discount if they want to keep you as a satisfied customer.
Threaten to Cancel Service
Sometimes, asking nicely just isn’t enough. ISP representatives probably get calls asking for discounts on a regular basis, so your next step – if they refuse your initial request – should be explaining how you’re unhappy with your current service (pricing, speeds, slowdown/outage issues, etc.) and suggest you may cancel as a result.
Typically, ISP customer service representatives will direct you to a customer retention department if you threaten to cancel and the retention department will likely offer a promotional offer or discount to incentivize your loyalty.
Sign Up Your Partner
If you’re living with your spouse or partner (or a roommate), consider canceling the Internet service in your name and sign up your partner/spouse as the new Internet account holder to access the new customer discounts.
When timed correctly, you could plausibly cancel and reinstate your Internet service on the same day, just in your spouse/partner’s name instead of yours. This is a good way how to lower Internet bills if you’ve already asked for a discount and threatened to cancel but the ISP still didn’t reduce your monthly bill.
Check Your Internet Speed
If you’re paying for a high Mbps Internet speed, then it’s important to regularly test your speed to see if you’re getting what you’re paying for. It’s best to avoid your ISP’s speed checker (which could produce inflated speeds for obvious reasons) and use an unbiased speed checker like Fast.com (created and supported by Netflix).
If you’re consistently getting much lower speeds than what your Internet plan says it can offer, then contact your ISP to request technical assistance and a credit on your bill to account for less-than-stellar service.
Use Public Wi-Fi Instead
One of the best – and arguably most inconvenient – ways how to lower Internet bill is canceling your service altogether and relying on public Wi-Fi instead. If you live in an apartment complex or condo that has a centralized clubhouse or community center, you may have access to free Wi-Fi without realizing it.
Alternatively, you could use free Wi-Fi at places like Starbucks, McDonalds, malls, public libraries and other public spaces offering Internet access for patrons. You won’t get to stream Netflix or HBO in the comfort of your own home with this option, but if you barely use the Internet at home anyway, then why continue paying for this service at all?
There are plenty of ways how to lower Internet bills, especially if you don’t mind spending a few minutes on the phone to negotiate with a representative from your ISP company. Don’t let rate hikes, slow speeds, and data caps get in the way of your access to the affordable, fast Internet; set aside an hour or two to explore your options and get the best possible discounts on Internet service as soon as possible.