The internet is a mainstay of modern life that has transformed the way we work, play and experience the world. But just like “traditional” media such as cable television, internet access can come at a high monthly cost. (You can’t get all the cat memes you want for nothing, you know.)
Still, you may be paying more than necessary for internet access and there are many ways to slash the cost. Here are nine ways to hack your way to a lower monthly internet bill.
1. Bundle Services
Many internet service providers (ISPs) will bundle services such as phone and TV, which can lower the cost of each individual service. Bundling services may not cut costs if you have no need for cable TV or a landline, but if you do, find out what bundles your ISP offers.
2. Apply for a Subsidy
There are several government and ISP subsidy programs that serve to close the “digital divide” — the disproportional burden placed on low-income families that need internet. You may qualify for many subsidized internet programs if you meet certain eligibility requirements, which may include your state of residence and income.
For example, the federal Lifeline program (which is still in effect despite recent rollbacks) provides qualifying households a $9.25 monthly credit for internet. There are other programs available as well, and a site like non-profit EveryoneOn can help connect you with low-cost internet offers.
3. Negotiate Your Plan
In many regions, ISPs have stiff competition. They may be willing to negotiate to keep you as a customer. You can call your ISP to tell them your bill is too high and you’re considering switching. It may help to have competing offers available for extra leverage, and a long history of timely payments can also bolster your bargaining power.
4. Improve Your Credit
One way to get better offers — boost your credit score. ISPs are known to pull credit and to offer less favorable terms to prospective customers with poor scores. You can see where your credit stands by viewing your free credit report summary on Credit.com and you can go here to learn what you can do generally to improve your standing. (You can get started by paying down high credit card balances, disputing errors on your credit report and limiting new credit inquires.)
5. Purchase Your Own Router
Many ISPs will install their routers in your home and charge you a monthly rental fee for the length of your contract. But router rental fees can quickly eclipse the cost of buying your own router, which you can then use for years.
Note: You may have to install your router yourself and you’ll want to make sure you get one that works with your ISP.
6. Downgrade Your Internet Speed
The faster your internet, the more you’ll pay. But you may be paying for internet speeds that exceed your requirements. If you only use the internet to check email and pay bills, you won’t need the same speed as someone who’s constantly streaming videos or uploading content. You can call your ISP and ask for the budget plan or describe your normal internet usage and see if they can recommend a downgrade.
7. Check Competing Offers
Pay close attention to any competing offers from other ISPs. Unless you’re unusually loyal to your companies, you should feel no obligation to stay with a more expensive provider. Feel free to switch to a competitor if the price is right.
8. Take Advantage of New Customer Promotions
ISPs often save their best promotions and deals for new customers — which, again, is why it can pay to shop around.
9. Use a Mobile Hotspot
If you’re desperate to save and don’t have excessive internet requirements at home, a mobile hotspot could do the trick. A mobile hotspot is a physical device (such as a smartphone or USB stick) that shares Wi-Fi with other devices, including computers, tablets and other phones. These devices usually come with low monthly data caps, so if you’re constantly downloading or streaming content, a hotspot probably isn’t the best option.
But if you have don’t have heavy online requirements, a hotspot could do the trick. You’ll have to buy the device, but monthly costs are comparatively cheap and can save you big money in the long run.
Looking to save on other monthly payments? We’ve got 11 ways to lower your water bill right here.