How to Save Money on Your Internet Bill
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Having a reliable Internet connection is an essential part of life. These days, having Internet access is key to sustaining a sense of normalcy and productivity.
There’s no denying that the demand for speedy Internet service is high. But it shouldn’t mean that your Internet costs should also skyrocket on your monthly bill.
Internet providers want to make sure that you get the best Internet speed and the best TV services. But, they’re also in the business of making money. They have no problem charging you for every little thing on your monthly Internet bill.
As a customer, you shouldn’t fear having bad Internet service because you want to pay less. This is why you need to understand what you can do to lower your monthly bill. Signing a contract with an Internet service doesn’t equate to not being able to save money.
There are options available other than negotiating with a customer service rep. Here’s everything you need to know about how to lower your Internet bills.
What Makes the WiFi Bill Go Up?
Your Internet service provider is in charge of providing you with Internet access. Their role is to make sure that you can watch TV and enjoy high-speed Internet anytime you want.
In the United States, the market size for Internet service providers is $122.8 billion. Cable companies are more popular than ever before. And so are their services.
So, what exactly is making Internet providers charge so much for an Internet package? There are a few reasons for this.
One of the most common reasons Internet providers raise their prices is Internet speeds. This particularly applies to people that enjoy streaming movies and online gaming. To you, download speeds are important in an Internet plan.
All the major ISPs want to provide fast download speeds. And right now, the technology that’s able to give you the fastest download speed is fiber.
Google Fiber offers the ability to experience a maximum possible speed of 2,000 Mbps. That means that you could download a two-hour movie within seconds. And even if you connect multiple devices, you won’t see any changes in the quality of service
It’s hard for other services and providers to compete with this. The only way they can do so is by raising their prices so that they can improve the technology. While that’s good for your Wi-Fi, it’s not so great for your wallet.
It’s not uncommon for an Internet provider to put limits on your Internet usage. For a brief period, Internet and cable companies pledged to stop all data cap charges. But, they’re now reinstating their limits on home Internet services.
This is one of the major factors that will prevent you from having low-cost Internet services. When companies enforce data caps, it means they allot you a determinate amount of data per month.
When you go over the data cap (which most customers do), they have the power to throttle your service. This limits your ability to partake in online gaming or watch any HD video streaming.
They can also enforce price hikes. By doing this, your Internet provider forces you to upgrade your plan with higher data.
This can either scare you into complying with their new prices. Or it’ll make you switch providers to one that can give you better pricing for a data-free plan.
Either way, you end up paying more. And the hassle prevents you from finding ways to save money on your Internet bill.
Another easy way for an Internet provider to spike prices is through rental fees. This is only applicable if you don’t own your modem and router. As a solution, your provider can rent you what you need for a fee every month.
It’s convenient at first. But, it’s another way for your service provider to charge you extra fees. Anytime there is an upgrade on equipment, the new one will increase the cost of your monthly bill.
If you decide to buy your own modem and router, make sure they’re compatible. All providers vary in what they need as far as equipment.
Not every modem and router works well with each connection. Anytime equipment isn’t compatible, you’ll have to pay for a rental.
How to Lower Your Internet Bill
To save money, you have to make adjustments to the way you Internet. You can make small changes, like getting your own modem and router. You can even switch to a cheaper service.
The main thing to take away is that you have options. You don’t have to be stuck for more than a decade with the same service and prices. As long as you’re proactive about reducing your bill, there is a sure way to low-cost Internet service.
Explore Other Options
When in doubt, the first task you should check off your list is to explore other options. In the United States, there are 1,398 Internet providers. There’s a good chance that you have at least a few within your area.
All major ISPs offer a variety of packages that include Wi-Fi, a decent download speed, and live TV. Narrow down your options by comparing your Internet price with your current provider. See how much more you can get with another service.
Since you’re considering making the switch to another provider, read the fine print with care. Pay close attention to their early termination fees. You never know if you’ll ever need to make the switch again.
If you don’t want to go through the hassle of switching providers, you don’t have to. You can use the better deal you found as a way to negotiate better pricing with your current Internet provider.
If you’ve been with your provider for a few years, they’re likely to negotiate with you at a fair price. There are plenty of options available. See what else is out there.
Lower Your Internet Speed
A fact that a lot of customers don’t know is that they don’t need top speeds for HD video streaming. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need 1,000 Mbps to stream in HD.
You only need a 25 Mbps download speed for HD video streaming through Netflix. Most Wi-Fi plans that providers try to sell customers have an average speed of 500 Mbps. That’s their middle-of-the-road package.
If you live alone or don’t have much of a need to have the fastest speed available, there’s no need to be paying for it. Conduct a speed test to see where you’re at. And then, consider downgrading your speed to reduce the bill.
You’ll still be able to spend an indefinite amount of time web browsing or watching TV online. But you’ll do so with a monthly discount since you won’t be paying for the fastest Internet anymore.
Lower Data Usage
Similar to lowering your speed to save a few bucks, you can also lower your data usage. Data caps are one of the most common ways for providers to enforce additional fees on your bill.
Data caps work by imposing a limit on your web browsing activity. For example, let’s say that your Internet plan comes with 50GB per month’s worth of data.
If you ever go over 50GB, two things can happen. Either your ISP will charge you an extra fee for every GB of data you go over. Or, they will throttle the service so that you’re not able to experience the same Wi-Fi speed you would when you stay within your data parameters.
Before your Internet provider charges you for the additional data usage, they should give you one or two warnings. That way you’ll have a heads up about when to limit your online activities.
But if you’re someone that only uses the Internet to check e-mails and shop online every once in a while, why pay for a high-data plan if you never go over it? To give you a better idea of what data usage looks like, take a look at the most common activities and what their typical data usage is.
- Check e-mail, Google searches: 10-25MB / Hour
- Streaming music: 150MB / Hour
- Online Gaming: 300MB / Hour
- Browsing Social Media: 150MB / Hour
- Streaming HD Video (720p – 1080p): 3GB / Hour
Buy Your Own Equipment
A great way to save money on your bill is to invest in your own router and modem. Although it’ll be a big expense at first, in the long run, it’ll save you a lot of money on rental fees.
This is especially true if you’re planning on staying connected through a connection other than a home phone. The main positive to owning your equipment is the fact that it’s yours and you can take it with you anywhere.
The negative is that even when you buy your own router and modem, it doesn’t guarantee that they’ll be compatible with whatever service provider you go with next.
As a rule of thumb, always double-check with your provider to make sure that your modem and router will work well with your service. And if you end up renting anyway, it’s a good idea to rent the modem and router as a combo. This will prevent future headaches with connectivity.
Look Into Deals and Promotions
If you’re serious about switching providers, pay close attention to sign-up bonuses. These are typically offered to new customers when they first sign a new contract.
Although the discount doesn’t last forever, it might initially save you a few dollars on installation or the first few bills. It’s also common for providers to give gift cards to use for Internet services or cable TV.
Don’t fret if you’re not a new customer and don’t wish to be one soon. If you’ve been with the same provider for a while, don’t be shy about asking for discounts or hookups. You might not be able to score free service for life, but they might give you a discount on your cable bill.
Call Customer Service
This goes right along with the previous tip. You can buy your own modem and lower the data on your plan to save money, but sometimes a simple call to Customer Service can do the trick.
There are a few reasons why talking to a customer service rep might be beneficial:
- If you originally signed up with a promotional deal, they often reduce the monthly fee to the original promo.
- Match-pricing is common when you’re considering switching providers.
- They will also offer bundled services as a way of combining costs and reducing your overall expense.
Although it’s tedious to call Customer Service, don’t forget that they’re there to assist the customer. Before you make any rash decisions and go through the trouble of switching to another provider, try your hand at customer service first.
Before you call, try to have all the facts down and the prices you want to compare. Be proactive and research everything you want to discuss ahead of time.
It’s also helpful to jot down a detailed list of expenses from your last bill. See what they can help you with. And, most importantly, don’t forget to be polite and patient.
See If You Qualify for an Income-Based Subsidy
The government offers temporary assistance on certain services. And they do this all the time, not just whenever there are national emergencies.
The Internet is a major utility now, just like electricity and running water. And there are two major government programs available that can help you.
The Lifeline Program is a government program that helps you with your cell phone bill. The program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC).
Their responsibility is to collect data and support the disbursement of funds for the low-income program. There are three steps to getting help through the Lifeline Program.
- You need to be able to prove that you need help. The USAC sets certain guidelines that potential customers need to meet before they’re approved for the program. One of their requirements is that you are already enrolled in another government program, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
- Once you qualify for the program, you’ll have 90 days to choose a phone or Internet company and sign up for service. If you already have a cell phone or Internet plan in place, you can call your current service and ask them if they accept funds from the government subsidy.
- After you do all this, you’ll be able to start going online with the help of the program. Keep in mind that you’re only allowed one Lifeline benefit per household, not person.
Emergency Broadband Benefit
The Emergency Broadband Benefit is an FCC program that helps low-income families during an emergency. Because the EBB was created to aid during emergencies, the government created a new $14 billion program to replace the EBB. This will allow for more consistency with the funds.
Similar to Lifeline, the EBB asks for certain qualifiers to be approved. Households need to have an income that falls at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines. And you must be enrolled in other federal programs like the National School Lunch Program or SNAP.
Although the EBB won’t provide you with free Internet, they will assist with monetary help towards your bill. They will provide you with a maximum monthly benefit of $30 for bills and up to $100 towards equipment like laptops, desktop computers, or tablets.
Bundle Your Internet Service
The majority of service providers don’t only provide Wi-Fi, but also cable TV services. If you’ve been paying half a dozen different bills every month for multiple Internet-related services, then bundling is a good option for you.
Bundling is a great way to save money on individual bills for related services. This doesn’t just apply to Wi-Fi and cable TV, but also cell phone services. If your TV provider also offers Internet, ask them about their packages.
Cable companies are the most popular for bundling services. They seem to have an endless array of packages and deals that often benefit the customer with their bills.
Alternatively, if you’re already paying for a bundle and you’re not maximizing all the services, consider cutting out services you don’t need. A lot of times, after customers sign up for a bundle plan, they realize that they use their smart TV more often than cable. This is an instance where it’s more beneficial and cost-efficient to drop certain services.
Use a Mobile HotSpot
Mobile HotSpots are a great way to save on your Internet bill at home because you don’t need full-time Wi-Fi services. This option is great for people that know they’re not going to rely on the Internet too much or that are always on the go.
There are a couple of positives and negatives to this. The great thing about a mobile HotSpot is that you can take it anywhere. It doesn’t matter if you’re in a rural area or sitting at a busy Starbucks downtown. Wherever you go, the Wi-Fi will go with you.
The negative is that it’s not cost-efficient in the long run. Mobile HotSpots work by charging the customer per data they consume. Although you can add more data to your plan, you’ll end up paying a lot more than if you stay with a traditional plan.
Split Your Internet Bill
This is a great trick when you have multiple people living in a household. The way it works is simple.
When you first sign up for services through a company, you’re likely getting a promotional deal for the first year. As the 12-month period comes to an end, cancel the plan, and ask someone else in your household to sign up as a new customer.
The customer service rep will offer a promotional deal again. Once the person signs up, everyone in the household can enjoy an extra year of discounted rates.
It’s much easier to execute this when you’re on a monthly, no-contract plan. Because if you’re in a contract that binds you to finish the year, then you can’t cancel without early termination fees.
As always, make sure to read the fine print and see if your ISP has any rules about this. Sometimes they consider this type of trick a violation of their terms.
FAQs: Saving Money on Your Home Internet Connection
How Can I Reduce My Internet Bill?
Take a look at your current bill and read everything with a fine-tooth comb. The best way to reduce costs on an Internet bill is to look at the parts of the service that you don’t use as much.
If you spend a lot of time web browsing instead of playing online games, then you can forgo large amounts of data. Or you can reduce your Internet speed to a speed that’s not as fast but still feasible for the amount of time you spend online.
You can also negotiate with your provider. You’re the customer and the service should benefit you, not the other way around. Make sure you do your research and know what other services are offering so that you can haggle with knowledge.
Why Did My Wi-Fi Bill Increase?
There could be multiple reasons for this. If you signed up with a promotional offer, then once it expires, you’ll be charged the full price.
There could also be upgrades that you’re not aware of that are increasing the cost of rental equipment. There might be a clause on the contract that says they can hike up the price every year.
The reasons for a Wi-Fi bill increase are many. Look at your bill and see if there’s anything that stands out to you. When in doubt, call your customer service department and talk to them about your concerns.