Are you looking to cut down on essential expenses in whatever ways that you can? Start with your internet bill. These days, with working remotely and needing to stay connected with family and friends all over the world, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of your internet bill entirely. But by cutting down on the cost, you can start putting that money toward other financial and personal goals, such as saving, investing, and paying down debt.
1. Negotiate Your Bill
Contacting any institution to negotiate a deal or refund can be intimidating. However, if you take the time to prepare, you can be successful and end up saving yourself hundreds (or even thousands) of dollars long term. When negotiating with your internet service provider, keep a few things in mind.
Assess your current situation
Ask yourself a few questions and take notes regarding the experience that you’ve had with your current provider.
- Do you pay your bills on time?
- How much longer do you have in your current contract?
- How long have you been a customer?
- What was the cost of your internet when you first became a customer?
- What is the monthly cost now?
- Did you previously take advantage of discounts or promotions?
- Have you had issues with the service in the past?
The answers to many of these questions will help you formulate your leverage when heading into a negotiation. If you consistently pay your bills on time and are nearing the end of your contract, the provider will likely work hard to keep you as a customer.
Even if you’re not near the end of your contract, you can still negotiate a deal. Some providers will set an initial low price and hike the cost of service after some time; if your service has not changed and you are paying more than the initial cost, you shouldn’t hesitate to flag this for the provider.
Research your options
Once you’ve determined where you stand with your current provider, it’s time to assess the alternatives. Do your homework and find out what other internet service providers are offering in your area.
When researching other providers, ask yourself:
- Are there any other services in your area that make better sense for your financial and personal needs?
- Would you be willing to cancel your service and switch to a new provider?
- Are you willing to pay a cancellation fee on your current service in order to save money with a different provider?
Be sure to contact competing service providers and find out what they can offer you. As a new customer, they may have promotional offers, which you can use as additional leverage when you contact your current provider.
Contact your provider
Most importantly, be polite and persistent. Request to speak with an agent in the retention department. As their title would suggest, they have been hired to retain you as a customer. From the provider’s perspective, it costs far less to keep you on as an existing customer than it does to sign an entirely new customer.
Remember that you should only threaten to leave for a competing provider if you are actually willing to do so. If you are not making progress, you can request to speak with a manager or call back at a later date to speak with someone new. Each agent may have different promotional prices that they are able to offer, so it doesn’t hurt to try again with someone new.
If needed, you can also contact the department that writes up contracts for new customers and ask what deals they have at the moment. As it’s typically more difficult to entice an entirely new customer than convince an existing one to stay, new customers can get access to extra special deals. You can also use this deal as leverage in your negotiation.
At the end of the day, you’re more likely to succeed if you’re able to prove how loyal you’ve been as a customer and politely ask for a deal to stay onboard.
2. Reduce Your Speed
In this day and age, a lot of people work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, so sacrificing your internet connection and reducing your internet speed may not be an option. However, many Americans might not need to opt for top-tier internet speed. If you have a couple devices and only need them for the basics like emailing, web browsing, listening to music, and streaming videos, you could potentially lower your internet bill by more than $20 per month.
Once you begin adding more devices to your plan, or using them for more advanced online activities — such as HD video streaming, gaming, or ultra-fast upload speeds and download speeds — it may be more cost effective to keep your current internet plan.
3. Buy Your Own Modem and Router
If you’re planning on sticking with your internet service provider for several years, it may make more sense for your wallet to buy your own equipment than rent theirs on a monthly basis. When you rent from your provider, you can expect to pay north of $10 each month just to use their equipment — that money adds up quickly.
By buying your own modem and router, you could save several hundred dollars over time.
If you run into technical issues with your modem or router, some providers won’t offer maintenance if you’ve purchased your own equipment.
4. Bundle Your Services
There are a number of services that offer bundles where you could receive internet in addition to television, phone plans, or other products and services for a much lower overall cost. Some companies with popular bundles include AT&T, Spectrum, and Xfinity. Before you bundle, make sure that you are signing up for services that you actually need. There is no sense in purchasing a cable and internet bundle if you will not watch the majority of the channels on your plan.
5. Eliminate the Extras
If you’re open to downsizing, you can try a limited data plan on your mobile device rather than unlimited. Limited data may not be conducive to gaming, music, or video streaming; however, it can be ideal for people who just need to check email, social media, or web searches on a semi-regular basis. In the grand scheme of things, moving to a limited or prepaid data plan can lower your internet bill a handful of dollars over the course of the month, which can go toward other goals like budgeting, investing, or saving.
On the other hand, if you’ve bundled services and decide that you no longer need them, you can cut costs by de-bundling services as well. For instance, if you have an internet and TV service bundle but really only watch television and movies via one of your streaming services, it may be time to cut the cord on cable and save a handful of dollars each month.
6. Shop for Subsidies
Federal assistance programs offer low-cost internet to some qualifying individuals and families. These programs are typically offered to people who fall under a certain income threshold or are enrolled in applicable programs, such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Medicaid.
If you are struggling to afford broadband due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you can find more information about federally subsidized internet on the Federal Communications Commission website.