Bills never end, and worse yet, they always seem to increase in cost. Your monthly cable bill is one of them. These days, there are streaming services that allow you to access your favorite TV shows and movies for a fraction of the cost, but if you’re steadfast on keeping a cable subscription in your home, there are ways that you can reduce your monthly costs.
- Eliminate premium channels
- Downsize your cable package
- Look out for fees
- Cut down on boxes
- Buy your own modem
- Get rid of the DVR
- Bundle your cable, phone, and internet bill
- Negotiate a lower rate
- Find other cable companies in your area
- Cut the cord
Eliminate Premium Channels
Premium channels are ones that your cable company charges you a fee to access in addition to your standard programming — think HBO, Showtime, and a wide array of sports channels. Prices vary across service providers and depending on which premium channel you add to your package, but each additional channel tends to cost $10–$18 per month.
Luckily, as your wants and needs change, so can your channels. You can add and remove premium channels as needed to lower your cable bill. So if there is a certain show or sporting event that you want to watch, you can pay for the channel while you need it and then remove it from your cable bill once the event or season wraps up. Don’t forget to remove the channel once you’re finished, though. Otherwise you could be out a chunk of change.
Downsize Your Cable Package
Rather than eliminating individual channels, you can reduce your entire plan to lower your cable bill and save money. Major cable providers — such as Spectrum, Xfinity, and AT&T — bundle their offerings to make your life a little easier, with higher tier bundles wrapping hundreds of premium channels and local channels into one premium cable package.
However, you might not use cable TV quite like you used. In which case, it can be beneficial to downsize your cable package to only what you need. By reducing your plan from a top-tier option with more than 200 channels to a lower tier plan with the basics, you can save $50 or more on your cable bill each month.
Look Out for Fees
Your cable bill is riddled with fees, and unfortunately you won’t be able to avoid some of them. The long list of cable TV fees includes broadcast TV fees, regional sports fees, equipment rental fees, and HD technology fees. If you know what you are looking for on your statement, you can call up your cable company and request a refund for some of the charges. You might be surprised at what fees you can get refunded.
Cut Down on Boxes
Considering getting rid of that extra television in your bedroom, guest room, or basement? You could save money.
A cable box is the device that converts digital television signals to watchable television signals. If you get rid of the extras in your home, you could save $7–$15 per box per month on rental fees.
Buy Your Own Modem
Speaking of cable TV equipment, cut out the rental fees altogether by buying rather than renting. You can purchase a modem for $50–$100. Sure, you’ll have to pay more up front, but if you plan to keep your television for a while, the cost will recoup itself over time.
Get Rid of the DVR
All of the prominent British royals have gotten married (for the time being), and you can now stream Survivor online — so do you really need the DVR? DVRs, or digital video recorders, allow you to record television programming to watch at a later date, but if you ditch the receiver, you could lower your cable bill $5–$30 each month.
For a DVR alternative, try streaming shows on-demand either on your television or computer the next day, or purchase your own digital receiver. Similar to a modem, it will cost more up front, but the receiver will pay for itself over time.
Bundle Your Cable, Phone, and Internet Bill
Before you bundle your phone, cable, and internet bill, make sure that you are signing up for products and services that you actually need. Don’t feel pressured to bundle services if you do not need access to all of the premium channels, high-speed internet service, and phone lines that your service provider is offering. If you do, you could end up spending more money each month than you currently are for cable and internet bills separately.
You can try negotiating certain products and services out of the packages to keep your essential costs to a minimum.
Negotiate a Lower Rate
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 save yourself a ton of money long term.
When negotiating with your cable service provider for a lower cable bill, 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 regularly pay your cable bill on time?
- How much longer do you have in your current contract?
- How long have you been a customer?
- What was your monthly cable TV cost 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 cable 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 your TV 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 cable service providers are offering in your area.
When researching other providers, ask yourself:
- Are there any other cable providers in your area that make better sense for your financial and personal needs?
- Would you be willing to cancel your current service and switch to a new cable provider?
- Are you willing to pay a cancellation fee on your current service in order to save money with a different cable provider?
Be sure to contact competing cable providers and find out if they can offer you a better deal. 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
When you reach out to your current provider, it’s important to be polite and persistent to the customer service representative. 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 cable 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 a different customer service rep. 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. Most cable providers give new customers access to extra special deals since it’s typically more difficult to entice an entirely new customer than convince an existing one to stay. 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 continue using their service.
Find Other Cable Companies in Your Area
You’ve already done your homework here. If you’re not able to negotiate a lower rate with your current cable provider, it may be time to switch to a new one. You may have to pay a cancellation fee with your current provider, which you could potentially negotiate, but you may be able to justify the cost of the fee if another cable provider can offer you a better deal.
Cut the Cord
If you cut all of the costs that you can and your cable bill is still giving you a headache, you can cut the cord altogether. There are other ways to get your entertainment fix.
There is a plethora of television and movie streaming services to choose from these days, including Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney+, and more. Plans start as low as $6.99 and incorporate more screens as well as commercial-free watching as needed.
If you’d like access to more generic television channels — such as E!, Bravo, the Discovery Channel, and broadcast news — you can try something like Sling TV. Sling TV allows you to watch live and on-demand shows and only pay for the channels that you choose.
A TV antenna might also do the trick. You can get access to broadcast television, including news networks and television shows, if you have an antenna, which typically costs $10–$40.