You’re probably overpaying for your Internet subscription

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With today’s technology having become an entrenched part of every day life, it feels like we’ve firmly arrived in the Internet Age. Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu have become common household names, and even die-hard TV enthusiasts are giving serious thought to switching to streaming-only options as a way to save $100s each year. According to a recent study conducted by Pew, 70% of Americans now have home broadband connections, delivering more content at higher speeds than ever before. But while our Internet speeds have undoubtedly increased, the cost of that connection has increased right along with it.
Time Warner Cable, the nation’s second largest provider (and the easiest one to parse out monthly Internet costs for), on average charged over $47 per month (roughly $564 annually) for Internet access in 2014, up 21% from two years ago. Average price is bad enough, but even worse is the dizzying range of packages available: economy plans (with the slowest speeds) can be purchased for as little as $15 per month, while the highest speed package will run you as much as $300 per month or more. Tack on installation and monthly service fees, and your annual Internet bill could rapidly ascend into the thousands before you know it.
If you’re thinking “it doesn’t have to be this way”  you’re right. Thankfully, the experts at Yipit have figured out eight simple ways to cut the cost of your monthly Internet subscription and save you money.

 

Get the right plan for you and the people you live with

Annual Savings: $60

Many Americans have a plan with speeds between 10 – 15MB per second, but have you ever stopped and wondered what the appropriate amount of bandwidth is for the people you live with? Our handy table below can help you to hone in on the right amount of data for your home. Note we’ve included a bit of a buffer on the upper end of the bandwidth range so your Internet won’t slow to a crawl while doing things like streaming.
Internet Requirements for Two Simultaneous Users
Activity Bandwidth Required Recommended Speed Sample Monthly Cost (per TWC)
Streaming Music 0.30 Mb / s 1 – 4 Mb plan $15 – $30
Basic Browsing + Email 1 Mb / s 1 – 4 Mb plan $15 – $30
YouTube 1 Mb / s 1 – 4 Mb plan $15 – $30
Advanced Browsing (interactive pages, rich media) 2 Mb / s 1 – 4 Mb plan $15 – $30
Skype HD Video Call 3 Mb / s 5 – 15 Mb plan $30
Online Gaming 2 – 8 Mb / s 5 – 15 Mb plan $30
Streaming HD Video (Netflix) 10 Mb / s 15 – 30 Mb plan $35
Heavy Users (file sharing, downloading) 50 Mb / s+ 30 – 100 Mb plan $35 – $55

Sources: Cable Deals and Internet Offers, What Internet Speed Do I Need?

If you’ve never thought about how much Internet you actually need, there’s a decent chance that you’re overpaying for what you’re actually using.

Negotiate a lower bill

Annual savings: Up to $170

While it might seem silly, simply calling the billing department of your Internet provider and requesting a lower bill can sometimes deliver real results. Cable companies are constantly running promotions, so if you purchase your broadband Internet and cable TV through the same provider, it’s very likely there are savings available for those who ask nicely. If you’re less excited about the prospect of waiting 30+ minutes on the Customer Service line, services like BillCutterz can handle the negotiation on your behalf, and they claim to be able to cut your bill by 30% or more (although they will keep half of the savings!). For the more ambitious bargain hunter, capturing that full 30% would put nearly $200 in your pocket. And when your promotion expires, what should you do? Try to find another promotion and start the whole process over again, of course!

Leverage the rates of competing providers

Annual savings: Up to $120

While this tip unfortunately won’t apply to everyone, roughly 70% of American households with broadband have two or more providers in their area. As with the cable company, Internet providers can be very sensitive to their competitors poaching customers. If you’ve been a customer for longer than a year, chances are any promotional deal that you received when you initially signed up has expired. If you can find a deal offered by a competitor at a lower rate, you can oftentimes leverage this to get your current provider to match that rate. Keeping a customer at a promotional rate is better than losing them entirely, and you even get to avoid the headache of having to actually switch providers.

Set up your home for savings

Annual savings: Anywhere from $10 – $250+, depending on your provider

Between steep installation and setup fees, just having broadband Internet access set up in your home can put a serious dent in your wallet. Add in a monthly modem or router rental fee and you could easily lay out hundreds just for the “privilege” of having Internet delivered to your home address. What many people don’t know is that you can choose to set up your own network or purchase your own hardware, all without needing the skills of an electrician. While the up front cost may not be insignificant (with routers especially, you get what you pay for in terms of both speed and range), in the long run you’ll almost certainly recoup the cost and then some. And even better, your first bill won’t start until your connection is all set up, so your provider might even feel incentivized to assist you in getting set up quickly. The exception is if you’re required to use proprietary equipment from your Internet provider (such as for AT&T’s U-Verse package). Just make sure you check with your Internet provider to ensure that any hardware you purchase is compatible with their system.

Bundle your services

Annual savings: Savings may vary based on your provider and current bundle

While the idea of committing even further to your existing Internet or cable provider may not be for everyone, there are certainly significant savings available to you by doing so. By bundling your cable TV subscription with your Internet, you may receive meaningful discounts on both (and this strategy can be leveraged even more if you bundle your home phone together as well, in what some providers refer to as the “Triple Play”). Having additional services provided by the same company also significantly increases your leverage when you’re negotiating for better rates, as well as provides the cable companies with more opportunities to offer you promotions that will help you reduce your bill even more.

Lock in your rate in advance

Annual savings: Up to $50+ (assuming a comparable ~20% increase over the next two years)

Warning – this choice has the potential to backfire! But if you’re willing to gamble that future rates will be higher than they are today (as they have in the past), you can try to arrange for your provider to lock in your current rate for an extended period of time. As we mentioned earlier in the article, between 2012 and 2014 the cost of broadband Internet access increased by 21%; if you locked in your contract at your 2012 rate, you would have saved $50 each year over that period. Because average rates are higher now than they were in 2012, a similar 20% increase will save you more than $55 annually over the next two years.

Replace your Internet entirely with a connected device

Annual savings: up to $200

If you’re primarily interested in browsing, sending email and occasionally streaming video, consider canceling your home Internet subscription altogether and purchasing a connected device with a data plan. T-Mobile is offering 2 GB of data per month for $20 for a limited time, and when you’re streaming video that cap triples to 6 GB. Just be careful not to exceed your monthly cap, as the overage charges can quickly erase all of the savings you would have otherwise pocketed. An additional benefit of a connected device is that you can easily bring it along to local coffee shops and libraries, where free WiFi is common and your usage won’t count against your monthly data cap.

The free option – use public sources of Internet

Annual savings: $564 + any additional fees and taxes saved

If you’re trying to maximize the savings to be had and you use the Internet for basic tasks only (primarily email and basic browsing), you could potentially cut out your Internet provider altogether. By frequenting Starbucks or your public library (both of which generally offer free WiFi access), you can remain connected to the digital world without spending a dime. Without the constant draw to check your email or watch YouTube clips, you might even improve your productivity as a result. Just make sure that your Internet provider doesn’t charge a hefty early termination fee before going with this option.

 

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3 Comments

  1. The price for the internet service in USA is ridiculous high! Now paying $60/month for 20 MB, in Houston, TX !!! I used to live in Central Europe. now just checked Orange telecom service provider webpage. You can get 250MB/month NO Contract just for like $19/month. That`s a big saving in price and much bigger bandwith, different, I do not understand this very very high price here in US and their internet politics/policy … people do not complain, customers just pay…

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