How To Find the Best Deal on Cheap Internet Service in 4 Steps

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When is the last time you checked your options for internet service?

The market for high-speed internet is competitive in 2022, and you may have more options than you realize for a cheaper in-home connection.

But with options come decisions. And with more in-home devices and services requiring internet access, how do you balance a good price with adequate internet performance?

We’ve enlisted the help of money expert Clark Howard to craft a strategy for ensuring that you’re getting the best bang for your buck on internet service.


Step 1: Look at What You’re Paying for Now: Are You Happy?

Before you start bargain hunting for new internet service, it’s important to understand what you’re paying for right now.

Find a recent bill from your current internet provider and make note of the following:

  • Monthly price: Is it a promotional rate or the regular price? Are there fees attached to the bill that cost you more than the advertised rate?
  • Internet speed: How much internet speed are you paying for? This is generally measured in megabits per second (Mbps). The faster the speed, the more quickly things will load and the more smoothly things will go such as file downloading and streaming TV. If you’re a streaming TV consumer, you’re going to need at least 10 Mbps to view content.

You can test the speed of your current internet service by accessing free speed testers such as SpeedTest.net or Fast.com. This will help you see if you’re actually getting what you’re paying for.

The performance of your existing internet won’t necessarily be the same as the advertised speeds. Your results can be affected by network traffic, the age of your equipment or even the distance from your router to your Wi-Fi devices. For more help with this, Team Clark has some tips you can follow.

Now that you have clear information in front of you on your pricing, advertised speeds and actual speed performance, you’re ready to go shopping.

If you’re happy with the service you’re getting, then all you may want to do is negotiate with your existing provider to give you the best price possible.

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If you’re unhappy with the results, you may have to go shopping with a provider switch as the possible outcome.


Step 2: See What’s Available in Your Area

When is the last time you surveyed the internet service providers available in your area?

You might be surprised to learn that companies traditionally known for wireless phone service are now offering high-speed internet access where you live.

That could be creating new competition for the cable or phone companies which have enjoyed a large advantage in this space for much of the last couple of decades.

“For an urban or suburban person looking for internet, historically, you’ve had either the cable or the phone monopoly to pick from. Or, even worse, you’ve just had one of those two,” Clark says. “But now the T-Mobile and Verizon home internet services offer you such another great tool in figuring out what works for you.”

Clark says wireless customers of both Verizon and T-Mobile could find that they’re eligible to get in-home internet for as little as $25 per month if they’re willing to bundle the service with their cell phone bill.

Google also is installing high-speed fiber internet in select areas of the country.

If you live in a more rural setting, you may also find that there are new options for fast internet that may have seemed like just a dream even a couple of years ago. Thanks to Elon Musk’s SpaceX creation called Starlink, many people who live in rural ZIP codes now have access to high-speed satellite internet (if you’re willing to stomach the upfront cost of $599 for equipment).

“The frustration for a lot of rural America has been that they’ve had no options. They had no usable internet from the phone or cable companies, and the satellite that was available was terribly expensive, slow and often had awful data caps,” Clark says. “But now you can run a business from an extremely rural place or work from home in an extremely rural place using Starlink. But it’s not a cheap option.”


Step 3: Start Comparing Apples to Apples

After the first two steps, you should know what you’re paying for your internet, have a good idea of the type of internet speeds you need for your home and have a better understanding of the options available in your market.

Now it’s time to start price shopping.

But as I warned earlier in the article, “cheaper internet” is not necessarily “better internet” if you are sacrificing the speed that you need to use all the internet-powered things in your home.

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You’ll want to assess the options available to you for some of the following considerations:

  • Monthly cost
  • Promised/actual internet speeds
  • Data caps
  • Any contractual obligations
  • Discounts for bundling or for being a new customer

Team Clark’s Anthony researched many of the popular home internet providers in the summer of 2022 to get a sampling of what they’re charging for service.

We’ve assembled a chart of his findings to help you comparison shop for internet services.

Note that many of the prices listed below involve committing to use autopay, which is OK as long as you take the proper precautions. Equipment fees may also be required for some service providers, while others may allow you to use your own router.

Internet ProviderPrice per MonthSpeedRequirements
Verizon Fios$24.99 (taxes and fees included)
300Mbps
* Autopay
* Rate available only with select Verizon 5G mobile plans.
Verizon Fios$44.99 (taxes and fees included)500 Mbps* Autopay
* Rate available only with select Verizon 5G mobile plans.
Verizon Fios$64.99 (taxes and fees included)1000 Mbps* Autopay
* Rate available only with select Verizon 5G mobile plans.
T-Mobile
$50.00 (taxes and fees included)35-115 MbpsNot available in all areas
AT&T Fiber$55.00300Mbps* Autopay
* Paperless billing
AT&T Fiber$65.00500Mbps* Autopay
* Paperless billing
AT&T Fiber$80.001000 Mbps* Autopay
* Paperless billing
AT&T Fiber$110.002000 Mbps* Autopay
* Paperless billing
AT&T Fiber$180.005000 Mbps* Autopay
* Paperless billing
Optimum Fiber$29.99 (taxes and fees included)100 Mbps(No-contract rate)
Optimum Fiber$39.99 (taxes and fees included)300 Mbps(No-contract rate)
Optimum Fiber$59.99 (taxes and fees included)500 Mbps(No-contract rate)
Optimum Fiber$79.99 (taxes and fees included)940 Mbps (No-contract rate)
Optimum Fiber$120.00 (taxes and fees included)2000 Mbps(No-contract rate)
Optimum Fiber$180.00 (taxes and fees included)5000 Mbps(No-contract rate)
Suddenlink$39.99300Mbps* Autopay
* Paperless billing
Suddenlink$59.99500 Mbps* Autopay
* Paperless billing
Suddenlink$79.991000 Mbps* Autopay
* Paperless billing
Spectrum$49.99
300 MbpsPromotional rate guaranteed for 12 months
Spectrum$69.99500 MbpsPromotional rate guaranteed for 12 months
Spectrum$89.991000 MbpsPromotional rate guaranteed for 12 months
Xfinity$39.99300 Mbps* Autopay
* Paperless billing
Xfinity$59.99600 Mbps* Autopay
* Paperless billing
Xfinity$79.991200 Mbps* Autopay
* Paperless billing
Cox$49.99100 Mbps(No-contract rate)
Cox$59.99250 MbpsOne-year agreement
Cox$79.99500 MbpsOne-year agreement
Cox$99.991000 MbpsOne-year agreement
Frontier$49.99500 MbpsPromotional rate guaranteed for 12 months with autopay
Frontier$74.991000 MbpsPromotional rate guaranteed for 36 months with autopay
Frontier$149.992000 Mbps(No-contract rate)
XTREAM powered by Mediacom$19.99100 Mbps* Autopay
* Paperless billing
* Extra charges apply after use of 200 GB per month.
XTREAM powered by Mediacom$39.99200 Mbps* Autopay
* Paperless billing
* Extra charges apply after use of 1,000 GB per month.
XTREAM powered by Mediacom$59.991000 Mbps* Autopay
* Paperless billing
* Extra charges apply after use of 6,000 GB per month.
Starlink$110.00150 MbpsHardware cost of $599.00 (plus shipping and tax)

Step 4: Contact Your Current Provider: It’s Time To Negotiate

Now that you’re equipped with knowledge of your service, have examined all available options and have a side-by-side comparison of what you’re thinking of buying, you’re ready to make a move on getting the cheapest internet possible.

Clark says that it’s perfectly normal to negotiate for a better price.

So even if you’re happy with your current internet provider, you can contact the company with the new knowledge you’ve acquired and say that you’re considering a switch.

If you’re not sure what to say, you could use a script similar to this:

“Hi, I am thinking about cancelling my service. I received an offer from (competitor’s name here) and it’s seems to be much cheaper than what I’m paying now. I like my service here, but I’m also budget conscious. Is there any way you could work with me on the price of my plan so that I don’t have to switch?”

If that doesn’t grab your provider’s attention to offer you a better rate, you’re likely going to have to go through the process of scheduling cancellation of your service before you reach the company’s retention department. The goal for the people working in this department is to find a way to get you to stay.

Before you speak with them, you should know what your bottom-line price is for deciding to stay or go. If your current provider can’t meet that number, be prepared to walk away.

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You may be better off exploring a cheaper alternative you’ve found in your research and then considering a return to your existing provider sometime in the future when it considers you a “new customer” again and thus eligible for a new deal.


Final Thoughts

Finding the cheapest, best internet service for your household can sometimes be a complicated process that involves weighing various factors specific to your home. And to make matters worse, the options and pricing for internet vary by ZIP code throughout the country.

That makes it really hard to give a “one-size-fits-all” piece of advice on this subject.

What we can say in 2022 is this: There are new options out there, and it’s worth checking them out. The competition is driving more traditional providers to consider lowering prices, which puts you in a good spot to negotiate.

Clark is a big fan of the T-Mobile and Verizon home internet plans, so if you live in an area that offers a strong signal to one of those services, we suggest that you check those out as a potential cost saver.

Otherwise, it may be up to you to leverage the cable or phone company against competitors in your local market to negotiate the lowest bill possible.

Do you have a method for consistently getting quality internet at a low price? We’d love to hear your cheap internet strategies in the Clark.com community.

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