Who Has the Cheapest Internet Service?

futuristic wi-fi router with a green glow sits on a desk in a home office

For most, the internet is an absolute necessity — something you may need to stay connected with friends, catch up on the latest news or even clock into work.

However, it can get expensive fast. Shopping for the cheapest internet service can also be difficult, as the best prices aren’t always publicly advertised, and many ISPs will try to upsell you first.

Here’s how to find the cheapest provider in your area — and which ones tend to offer the best prices for internet services.

The Usual Price Leaders

In America, the cheapest service providers will usually also be the biggest ones — AT&T and Xfinity. Xfinity offers a plan that starts at just $20 a month, and AT&T provides options starting at $35 a month. These prices and programs may not be available everywhere. Those AT&T prices are for the company’s fiber plan, and you may not have that option where you live.

These ISPs don’t always offer the best prices, however — you may be able to find even better deals depending on where you live. In Chicago, the price leader is a local internet provider, Everywhere Wireless, that offers fixed internet services, rather than cable, DSL or fiber.  Regional provider RCN also offers starting prices that are comparable to AT&T and Xfinity in the area.

You may see a similar situation in your city. While those big-name, national ISPs are available, there may be a local provider that undercuts them. 

Prices can also fluctuate based on area. In some regions and cities, you may find that AT&T and Xfinity offer even lower prices or that those low-price plans aren’t available. 

No matter where you live, you probably have access to one of the big ISPs, meaning you can likely fall back on the low starting prices that Xfinity and AT&T offer. However, you may also be in a good position to go even cheaper.

Satellite internet may also be an option in your area. Providers like HughesNet and ViaSat often offer good coverage, even in areas where other providers don’t. Some satellite internet plans may be cheaper than comparable cable, DSL or fiber plans. For example, ViaSat offers options in some areas that start at just $30 a month. This may be comparable to what the biggest providers provide in your area.

How to Cut Down on Your Internet Bill

The easiest way is to downgrade your current plan, if possible. Providers charge based on the maximum download speed offered, so download speeds of 1,000 megabits per second (Mbps) will be much more expensive than one that provides 25 Mbps. 

If you find that you don’t struggle with a slow or unstable connection when you’re close to your home’s router, you may be paying for a faster internet plan than you need. 

Most ISPs offer a bare-minimum 25 megabits-per-second plan. This might be enough if you primarily use the internet for streaming or videoconferencing, even if you have a few people in your household that may use the internet at the same time. 

These plans aren’t always advertised. Asking for the cheapest available plan when you talk with your ISP’s sales rep may help you find these deals.

If your internet works well in some parts of your home or apartment but not so great in others, you may not have a problem with your internet plan. Instead, your router may not be able to generate a strong enough Wi-Fi signal to reach everywhere in your home. 

Moving your router, buying an additional one or upgrading can help reduce Wi-Fi dead zones in your home. In the meantime, using a wired connection instead of Wi-Fi — or just moving closer to your router — may help.

Another way to save money on your internet is to decline the rental router or modem your ISP offers and buy your own. This will require an upfront investment. Budget routers can cost anywhere from $30 up to $100. 

However, by buying your own router, you won’t have to worry about your modem’s recurring monthly rental charge, which can quickly add up. Often, ISPs will charge you $6 to $10 per month for a rented router. This means that, within just a year, you’ve already spent $72 to $120 — which could have gotten you your own router.

It’s also a good idea to ask for deals when you interact with your ISP. The salesperson, your installer and any customer service agent you speak with may have special deals that can help you shave a few dollars off your monthly bill.

Find Out Who Has the Cheapest Internet Service in Your Area

The cheapest ISP available will depend on where you live — but typically, major providers like Xfinity and AT&T will offer the best deals. When selecting a plan, it’s also a good idea to ask for cheaper deals or options that will help you cut down your internet cost.

Doing a little legwork will help you find the least expensive internet service around.