Internet

Best Cheap Internet Deals of 2021

Paula Novo
Paula Novo July 13, 2021

Shopping for Cheap Internet Service

Whether you’re moving into a new home or balling on a budget, there are many ways to shop for cheap internet plans. Pricing and availability vary depending on where you live, but don’t let that deter you. There are government assistance and cheap provider plans for every stage and circumstance in life from student discounts to low-income households.

Be aware of hidden costs like overage fees or price hikes, though, as those can throw your carefully curated budget for a loop if unchecked. To get you started, we break down the best internet deals and additional ways to save below.

Most Affordable Providers

AT&T

AT&T

  • Low-cost fiber internet plans
  • Up to 100 Mbps for $39.99/mo.
CenturyLink

CenturyLink

  • Free self-installations
  • Up to 100 Mbps for $49.00/mo.
Xfinity

Xfinity

  • Best cheap internet plans
  • Up to 50 Mbps for $29.99/mo.
Frontier

Frontier

  • No data overage fees
  • Up to 50 Mbps for $29.99/mo.

Best Cheap Internet Deals under $50/mo.

ProviderStarting PriceMax Download SpeedsEquipment Fee
AT&T$35.00/mo.1000 Mbps$10/mo.
CenturyLink$50.00/mo.940 Mbps$15/mo.
EarthLink$49.95/mo.1000 Mbps$6.95/mo.
Frontier$44.99/mo.940 Mbps$10/mo.
Verizon$39.99/mo.940 Mbps$15/mo.
Xfinity$29.99/mo.2000 Mbps$14/mo.
ProviderAT&T
Starting Price$35.00/mo.
Max Download Speeds1000 Mbps
Equipment Fee$10/mo.
ProviderCenturyLink
Starting Price$50.00/mo.
Max Download Speeds940 Mbps
Equipment Fee$15/mo.
ProviderEarthLink
Starting Price$49.95/mo.
Max Download Speeds1000 Mbps
Equipment Fee$6.95/mo.
ProviderFrontier
Starting Price$44.99/mo.
Max Download Speeds940 Mbps
Equipment Fee$10/mo.
ProviderVerizon
Starting Price$39.99/mo.
Max Download Speeds940 Mbps
Equipment Fee$15/mo.
ProviderXfinity
Starting Price$29.99/mo.
Max Download Speeds2000 Mbps
Equipment Fee$14/mo.

*Data sourced 7/5/21. Pricing and speeds may vary by provider and location.

Our Top Picks for Cheapest Internet Providers

check_circleLow-cost fiber internet

Price:35.00/mo
Speeds:up to 1000 Mbps
Data Caps:Yes

Why we like it:

A common household name, AT&T is known for its wide availability, high-speed internet, and affordable prices. If you’re looking for a reliable internet connection that doesn’t break the bank, consider AT&T. Starting at just $35.00/mo. for speeds up to 100 Mbps, AT&T internet plans are packed with the speeds most families need to stay connected. AT&T also offers unlimited data and whole-home WiFi coverage for the ultimate experience.

check_circleBest internet security

Price:49.95/mo
Speeds:up to 1000 Mbps
Data Caps:No

Why we like it:

At 50 Mbps for $50 a month, EarthLink packs a lot into their internet plans. With EarthLink’s starter plan, you can enjoy unlimited data, no contracts, and a robust suite of security tools for added protection. EarthLink also offers special pricing when you bundle its internet and security tools for a safe and secure online connection. Say goodbye to the threat of cyberattacks and hello to peace of mind.

check_circleBest flat-rate plans

Price:50.00/mo
Speeds:up to 940 Mbps
Data Caps:No

Why we like it:

If you worry about being stuck in a contract that you don’t love or hate seeing annual price hikes on your bill, CenturyLink may be a great solution for you. With a Price for Life guarantee available on select plans, CenturyLink offers fixed pricing for new customers that switch. Curb costs even more by using your own internet equipment (saving $15/mo.) or opting for a free self-installation (saving $99).

check_circleBest low-cost plans

Price:44.99/mo
Speeds:up to 940 Mbps
Data Caps:No

Why we like it:

If you don’t want to compromise performance for price, Frontier is one provider you should consider. With unlimited data and up to 50 Mbps for just $29.99 per month, Frontier is a great option. Frontier also offers cheap bundle deals and fiber internet in select locations.

check_circleBest plan variety

Price:29.99/mo
Speeds:up to 2000 Mbps
Data Caps:Yes

Why we like it:

If you’re looking for more bandwidth, Xfinity’s newest 1,000 Mbps internet plan may be right for you. It’s one of the fastest internet plans available and offers high-speed internet up to 1,200 Mbps for just $79.99/mo. To save even more, you can choose to use your own equipment rather than renting and save an additional $14.00/mo. in equipment fees.

Special Discounts and Cheap Deals on Internet

Much like holiday savings, there are special seasons in our lives that warrant a little extra help. For seniors, low-income households, students, veterans, and active military, there are plenty of opportunities to save more money. While qualifications for government-assisted programs and special rates vary by provider and location, all it takes is a simple credit, age, or address verification for eligibility. See below ways you can save today.

Cheap Internet for Seniors

It’s time to cash in on your new status. There are many internet discounts for senior citizens if you know where to look. Many providers such as Xfinity, Spectrum, and AT&T offer cheap internet deals for eligible customers when it counts the most. Xfinity Internet Essentials for seniors aged 62+ includes speeds up to 25 Mbps for just $9.95/mo. and no contracts. Spectrum Internet Assist plan for seniors aged 65+ includes speeds up to 30 Mbps for $14.99/mo. and unlimited data. And, AT&T Access brings speeds up to 10 Mbps to rural and urban communities for $10.00/mo. and in-home WiFi included. 

Cheap Internet for Low-Income Households

In an effort to bring affordable internet service to low-income households, the FCC created the Lifeline Assistance program in partnership with internet service providers nationwide. Lifeline is a government program that grants qualifying recipients $9.25/mo. to go towards their monthly internet or phone bill. Providers then pledge to create solid internet and phone deals for as little as $10.00/mo. So, while this doesn’t get you free internet, it significantly reduces the monthly cost for service.

Cheap Internet for Students

If you’re a student, you may be enjoying the perks of BOGO deals at movie theaters and cheap gym memberships. Student discounts are one of the few things that make kids feel rich in school, and luckily, they also extend to internet services. Some internet providers offer cheap internet for students knowing it’s essential to learning today. The best deal is Cox Communications’s Connect2Compete plan that offers internet with speeds up to 25 Mbps for just $9.95/mo. to low-income households with students.

Cheap Internet for Veterans & Active Military

Active-duty military and veterans risk their lives each day to protect our country. To show their support, internet providers, wireless carriers, and nonprofits offer discounted or free internet service to these heroes and their families. From financial aid to significantly reduced internet rates, it never hurts to ask what special savings are available. Providers and tech companies including AT&T, T-Mobile, Samsung, and Verizon all provide cheap internet for veteran and active military families. View our Guide for Veteran & Active Military Discounts to explore even more ways to save.

Additional Ways to Save

Don’t stop searching for ways to save once you’ve selected an internet plan. There are many ways to trim costs on your service if you’re living on a budget. Depending on which provider you go with, you could use any of these tips below to reduce your monthly payment.

1. Use Your Own Internet Equipment

While providers typically lease their own equipment for a $10 – $25 monthly fee, you don’t always have to accept. Some providers allow customers to use their own router and/or modem, which adds up quickly over the span of a year. A decent router costs roughly $70 today.

Potential Savings: $10 – $20 a month

2. Negotiate a Service Contract

Even if your provider doesn’t require a contract, you can always request one for a chance at lower rates. While the worst they can say is no, offering to sign a service agreement may give you room to negotiate a better price on your monthly bill. 

Potential Savings: $5 – $20 a month

3. Shop for No Contract Plans

Whether you move a lot, have a tight budget, or don’t like being stuck in a plan you may not like, you may want to shop for internet plans with no contract options. This gives you the freedom to cancel service without having to worry about large termination fees or dings on your credit score.

Potential Savings: $100 – $200

4. Bundle Services

Bundling services is an easy way to save more money if you already need multiple services. When you bundle internet with TV, phone, and/or home security, your consolidated bill may be significantly lower than if you were to purchase each service separately.

Potential Savings: $10 – $40 a month

5. Watch Your Data Usage

Some providers impose data caps and overage fees up to $50 on customers’ monthly bills if limits are exceeded. They do this to regulate their network and prevent congestion during peak hours. To help curb frustration, providers often provide data trackers for customers to monitor their monthly usage. Checking this regularly can help you avoid unnecessary overage fees and save money in the long run.

Potential Savings: $50 – $100 a month

6. Lifeline Assistance

Providers often extend Lifeline Assistance programs in partnership with the FCC. It provides discounted services to qualifying households in their coverage area. Eligible candidates can receive high-speed internet with speeds up to 30 Mbps for as little as $10/mo. depending on where they are located and what providers are available.

Potential Savings: $10 – $50 a month

7. Service Installations Waiver

Most providers require a professional installation for their services. This costs anywhere from $60 – $120 depending on what provider you go with. What some people don’t know is that it’s possible for your new provider to waive your installation fee if you simply make a request. It never hurts to ask.

Potential Savings: $60 – $120

8. Contract buyouts

If you switch providers before your service agreement is up, you may incur an early termination fee (ETF) on your last bill with your old provider. Luckily, many providers now offer contract buyouts where they will reimburse customers for an early termination fee (ETF). For reference, if you switch to Spectrum from your current provider, you can get a credit of up to $500.

Potential Savings: Up to $500

9. Referral Program

Take advantage of referral programs when your provider offers them.  It’s very common for internet providers to incentivize customers to recruit friends and family to sign up. Generally, providers reward both parties with a one-time credit up to $100 to be used on a future bill. 

Potential Savings: Up to $100

10. Money-Back Guarantee

In good faith, internet providers typically offer 30-day money-back guarantees to customers in case they are unsatisfied with their service in the beginning. This guarantees customers full refunds on services if canceled within the first 30 days of subscribing, which may include the first month of service, installation, and equipment rental fees.

Potential Savings: $100 – $200

Internet Deals FAQs

Why is internet so expensive?

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The main contributors to high internet prices are the operating costs and expenses that internet providers incur when extending their networks. Internet networks require significant maintenance and upgrades to keep up with technological advancements and the increasing demand for internet service. If you’re referring to your own monthly bill, you can attribute higher-than-expected costs due to added fees.

The FCC estimates that internet subscribers pay on average 20-40% more than the base rate they signed up for thanks to taxes and added fees not included in advertised prices. To avoid this unwanted surprise, make sure to speak with a representative upon signing up for service to discuss possible hidden fees.

How much should I pay for internet?

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You should expect to pay about $60 on average for reliable, high-speed internet. Keep in mind that doesn’t include added services like TV, equipment rental fees, or taxes. However, internet prices and plans vary drastically depending on where you live and what connection type you have available near you.

Is it cheaper to get a month-to-month service or sign a contract?

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Most internet service providers (ISP) make this decision for you since they typically only offer one option or the other. However, if you do have a choice, it’s generally cheaper to opt for a contract over monthly payments.

Similar to bundling, signing a contract comes with special pricing because providers see you as a committed customer. On the other hand, month-to-month service is great for families on a budget or those who move often. Without a contract, you can cancel your service without worrying about a termination fee. 

What is the cheapest internet connection?

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Internet connection is all about speed and coverage. And for the most part, it’s priced relative to how much you can achieve with a certain type. If you can imagine a spectrum where each connection type falls in order from slowest to fastest, you’d have Satellite, DSL, cable, and fiber to choose from.

DSL and cable internet are typically cheaper connections as they run on pre-existing infrastructures and don’t provide as much bandwidth or home coverage as fiber internet. The exception to the rule is satellite. Satellite internet prices vary greatly due to the extra equipment and installation support needed.

How can I lower my bill without downgrading my plan?

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There are many additional ways to save on your internet service without downgrading your plan to include slower speeds. Here are a few things that may save you money:

  • Save $10-$15 a month by using your own equipment rather than paying an equipment rental fee.
  • Save $5-$30 a month by negotiating a lower price with your provider in exchange for signing a term agreement.
  • Save $10-$20 a month by bundling your internet, TV, and/or phone services under one provider.

Why do providers increase prices every year?

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Most internet plans include introductory rates that expire after one or two years depending on the promotional period. Unless you have an extended service agreement with your ISP or they offer a Price for Life guarantee of some sort, you can expect immediate price hikes of $10-$30 or more on your monthly bill.

In addition to promotional periods ending, providers also have to keep up with operating expenses and scaling network infrastructures, which results in annual price increases customers must bear. Be sure to talk this out with your provider upon signing up for new internet service, so you aren’t blindsided with a price increase.