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Renting vs. Buying a Modem and Router

By Pat Shively
October 19, 2020

Broadband internet customers should never pay more than they need for their monthly service. Fees can add up quickly, especially with modems and routers. Many providers charge a monthly equipment rental fee that can run up to $14 per month. In addition to the cost, there are more advanced technologies available that could provide you with increased internet speeds or better coverage for your home network. Of course, using a rented modem and router is a convenient solution for many...but does the flexibility outweigh the cost? Is it better to buy your own modem and router? Let’s weigh your options and save you money. 

What's the Difference Between a Modem and a Router?

A man using several devices connected to the internet with his router

Before we get into whether you should rent or buy your internet modem and router, we’ll break down the basics: what’s the difference? A modem is a device that connects your home, usually through a coax cable connection, to your internet service provider. Signals from your ISP are translated by a modem so your devices can use them and vice versa. 

A router is a device that connects your devices to each other and to the modem. The router connects to the modem and then connects to your devices using WiFi or an Ethernet cable. If you’d rather not worry about having two different devices, you can get a modem and router combo that merges both functions into one gadget. 

How Much Can You Save By Purchasing Your Own Equipment?

save your money

*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, HighSpeedOptions will earn a commission if you click and make a purchase.

If maximum savings is what you’re after, a budget-pick modem and router combo of comparable quality to ISP rentals will cost around $120. While this is an upfront cost, you’ll recoup your investment in eight and a half months. This yields a savings of $49 in the first year and $168 every year after that! These savings are based on a $14 per month rental fee, you will come out ahead in the first year if your provider charges $9.90 or more per month. After this period you could be pocketing a sizable portion of your monthly bill. Taking on the hassle of replacing your equipment could be a “free” way of treating yourself to that Disney+ subscription you’ve had your eye on. 

Benefits to Owning Your Modem & Router

a family using high-speed internet on various devices

One word: Flexibility. In most cases, you’ll no longer need a service appointment to switch between ISPs after buying your own equipment. So snagging the latest internet deal or upgrading your speed will have one less barrier. 

By purchasing your modem and router you’ll have the ability to select equipment for your personal situation. Do you have thick walls or a high square footage home that would benefit from a mesh router? Are you a gamer in need of a router that minimizes lag during crucial battle moments? Regardless of your personal situation, investing in your own equipment based on your lifestyle can pay dividends in the long term by improving your overall experience.

Selecting a Modem & Router 

Modems and routers are sold separately or as a combined device. Most experts agree that separate devices will yield higher performance, but if you’re after maximum savings a combined device will work just fine. While a standalone router will work with any provider and the selection is based more on your specific situation, a modem or combo unit needs to be matched to your internet service provider and download speeds. Luckily most modems are compatible with a wide variety of providers and speeds, so finding a match is not a tall order. The device itself will report its compatibility, but to be certain you can always contact your internet service provider to confirm. 

Final Thoughts

Weighing the convenience of renting equipment from your internet provider against the savings and customization potential of purchasing your modem and router is ultimately a personal choice. The cost of renting a modem and router varies by provider, so enter your zip code below to see what internet service providers are available near you.

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