The Internet and TV service are the most basic commodities for every household. Despite them being necessities, their prices aren’t something that makes every purse in the U.S happy.
As evidenced by the report from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), around 30% of Americans cannot access the internet at the broadband speed, which is at least 25 Mbps. Moreover, around 3.1 million homes can’t even enjoy 3 Mbps internet speeds, which is the minimum internet speed required to stream Netflix.
Moreover, the cable TV service along with the internet connection can weigh heavily on your pocket every month. But still, TV service offers better value than some of its alternatives as it keeps every individual in the household entertained with hundreds of channels from a variety of genre, additional premium networks, an on-demand library, on-the-go TV access, DVR service, and much more. All of these goodies under one roof would cost less than alternative options.
The problem with Internet and TV providers are their second-year price hikes and hidden costs that we only see in the final bill, and for a lower price, we usually have to sacrifice our freedom with a long-term contract.
However, there is still hope and you can reduce the cost of your internet and TV bill with some nifty saving tips below.
- Look for Subsidies
If you belong to a low-income household, then you can still have decent internet access at a low cost with the help of a government subsidy program. Keep in mind that these programs usually only reduce the cost of internet service.
Lifeline is an FCC program, which helps low-income customers access the internet and phone service. Your household needs to meet the federal poverty guidelines or have to be a participant of aid programs like Medicaid or SNAP (food stamps) to qualify.
On the other hand, Internet Service Providers also come up with assistance programs for low-income households such as Spectrum Internet Assist, Comcast Internet Essentials, and AT&T Access, which offer high-speed internet at a discounted rates. However, you need to meet certain criteria to qualify for assistance.
EveryoneOn is another national nonprofit program. On its website, you can look for ISPs in your area offering special deals to various income or demographic groups.
- Go For the Lowest Tier Plan
If you don’t qualify for any of these programs, no worries; you can still shave off some dollars from your monthly internet and TV bill. The most simple and no-nonsense tip is to subscribe to the lowest tier package.
Each provider offers dozens of packages and bundle choices, so you can get the one that perfectly matches your needs and budget. Evaluate your usage level for the month and pick a package accordingly. You may realize that the 1,000 Mbps of internet speeds and 300+ channels in your package maybe after all too much. The higher the speed tier and bigger the channel lineup you go for, the more it adds to your bill.
A lot of these package and bundle choices can be confusing, so look for providers who have a reputation for simplicity such as Charter Spectrum™. The provider offers three simple channel lineups i.e. the basic Select TV, the mid-level Silver TV, and the top-tier Gold TV. You can get these plans in single, double, or triple play deals. If you want connectivity and entertainment, all packed into one, Spectrum Triple Play Select is the most affordable package out there. Even Spectrum Triple Play Gold, its highest tier bundle, is priced lower than premium packages from other providers and is packed with a plethora of perks.
- Cut Back On Extra Features
The price you see on the package isn’t the one you will see on your final bill. The final bill is always inflated, courtesy of extra premium channels, equipment rentals, regional sports fees, taxes, add-ons, etc.
A lot of these charges are strategically hidden on a provider’s website in order to entice you with seemingly lower price-points. So, you don’t know what hit you when you see the swollen final bill.
When choosing services and a provider, conduct thorough research on a provider’s website. Usually, all of that is hidden under layers and layers of pages. So search for a provider’s sitemap on Google and dig in. You can also write down all the potential charges and look them up for each provider.
Additionally, providers entice you into opting for extra features such as premium networks, cable boxes, or internet equipment. You can usually do without those premium channels, but if you want a particular one badly, you can add one to your low-tier TV plan.
As for internet equipment, you can buy your own modem and router, which would most likely be of better quality than that of the provider, and not pay rent for it. Remember some providers don’t allow you to use your own internet equipment and make it mandatory to rent the equipment, while some like Spectrum offer modems for free. So you may have to compare the pros and cons of each provider.
- Talk To Your Provider
No provider would want to lose its customer at the end of the contract term or even lose them to another provider, who bought the contract with a buyout offer. So you still have quite a leverage as you call your internet service provider for price negotiations.
Before calling the internet service provider, conduct rigorous research of other providers in your area offering competitive packages. Look up which providers offer a contract buyout.
Also, research about your provider, its different offers, its Early Termination Fees (ETF), and keep your past bills at hand. That information may be useful for bargaining.
Also, whether you win a discount or not also depends on the service rep’s temperament. Some may give in, while others may stoically stand their ground. Nonetheless, remain courteous throughout and you can try your luck another time with a different rep.
All in All…
If all that doesn’t work. No worries, you can always switch to another provider as in the first year of the contract, every provider delivers its services at a discounted rate. If you reside in an urban setting, you will have plenty of options to choose from. However, be wary of providers with long-term contracts as you may be stuck with an exorbitant price hike in the second year. So look for providers who don’t bind you in a contract such as Charter Spectrum™.