How Do I Know If I'm Paying Too Much for My Home Internet?

Consumers can determine if they are paying too much for Internet by doing research, reviewing their bills and comparison shopping. Low-income households may qualify for additional discounts, but household members will have to request these benefits. In all cases, consumers should be prepared to negotiate and even switch providers if necessary.

Concerns about home Internet pricing are common among consumers. Many people feel that they are paying too much for home Internet and associated services and would like to know if there are ways to cut their bills. If you suspect that your monthly Internet bill is more than it should be, there are several things that you can do to assist your current pricing and find ways to reduce your monthly charges.

Evaluate Your Current Package & Pricing

The first step in determining whether you are paying a fair price for connectivity is to review your current package and monthly bill. Details of your package should be printed on your monthly invoice or in your billing section within your providers website. Take note of the following:

  • Your base price for your current package
  • The level of bandwidth and speed provided by your package
  • The cost of any rental equipment, such as routers
  • The number and type of services you receive, such as Internet, cable, landline phone, security systems, or mobile phone plans
  • Fees, taxes, and other government surcharges
  • Do you also receive cable television services through your Internet provider? Check to see if you are subscribed to any premium, movie, or sports channels. The cost of these extra programming options can be signficant.

Once you know what you are paying and what you are paying for, you're in a better position to determine whether you're paying too much for your home Internet.

Consider Your Household Needs

Before you begin the process of checking out the competition or negotiating with your current provider for lower pricing, you'll also want to understand your household needs. The need for Internet connectivity can change over time, particularly in households with multiple roommates or family members.

Here are some things to think about:

  • How many people live in your household? How many connected devices does each individual person own and use? Devices include desktop and laptop computers, tablets, E readers, mobile phones, smart watches, and connected activity trackers.
  • How many all household devices do you have that are connected to your home Internet? These could include security alarms and cameras, smart appliances, smart speakers and personal assistant devices, such as Amazon's Echo, and Smart TVs.
  • How often are people at home, using your household Internet?

It's a good idea to review household Internet usage periodically, particularly after there has been a change, such as kids moving out or a new spouse or partner moving in. In addition, consider changes in work and schooling: If people within your household work or go to school remotely, your Internet needs will often be greater than if everyone is usually out at work or school during the day.

Tip: Many people choose Internet packages that offer much faster speed than they actually need. Unless somebody in your house is a gamer or your household has a tendency to stream multiple movies or TV programs at the same time, you're very likely do not need the super high speed package that your Internet provider is offering. Do some research on realistic speeds for your household usage and don't succumb to advertising that encourages you to pay for "blazing fast speeds" that you are likely to never need or use.

Review Your Provider's Current Pricing

Visit your providers website and check out current plan pricing for new customers. While these are often promotional prices, designed to attract new business, you can still use these numbers if you decide to negotiate with your Internet company for a lower rate.

One thing that you should be aware of is that package or bundle pricing from Internet providers doesn't always make a great deal of sense: you may find that you were offered a package that offers multiple services, such as basic cable or landline service along with Internet, at a lower rate than a stand-alone Internet service. This can be confusing and frustrating, but it is important to understand that simply canceling services that you don't use might not lower your overall monthly bill.

Check Out the Competition

If you live in an area where there is more than one Internet provider, do some research on competitors. This is true with your current provider, published pricing will likely reflect introductory promotional rates which may go up significantly after you've been with the provider for at least a year. Still, however, you can get some idea of what competitors are charging and a lower rate can be used as leverage if you are negotiating with your current provider.

Tip: ask friends and family members if they are willing to share with you what they are paying for Internet service. Whether they are customers of your current provider or are with competitors, their information can help you develop a better understanding of Internet pricing in your area. Just be sure to ask what package they have so that you can do an apples-to-apples comparison.

Investigate Discount Programs

Homeowners associations and condo boards sometimes negotiate lower rates for residents. How to an HOA or on a condominium, you may want to ask the board to investigate the possibility of approaching an Internet service provider to request a discount for all households in your community.

There are also programs that help low-income House holes get reduced cost Internet. The Lifeline program is a federal program that can assist you in getting phone service as well as Internet service at your home. In some cases, you may be able to apply directly for these low rates through your provider. You may need to provide proof of income, which could be as simple as providing proof of participating in the food stamp program or receiving Supplimental Secuirty Income benefits.

Negotiate With Your Provider

If your investigation shows that you are paying too much for Internet, you have multiple options for addressing the situation. In many cases, it is far more convenient to try to negotiate with your provider for a lower rate. One of the easiest ways to do this is to assemble documentation of lower-cost packages offered by your current provider, along with pricing offered by competitors.

Explain to the customer service representative that you would like to see a reduction in what you are paying each month. You may encounter some resistance, but if you persist, he or she may back down and offer you a discount. Another option is to simply say that you wish to cancel your service. At that point, you will likely be transferred to a retention specialist whose job is to try to persuade you to stay with your current provider. He or she may be more willing to offer a better deal than the one that you are currently receiving.

If the provider simply refuses to budge, you may want to consider canceling your service and transferring to a different provider in your area. Keep in mind, that your initial rate will likely go up significantly, so be prepared to begin negotiations before the introductory contract runs out or to have to go through the negotiation and possible service provider change process within a year.

Tip: If you do opt to transfer service to a new provider, consider choosing the most basic Internet package available. Check to see if it works for your household: If you need more speed, bandwidth, or bells and whistles, you can always add them on later. It is much more difficult to cancel services or downgrade a package than it is to request an upgrade.

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