As more people stay at home due to COVID-19, there has been a surge in broadband connectivity. Households rely on the internet to perform work-related tasks or attend online lectures, making internet speeds and affordable pricing more crucial than ever. That said, sometimes the fastest internet connection won’t work out for your budget. On average, the monthly cost for internet plans in the U.S. is $68.381, which includes promotional and non-promotional pricing. If that sounds expensive to you, that’s because it is — but it doesn’t always have to be as long as you know where and how to look for the most affordable internet plan.
When choosing an internet service provider for the cheapest internet plan, know that there are caveats. Saving money is possible, which is why we’re giving you the inside scoop on what to expect from finding the cheapest internet plans.
What does cheap internet entail?
What you pay is what you get, though that’s not always the case for cheap internet. There are several broadband connection types to consider, including but not limited to DSL, cable, fiber, and satellite. DSL and cable internet will have the most affordable prices, though AT&T Internet does offer an affordable fiber internet plan.
Some cheap internet plans will also have data caps, which limit your streaming or online gaming activities. That’s not to say there aren’t any affordable plans with unlimited data. When we talk about cheap internet, we have to mention the good and the bad. In other words, there’s a price to pay for affordable internet.
Disclaimer About Cheap Internet
Transparency is something that ISPs don’t always practice with their pricing. Even though the monthly rate is affordable for new subscribers, it will most likely increase by the next year with a significant hike. It’s always best to remember that promotional pricing isn’t permanent. Also, advertised speeds differ from actual speeds. Despite an internet plan that claims to have speeds of 100 Mbps, it could mean something less. Be sure to test your internet speed if you’re curious as to how fast it actually is.
Other restrictions may apply such as promotional rates being available to new subscribers only and having good credit. Monthly rates also depend on if you choose AutoPay. Cheap internet might seem like a viable option when it comes to saving money, but there’s always the fine print that you should take a moment to read over.
How to Find the Cheapest Internet
We’ve chosen the top internet providers for each broadband type that offer the cheapest internet plans below and detail the pros and cons of their services. Without further ado, let’s see what each ISP is all about.
Cox — Cheapest Cable Internet
What we like: For cable internet, Cox takes the cake for not only the lowest-priced plan but also the smallest increase in pricing. The Cox Internet Starter 10 costs $29.99 per month as the promotional rate before it increases to $44.99 per month after one year. Speeds go up to 10 Mbps.
What we don’t like: Cox does require a one-year contract with early termination fees up to $120. Their plan also has a data cap of 1280 GB per month, so unlimited data seekers might want to look elsewhere.
AT&T Internet — Cheapest Fiber Internet
What we like: Since fiber-optic internet is the most expensive broadband type, it comes as a surprise when AT&T’s most affordable plan offers fiber-optic speeds. For $49.99 per month, you get download speeds of up to 1000 Mbps and upload speeds to match. There are no data caps and there’s only a $20 increase for the monthly rate after the first year.
What we don’t like: AT&T requires new subscribers to sign up for a one-year contract. They also have installation fees that reach up to $99. There’s also a $35 activation fee. The costs add up, making cheap fiber internet not, well, cheap.
Viasat — Cheapest Satellite Internet
What we like: As the more affordable satellite internet option, Viasat offers a $50 per month plan for rural residents with speeds up to 12 Mbps. That’s a pretty solid speed for basic internet use and standard definition streaming.
What we don’t like: Unlike the aforementioned internet providers, Viasat requires a two-year contract and has a measly data cap of 12 GB per month. Installation fees also go up to $99.99 and there’s a potential equipment lease fee of $10 per month.
The Cheapest Internet Plans in 2021
Now that you have a good idea of which internet providers offer the cheapest internet plans according to connection type, let’s widen the scope a bit. For a full breadth of cheap internet plans from a handful of internet providers, check out our chart below for comparisons. Note that plans, monthly rates, and speeds vary by area and availability.
|Provider||Monthly Cost of Cheapest Plan||Connection Type||Download Speed||Data Caps||Promotional Rate?|
|Frontier Communications||$27.99||DSL||6 Mbps||None||No, flat rate|
|Cox||$29.99||Cable||10 Mbps||1280 GB per month||Yes, one year|
|Xfinity||$39.99||Cable||100 Mbps||None||Yes, one year|
|Verizon Fios||$39.99||Fiber||200 Mbps||None||Yes|
|AT&T Internet||$49.99||Fiber||1000 Mbps||None||Yes, one year|
|Spectrum||$49.99||Cable||100 Mbps||None||Yes, one year|
|CenturyLink||$49.99||DSL||20 Mbps||1024 GB per month||No, flat rate|
|Viasat||$50||Satellite||12 Mbps||12 GB per month||No, flat rate|
|HughesNet||$59.99||Satellite||25 Mbps||10 GB per month||No, flat rate|
Current Deals That’ll Score You the Cheapest Internet This Year
Looking for bundles or extra perks with cheap internet plans? Here are some of the best deals that we found to get you more bang for your buck.
Xfinity: For a limited time, Xfinity is offering its Performance Starter+ plan for $24.99 per month with a 12-month agreement. Speeds go up to 25 Mbps and there’s a 1.2 TB data cap. You can add a Flex 4K streaming device and Voice Remote at no additional cost.
AT&T Internet: When you bundle AT&T Internet with TV or phone services, you can enjoy 1 Gig internet for only $39.99 per month. A 12-month agreement is required but HBO Max is included. Speeds go up to 100 Mbps.
Verizon Fios: For $39.99 per month, you get speeds up to 200 Mbps and 12 months of Disney+ for free. If you’re looking to switch providers, Verizon Fios offers up to $500 in credit to cover the early termination fee from your current provider.
CenturyLink: With price-lock, CenturyLink’s monthly rates don’t increase even after a year. For $65 per month, you get fiber internet with speeds up to 940 Mbps. You also receive a free modem and installation.
A Statistical Standpoint
There are approximately 284 million internet users in the U.S.2, which is 4 million more users than in 2019. As competition grows, so do the prices. Why is this, you ask? Well, for one, the costs of equipment and installation are high. As of late, fiber-optic internet is your go-to if you want super-fast speeds, but this broadband type is the most expensive out of all the others because of the fiber cables.
The same can be said for satellite internet — equipment and professional installation come at a steep price. These high costs disproportionately affect low-income households and BIPOC communities; a study of 6 million U.S. households found that 51% didn’t have residential internet because it was too expensive3.
How to Reduce Your Internet Bill
Sometimes it takes more than just searching for the cheapest internet plan to save money, especially if you’re satisfied with your current internet service. There are several ways you can put more into your savings rather than piling up your expenses every month. Here are several solutions to reducing your internet bill:
- Bundle your internet with TV and/or phone services
- Find download speeds lower than 100 Mbps
- Rent or buy your modem or router
- Negotiate your bill with your internet service provider
- Find standalone, no-frills internet plans
- Check if your household qualifies for low income or fixed income internet plans
No solution fits all — how you go about lowering your internet bill depends on your needs and internet service provider. Consider these solutions as starting points in helping you choose the best route for saving money on your internet.
The Pros and Cons of Choosing the Cheapest Internet
The most obvious benefit of choosing the cheapest internet plan is how much money you save. On top of that, you avoid paying for speeds you don’t need. If you’re worried about unreliable internet connection, don’t worry — cheap internet does not equal bad service.
The cons? If you live in a large household and there are multiple streamers or online gamers, you’re going to want faster speeds. Cheap internet doesn’t always have the fastest speeds, and even if there are affordable plans with fast speeds, there might be data caps. Also, promotional rates don’t last forever and they will increase, sometimes significantly, by the second year.
Although there’s a lot of information to digest, you now know what to expect from cheap internet plans. If saving money is your main priority, you’ll fare better with cheap internet if you live in a smaller household or don’t require high speeds. Here’s a refresher on what you should think about when shopping for the cheapest internet:
- Promotional rates are temporary and there will be price hikes
- Cheaper internet plans mean slower download speeds
- Fiber internet is the most expensive broadband option
- Various internet providers offer unique and exclusive deals
- You can find ways to lower your internet bill without switching providers or plans
It’s a double-edged sword with cheap internet. You can save money, but you may find yourself paying more in the long run. Limitations such as data caps might also affect your activities such as streaming or online gaming. It all depends on your needs, which can change from time to time. The best approach to finding the cheapest internet is to check which providers are available in your area and then go from there.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who has the cheapest internet plans?
EarthLink, Frontier, and Cox Communications are among the top providers to offer cheap internet plans. EarhtLink’s lowest-priced plan costs $14.95 per month with download speeds up to 3 Mbps. Frontier’s lowest-priced plan costs $27.99 per month with download speeds up to 6 Mbps. Cox’s lowest-priced plan costs $29.99 per month with download speeds up to 10 Mbps.
How do I find the cheapest internet?
When finding the cheapest internet, there are several factors to consider. First, check to see which internet providers are available in your area. Internet providers like EarthLink and Frontier provide the cheapest plans with download speeds under 10 Mbps. If you don’t mind these speeds, then their plans might be for you. If you want to bundle your internet, you may find that prices are cheaper than purchasing it as a standalone. The cheapest internet depends on your needs, as affordability doesn’t always make up for optimal performance.
What is the cheapest internet plan without a phone line?
The cheapest internet plan without a phone line is EarthLink’s plan which costs $14.95 per month and has download speeds up to 3 Mbps. There is a multitude of standalone internet plans that are affordable with varying download speeds. A phone line is not required to find the cheapest internet plan.
How can I get the internet without signing up for a contract?
- https://www.newamerica.org/oti/reports/cost-connectivity-2020/focus-on-the-united-states ↩
- https://www.statista.com/statistics/325645/usa-number-of-internet-users/ ↩
- https://www.ntia.gov/blog/2019/unplugged-ntia-survey-finds-some-americans-still-avoid-home-internet-use ↩
- https://www.newamerica.org/oti/reports/cost-connectivity-2020/focus-on-the-united-states/ ↩