It seems that as time goes by, we have more and more non-negotiable, mandatory expenses, and one of the major ones is an internet connection. What was once a luxury is now an absolute necessity akin to a telephone. You can’t forgo the internet because it’s necessary to every aspect of your existence. Are your kids going to school? They probably need the internet for homework. If you work from home, you certainly need it for conference calls and successfully carrying out your tasks. You even need it to keep in touch with loved ones or for everyday things like shopping or entertainment.
But unfortunately, internet connections can get expensive. Especially if you’re struggling to keep up with inflation costs, this might be one of the areas where you want to cut expenses a little. Or maybe you’re a student on a tight budget, or you need to up the bandwidth, and the price difference is outside your range. What if you’re moving to a new area, and the prices are way higher?
The good news is that it is possible to get cheaper internet and retain the same level of service as before. You just need to find the right providers with the most affordable internet.
The Cheapest Internet Providers
If you’re after the cheapest internet providers, look no further; here is a list of some of the most affordable providers - and internet packages - available, starting as low as $19.99 per month. Keep in mind that offers depend on location and that prices may change over time. Always double-check for how long the advertised price is available to avoid unpleasant - and expensive - surprises.
List of the Cheapest Internet Plans Offered by Different Providers, Ranked by Cost
No matter what your internet needs are or how low your budget is, you’re sure to be able to find something that fits your requirements.
Connection type: Cable, Fiber
Speed: 20 Mbps - 940 Mbps
Best for: Gamers
- Suddenlink offers the lowest rates on this list by far. First-year rates are just $19.99/month.
- The top speeds are very high, which makes it an excellent choice for gamers.
- There are many customization options for those who want the freedom and the flexibility of not being restricted to one or two preset plans.
- Second-year rates are significantly higher than the first year, jumping to as high as $90. It’s not an option for people who are seeking consistent pricing. There is also a modem rental fee of $10, but that can be avoided by supplying your own modem, as long as it’s compatible.
- Data caps can also be low in certain areas, going down to 250 GB.
Connection type: Cable, Fiber
Speed: 250 Mbps - 940 Mbps
Best for: Tech fans
- One of the main benefits of Astound plans is the introductory $19.99 price for the first year, tying it in first place for the cheapest internet plan, offering 100 Mbps.
- Another major plus is that there is no data cap to speak of, so you don’t have to worry about incurring fees for going over the cap.
- Like some of the other options on the list, a price increase after the first year can put off some customers and drastically impact affordability. A maximum rate can reach $119 for a 100 Mbps plan. However, it depends on the location.
- There is an added cost of $12 for renting a modem. You can circumvent the cost if you use your own.
Connection type: Cable
Speed: 60 Mbps - 1000 Mbps
Best for: Consistent fast speeds
- At $19.99 a month, Mediacom's first-year rates are low, similar to other services. For the price, you get 60 Mbps.
- However, unlike their services, the price increase after a year is $29.99, which is still a great deal.
- There is a data cap of 200 GB on the entry-level plan, which can be quite low if you’re an intensive internet user.
- There is a $12 charge to rent the cable modem. If you wish to purchase your own, you can.
Connection type: Fiber, DSL
Speed: Up to 940 Mbps
Best for: Online gaming, high data activities
- Rural customers particularly benefit from Frontier plans because they offer low rates in these areas where the internet can be expensive because of a lack of competition.
- There is no data cap for any of the plans provided.
- Your price is also consistent, and there are no increases after the introductory year.
- Speeds are often low in many of the packages offered by Frontier, particularly the DSL ones, so it’s not the ideal option if you need high speeds in your household.
- The modem will cost you either $200 upfront or $15 a month, but you can also buy your own if you wish.
Connection type: Fiber
Speed: 300 Mbps - 940 Mbps
Best for: streamers and other users who need high upload speeds, people who use a lot of data
- You get 300 Mbps speeds for $39.99 a month from Verizon, with upload speeds also being high, so if you’re a streamer, that’s excellent news.
- Unlike other companies, there is no price increase in the second year of service; the price you are offered originally is your consistent and final price.
- There are no data caps to worry about, hence no fees for going over your data allowance.
- Coverage is a problem with Verizon Fios, so as good as the deal may be, it’s limited to a few exclusive urban environments.
- You have to buy the router for $300 or a monthly $15 fee if you don’t already have your own.
Everything You Need to Know to Choose the Cheapest Internet Provider Near You
Choosing an internet provider is not a one size fits all type of deal. There is a lot of variety in what is offered, and many factors impact your choice of the cheapest internet provider.
First of all, the provider has to cover your location. They should also meet your other needs, like affordability, bandwidth, and speed. The higher quality or more specialized the service you request is, the more expensive it is. For example, if you’re looking for fiber internet and 500 Mbps speeds, you will have to set a minimum budget that’s higher than someone who’s happy with DSL. Your location also significantly impacts prices - rural residents should be ready to pay more simply because of the limited ISPs and types of service.
You should also be thinking about your internet needs. Are you online every day? How many users are in your household? What kind of activities do you do online? Streaming and gaming, or sending emails? Each one of these aspects is going to impact your options.
Just What is an Internet Provider?
But before you can make an effective and informed decision on which internet provider is the best for your needs, it would be helpful to understand what an internet provider is and what they do for you.
An internet service provider (known as ISP) is a company that offers internet access, whether residential or commercial. You need an ISP to set up an internet connection and be able to go online on your devices.
ISPs will typically have various services available for different types of internet connections, bandwidths, speeds, and corresponding prices for all kinds of different needs and customers. Some ISPs prefer to focus on one kind of service or a handful of types of connections, and some target a particular type of customer or specific areas.
Extra Factors That Determine Internet Cost
With internet prices and seemingly unbeatable offers, you have to be very careful - everything is not what it seems. While most internet providers advertise plans starting at around $40, that’s not the final amount you pay. The average internet bill is $64 a month. The cost of the internet is more than just the low base price advertised to you as a good deal.
The $15 to $25 difference? Extras: equipment costs, installation fees, and taxes. Several other factors come into play and can add quite a hefty sum to your monthly payment that can make you change your mind about what is really “cheap.” Depending on your type of connection, you could be paying hundreds of dollars extra.
- Installation & activation fees - You often can’t get away from are installation fees. Most types of internet connection will inevitably come with the need to install the equipment, which doesn’t come for free unless specifically advertised. The installation cost is only one-time, but it can reach $100. To that, you may need to add an activation cost.
- Equipment purchase or rental fees - If you need to rent a router or modem, get ready to pay another $10 to $20 extra each month. If you pay for a more expensive plan, the provider may waive these fees as an incentive. Depending on the company, you may also be able to use your equipment - as long as it’s compatible.
- Data overage fees - In an age where unlimited data is the goal, you’ll pay dearly if you don’t have it. Overrun your monthly data allowance, and you may be in for an expensive surprise. Expect to pay around $10 for every 50 GB you use over your data cap.
- Cancellation fees - If you decide, for whatever reason, to remove yourself from your contract early, you guessed it - that’s going to cost you. Cancellation fees are high as a means of stopping you from dropping out of the contract. You can expect to pay pro rata for all the months left in your contract, which can amount to hundreds of dollars, depending on how much you have left. Providers, including Verizon, Spectrum, and CenturyLink, take another approach and don’t have annual service agreements, so there are no termination fees to pay.
- Late payment fees - Late payment fees can also add up, even if you don’t get them frequently. Usually, the fee is $20+ or a percentage of your total bill. If you leave it too long and your service gets disconnected, you can expect even more fees for reconnection.
- FCC Universal Service Fund fee - There is a fee internet providers pay to the FCC every quarter that is meant to contribute to broadband access for low-income and rural areas. You may find that your internet provider is having you pay a fee of around $5 or so to this end.
Choosing the Best and Cheapest Internet Near You
Now, searching for a new internet provider can be overwhelming, even knowing all these facts. Especially if you’ve moved to a new area, where do you start looking? What do you need?
The easiest way to do it is, of course, to do an online search. You can perform your own detailed research and look into all the providers available to you, what they each offer, and at what prices. You can then rank them or weigh their advantages and disadvantages against each other.
The even better way is to use an online internet service directory. That will enable you to get all the necessary information, but someone else has already done all the work. All you need to do is type in your location into the directory search bar, and you will be given a list of every internet provider that serves that area.
You’ll be able to find out what type of internet connection you can opt for, what speeds you can get, and compare prices and services between providers or within their own offerings.
Factors to Keep in Mind as You Search for the Cheapest Internet
You may desire the cheapest internet available, but it’s essential to remain realistic and remember that what you’re looking for is the cheapest internet service for your specific needs.
If you’re an intense internet user with four teenagers, you probably won’t be able to make do with the same internet plan as an elderly woman who lives alone and uses email once a week. Work commitments, lifestyle, and other needs can impact your cost.
- Expensive location - Your location is, perhaps, the most significant factor determining how much you will pay for your internet connection. Some states just charge more for the internet, so if you’re moving from Kansas to Wyoming, for example, you will feel the sting regardless of what kind of internet package you get. Remember that living rurally vs. in an urban environment also impacts cost; the more options there are to go around, the more competitive the pricing.
- Multiple users - The number of users you have in your household also impacts the kind of package you need. You can get away with the cheapest package if you live alone and aren’t at home to be online all day, but if you work from home with kids who are also online every day, you will need to pay more to get more data.
- Internet type - The type of internet you opt for also impacts your cost. If you need high speeds and need to get fiber internet, then you will have a higher starting cost than other people just because of the nature of your connection.
What Makes a Good Internet Provider?
Not all internet providers are created equal, and while a low cost may be enticing, you may inadvertently compromise other aspects of a quality service. It’s important to strike a balance between all the factors that make an internet provider good to enjoy a truly high-quality service.
- Reliability & consistency - One of the most critical aspects that make an internet provider worth getting your business is the consistency and reliability of their service. High speeds don’t help if you can never rely on your internet connection to work, so that’s a non-negotiable. You want the same service day in and day out so that you know you can rely on your internet when you need it, whether it’s for your everyday morning call with your boss or when you need to quickly Google for how long you should be cooking your roast duck so you don’t burn it again.
- Customer support - If your internet is down, or you’re not getting the full speed you’re paying for, you need the customer service to also be exemplary. There’s no need to name names, but there are providers that are infamous for their terrible customer service, and it brings down their customer satisfaction rating. You want your provider to be responsive, listen to your issue, and take action promptly. They're not worth the money if you wait a month for them to show up and look at that fallen tree that cut the internet cables.
- Affordable - Affordability is, of course, a significant consideration. A provider can offer you the best of the best, but if it’s outside your budget, there’s not much you can do about it. Most people rate affordability highly on their list of priorities when searching for a new internet provider, and with good reason. Be sure to do your due diligence and get the most bang for your buck when shopping around for a new internet provider. It is possible to get great service and meet your needs for a great price.
- Good coverage - Coverage is also up there with the most important aspects to consider because if you don’t have adequate coverage, you can’t actually use the internet. A good provider has excellent coverage, including in rural or remote areas. Coverage should be one of the first things you check when looking for a new provider. That shows you how committed they are to provide a quality service.
- Good speed - Speed is king, of course; when it comes to internet providers, the speeds you offer say everything a customer needs to know about you. Are you going to be able to meet their needs? Or will you let them down? What kind of internet connections do you put at their disposal? Speed should not be the only thing you base your choice on, but it’s one of the deal breakers. If you don’t get high enough speeds, you’re not getting your money’s worth, and the package is not right for you.
- Bandwidth - Bandwidth should also be on your list. Often mistakenly equated with speed, bandwidth is the maximum allowance for megabits (or bits, gigabits, etc.) per second. Throughput is more accurate. But the higher your bandwidth, the higher the price, so it’s often a trade-off or compromise to get a decent bandwidth, speed, and price.
Specific Lifestyle Requirements to Consider When Searching for an Internet Provider
When choosing your internet provider and the type of connection, you need to consider your habits and lifestyle. You may not think it’s relevant, but it’s one of the most significant indicators of your needs. Some habits may mesh well with a low-cost internet option, while others may require an added expense.
- Number of devices & users - One thing to keep in mind is that the more users you add to your network, your speed decreases because it gets divided among all the users. So, if you’re a four-user household, for example, and you all have internet-intensive activities, your needs will be greater than a person who is the single user in their household. Think about what each person uses the internet for and plan accordingly.
- Frequent meetings & social calls - In a post-pandemic world, video calls are a significant internet drain and a staple of most people’s workdays. If your work requires you to be in meetings all day, or every day, then there is a minimum speed and bandwidth you need to commit to just to ensure that you can sustain the quality the calls require.
- Streaming - Streaming can be an internet-intensive activity, depending on what quality you’re using and how many users are streaming simultaneously. Watching Netflix every day puts a strain on your connection, and you need to factor it into your internet package. The good news is that you don’t need as much bandwidth as other activities demand, so even if you need to pay a little more, it will not cause you to go over budget.
- Video games - Gaming online can be quite a busy activity. It’s not likely to take up your entire bandwidth or anything, but if it’s something you frequently do, especially if you also stream at the same time or other people in your household are video calling - then you need to take it into consideration when picking your internet package. It’s always better to get more than you think you need than not to have enough, even if that means a couple more dollars per month.
How to Find Cheap Internet Near You
Let’s say you’ve recently moved and you’re trying to find cheap internet in your area. Or you’re just trying to find a different provider on a low student budget. You could do it the difficult way and take it upon yourself to research it thoroughly.
You can look into all the different providers that serve your area and check what kind of connections they each put at your disposal, what speeds they offer, and how much they cost. Or you can do it the easy way and use an online service to compare all the different plans available in your area.
All you need to do is look for a comparison service and put your zip code into their search bar. That will yield results for all the ISPs that offer coverage for that zip code and all the different plans you can get for an address in this zip code.
Out of these results, you can manually search for the best one, or you can compare them against each other. Is a cheap DSL plan better for you, or a slightly more expensive fiber plan with similar speeds? If the price shoots up in the second year of service, is your preferred plan still the cheapest, or is there another option that can beat it? These are all details you can figure out with one simple search.
The Bottom Line: The Cheapest Internet for Your Lifestyle
There is no single correct answer to the question “what is the cheapest internet?” simply because it depends on many factors. Thankfully, we live in an era of choice and technological advancement, which means that the internet is getting faster, better, cheaper, and more diversified as time progresses.
So all that’s left to do is figure out which type fits your lifestyle and who offers it for the lowest price. Your location will determine your starting price, more often than not, because the cost varies depending on geography. But living in a city vs. in a rural area also comes into play because there are fewer options the more remotely you live.
Finally, lifestyle impacts the price a lot. How much you need depends on what you use your internet for and how many people use it. If you live alone and only use it to scroll through Facebook, you can probably get away with the cheapest DSL plan. Suppose you have video conferences every day, and your kids game online or stream Netflix daily. In that case, you need higher speeds, more broadband, and a reliable connection, like fiber or cable.
If you’re overwhelmed by options, an online internet directory will do all the heavy lifting and present you with all the relevant information for your location and needs.
The good news is that you don’t have to look far for an internet comparison tool. You can simply go to our homepage and type in your zip code, and a list of options will pop up.
Who has the fastest internet service?
If you’re looking for speed above all else, you want a fiber internet connection or 5G. But with the latter still being rolled out in most states, fiber is probably your more widespread option. With speeds just under 1 GB, a fiber plan should cover all your speed needs. Cable internet can also hook you up with great speeds, so Verizon, Mediacom, Frontier, Astound, and Suddenlink all have good options for high-speed internet service.
Which WiFi is best at a low price?
Your best WiFi depends on many different factors, but if you’re interested in the low price, then you can’t beat $19.99 a month, which you can get from Suddenlink, Astound, and Mediacom - but only in the first year. Be very careful about sudden price hikes during the second year of service that can render your internet bill much less affordable.
Does my internet provider offer 5G?
The easiest way to find out if you can get 5G is to check with your internet provider. Currently, only Ultra, T-Mobile, Verizon, and Starry Internet offer 5G to residential customers. Soon, it will be available with AT&T, as well. Until then, 4G wireless is available in some rural locations, and while it’s not as impressive as 5G, it’s a pretty good option.
Which internet provider is better for home use?
There isn’t one sole internet provider that’s the best for residential use; they all have advantages and disadvantages. It depends on your particular needs and what your lifestyle requires. Some providers have better coverage, while others offer higher upload speeds or download speeds or a certain kind of connection. It’s up to you to check them out and think about which one ticks your boxes. The easiest way to do it is to compare them with the help of an online directory that will help you look at each category and make the best choice for your needs.
How do I pay my internet bill?
The easiest way to pay your internet bill is to do it online. Paying through your bank is one of the most comfortable and convenient ways because all you need to do is go to your banking app and make the payment there. You can also set up a direct debit to withdraw the money directly from your bank account every month without you having to lift a finger.