Caps off, grads — you’ve graduated! You’re likely moving out on your own to start the next chapter in life, and you’ve now got to pay for arguably your most important utility: Internet. Sure, in a pinch you can mooch Wi-Fi off the local coffee shop or rely on your campus’s clogged signal. But what about a long-term solution?
The average cost of Internet in America for a month is $47.30 — a hefty sum for someone living on their own for the first time. And with the popularity of cord-cutting, video streaming, and working from home, fast Internet is a necessary bill you’ve got to keep in your budget.
So how can you save on your monthly Internet bill?
1. Take Advantage Of Promotional Prices
You’ve already got a price advantage by being a new customer. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) all want your new business, and they’ve got plenty of promotional discounts to entice you to sign on. If you’re willing to meet a few extra conditions — signing a two-year contract, enrolling in paperless billing, etc. — you’re likely to score an extra discount as well.
Regardless of the deal you take, make sure to read the fine print. You don’t want to find out a few months into the contract that the promotion period was shorter than you thought.
2. Figure Out What You’ll Be Paying For
Home Internet bills can be confusing statements full of additional fees and taxes. Before you commit, press the provider to find out exactly what you will be paying for — hidden fees and all. What will your monthly bill come to when you total the base price, speed surcharges, and equipment rental fees?
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently fighting to force ISPs to be more clear about their pricing structures, which will hopefully make this step easier. If you’re still finding it difficult to interpret mysterious bill coding in the meantime, simply call the ISP and ask for clarification.
3. Buy Your Own Hardware
Most ISPs will let you “lease” a modem and router for a small fee — roughly $5–$10 per month. This can add up quick, and some ISPs won’t let you keep the equipment if you switch provides. Consider instead paying $50 to $100 for your own modem and router, making sure to verify that you’re getting a device that’s compatible with your ISP of choice. You’ll have to pay a little more upfront, but it could save you money in the long run.
4. Pick The Right Speed
You may be tempted to choose a plan with the highest speed possible, but try to get one that fits your needs instead. Most ISPs offer speeds over 100 Mbps and, unless you’re sharing your connection with a roommate, that speed tier will probably be unnecessary. Start small and pick the lowest plan you can function with, then see how that setup works for you. You can always upgrade if necessary. Nearly any ISP will happily upgrade your plan or speed, usually without a fee.
To help orient you as you start looking at speeds, the latest benchmark report from the FCC suggests that an Internet plan with a minimum download speed of 25 Mbps and a minimum upload speed of 3 Mbps should be sufficient to handle most Americans’ Internet use. It won’t hurt to use a speed estimating tool, either.
5. Speak to a Human and Negotiate
If you want to negotiate a good deal, talk to a human. You’re not going to get the best price by just booking whatever deal is available on the ISP’s website. But before you call the ISP, do your homework. Check out what other Internet services are available in your area and write down their prices. Especially jot down information about competitors that have cheaper Internet, even if you have no intention of committing to them.
When you do call, employ some sales tactics to argue for the best deal available. Be polite and unaggressive as you explain that you found a cheaper service in the area. They’ll inevitably try to convince you that their service is better, but stick to your price sheet, emphasizing the importance of a good price. With a little luck, you may be able to land a package you like at a cost you love.
Ready to find the perfect plan? Use online comparison sites to find the best deals in your area, then study the costs and compare speeds. With a little perseverance, you’ll save big on a great Internet service for your first official apartment after graduation.
Featured photo credit: iStock via istockphoto.com