Are you paying too much for your Internet connection? Check out these tips on getting the best value for your dollar when it comes to getting online.
If you’re like me, you use your home Internet connection every day for such things as checking email, watching movies, connecting on social media, and getting good old-fashioned information. But it’s very easy to pay too much for that connection without realizing it. So I’ve put together some simple ways to get better value from your Internet costs that could save you hundreds of dollars in a year.
1. Research your local Internet options.
It’s easy to get your Internet connection from the same company that offers you cable or a phone line. But those aren’t always the only options in your area, and it can be worth a little time to check out all the possible ISPs (Internet Service Providers) that are available to you.
For instance, from my home I could potentially get an Internet connection from one of several ISPs. Here is a breakdown of the types of companies that offer service where I live:
- Two satellite
- Three cable
- 5 cellular
- 14 DSL
- 3 direct wireless ISPs
That’s 27 different ways to connect to the Internet from one location. While not every location will have that many choices, people quite often neglect to check what options do exist, and that’s a shame, as the cost for service from the aforementioned companies ranges from $12 to $99/month. The difference between the least and most expensive options is nearly $1,000 over a full year, a significant savings worth taking the time to investigate.
2. Only pay for the Internet you use.
Many bundle packages (Internet service combined with cable and/or phone service) offer different levels of Internet connection, based on the amount of bandwidth you use. Bandwidth simply equates to how much data you can download at one time and how fast that data downloads.
One way to get better value from ISPs offering bundle packages (or any ISPs for that matter) is to make certain you’re only paying for the Internet service you need. If you’re playing video games online every day or downloading thousands of hours of movies, you might need a higher bandwidth connection. If you only use the Internet for email, social media and information, however, there is no reason not to switch to a lower bandwidth package.
If you’re unsure how much bandwidth you use each month, contact your ISP directly and ask it. The company will be able to tell you and you can then ask it if it has a price that better meets your specific needs.
3. Consider smaller companies.
Many cities have ISPs that are local to that city and it can be very worth your time to check their prices out. Because they are competing with the national cable and satellite companies, these local ISPs often have significantly lower prices. Fortunately, since all you need from an ISP is the ability to reliably connect to the larger Internet world, a local ISP can be just as effective a choice as a national one.
In fact, local companies are often better, because they have fewer people using their connection servers (the way an ISP connects to the rest of the Internet). Fewer people means their servers can actually connect faster to your computer than a national ISP server. Plus, you get better bandwidth for less cost.
One important note, however: Always check out reviews and complaints against local companies before you sign up with them to make certain they’re reputable.
4. Don’t be afraid to switch companies.
ISPs want your business, and to get it, they often offer dramatically reduced packages that last for a year or two. So don’t be afraid to check out those packages and to switch to another company if the price is significantly cheaper. You can do this every time your current special price package ends and, in effect, never pay full price for your Internet connection again.
Do note, however, that every time you change ISPs, you’re going to get connection fees, so make certain the package price savings are larger than the cost of switching to that new company.
5. Recognize potential additional costs.
Finally, with any ISP make certain you keep track of any costs beyond the actual Internet service. DSL Internet connections, for instance, require you to have a functioning landline phone. That means the total cost of DSL really includes the cost of that phone every month. Also, cable bundle packages offer a discount on the ISP, so if you ever cancel the cable part of the package, you’ll be paying far more for your Internet service. If you ignore these potential extra costs, you will actually end up spending a much greater amount for the Internet than you realize.