Whether you’re a student, self-employed or an avid movie streamer, having reliable internet is important. The good news is there are a number of internet service providers that offer cheap WiFi plans. You just have to know what you’re looking for. In this article, we’ll help you find the best cheap internet plan for your needs and your budget.
Cheap internet options
The types of internet connections that are available to you depend on where you live. But switching to a lower cost internet connection is a great way to get cheap WiFi. Here are some common internet connections you should explore:
- DSL. One of the most popular types of internet is DSL, which stands for Digital Subscriber Line. DSL connections can handle a high volume of data, which is important for people who run multiple devices at once. DSL internet isn’t the fastest connection you can get, but it’s fast enough for most people’s needs. Speeds can range between 1 and 24 Mbps, but you might be able to get higher speeds depending on your state.
- WiFi. When you think about the internet today, WiFi is probably what comes to mind first. The biggest perk of wireless internet is that it allows you to access the internet untethered. It’s also fast and pretty reliable in most areas. The price of WiFi varies, but there are plenty of affordable plans available if you shop around. WiFi speeds can be as low as 24 Mbps and as faster than 200 Mbps depending on your plan.
- Dial-up. Dial-up internet was the first internet connection to which most people had access. It relies on a landline to transmit the signal, which makes it very slow and unable to handle large amounts of data. However, it’s often enough for people who use the internet for quick daily tasks only, like checking email. With dial-up internet, you can expect to get speeds around 56 Kbps (kilobits per second, a much slower speed than with bandwidth).
- Satellite. With satellite television, you need a satellite dish to send and receive information from your computer to the internet. Satellite usually has higher latency (the time it takes data to move from a browser to a server) than other connection types but is often available in places where other types aren’t offered, such as in rural areas. Satellite internet has maximum download speeds of around 100 Mbps.
Best cheap internet providers
To help simplify your internet search experience, we put together a list of the most popular internet service providers that offer cheap internet plans. Use this as a guide to find a package that fits your needs and budget. Make sure to check with each provider to see if they offer packages in your area.
- Type: Dial-up
- Features: NetZero offers a free dial-up internet plan that comes with 10 hours of usage per month. Because it’s software-based, the program can be downloaded in a few minutes. NetZero’s HiSpeed accelerated dial-up service claims to be about five times as fast as other dial-up services. If you need help troubleshooting, NetZero offers free live technical support within 30 days of your purchase.
- Best for: Infrequent internet users who use the computer to check email or browse for just a few hours each month.
- Dial-up internet isn’t for everyone. It’s the slowest internet available, and you’re very restricted in what you can do. However, NetZero’s plan is a good option for new internet users or people who use the internet rarely.
Windstream Kinetic 200
- Type: DSL
- Features: Windstream’s Kinetic 200 DSL internet plan offers up to 200 Mbps for around $25 per month, depending on your state. It also allows users to stream and browse from multiple devices without compromising speeds. Windstream also doesn’t have data caps or overage charges. You can choose a month-to-month contract if you want to test out the service before committing to a full year.
- Best for: Heavy internet users who stream games, TV shows and movies often. It’s also a great option for larger households, or for people who want to stream continuously on multiple devices.
- With up to 200 Mbps and no data caps, you won’t feel restricted by what you can stream, or how long you can use your devices. We also like the fact that Windstream doesn’t charge for data overages so you’ll know exactly what you’re paying each month.
- Type: DSL
- Features: Frontier’s lowest cost DSL plan starts at just $27.99 per month, depending on your state. With up to 6 Mbps, it’s good for people who casually use the internet to check their email or browse social media. Frontier also offers no data caps and a price-for-life guarantee which protects you from hidden fees and sudden price increases.
- Best for: The occasional internet user who wants fast speeds but doesn’t need streaming or HD capabilities.
- Overall, the Frontier Internet plan is a solid choice for most budgets at less than $30 per month, and you have added peace of mind with the price-for-life guarantee. Keep in mind that 6 Mbps is only enough speed for light internet usage. It’s not the best option for people who work from home or use multiple devices at the same time.
Cox Internet Starter 10
- Type: Cable
- Features: Cox’s starter WiFi package comes with up to 10 Mbps for $29.99 per month for one year. That’s a usable speed for people who generally use less than three devices at one time. Cox never throttle’s internet speeds, so you don’t have to worry about unexpected slow downs or outages. Cox also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all internet packages.
- Best for: The occasional internet user who cares about reliability more than anything.
- Cox’s starter package offers cable internet, which is cost-effective and more widely available than DSL. It’s a good option for people who use the internet for basic browsing, checking email or sharing photos. We also like the fact that Cox doesn’t throttle internet speeds, which means you can use your full connection speed regardless of network congestion.
Xfinity Performance Internet
- Type: WiFi
- Features: Xfinity’s Performance Internet WiFi plan comes with lightning fast speeds at a pretty affordable rate. Starting at $39.99 per month, you’ll get up to 100 Mbps of download speed. At that speed, you can be using up to five devices at the same time with no interruption in service or lag in connection speed. Customers can also get a Flex 4K streaming device and voice remote for no added costs when they purchase an internet plan.
- Best for: The moderate internet user who runs multiple devices at the same time. This plan is also good for people who watch streaming content a few times per week.
- Xfinity’s Performance Internet plan is a good option for people who want fast, reliable WiFi at the lowest cost possible. Xfinity has a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans, and provides a guaranteed two-hour appointment window for installation and repair services.
- Type: Fiber
- Features: For $39.99 per month, you can get access to 100 Mbps speeds on Verizon’s network. Their most affordable internet plan is perfect for streaming, downloading movies, sharing photos and more. Currently, new customers get a $50 prepaid Visa gift card and free Disney+ for the first 12 months.
- Best for: Heavy internet users who want to browse and stream on multiple devices at the same time without any lag.
- Verizon offers one of the fastest and cheapest internet plans on the market. If you’re interested in added perks, Verizon offers add-ons and limited-time free services with a new contract.
- Type: DSL
- Features: AT&T’s DSL plan offers high speed internet, even at peak times. Customers can stream on multiple devices, which is perfect for larger households. But despite the high speeds, the plan is affordable for some at $50 for the first 12 months. This DSL plan comes with 1 TB of data per month, however, customers can purchase an unlimited data plan separately for $30 extra.
- Best for: People who aren’t heavy internet users, but still want fast speeds when they are using the internet. AT&T’s DSL plan is a great option for people who primarily use the internet for light web browsing, checking email and streaming the occasional movie.
- AT&T’s DSL internet plan offers high speeds at a relatively affordable price. And with 1 TB of data, light internet users won’t run the risk of surpassing their monthly limit. However, keep in mind that DSL networks aren't available everywhere. If you’re interested in getting DSL internet from AT&T, use this search tool to check availability in your area.
Note: prices as of 3/2/2020
Tips for finding cheap internet
There are some other things you should look out for when shopping for a new and less expensive internet plan. Here are some ways you can ensure you're getting the best rate:
- Look for hidden fees, like installation costs or high taxes
- Ask your internet service provider if they offer unadvertised discounts
- Purchase your own router, modem and cables to avoid expensive rental fees
- Bundle your internet, TV and phone with the same provider to save money
- Negotiate your bill to get a lower price
Frequently Asked Questions
Who offers cheap internet plans?
There are a number of internet providers that offer cheap internet plans. Based on our research, NetZero, Windstream and Frontier offered the lowest cost packages. However, the cheapest plan might not be the best for you. If you’re a heavy internet user who wants streaming and HD capabilities, you can expect to pay more for your internet than someone who only spends a few hours per month browsing the web.
What internet types are the cheapest?
Generally speaking, dial-up, satellite and DSL internet are the cheapest connection types. But keep in mind that DSL internet isn’t available everywhere, and dial-up internet requires a landline phone connection. Depending on where you live, a more expensive type of internet might be the only available option.
How can I save money on my internet bill?
To save money on your internet bill, shop around to make sure you’re getting the best rate. To lower your existing bill, you can reduce your internet speed, downgrade to a cheaper plan or ask your provider if you qualify for any discounts. Also keep an eye out for hidden fees or taxes that can quickly add up.