Prepaid Internet Service

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Sean Jackson
October 12, 2021

What is Prepaid Internet Service?

Searching for the right internet service provider (ISP) can be confusing. How do you know what will work best in your area? The last thing you want to do is get stuck in a contract with an ISP that has a slow connection speed, especially since some companies charge customers who end contracts early. Or what if a new ISP becomes available in your area and offers a better deal than the one you have, but you’re stuck in a two-year commitment? 

One way to avoid this is to get internet service without a contract or on a prepaid plan.  That way, if it doesn’t work out, you can opt out of the service at any time. 

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How Does Prepaid Internet Work?

Prepaid internet requires you to choose a provider then sign up for service. They will then install your service or send you the equipment to do a self-installation. You’ll pay for service in advance. This means once you pay, you’ll have internet access for 30 days. After this, you can renew or decline service, with no cancellation fees. 

When signing up for service, you’ll want to start by determining your needs. To help you with this, you’ll want to consider:

  • How many devices in the household will access the internet?
  • Do you need specific speeds for work or gaming?
  • What is your monthly budget for the internet?

Unless you live in a large household with several connected devices, you should be able to do well with download speeds of 20 Mbps. However, if you do need faster download speeds, it will help you narrow down who to choose.

On the provider front, you’ll want one that offers reliable service without the expensive equipment costs. When you do sign up for prepaid internet, you’ll need a modem, router or wireless gateway to connect. Some providers charge a one-time fee for this while others, like Cox, might offer it for free as part of the service.

Here are some companies that provide no contract or prepaid plans for internet service:

Providers With No Contract Internet Plans

Frontier

Frontier offers no annual contract plans for both FiOS and high-speed internet. They also have plans that allow you to bundle the internet with phone or TV, all without committing to an amount of time on the plan. Frontier doesn’t offer promotional offers, so there’s no chance of you being charged extra because you forgot to cancel your trial of a certain subscription. Frontier is available in 33 states, check out our coverage map for full details. Some states and areas have limited service or only certain types of internet available.  For example, wired internet works better than WiFi in Nevada and New York

CenturyLink

CenturyLink provides internet service that they advertise as “no contract, no bundling, no hassle.” They also offer “Price for Life.” This means that even though you aren’t locked into a contract, your payment will stay the same for internet service each month as long as you stay at the same address on the same plan. Internet, TV and phone services aren’t connected, so you can mix and match what you want. CenturyLink offers internet service at three speeds: 20, 80 and 100 Mbps. The ISP is available in 36 states including Colorado, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin.

Cox

Cox offers a prepaid internet plan called StraightUp Internet. StraightUp internet subscribers get 1TB of data each month. Like a no-contract plan, you aren’t locked in for a long period of time. Because you pay month to month, you can end service at any time with no consequences. You can sign up for EasyPay if you want your plan to automatically renew each month, but you can also sign in to your account and pay for each month that you actually want internet access. 

If you stay with StraightUp Internet, they offer a three-year price guarantee. This means that if you subscribed today for $50, but next year the price went up to $60, you would still pay $50 for the remainder of your first three years, as long as you stay on the plan.

Cox is available in parts of a variety of states with the greatest coverage area in Arizona, California, Rhode Island and Virginia.  Check out our coverage map for full details.

Xfinity

Xfinity also offers a prepaid plan to customers in certain areas.  There is also a one-time charge of $35 for setup and equipment. Xfinity prepaid doesn’t require annual agreements, long-term commitments or deposits. You pay for a month of internet every 30 days and you can cancel at any time.

A perk with Xfinity is the option to bundle prepaid internet with Xfinity prepaid instant TV.  Xfinity prepaid is available everywhere the company has internet access for sale, which is parts of 40 states

Altice Advantage

Altice Advantage Internet is a prepaid plan powered by Optimum and Suddenlink. It is available specifically to low income households that meet one of the following qualifications:

  •   Eligible for or participate in the National School Lunch Program
  •   New York City residents and attend a New York City public school
  •   Eligible for or receive Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and 65 years of age or older
  •   Veteran and receive state or federal public assistance

Altice Advantage Internet starts at just $14.99/mo. with no annual contract. Customers get a router and modem to use while on the plan for free. The average download speed is up to 30 mbps, and the plan has unlimited data. 

Pros and cons of prepaid internet

Pros

  • Cancel anytime without penalty
  • Many plans come with higher or unlimited data caps
  • Speeds are good for many households
  • Pay only when you need it

Cons

  • If you require more bandwidth (home office, gamers) the download speeds are not sufficient
  • You might have to pay upfront for equipment fees