Refuse to be confused when shopping for cheap Internet service. If you have any doubts or concerns, call up the providers in your area and seek clarification on the ways you can save. While you have their ear — or even their eye if it’s an online chat — here are several questions you can ask to help drill down to the most cost-efficient Internet options out there. If you are serious about saving, raising these subjects can help you find great deals and negotiate a low-cost, livable contract.
6 Questions to Ask Providers
1. What Contract Deals Do You Have Right Now?
Providers love their deals. Take advantage of this by asking what deals they currently offer. Some providers offer discounts for switching from a different provider. Others offer you great deals if you sign a lengthy contract. Many companies hand out seasonal deals, family deals, and service-oriented deals, too. To keep it all straight, find a service representative and ask them to list all the contract discounts that are active, right now.
Also ask about contractless options for month-to-month Internet Service. You can often save money by avoiding a contract and buying only the essentials every month — great for a seasonal job that keeps you on the move.
2. Can I Build My Own Internet Package?
Most providers have bronze, silver, and gold packages. The bronze package, of course, costs the least per month, but has the worst data limits and Internet speeds. While considering the packages, ask the provider outright, “Can I build my own package? What options do I have?”
More and more providers are being flexible when it comes to customization. If you can choose your own speeds and data rates, you can choose what you need and nothing more, which is very handy when planning for the lowest prices. This is true not only of Internet, but also Cable TV and Home Phone Services.
This is a good time to explore alternative connection options, too. High Speed Internet is all about cable and satellite connections these days, but if you want really cheap Internet Service and do not mind slower speeds, ask about more traditional ways to get online. Many providers still offer dial-up services that could easily cut your monthly costs. DSL (digital subscriber line) Internet Service uses your phone lines too, but with hardware designed to offer better quality and speed.
If the provider on the phone does not offer these services but you still want them, do not be afraid to ask about other providers in the area still offering traditional services. Buy Internet capabilities based on what you need — do not feel bad about purchasing an older connection style to save money.
3. Can I Skip Your Installation Fees?
Providers often need to install a modem, wireless router, or other devices when they first set up your Internet connection — especially when it comes to Cable Internet and other, newer options. This service naturally includes installation fees. Avoid these fees if possible. Ask your representative directly if you absolutely have to pay them. If you can install your modem or router yourself (or have a skilled family member tackle the project), you might be able to avoid the installation fee. Skipping these one-time costs can add up into handy savings when first buying your equipment.
4. How Much Does Your Bundling Save?
“Bundling” refers to purchasing more than one service from the same provider. Countless providers offer Internet, Cable TV, and Phone Services at the same time. Buying services together instead of separately can help save you money, but ask for specifics. Can you get cheap Internet Service by also buying into the provider’s Cable TV plan? How much money, exactly, will you save by combining services?
At this point, it is wise to ask several different local providers the same question: How much money does bundling save with you? Most providers will start quoting their lowest bundle monthly rates. You should have your current monthly rates for Internet, Phone, and TV services on hand to compare numbers. Will bundling actually save money? Is the price difference worth it, compared to the service features you will be getting? The bundle questions are a useful litmus test: An honest representative can discuss these questions with you and offer real advice. Beware of ignorant or pushy salespeople who do not care how much money you save.
5. What Customer Support Options Do You Have?
Nothing is worse than having your Internet Service unexpectedly fail, right when you need it most. Good customer support can not only solve problems, but also save you time and money. Ask about ways to contact customer service, and how service representatives are trained. Sometimes, the real difference between two local providers comes down to the quality of long-term service. Remember that information often equals power — and savings. Will your provider keep you up to date on the latest discounts and Internet packages, or will you be mired in an older plan long after you could have switched to a new version?
6. What Are Your System Requirements?
This hidden cost surprises many people that are new to the ISP (Internet Service Provider) world. Every Internet service package has specific computer and hardware requirements. This is especially true of newer High Speed Internet services. If you need to upgrade your computer to use a service, this adds a separate, steep cost onto your bill. Learn the system requirements of your favorite service early on to avoid surprises. If your current system needs to be replaced or your house needs some electrical work for the best setup, consider the costs.
You can also enter your street address into the form in the top right section of this page to see what providers service your area, and which offers they’re currently offering.