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TV & streaming

12 ways to lower your monthly internet, cable and streaming bills

We’re using the internet more than ever nowadays, as people work, shop, learn and communicate remotely. Then there’s the entertainment aspect: streaming movies, TV shows, music and concerts.

Can you guess how much the average American spends on internet over a lifetime? Tap or click here to find out, along with some tips to cut the bill.

Many people are struggling with finances as we make our way through the pandemic. Even if your career hasn’t been affected, wouldn’t it be great to lower your monthly bills? We’ll show you how.

Internet service

1. Find out what you have/need

Everyone has different needs when it comes to bandwidth and speed. Someone who streams on YouTube, for example, uses much more data than someone who simply watches YouTube. Meanwhile, speed is more crucial for hardcore PC gamers than it is for Candy Crush fans.

Take a look at your monthly recurring internet service provider charge. First, make sure you are getting the speed and bandwidth you are promised. Tap or click here to check your internet speed. If you’re getting what you pay for, is it enough or too little?

If you are going over your data cap and getting overage charges, you may actually save money by stepping up to the next tier of service. If you are not using much of your data and don’t require super-fast internet, consider getting a cheaper service or downgrading your current one.

2. Get your own equipment

Your monthly equipment rental fee may seem small, but it adds up. You can save money in the long run by owning your own equipment. Not only that, but you can get something even better than what your ISP is charging you for.

When it comes to routers, Netgear, Linksys, ASUS and TP-Link are all solid options. Find one with good reviews that will fit your budget. Make sure to get one with WPA-3 encryption, which is the latest security standard you can get. You may want to consider a mesh system for even better coverage.

3. Move on, or at least say you are

You likely have other options for internet service in your area, and your current ISP knows it. Call them and say you are not satisfied with the service/pricing and would like to cancel your subscription. They will likely offer you a better deal, faster speeds or both. Don’t be afraid to haggle, and make sure they don’t sneakily downgrade your speed/bandwidth to reduce your price.

It helps if you actually have explored other options and have the numbers and data ready to recite when you make the call. Tell your ISP about the deal you found from another service. If they don’t budge, then go for that better deal elsewhere.

4. Bundles and promotions

Bundle options put together internet service, TV/streaming, phone and more. Check what bundles are available by visiting your ISP’s website or giving them a call. You may get more services for the same price you’re paying or even less.

When it comes to landlines, get rid of it unless you are actually using it. This will cut a chunk off your monthly bill.

5. Get assistance

You can get a federal subsidy for $50 a month towards your internet bill if you qualify. Tap or click here for more details on the program as well as eligibility requirements.

The Television Viewer Protection Act

The TVPA (Television Viewer Protection Act) seeks to make internet fees more transparent. For example, you won’t be charged a rental fee for broadband equipment that you own. Hidden fees will be brought out into view. Tap or click here to learn more about the TVPA.

Cable bills

There has been a rise in prices for an internet connection this year. Depending on your service and plan, you could end up paying $100 more per year than you already are.

DirectTV customers will see their HBO Max and Sports Pack increase by 99 cents while Starz, Showtime and Cinemax go up by $2.96.

Xfinity Choice TV subscribers will see an increase of $5. Choice TV with TV Box goes up by $7.50 and broadcast TV goes up by $4.50. AMC and Docurama go up $2 and Gala increases by $3.

If you use Charter just for the internet, your fee went up by $5. Spectrum Choice, Essentials or Stream bundles bump up another $5.

1. Know what you’re paying for

Check your monthly statement and compare it to previous ones. Have prices gone up on anything? How much are you paying to rent equipment each month? Are there any fees you’re not sure of? If so, call your cable provider and find out why.

Check your subscription tier and premium channels and packages such as sports. Are you watching any of that? Eliminate the ones you don’t need.

2. Get a better deal

Just as you should do with your internet bill, call your cable provider and see if you can get your bill reduced. Threaten to cut the cord if you must!

3. Do you even need cable?

How much live TV do you actually watch? Are you more focused on streaming or perhaps the most basic channels? If so, you can ditch cable completely and get a nice antenna to get local channels and more for free. Tap or click here to see the difference between an indoor and outdoor antenna.

Streaming

Though cutting the cord in favor of streaming services could feel liberating, it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically save money. If you have multiple subscriptions, it can really add up. Make a list of what you want to watch and you may find that you’ll pay even more than you did for cable. Tap or click here to avoid breaking the bank.

1. Know what you want to watch

Check out free trials to find the services with content you want to see. You can sign up then cancel the service if you’re not satisfied before moving onto another one. It’s your money and your business and there’s no shame in it.

Tap or click here for more money saving tips on streaming including info on free trials.

2. Do you need the most expensive plan?

You don’t need multiple streams if you’re the only one using an account. And unless you have a TV that supports 4K content, don’t pay for that premium content. Finally, ads are a pain, but if you can put up with a few, that could knock some dollars off your bill.

3. Consider a bigger commitment

You can get some big discounts with longer subscription plans that last a year or longer. Disney+, for example, charges you $6.99 for a month-to-month plan but just $69.99 for a year. The latter works out to $5.83 per month for a savings of $13.89 per year. It might not seem like much, but these small trims here and there will add up.

HBO Max charges $9.99 per month and $99.99 per year. The latter saves you $19.89 per year.

4. Bundle, bundle, bundle

Just like your ISP and cable providers, you can get streaming bundles. For example, the Disney Bundle includes subscriptions to Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu for $13.99 per month.

T-Mobile’s Netflix on Us bundle gives you free Netflix with most Magenta and Magenta Max plans. Tap or click here to see if your mobile provider offers free streaming services.

Bonus:

There are free options, including Crackle, Tubi and network TV. While the selection may not be as vast as the big streaming services, you can enjoy quality programming without paying a hefty bill. Tap or click here for more details on free TV.

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