Cheapest Internet Providers 2019
Listen, we all want to watch Stranger Things on Netflix without waiting for the annoying buffering wheel. Life is too short to watch the buffering wheel. At the same time, we don’t want to pay a ton for our internet.
Comparing internet speeds and prices can be a real nightmare since price increases can vary drastically based on where you live. But migraine-inducing comparisons aside, we’ve pulled together a list of our top five favorite Internet Service Providers (ISPs).
Take a look and find out which of these cheap internet providers is best for your lifestyle—and your wallet.
|Provider||Monthly price||Download speeds||Learn more|
|AT&T Internet||$40–$50*||5–100 Mbps||View Plans|
|Xfinity Internet||$29.99–$299.95†||15–2000 Mbps||View Plans|
|CenturyLink Internet||$45–$85‡||10–1000 Mbps||View Plans|
|Spectrum Internet||$44.99–$104.99^||100–940 Mbps||View Plans|
|Verizon High Speed Internet||$24.99–$34.99°||.5-1–1.1-15 Mbps||View Plans|
AT&T: Best affordable DSL options
With a wide range of plans to suit almost anyone’s needs, AT&T is one of the few Internet Service Providers to offer low-usage plans.
|Internet Basic 5||$40/mo.*||5 Mbps||View Plan|
|Internet 10-100||$50/mo.*||100 Mbps||View Plan|
- Low-usage plans
- DIRECTV bundles options
- Limited fiber availability
- No upload speeds listed
What we like about AT&T
If you need broadband internet just to stay connected once in a while, AT&T has a plan that might catch your eye with speeds up to 5 Mbps.
If you need more bandwidth to rewatch Scrubs for the twentieth time on Hulu, you can pay a little more each month to get speeds between 10 and 100 Mbps.
Depending on your neighborhood, you can get high-speed internet (up to 100 Mbps)—so if 10 Mbps isn’t enough, check with AT&T to see how much speed you can get in your city.
Good news, satellite TV lovers. AT&T’s bundling lets you grab up to 330+ DIRECTV channels plus DSL or fiber internet plans.
The best part is that your internet price with a bundle is actually cheaper than if you got a high-speed internet plan on it’s own. More stuff for fewer bucks? That calls for a celebratory House Hunters binge session (one of our many guilty pleasures).
Also, your internet bill will remain the same after your first year—but your DIRECTV bill will go up for that second year. Plan for the price to increase by 30–40% in the second year.
No need to shell out $15–$20 for a modem on top of your internet bill. AT&T includes a free Wi-Fi Gateway (it works as both a modem and router).
What we don’t like about AT&T
Limited fiber availability
If you like the sound of fiber-optic internet, you’ll want to double- and maybe even triple-check that AT&T offers it in your area. Compared to other fiber-optic internet providers, its availability is a little more limited.
We’re crossing our fingers this is something AT&T improves in the near future.
No upload speeds listed
We dug around a bit and couldn’t find any upload speeds listed for AT&T’s DSL plans.
While this isn’t uncommon among other internet providers, we still wish that AT&T and others would commit to more transparency. Uploading speeds is what makes the internet magic happen with sending emails, video calling, and online gaming. So, for many of us, it’s kind of important.
Xfinity: Fastest speed options
Clocking in with speeds up to 2,000 Mbps and the lowest starting price, it’s no surprise that Xfinity is one of our top choices.
|Performance Starter||$29.99/mo.*||15 Mbps||View Plan|
|Performance Plus||$39.99/mo.*||60 Mbps||View Plan|
|Performance Pro||$54.99/mo.*||150 Mbps||View Plan|
- No-contract option
- Balanced speed-to-price ratio
- Questionable customer service
What we like about Xfinity
We love that Xfinity offers a no-contract option for all of its cable internet plans. But we don’t love that you’ll pay more each month for slipping out of that contract. Hey, it beats having to pay early termination fees if you move or decide to change internet providers.
Balanced speed-to-price ratio
Xfinity’s internet plans offer up decent speeds along with reasonable prices. It doesn’t beat Verizon’s 100 Mbps internet plan, but it does beat out the competition with its 150 Mbps plan. We recommend going with either the Performance Plus or Performance Pro internet plans. You don’t want to pay basically $30 a month for only 15 Mbps.
What we don’t like about Xfinity
Speeds and prices vary
Comcast Xfinity’s prices vary drastically based on where you live. For example, you currently pay $10 less for the Digital Starter package if you live on the west coast versus the east coast. So depending on where you live, you might get a deal or pay a premium.
Different areas get access to different speeds too, which makes pricing an Xfinity plan ahead of your cross-country move a crap-shoot.
Ho-hum customer service
We hate to say it, but there’s a reason most people dread calling up Xfinity customer service. It seems to have one of the worst reputations in the internet provider industry, which is saying a lot since the industry as a whole doesn’t get great marks.
Our advice? Instead of calling, pop in to your local Xfinity store and get help face to face. Talking in person usually gets you to a solution faster. If you can, schedule an appointment and try to avoid popular times like weekends. Remember, they are as scared of you as you are of them.
Check out our Xfinity review if you want to get into the nitty-gritty (which you should before you sign a contract).
CenturyLink: Best value
CenturyLink offers a price-for-life guarantee and no contracts.
|Centurylink Internet 10 Mbps||$45/mo.||10 Mbps||View Plan|
|Centurylink Internet 20 Mbps||$50/mo.||20 Mbps||View Plan|
|Centurylink Internet 40 Mbps||$55/mo.||40 Mbps||View Plan|
- Price-for-life guarantee
- No contracts
- Unreliable download speeds
What we like about CenturyLink
There’s more to CenturyLink’s competitive prices than meets the eye. It also offers a Price for Life promotion, which (surprisingly in this day and age) means exactly what you think.
According to CenturyLink, your Price for Life promotion won’t expire. This means the price you pay each month for internet now is the price you’ll pay. . . always.
Until the end of time (or until you cancel).
Don’t think about it too much or else you might have an existential crisis. But hey, affordable internet for life. That’s cool!
No-contract options make things so much easier if you ever plan on moving. CenturyLink doesn’t even bother with the old-fashioned idea of having you agree to stay for a year or two—this goes for all of its plans. How refreshing.
What we don’t like about CenturyLink
Unreliable download speeds
You can buy a CenturyLink plan with speeds up to 1 gigabyte per second (1 Gbps, or 1,000 Mbps), but once you start streaming Stranger Things in Ultra-HD you may notice those speeds aren’t as fast as you’d like.
If it makes you feel any better, you’re not alone. Data from the FCC’s latest report shows that CenturyLink’s actual speeds were between 80% and 95% of its advertised speed, on average.2 (OK, we don’t feel any better about it either.)
Scope out our CenturyLink review
Need to get all the facts? Check out our full CenturyLink review and see for yourself.
Spectrum: Best no-contract option
No buyout fee, no higher monthly price, and no early termination fees.
|Spectrum Internet||$44.99/mo.^||100 Mbps||View Plan|
|Spectrum Internet Ultra||$69.99/mo.||400 Mbps||View Plan|
|Spectrum Internet GIG||$104.99/mo.||940 Mbps||View Plan|
- No contracts
- No data caps
- Exclusively higher speeds
What we like about Spectrum
No contracts allowed
If chances are good you’ll be moving to a new location within the next year, Spectrum’s no-contract approach will make your life significantly easier. You won’t have to incur the wrath of expensive early termination fees.
Of course, even if you’re staying put, you can still enjoy not having to deal with being locked into one internet provider for the long haul. You can switch providers if something else catches your eye.
No data caps
While some ISPs will throttle your speed once you hit the data cap, Spectrum doesn’t even have a data cap to worry about.
So go on—binge-watch Stranger Things or battle your way to Gold in League of Legends like the carefree internet user you are.
But—and there’s definitely a but—Spectrum’s modem doesn’t come with Wi-Fi. So if you need a wireless connection, you’ll want to buy your own modem and router anyway. We recommend this Spectrum-approved modem/router combo on Amazon
What we don’t like about Spectrum
Exclusively higher speeds
The bare-minimum internet speed with Spectrum bottoms out at a measly 200 Mbps. Oh wait, sarcasm doesn’t always come across well on the internet—for comparison, AT&T’s slowest internet speed is 5 Mbps.
Spectrum caters to customers who want fast internet speeds at a reasonable price. If you don’t want anything near 200 Mbps, you’ll want to try a different provider.
Okay, but is Spectrum good?
It depends what you want. Check out our Spectrum review and see if its a good fit for you.
Verizon Fios: Best for reliably fast fiber
A 100% fiber infrastructure means Verizon Fios speeds put the Flash to shame—with competitive prices to boot.
|Fios Internet 100/100||$39.99/mo.**||100 Mbps||View Plan|
|Fios Internet 150/150||$74.99/mo.††||150 Mbps||View Plan|
|Fios Internet 300/300||$94.99/mo.††||300 Mbps||View Plan|
- Fast and reliable speeds
- No term contract
- Pricey higher-tier plans
What we like about Verizon
Fast and reliable speeds
Not all Internet Service Providers deliver the speeds they promise, but Verizon does.
In fact, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found that Verizon delivered internet speeds that were faster than what was advertised—that’s right, it delivered between 106% and 111% of the speeds it advertised.1 Isn’t that refreshing?
No term contract
Verizon Fios internet is billed monthly, and if you sign up for an internet-only plan, then you won’t be tied to a long-term contract.
If you’re considering a triple-play package from Verizon, it may still require a term contract. It’s always best to ask a Verizon representative and double-check the fine print just in case.
What we don’t like about Verizon
Pricey higher-tier plans
Verizon starts out with a great price on its 100 Mbps speed internet plan. It’s actually one of the cheapest, unless you can land a lower price from Comcast Xfinity. (But prices for some products for both internet service providers vary depending on where you live).
But if you want to jump to any internet speed higher than 100 Mbps, things get expensive really quick. Just to get an extra 50 Mbps, you have to nearly double your monthly payment. So, buyer beware if you want something over 100 Mbps, but if you’re satisfied with that internet speed, you get a great deal.
Dig into the full review
Curious if fiber-optic speed is all it’s cracked up to be? Check out our full Verizon Fios review to find out if fiber is right for you.
|AT&T Internet||View Plans|
|Xfinity Internet||View Plans|
|CenturyLink Internet||View Plans|
|Spectrum Internet||View Plans|
|Verizon High Speed Internet||View Plans|
- Best affordable DSL options: AT&T—AT&T internet’s at the top of the charts for DSL plans that won’t drain your bank account.
- Best reliably fast fiber: Verizon Fios—Sure, you can get fiber from other ISPs, but why would you? Verizon Fios boasts consistently fast speeds at competitive prices.
- Best for fast speed options: Xfinity—If you don’t need fiber speeds, Xfinity offers up a wide range of speeds that won’t make your pocketbook cringe.
- Best price for life: CenturyLink—You won’t watch your internet bill creep up and up and up with CenturyLink’s price-for-life guarantee.
- Best no-contract option: Spectrum—Don’t worry about early termination fees. Spectrum’s got your back with contract-free internet.
How to get cheap internet at home
Has your internet bill gotten too big for its britches? We’ve got five tips to help you lower that monthly bill—even if you’re staying with the same provider.
1. Negotiate your bill
Don’t be afraid to push back on how much your internet costs—even if you’re staying with the same company. If you have an offer from another provider that’s cheaper, let your ISP know.
We managed to negotiate our bill with Comcast Xfinity by letting them know we had a competing offer from CenturyLink. After doing the research, we knew what we could get for what price from both providers, and then we approached Xfinity.
The key to a successful negotiation like ours is to stay firm—and don’t bluff. You should also be prepared to actually cancel your service or go with another provider if the company you’re talking to just can’t match the better price.
2. Test your internet speed
Test your internet connection speed at a site like High Speed Internet and make sure you’re getting the speed you pay for. If you’re not seeing your connection hit speeds at or above what your ISP advertises, check out these easy tips to try to resolve the issue yourself.
If your connection is still slow as molasses after troubleshooting, give your ISP a call and see if it can resolve the issue. If it can’t, it’s probably time to switch providers.
3. Know how much speed you need
Do you need a 100 Mbps internet plan? And what’s the difference between that and a 5 Mbps plan?
Picking out the right plan without going overboard can be difficult, but you can get a good idea of what speed you need by figuring out what you usually do online. (Don’t forget to factor in what your other family members are doing online too.) Here’s what speeds the FCC recommends for certain activities.
|Internet activity||Minimum download speed|
|Browsing the internet, social media, and email||1 Mbps|
|Personal video calls (ex. Skype)||1 Mbps|
|High-definition personal video calls||1.5 Mbps|
|High-definition video conferencing||6 Mbps|
|Student research, downloads, etc.||5–25 Mbps|
|Working from home||5–25 Mbps|
|Downloading files||10 Mbps|
|Streaming standard-definition video||3–4 Mbps|
|Streaming high-definition video||5–8 Mbps|
|Streaming Ultra HD 4K video||25 Mbps|
|Online console gaming*||3 Mbps|
|Online multiplayer gaming*||4 Mbps|
4. Bundle up your services
You might get a lower price for your internet if you bundle it with other services like TV and phone. We managed to bundle our Xfinity internet with a cable TV package—both together cost less than if we just purchased internet.
5. Look for subsidies
Depending on your income, you may qualify for an internet subsidy.
To find out if you qualify and to find subsidized internet offers in your area, check out the nonprofit EveryoneOn. All you need to do is enter your ZIP code and answer an eligibility question to find low-cost internet in your area.
1. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “2018 Measuring Broadband America Fixed Broadband Report”
2. FCC, “2018 Measuring Broadband America Fixed Broadband Report”