Best Cheap Internet Providers of 2023: Don’t pay more than you have to for broadband. Check out these picks of the best cheap internet providers.
Gigabit internet is great, but when all you need is a simple connection for light browsing and streaming, a cheap internet plan may serve your needs, and your budget, better than those high-priced, high-speed plans. Many of the top internet providers offer plans starting in the $30- to $50-per-month range with plenty of speed for a variety of online activities. Your options will vary based on the available providers in your area, but low-cost internet plans aren’t as rare as they can seem.
This list of the best cheap ISPs, which is periodically updated, is a good place to start if you’re shopping for low-cost, high-value internet plans. The cheap internet providers highlighted here were chosen for their high nationwide availability and customer-friendly perks such as unlimited data or low equipment costs, as well as low pricing.
Cheapest Internet Providers
In mid-January of 2022, AT&T launched two multigig plans that, combined with its existing tiers, now give the company the lowest cost per Mbps for fiber internet of any major provider. Across five tiers, the cost per Mbps for AT&T Fiber plans is 10 cents. That includes unlimited data and no additional equipment rental fee either. A few other providers might approach that cost per Mbps with their promo offers, but even then, after you factor in the monthly modem rental fee, AT&T will end up being cheaper.
If you don’t need multigig speeds, AT&T Fiber’s cheapest plan still comes with plenty of speed with max download and upload speeds of 300Mbps. The plan also comes with no added equipment costs and unlimited data, as do all AT&T Fiber plans.
One note of caution: Around 70% of households in AT&T internet service areas are not eligible for AT&T Fiber. Cheap broadband service may still be available from AT&T, however, as its DSL-based service offers speeds up to 100Mbps starting at $45 a month.
- Cheapest plan price: $55 a month for up to 300Mbps
- Cost per Mbps: 18 cents
- Wi-Fi equipment fee: None
- Expected all-in monthly cost: $55, plus taxes
Sometimes going with a cheap plan comes with sacrificing speed, but not with Frontier FiberOptic. Its cheapest plan comes with symmetrical upload and download speeds of up to 500Mbps starting at just $50 a month when you enroll in autopay. Your equipment rental and unlimited data is also included in the price.
An all-in starting cost of $50 (remember to sign up for autopay) a month is cheaper than or on par with many major providers, including AT&T, CenturyLink and Spectrum, who also have entry plan starting rates of $50 to $55 a month. Not only are those plans more expensive and may come with equipment rental fees, they’re also slower than the 500Mbps you’ll get with Frontier.
Cheapest plan: Fiber 500
- Cheapest plan price: $50 a month for up to 500Mbps (with autopay)
- Cost per Mbps: 10 cents
- Wi-Fi equipment fee: None
- Expected all-in monthly cost: $50, plus taxes
Mediacom doesn’t boast the same customer reach as larger competing cable providers such as Spectrum or Xfinity, but that can largely be attributed to the internet provider’s service areas. Residents of rural areas throughout the Midwest and South as well as parts of Arizona and California can rely on Mediacom for cheap broadband service starting at around $20 a month for speeds up to 60Mbps.
The one downside to Mediacom’s cheapest Wi-Fi internet plan is the 200-gigabyte monthly data cap, which many households are likely to exceed (and incur an overage fee of $10 per 50GB block of data, up to a maximum of $50). Streaming HD video can use 3GB or more per hour, so streaming TV just a few hours a day can quickly put you over the cap. For more monthly data, consider higher-tiered Mediacom plans, which come with up to 6 terabytes a month.
Cheapest plan: Access Internet 60
- Cheapest plan price: $20 a month for up to 60Mbps
- Cost per Mbps: 33 cents
- Wi-Fi equipment fee: $12 a month
- Expected all-in monthly cost: $32, plus taxes
Xfinity speeds and pricing vary by market, but the cheapest plan you’ll find from the provider is Xfinity Connect. At $25 to $30 per month depending on your location for download speeds up to 75Mbps, it isn’t the best internet deal you’re likely to find, but it is one of the cheaper broadband options available throughout much of the US.
Be prepared to keep your data usage under 1.2TB a month to avoid overage fees. Like Mediacom, Xfinity charges $10 per each 50GB block of data, but with Xfinity it could add a maximum of $100 to your bill.
Cheapest plan: Xfinity Connect
- Plan details: $25 or $30 per month for up to 75Mbps
- Cost per Mbps: 33 or 40 cents
- Wi-Fi equipment fee: $14 a month
- Expected all-in monthly cost: $39 or $44, plus taxes
Cox internet plans are priced a bit on the high side. In fact, the cheapest internet plan from Cox has one of the highest costs per Mbps of any plan featured on this list.
Still, Cox made our list of the best cheap internet providers thanks to its budget-friendly prepaid service. For $50 a month, Cox StraightUp Internet comes with up to 100Mbps, a free router/modem device, free installation and a three-year price guarantee. The plan is ideal for those who may have less-than-perfect credit or simply want a pay-as-you-go service.
Cheapest plan: Essential 100
- Cheapest plan price: $40 a month for up to 100Mbps
- Cost per Mbps: 40 cents
- Wi-Fi equipment fee: $11 a month
- Expected all-in monthly cost: $51 plus taxes
Spectrum has one of the highest-priced internet plans on our list, but the provider makes up for it with fast download speeds — up to 200Mbps — and cheap Wi-Fi equipment fees. Spectrum internet service comes with a free modem and the router rental fee is only $5 per month.
With an all-in monthly price of around $55, download speeds up to 200Mbps, unlimited data and no contracts, Spectrum Internet rivals any provider on this list. While the starting price is a bit higher than other cable internet providers including Xfinity, Cox and Mediacom, the speeds and transparent pricing are well worth paying a little extra for.
Cheapest plan: Spectrum Internet
- Plan details: $50 a month for up to 200Mbps
- Cost per Mbps: 25 cents
- Wi-Fi equipment fee: $5 a month
- Expected all-in monthly cost: $55 plus taxes
Cheap internet provider overview
|Provider||Starting monthly price||Max download speeds (Mbps)||Cost per Mbps||Equipment fee|
|Frontier Fiber||$50 (with autopay)||500||$0.10||None|
Cheap internet honorable mentions
These national providers also have broadband service starting at or below $50 a month, but did not make our list of the best cheap ISPs due to high cost per megabit per second, inconsistent pricing or limited service areas.
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- Astound: Formerly known as RCN in most markets, Astound offers plans as low as $35 per month for speeds up to 600Mbps, but available pricing and speeds vary widely from one area to the next. Not only that, but the overall pricing could double or more after the first year of service.
- HughesNet: Satellite internet offers unrivaled availability, but the high latency and data caps that come with it make HughesNet’s Gen5 plan not worth the cost of $50 a month for speeds up to 25Mbps.
- Kinetic by Windstream: A solid choice for home internet in rural areas, Kinetic by Windstream has broadband plans with unlimited data starting at $30 to $40 per month. Pricing and available speeds can vary widely by location, however, so the available cheap internet plans will depend on where you live.
- Verizon Fios: The cheapest Verizon Fios plan, with speeds up to 300Mbps starting at $40 per month, offers plenty of value. The midtier plan (up to 500Mbps starting at $65 per month) and gig service (starting at $90 per month) aren’t bad deals, either, but you may be able to find faster speeds for the money from other providers.
Cheap internet buying advice
When shopping for cheap internet, it’s a good idea to take a look at more than just the advertised price. Here are some other factors you’ll want to consider before signing up for the absolute cheapest plan.
- Speeds: Will the lowest-priced plan deliver the speeds that you need? If not, explore other providers or upgrade to a faster, more expensive plan. You may find that opting for a slightly more expensive plan could significantly boost your internet speeds and make for a better overall experience.
- Added costs: Taxes are to be expected with any internet service, but added costs for equipment rental, data overages, installation and more will vary by provider. As mentioned above, Quantum Fiber’s 200Mbps plan is $15 lower than gig service, but the gig plan comes with free equipment (a $15 monthly value), so the plans are in fact evenly priced, though the 200Mbps plan has a lower advertised starting price.
- Contracts and price increases: Getting locked into a contract with your ISP can be costly, especially if the plan price increases before the service agreement is up. Canceling before the contract expires can also result in early termination fees. Additionally, many providers increase the price after 12 months of service with or without a contract. If you plan on keeping your service past the 12-month mark, be aware of what the monthly costs may be down the road.
Cheap internet FAQs
What’s the cheapest internet available?
Dial-up is the cheapest internet connection available, with plans starting under $10 a month from providers such as AOL, EarthLink and NetZero. In spite of the low cost, we wouldn’t recommend dial-up service. Dial-up speeds are painfully slow and will not support a Wi-Fi connection or nearly any online task more demanding than sending an email.
Another phone-based internet service, DSL is a popular go-to for cheap internet. Providers like Frontier and Verizon offer DSL plans ranging from $25-$35 a month, but these plans typically come with sub-broadband speeds.
Cable and fiber internet are likely to be your best cheap internet options. While plans can be a bit more expensive than dial-up or DSL service, the speeds and connection quality that you get are well worth the added cost.
What cheap internet options are available to low-income households?
The Federal Communication Commission’s Lifeline program provides a monthly credit of up to $9.25 that qualifying consumers can apply towards their broadband bill. To qualify, applicants must have a household income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or qualify for other government assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income or the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit.
Many internet providers, including AT&T, Cox and Xfinity, also offer a discounted internet program. Plans typically cost between $5 and $15 a month and come with speeds of 10-30Mbps. Qualifications are similar to those of the FCC’s Lifeline program.
President Joe Biden’s recently passed infrastructure law promises to help make fast, affordable internet even more accessible, setting aside roughly $65 billion for broadband expansion and further assistance for low-income households. It could be years before real headway is made on bridging the digital divide, however, so what you pay each month for internet service is largely dependent on the available ISPs in your area and the plan you choose.
How can I save money on my monthly internet bill?
There are a few ways you may be able to get cheaper internet. Common ways to lower your internet bill include using your own equipment, negotiating a lower cost with your provider and switching providers.