Best Cheap Internet Plans 2020

Bottom line

Getting cheap internet is more difficult than you might think. Your monthly Wi-Fi plan could look awesome at first, with a low price and a fast download speed. But when you factor in all the hidden fees, extra costs, and eventual price hikes, your bill could soon be vaulting into the skies like a Cirque de Soleil acrobat.

We put together a list of the best cheap internet plans from internet service providers (ISPs) large and small across the United States. These plans start out at $50 per month or under, and they all come with extra cost-saving perks like no-contract policies, Price for Life guarantees, unlimited data, and discounts on installation costs. If you ask us, paying attention to these latter details will really help you cut costs in the long run.

Head farther down the page for general tips on how to save your mun-muns while shopping for high-speed internet service. Let’s do this.

Pro tip:

If you qualify for government assistance or live in a household with students (K–12 and college), see our guide to affordable internet and our guide to free internet for other cheap—and free—Wi-Fi options.

Best cheap internet plans

Here’s a snapshot of the best cheap internet plans out there.

Best forPlanPriceDownload speedInternet typeSign up
Cheap fiber planAT&T Internet 1000*$49.99/mo.940 MbpsFiberView plans
Cheap symmetrical speedsVerizon Fios Home Internet$39.99/mo.**200 MbpsFiberView plans
Cheap fixed ratesCenturyLink Price for Life†$49.00/mo.Up to 100 MbpsDSLView plans
Cheap dealsRCN 25 Mbps Internet‡$19.99/mo.25 MbpsCableView plans
Cheap sign-up pricesMediacom Internet 60$39.99/mo.60 MbpsCableView plans
Cheap flat-rate packagesStarry Internet Up to 200 Mbps $50.00/mo.Up to 200 MbpsFixed wirelessView plans
Cheap cable internetXfinity Performance Starter§$24.99/mo.25 MbpsCableView plans
Best forCheap fiber plan
PlanAT&T Internet 1000*
Download speed940 Mbps
Internet typeFiber
Sign upView plans
Best forCheap symmetrical speeds
PlanVerizon Fios Home Internet
Download speed200 Mbps
Internet typeFiber
Sign upView plans
Best forCheap fixed rates
PlanCenturyLink Price for Life†
Download speedUp to 100 Mbps
Internet typeDSL
Sign upView plans
Best forCheap deals
PlanRCN 25 Mbps Internet‡
Download speed25 Mbps
Internet typeCable
Sign upView plans
Best forCheap sign-up prices
PlanMediacom Internet 60
Download speed60 Mbps
Internet typeCable
Sign upView plans
Best forCheap flat-rate packages
PlanStarry Internet Up to 200 Mbps
Download speedUp to 200 Mbps
Internet typeFixed wireless
Sign upView plans
Best forCheap cable internet
PlanXfinity Performance Starter§
Download speed25 Mbps
Internet typeCable
Sign upView plans

AT&T and Verizon Fios both offer incredibly fast, fiber-optic internet plans for generous starting prices. CenturyLink and RCN are more straightforward, with slower speeds but better perks that bring down the monthly fees.

Mediacom has some nice options, but watch out for its promo-pricing deadlines and data caps. Starry Internet has a limited network size, but it takes a refreshing, no-nonsense approach to cost and pricing. Xfinity has a far more massive network that’s available across the US, and its cheapest plans deliver solid speeds.

AT&T—Best cheap fiber plan

AT&T Internet 1000
  • Starting price: $49.99/mo.
  • Download speed: 940 Mbps
  • Internet type: Fiber

AT&T arguably offers the best-priced fiber gigabit plan around. With a starting price of just $49.99 per month, it gives you some of the fastest download and upload speeds possible on a residential plan for half the price of similar plans from some rivals.

The only catch is that AT&T’s fiber network is relatively small and available only in select locations. Also, the price bumps up to $69.99 per month after the end of the 12-month promotional period—but $69.99 per month still isn’t a bad price for fiber internet that delivers speeds this fast.

Not sure if AT&T’s Internet 1000 is available where you live? Punch in your zip code to find out:

Verizon Fios—Best cheap symmetrical speeds

Internet 200/200 Mbps
  • Starting price: $39.99/mo.*
  • Download speed: 200 Mbps
  • Internet type: Fiber

If you’re looking for a cheap internet plan that still delivers a quality connection, you can’t do much better than this. Verizon Fios Home Internet delivers outstanding speeds over a high-tech fiber connection—the fastest and most reliable type of internet available.

Sure, it’s not as fast as the 940 Mbps speeds from AT&T’s plan above. But as our How Much Internet Speed Do I Need? Tool makes clear, 200 Mbps provides enough bandwidth to let a full household of people stream movies, download large files, and play online video games smoothly.

Another perk with this plan is that download speed is the same as the upload speed. So, you can upload large files (like videos to YouTube) and do group Skype or Zoom calls with way fewer hiccups than you would on cable and DSL plans with far slower upload speeds.

The only issue—as with AT&T’s fiber network—is that Verizon Fios isn’t available for everyone. Its network mostly covers New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Delaware, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington, DC. And that eye-popping $39.99 per month starting price may go up after 12 months. All in all, though, customers are pleased with Verizon Fios, as it gets top rankings for billing in our 2020 customer satisfaction survey.

But you can get a waiver on the $99 installation fee if you order online. Also, the plan comes with a free, 12-month subscription to Disney+ if you’re interested. And there’s no requirement to sign up for an annual contract.

Pro tip:

Take a minute to run our speed test to see what kind of bandwidth you have on your current plan. Is it fast enough for you? Or would you like something a little speedier? Use your results to help guide your search for your next internet plan.

RCN—Best cheap deals

RCN 25 Mbps Internet
  • Starting price: $19.99/mo.
  • Download speed: 25 Mbps
  • Internet type: Cable

RCN has a relatively limited reach—its internet is available only in Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and the Lehigh Valley area of Pennsylvania. But if you live in one of these areas, you can get a sweet deal for an unfussy internet plan.

Sure, 25 Mbps is no 1,000 Mbps, but it’s still solid if you live alone or with a couple roommates. RCN also hooks it up with regular promotions and coupons, giving you breaks on installation costs and other features. And there are multiple modem rental options to choose from, ranging from fairly cheap to slightly less cheap.

If you sign up for RCN, make sure to hit up its free installation coupon page as well as the Special Offers link under the Shop tab to make sure you’re getting your fill of all its price breaks.

Pro tip:

If you’ve never met a discount you didn’t like, you’ll love our best internet deals guide. It’s updated every month so you can get the scoop on the latest bargains.

Mediacom—Best cheap sign-up prices

Internet 60
  • Starting price: $39.99/mo.
  • Download speed: 60 Mbps
  • Internet type: Cable

Mediacom—which has a network centering around the Midwest—offers some nice introductory prices on its plans. We recommend Internet 60, which will give you plenty of speed for you and your roommates or family and costs only $39.99 per month for the first 12 months. It comes with a 400 GB data cap (not the best but not too bad) and the plan goes month to month, so you won’t have to worry about an annual contract.

Make sure to read the fine print before signing up with Mediacom, though. When the 12-month promotion period is up, that $39.99 suddenly shoots up to a monthly rate of $69.99—almost twice as much. This helps explain why Mediacom received such poor ratings for monthly billing in our 2020 customer satisfaction survey.

Also, steer clear of the Access Internet 60 plan, which Mediacom has been hyping lately. It delivers a respectable 60 Mbps download speeds and starts off at an impressively cheap $19.99 per month. But the data cap is set at just 60 GB. You could easily blow through 60 GB just from binge-watching Netflix for a few nights. And data overage charges add up. It costs $10 per additional 50 GB, and that fee is not prorated, so you’ll pay full price even if you go just one GB over.

Starry Internet—Best cheap flat-rate package

Up to 200 Mbps
  • Starting price: $50/mo.
  • Download speed: 200 Mbps
  • Internet type: Fixed wireless

Starry Internet is an up-and-coming internet provider that specializes in fixed-wireless connections and straightforward internet plans. It uses antenna arrays to pick up radio waves and transmit them as internet signals to apartment buildings in big cities.

Given the novel way it works, it’s understandable that Starry has a limited footprint when it comes to availability and coverage. But it’s well worth looking into if you’re in Los Angeles, Denver, New York City, Boston, Washington, DC; or other areas where Starry operates.

The company has one plan, which delivers up to 200 Mbps and costs a set $50 per month. There are no data caps, equipment rentals, or annual contract requirements. And there are no recurring price hikes, so no need to worry about your monthly rate going up as soon as the 12-month honeymoon period is over.

Xfinity—Best cheap cable internet

Performance Starter
  • Starting price: $20.00–49.95/mo. (depending on region)
  • Download speed: 25 Mbps
  • Internet type: Cable

This is the best bet for anyone who can’t take advantage of more niche-market internet providers like RCN or Starry Internet or who doesn’t have Verizon Fios or CenturyLink available in their area. It’s also a great option for college students, as it’s often running gift-card promos for college kids who sign up.

Xfinity has a massive network nationwide and delivers cable internet at a wide variety of speeds and price points. The Performance Starter plan is the cheapest of the bunch, starting at just $20.00 per month in the areas covered by Xfinity’s Central region and $24.99 per month in the West.

The prices and plans can differ by region, which explains why the same plan will run you $49.95 per month in the Northeast (*wipes away tear*). But Xfinity has some other, decently priced plans with much faster speeds if you want an upgrade, and you can get an Xfinity Flex streaming box at no extra cost when you sign up.

How to get cheap internet

Here’s a rundown of all the important things to watch out for if you’re looking to get cheap broadband internet:

Fixed rates and Price for Life offers

Most internet plans start off with a “promotional” monthly rate that goes up in cost after a year. Internet providers aren’t always forthcoming about how much that price will go up.On top of that, they’ll stuff your bill like a Thanksgiving turkey with extra fees for installation, equipment, and more.

But you won’t need to worry about these fine-print surprises if you sign up for a plan that gives you a straight deal right off the bat.

CenturyLink is well known for the Price for Life guarantees on all of its DSL plans, ensuring that the price on your bill stays the same throughout the entirety of your service. Google Fiber, EarthLink, and Starry Internet go a step further, lumping equipment, installation, and other costs into your total monthly fee rather than adding them on bit by bit. The price may look higher up front, but you’ll save money and needless headaches in the long run.

Month-to-month plans and no-contract policies

Many internet plans require an annual or even two-year commitment, leaving you on the hook for a potentially hefty early termination fee (ETF) if you have to cancel or switch providers.

It’s getting more common these days for internet providers to get rid of these annual commitments and let you sign up on a no-contract, month-to-month basis. That’s really the best option, since you can cancel anytime and won’t have to worry about ETFs—fees so infamous that there’s an acronym for them.

Pro tip:

Some providers give you the option to choose between a no-contract plan or an annual contract plan—and they’ll pressure you to sign up for the annual contract by charging more for the no-contract plan.

In that case, we still recommend signing up for the no-contract option, especially if you think you might move soon. It will give you more freedom and flexibility.

Government subsidies and low-income internet programs

A handful of internet providers offer low-cost internet plans designed for qualifying low-income customers and families with students.

If you’re already signed up for government programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), this is an excellent option to look into—especially in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Read our guide to government internet programs to see what’s out there and how to apply.

Gift cards and coupons

There are always discounts and coupons to enjoy when you’re signing up for an internet plan. (We know because we keep track of the best internet deals!) When you’re singing up, make sure to scope out the provider’s website or ask a customer service rep if there are any blessed bargains to be had. You may end up with something like a VISA gift card, a waiver on installation costs, or a free, trial-length subscription to a streaming service.

Unlimited data

Going over your data cap can lead to costly overage charges, so an unlimited data option is your best bet if you love streaming movies in 4K or share your internet connection with a lot of people.

RCN, Spectrum, EarthLink, and other providers offer unlimited data on all their plans, giving you the freedom to stream and download all you want. Others tend to offer generous data allotments. Read our guide on which internet providers have data caps to get the full rundown.

Cheap internet plans FAQ

What’s the best cheap internet package?

In our opinion, the best cheap internet package is CenturyLink’s Price for Life plan, which delivers speeds up to 100 Mbps over a DSL network for a straightforward $49.99 per month. Starry Internet also deserves props for its flat-rate pricing model, and RCN hooks you up with low-cost plans and unlimited data. Starry Internet and RCN have more limited availability than CenturyLink, though.

If these plans aren’t available in your area, look for internet providers that offer clarity and set rates instead of misleading promo pricings and extra costs buried in fine print.

How much does it cost for an internet-only plan?

An internet-only plan from a major internet service provider usually costs anywhere from $20 to $100 per month. For a cheap plan, expect to pay somewhere around $50 per month—though some providers in your area may have offers for less.

Punch in your zip code to see if you can get a good price where you live:

Can I get free internet at home?

You can get free internet at home if you qualify for low-income federal assistance or have a family with students (K–12 or college). Read our guide to free internet to see what’s out there and how to sign up.

Author -

Peter Holslin has spent more than a decade writing for Rolling Stone, VICE, BuzzFeed, and countless other publications. He graduated with a BA in liberal arts and journalism from New York City’s The New School University in 2008. Since then, he has roved from city to city and lived overseas, mastering his craft as an editor, staff writer, and freelancer while also acquiring ninja-like skills to address feeble Wi-Fi speeds and other internet challenges.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has edited for for three years, working with smart writers to revise everything from internet reviews to reports on your state’s favorite Netflix show. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span (buffering kills). With a degree in English and editing and five years working with online content, it’s safe to say she likes words on the internet. She is most likely to be seen wearing Birkenstocks and hanging out with a bouncy goldendoodle named Dobby, who is a literal fur angel sent to Earth.

Share This