The 5 Best No-Contract Internet Plans

Get reliable internet with no strings attached.

Looking for a more flexible internet plan? See what’s available in your area by entering your zip code below.

Our pick: Which no-contract internet is best?

Google Fiber is by far the best no-contract internet out there. It comes with free professional installation and free equipment, so there are no upfront costs and no hidden fees. It also boasts one of the fastest and most reliable connections you can get for the price. If Google Fiber is available in your area, we highly recommend it.

The 7 best no-contract internet plans

Best no-contract internet plans

Best forPlanPriceTypeDownload SpeedGet it
Best overallGoogle Fiber 1 Gig$70.00/mo.*Fiber1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps)
Best budget planOptimum Fiber Internet 300$39.99/mo.Fiber300 Mbps
Best fiber availabilityAT&T Internet 1000$80.00/mo.Fiber940 Mbps††
Best unlimited dataSpectrum Internet® Ultra$69.99/mo. for 12 mos.§CableUp to 500 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)
Best availabilityXfinity Prepaid Internet$45.00/mo.Cable50 Mbps
Best starter planCox StraightUp Internet$50.00/mo.#Cable25 Mbps
Best DSL planCenturyLink Simply Unlimited Internet 100 Mbps$50.00/mo.**DSL100 Mbps

What should you look for in a no-contract internet plan?

Here are a few important factors to make sure of when choosing a no-contract internet plan.

What you want from a no-contract internet plan:

  • An internet speed that’s fast enough to meet your needs
  • A monthly bill that fits your budget
  • Minimal hidden costs or fees—or none at all
  • A reliable connection type like cable or fiber

The most important thing in choosing a no-contract internet plan is selecting one that matches your internet speed needs. Avoiding long-term contracts can make your life easier, but not if it makes everyday tasks like work or school harder. No-contract internet plans can vary substantially in price and speed, so make sure that the one you choose fits your lifestyle.

Do you know what download speeds you need for your normal online activities? Try our How Much Speed Do You Need tool to find out what plans fit you best.

For example, Google Fiber is 50 times faster than Xfinity Prepaid Internet, while costing you only an additional $25 per month. While that may seem like a great deal for a lot more speed, all that extra speed isn’t going to make a very big difference if you can already do what you need on a slower connection. Your extra $25 per month ($300 a year) will be wasted.

Another important feature in a no-contract plan is transparent billing. You should pay a flat rate every month, with no hidden price hikes or cancellation fees. You might have an equipment fee if you rent your modem from your service provider, but that’s about it.

It’s also important to pay attention to the type of connection you sign up for. Fiber networks are fast, reliable, and rarely require maintenance. Cable and DSL can both fall short of their advertised speeds in certain situations (like high-traffic periods on a cable connection), and both require more maintenance, which can cause internet outages.

Best overall—Google Fiber 1 Gig

Best overall
Google Fiber logo sized

Specs

  • 1 Gbps (1,000 Mbps) download speed
  • Fiber
  • $70.00/mo.*

 

Google Fiber is hands down the best no-contract internet plan available. In fact, it even beats the discounted plans that you can get when you sign a long-term contract or bundle multiple services. Google Fiber doesn’t require a long-term contract on any of its plans. There are no data caps and no hidden fees. There are literally no downsides if you can get Google Fiber.

Getting it, of course, is the tricky part. There are only a handful of cities in the US that have access to Google Fiber. And coverage is limited even within those cities. The rapid expansion of Google Fiber’s network ground to a halt after the company was forced to pull out of Louisville, Kentucky, after its new microtrenching technology failed.1

If you’ve been holding out all these years in the hope that Google Fiber might reach your city, the odds aren’t looking so good. However, Google did recently announce its first new Google Fiber city in four years, so there’s still hope. But don’t hold your breath. Google also debuted its first 2 Gbps connections, once again raising the bar for fiber providers.2, 3

Google Fiber also offers a contract-free, 2 Gbps plan in some areas. This is far more speed than most households need, but it’s an amazing offer for those who like to be on the cutting edge of technology.

Pros:

  • Fastest download speeds
  • Most reliable connection

Cons:

  • Limited availability

Best budget plan—Optimum Fiber Internet 300

 

Best budget plan
Optimum Logo

Specs

  • 300 Mbps download speed
  • Fiber
  • $39.99/mo.

 

Optimium Fiber Internet 300 is an amazing deal. There are no data caps. It’s cheaper than most no-contract cable and DSL plans, plus it gives you a fiber-optic connection. This means that you’ll have a reliable connection that doesn’t slow down at peak hours and has blazing fast upload speeds. This makes it perfect for bingeing Netflix after work, livestreaming on Twitch, or conducting work meetings over Zoom.

It’s important to note that Optimum has a relatively small footprint nationwide. And it also provides cable internet, so this plan will be available to only a subset of Optimum customers. But if Optimum is available in your area, this plan is the best one you can get.

 

Pros:

  • Low monthly price
  • Fiber connection

Cons:

  • Slower-than-average speeds for fiber
  • Limited availability
  • Installation fees

Best fiber availability—AT&T Internet 1000

Best fiber availability
A T and T Logo

Specs

  • Download speeds up to 940 Mbps††
  • Fiber
  • $80.00/mo.‡

 

AT&T is one of the largest internet providers in the US. It doesn’t offer fiber throughout its entire coverage area, but it has a much larger fiber network than competitors like Google Fiber—and this network is constantly expanding.

AT&T’s gigabit fiber plan is more expensive than many of the no-contract options available, but it’s pretty reasonable for a fiber plan. Combine that with the freedom to cancel at any time without termination fees (AT&T got rid of long-term contracts on all its plans), and you’ve got a pretty great deal.

Pros:

  • Wide availability
  • Fast speeds

Cons:

  • Higher monthly cost

Best unlimited data—Spectrum Internet® Ultra

Best unlimited data
Spectrum Logo

Specs

  • Download speeds up to 500 Mbps (wireless speeds may vary)
  • Cable
  • $69.99/mo. for 12 mos.§

 

Spectrum has a lot of the things we love to see in internet providers. None of its plans have contracts, and none of its plans have data caps. These are two things that we think all internet customers should expect from their provider, but for now, Spectrum is ahead of the crowd.

The Spectrum Internet® Ultra plan gives you 500 Mbps download speeds (wireless speeds may vary), which is fast enough for most online activities. You could even have multiple people streaming video in 4K and still have bandwidth to spare.

Spectrum actually offers an even faster gigabit connection with a new low price—Spectrum ditched the hefty activation fee too, which is nice. But the monthly fee increases to $114.99 by the third year, so if you really need gigabit speeds, go with a cheaper fiber plan like those offered by Google Fiber or AT&T.

If you don’t need gigabit internet, Spectrum Internet® Ultra is a great plan with plenty of speed.

Pros:

  • Unlimited data
  • Free modem or gateway

Cons:

  • Price hikes after 12 mos.
  • Monthly WiFi charge

Best availability—Xfinity Prepaid Internet

Best availability
Xfinity by Comcast Logo

Specs

  • 50 Mbps download speed
  • Cable
  • $45.00/mo.

 

Xfinity’s best quality is simply its pervasiveness. Xfinity is everywhere. This may not exactly sound like high praise, but considering that the biggest drawback of Google Fiber and Optimum Fiber is their limited availability, having a nationwide network is nothing to sneeze at.

Xfinity Prepaid Internet is certainly not the fastest plan, even when compared to Xfinity’s other offers. You pay more for the same speeds you’d get with a contract. However, if you’re looking for a plan you can set up right away without committing to a contract, Xfinity Prepaid Internet is a very convenient choice.

You still have to purchase a modem to get started, but Xfinity offers low-cost refurbished modems for $35, which is a pretty reasonable price. Professional installation for Xfinity costs $89.99, but if your house is already wired for Xfinity, you can get the equipment to install it yourself.

Pros:

  • Wide availability
  • Good monthly price

Cons:

  • Slow speeds

Best starter plan—Cox StraightUp Internet

Best starter plan

Specs

  • 50 Mbps download speed
  • Cable
  • $50.00/mo.#

 

Cox StraightUp Internet has the absolute lowest barrier to entry of any no-contract plan. If you’re looking for internet service right away with no commitment, you can’t do much better than this. There’s no cost for the setup, and the Wi-Fi modem is free. The only things you need to get started are $50 for the first month and an address within Cox’s service area. If you happen to stay with Cox for a while anyway, they also guarantee your price for the next three years.

As with Xfinity’s prepaid plans, Cox StraightUp Internet isn’t the fastest internet plan out there. It’s also on a cable network, which can slow down due to traffic at peak-use hours. Still, 50 Mbps is enough speed to connect a few devices to your home Wi-Fi network without any major issues.

The best thing about Cox StraightUp Internet (as the name implies) is its simplicity and transparency. There are no hidden fees and no sneaky tricks. There’s not anything particularly fancy about it either. What you get is decent internet for a decent price.

Pros:

  • Low initial cost
  • 3 year price guarantee

Cons:

  • Slow speeds

Best DSL plan—CenturyLink Simply Unlimited Internet 100 Mbps

Best DSL plan

Specs

  • 100 Mbps download speed
  • DSL
  • $50.00/mo.**

 

When people think of high-speed internet connections, DSL is usually not what first comes to mind. They wouldn’t be wrong either—DSL’s top speeds are far lower than those of cable or fiber. It might be surprising, then, that CenturyLink’s no-contract DSL plan offers higher speeds than many cable internet plans.

The installation costs for CenturyLink can vary a lot. They do give the option for a standard installation kit, which costs $15. That works great as long as your house is already wired, which will eliminate most upfront costs altogether. You also have the option for a technician to come out, which can cost $99. If they have to run new aerial cables from the nearest utility pole, you may have to pay more. You can also purchase your modem up front, but if you want the flexibility to change providers without wasting your investment, it might be worth it to simply rent a modem for $15 per month.

There are still a lot of downsides to a DSL connection. DSL usually has low upload speeds, and your download speeds can be lower than advertised if your provider’s network hub is far away from where you live. However, DSL is much more widely available in rural areas. While it may not keep up with cable or fiber, it’s still a much better option than satellite. If DSL is what you’re looking for, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better deal than this one.

Pros:

  • Decent download speeds
  • Reasonable prices

Cons:

  • Slow upload speeds
  • Older infrastructure
  • High installation costs

Our verdict: Get Google Fiber if it’s available

Google Fiber hits all the most important points for a good no-contract internet plan. It’s got a simple, contract-free monthly bill, a reliable fiber network, and incredibly fast speeds. The only downside is that it’s available in only a handful of cities in the US.

If Google Fiber isn’t an option for you, look at other fiber providers, like AT&T or Optimum. While Optimum’s Fiber Internet 300 plan is the most affordable option, other providers like AT&T also offer faster fiber plans more comparable to Google Fiber speeds.

Whichever plan you choose, just make sure to consider the upfront costs in your calculations so you don’t end up making a big investment for a plan you’re not intending to keep.

Additional no-contract plans

PlanPriceTypeDownload SpeedGet it
Google Fiber 2 Gig$100.00/mo.*Fiber2 Gbps (2,000 Mbps)
AT&T Fiber Internet 500$65.00/mo.Fiber500 Mbps
CenturyLink Fiber Internet$65.00/mo.Fiber940 Mbps
Astound Broadband 300 Mbps Internet$14.99–25.99/mo. (depending on service area)§Cable300 Mbps

No-contract internet FAQ

What is a short-term internet contract?

The shortest term for which you can purchase internet is usually one month, since the billing cycle for internet service generally operates on a monthly basis. Since you have to make only a single payment to get one month’s worth of internet, these plans are generally referred to as no-contract, pay-as-you-go, or monthly internet plans.

If a full month still sounds like a long time, some mobile Wi-Fi hotspots offer service on a per-day basis. You can also make use of public Wi-Fi hotspots if there’s one close to your home.

How much does no-contract internet service cost?

No-contract plans are fairly close in price to comparable plans that require year-long contracts. ISPs that offer plans both with and without contracts generally offer a discount to customers who sign up for a contract, making their no-contract plans slightly more expensive. There are, however, many ISPs that have abandoned contracts altogether and these plans are sometimes cheaper than similar plans from other ISPs that require long-term contracts.

What is the best no-contract internet service?

Google Fiber is the best no-contract internet service you can get, based on our research. There are no hidden fees or unexpected price hikes. The service is also superfast and reliable. The only downside is that Google Fiber is available in only a few cities, so if you don’t live in one of them, you’ll have to choose another provider.

Google Fiber has begun expanding its network once again, so although its reach is still very limited, some people will soon have Google Fiber available in their cities.

What no-contract internet plans are available in rural areas?

It’s hard to find no-contract internet plans in rural areas, particularly areas that have only satellite internet available. Satellite internet almost always requires a two-year contract, as well as the installation of expensive equipment.

One potential alternative to satellite internet is using mobile hotspots. Often you can set up a mobile hotspot using your cell phone. You can also purchase a dedicated mobile hotspot, independent of your phone plan. This requires both buying the device and paying for the data, so it’s a much bigger investment than simply setting up a hotspot on your phone.

How do I get out of my internet contract?

Getting out of your internet contract typically requires you to pay an early termination fee (ETF) that’s dependent on how many months remain in your contract. These fees can be very high, which is why you should never enter into an internet contract lightly.

There is one way to get out of a contract without taking a financial hit. Some internet providers will pay your early termination fee (or, more often, reimburse you) if you switch to one of their plans. Of course, this means getting into another contract. But if you have to switch anyway, this can be a nice perk when choosing your new internet provider.

Sources

  1. Jon Brodkin, Ars Technica. “Google Fiber’s Biggest Failure,” February 2019. Accessed August 20, 2020.
  2. 9 to 5 Google. “Google Fiber Announces First New Market in 4 Years with Public-Private Partnership,” July 6, 2020. Accessed August 20, 2020.
  3. Amalia O’Sullivan, Google Fiber Blog, “The Next Step in Speed—Experience 2 Gig Now with the Google Fiber Trusted Tester Program,” September 14, 2020. Accessed February 17, 2021.

Author -

Peter Christiansen writes about satellite internet, rural connectivity, livestreaming, and parental controls for HighSpeedInternet.com. Peter holds a PhD in communication from the University of Utah and has been working in tech for over 15 years as a computer programmer, game developer, filmmaker, and writer. His writing has been praised by outlets like Wired, Digital Humanities Now, and the New Statesman.

Editor - Cara Haynes

Cara Haynes has been editing and writing in the digital space for seven years, and she's edited all things internet for HighSpeedInternet.com for five years. She graduated with a BA in English and a minor in editing from Brigham Young University. When she's not editing, she makes tech accessible through her freelance writing for brands like Pluralsight. She believes no one should feel lost in internet land and that a good internet connection significantly extends your life span.