Ten Ways to Reduce (or eliminate) Your Internet Bills
As any homebound person will tell you, a quarantine is a bad time to be without internet. However, if you’ve lost all or most of your income, it’s also a bad time to have a big internet bill.
Some people are solving this problem by deferring or pausing their internet payments for the next few months. That is sort of a solution, but not a particularly good one, since it will just leave you in debt.
If you are unable to pay your internet bill, here’s some better ideas that might actually solve the problem, instead of just delaying it:
One: Lower Your Bill By Plan Dropping
Some phone and internet companies are offering increased or unlimited data during Coronavirus. Call and ask if you can drop to a lower (cheaper) plan that still gives you the data you need. Warning: Please double check to see if there are any fees for changing plans.
Two: Eliminate Your Bill with Free Hot Spots
Some companies are offering free wi-fi hotspots to everyone. Check to see if you can get a signal for a free wi-fi hot spot in your home. You may be able to cancel your internet completely. Warning: Please double check to see if there are any fees for canceling plans.
How many companies are offering free wi-fi hotspots and where are they? We don’t know, here’s a list of 390 Phone and Internet Companies who have signed a pledge including “open Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them.” Please comment below if you learn more.
Three: Sign Up for Low Income Internet
For families, seniors, people with disabilities and others who are low income: several companies offer excellent low income internet programs. The cost is typically $10 per month. Sign up process is very simple: Where and How to Apply for Low Income Internet
Four: If You are Already a Customer
Some of our readers ran into the problem that they couldn’t enroll in low income internet (even though they were in fact low income) because they were already a customer. If you have run into this problem, here’s some smart ideas from some of our readers: Low Income Internet & the 90 Days.
Five: If You Don’t Meet the Criteria
If you don’t qualify for low income internet because you don’t meet the criteria, check again. Internet Essential program significantly broadened their program in fall 2019. Now a lot more people qualify. Good timing! Where and How to Apply for Low Income Internet
Six: If You Still Don’t Meet the Criteria
One common criteria is eligibility for Medicaid, Medi-cal or food stamps.
Here’s a little something you might not know: Even if you were not eligible yesterday, you might be eligible today. Many programs look at monthly income, not yearly income. If your income suddenly dropped or disappeared this month, you might become momentarily eligible for food stamps or Medicaid.
Obviously, the really great part would be food and health care (the $10 internet is just a bonus). When all this mess is over and your income returns (we hope), you can drop back off these things, but they may be here when you need them now.
Seven: Make Your Own Hotspot
Some people cancel their internet services, and instead get unlimited data on their cellphones. Then they use their cellphones as a hot spot to get internet on their laptops and other devices.
What does this mean and how do you do it? We don’t know and we don’t know… but some companies are now lifting data restrictions on cell phone plans, so now might be a great time to learn more: How to Turn Your Phone Into a Wi-Fi Hotspot
Eight: Borrow a Hotspot
See if Your Library Has Mobile Hotspot Lending – Some libraries will loan you free internet that you can use at home on your phone. Learn more about this here: Borrowing the Internet.
Nine: Ask a Friend to Share
If you have a friend with internet service (even if they live really far away), as long as you can get a signal to their provider, you may be able to ask them to share their internet with you while you are going through a rough patch.
Be sure to let your friend know that they may now be eligible for unlimited or much larger data and usage. It may cost your friend $0 to help you out.
Ten: Pause Payments
This last way is not as helpful, because it will just put you in debt. However, if 1-9 are not possible, and you are in a pinch:
Many companies are allowing you to pause payments for 30-90 days with no late fees and no disconnections. This may be called “payment deferment”. You will still owe the bill, you’ll just have more time to pay. Call and ask. Companies that have agreed: 390 Phone and Internet Companies
Examples of Changes and New Plans
- Lifting overage fees and removing internet data caps
- This is available for all home broadband internet users
- Call and ask if you can drop to a lower (cheaper) plan that still gives you unlimited data
- AT&T also has a $10 internet program for low income people: Where and How to Apply for Low Income Internet
- Free internet for 60 days to new customers
- This program is for people who are low income and live in an area covered by Comcast or Xfinity.
- After 60 days, it is $10/month.
- If you have not yet signed up for Internet Essentials, and would like to, there are a few things you might like to know: Where and How to Apply for Low Income Internet
- They have also increased their speed.
- Internet Essentials may not be available to existing Comcast customers, but there are a few workarounds for existing customers.
- Free internet for 60 days to K-12 and college students.
- This program is available to new customers who don’t already have Charter or Spectrum broadband.
- After 60 days, it returns to full price. The press release does not indicate whether new customers will be locked into paying a subscription for the rest of the year.
- Spectrum also has a $10 internet program for low income people. However, it is not as inclusive as the programs by Comcast or AT&T and it is only available to a limited amount of people. Where and How to Apply for Low Income Internet
- The low income program also is may not be available to existing customers, but there are a few workarounds for existing customers.
For anyone who is homebound or sheltering-in-place: Food. Rent. Unemployment. Paid Leave. Student Loans. Doctor Visits. Grocery Delivery. What to Do During School Closings. Important updates and bright ideas: Read the Latest Updates
Please comment below if you learn more.
This blog was created by people with ME/CFS (Sometimes called “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”).
Being homebound is nothing new to us. Many of us have been homebound or bedridden for five, or ten, or twenty years.
There is now a great deal of support, understanding, and help available to people staying home during Coronavirus, but none of this was available to us all these years, and when Coronavirus is over, it may go away again.
As you go about your day, please take a moment to think about your homebound friends. You may be able to go back out someday, but we may never be able to.