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Best cheap internet provider 2021: Affordable ISPs

If the last year has taught us anything, it’s just how valuable an internet connection is. No matter how essential an internet connection is, though, no one wants to break the bank just to get online. We’ve taken a close look at the internet providers across the country to find the best options for cheap, fast internet

We let price take priority, but we aren’t interested in cheap internet that doesn’t provide good service — high speed and reliability are also crucial. We looked at data caps, connection type, and other factors to review the best cheap internet providers of 2021.

Compare the Best Cheap Internet Providers

Reviews.com ScoreJ.D. Power Customer SatisfactionPriceTop Download SpeedASCI RatingAT&T4.2751$35–$60/mo.940 Mbps70Verizon4.2769$39.99–$79.99/mo.940 Mbps77Frontier3.8646$39.99–$79.99/mo.940 Mbps62Comcast3.6730$19.99–$85.99/mo.1,200 Mbps72Century Link3.4710$49–$65/mo.940 Mbps69Spectrum3.2712$44.99–$109.99/mo.940 Mbps70Cox3.4723$29.99–$99.99/mo.940 Mbps71

Information accurate as of May 2021
*J.D. Power’s 2020 Residential Internet Service Provider satisfaction study. Based on a 1,000-point scale.


Best overall plan

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AT&T

Reviews Score: 4.2 | Starting Price: $35/month | Maximum Download Speed: 940Mbps | ACSI Score: 70 |

AT&T offers nearly nationwide coverage, affordable pricing, and solid download speeds  — though navigating the company’s labyrinth of plans can feel unnecessarily complicated.

Features:

Second-largest DSL internet provider in the countryAffordably priced plans for solid download speedsEquipment cost includedFiber internet options for higher speedsPhone and TV bundles available1TB data caps on DSL plans

Pros:

Broad coverageReliably fast DSLEquipment included

Cons:

Limited availability for fiberVolatile speed and pricingData cap costs more or requires bundled services

Plans:

Internet Basic (0.8–5 Mbps): $45/mo.Internet 10 (10 Mbps): $45/mo.Internet 18 (18 Mbps): $45/mo.Internet 25 (25 Mbp)s: $45/mo.Internet 50 (50 Mbps): $45/mo.Internet 100 (100 Mbps): $45/mo.Internet 300 (300 Mbps): $35/mo.Internet 500 (500 Mbps): $45/mo.Internet 1000 (940 Mbps): $60/mo.
View Now at AT&T

Best for fast download speeds

Comcast XfinityComcast Xfinity

Comcast XFINITY

Review Score: 3.6 | Starting Price: $19.99/month | Maximum Download Speed: 1200Mbps | ACSI Score: 72 |

Comcast XFINITY offers high-speed options for people who need them and affordable fiber internet options on a budget, though the best prices require at least a one-year contract.

Features:

Fiber internet connection availablePhone and TV packages availableFastest available download speedsWidespread availability in 39 states1.2TB data caps

Pros:

Large coverage mapNo contract options are availableHigh-speed plans available

Cons:

Hidden feesSlower upload speedsThe contract required for best prices

Plans:

50 Mbps: $19.99/mo.100 Mbps: $34.99/mo.200 Mbps: $49.99/mo.400 Mbps: $64.99/mo.600 Mbps: $74.99/mo.1200 Mbps: $84.99/mo.
View Now at Comcast XFINITY


Best for non-commitment plans

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Verizon

Review Score: 4.2 | Starting Price: $39.99/month | Maximum Download Speed: 940Mbps | ACSI Score: 77 |

Verizon Fios offers a fast, reliable fiber internet connection for a price that won’t break the bank with no monthly contract. The only downside is that it’s available in only certain parts of the country.

Features:

Fiber internet option availableNo advertised data capsNo annual contract requiredLots of special offers with Verizon packages and partnersA $15/mo. Router rental

Pros:

High-value fiber plansSpecial offersWaived or reduced installation feeSavings for Verizon Wireless customers

Cons:

Limited fiber availabilityExpensive equipment costsPrice increase after the first year

Plans:

200 Mbps: $39.99/mo.400 Mbps: $59.99/mo.940 Mbps: $79.99/mo.
View Now at Verizon Fios


Best for unlimited data

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Frontier Communications

Reviews Score: 3.8 | Starting Price: $39.99/month | Maximum Download Speed: 940Mbps | ACSI Score:  62 |

Verizon Fios offers a fast, reliable fiber internet connection for a price that won’t break the bank with no monthly contract. The only downside is that it’s available in only certain parts of the country.

Features:

DSL and fiber plans are availableAccessible in rural areasRouter cost includedContract-free plans availableUnlimited data

Pros:

One of the fastest DSL providerContract-free plans with price lockNo data cap

Cons:

Low ASCI scoreLimited high-speed optionsHidden fees

Plans:

Internet Basic (6 Mbps): $39.99/mo.Internet Preferred (12 Mbps): $44.99/mo.Internet Premium (24 Mbps): $54.99/mo.FiberOptic 50 Mbps: $49.99/mo.FiberOptic 500 Mbps: $59.99/mo.FiberOptic 940 Mbps: $79.99/mo.
View Now at Frontier Communications


Best cheap internet for reliable pricing

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CenturyLink Internet

Reviews Score: 3.4 | Starting Price: $49/month | Maximum Download Speed: 940Mbps | ACSI Score: 69 |

CenturyLink offers cheap internet coverage across the Mountain West and locks in your price for life, so you don’t have to worry about surprising charges.

Features:

Price locked in for lifeNo contract required1TB data capOne-time purchase fee for routerNo early termination fees

Pros:

Price for life guaranteeNo contracts requiredHigh-end speeds are available in some regions

Cons:

Few options for higher-speed DSLPrice lock doesn’t apply to fiber plansNo cable internet option

Plans:

10 Mbps: $49/mo.15 Mbps: $49/mo.30 Mbps: $49/mo.40 Mbps: $49/mo.
View Now at CenturyLink Internet


Best for switching providers

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Charter Spectrum

Reviews Score: 3.2 | Starting Price: $44.99/month | Maximum Download Speed: 940Mbps | ACSI Score: 70 |

Charter Spectrum offers a broad coverage map for cheap internet and will pay your early termination fee if you switch from another provider — but the price increases after the first year.

Features:

Pays early termination fees when switching providersNo contracts requiredBundles available with other servicesModem includedNo data caps

Pros:

Highest speed in its price rangeNo-contract plans with a buyout offerNo data cap

Cons:

Price increase after the first yearLimited support if you use your own equipmentUnspecified upload speed

Plans:

100 Mbps: $49.99/mo.200 Mbps: $49.99/mo.400 Mbps: $69.99/mo.940 Mbps: 109.99/mo.
View Now at Charter Spectrum


Cheapest startup costs

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Cox Communications Internet

Review Score: 3.4 | Starting Price: $29.99/month | Maximum Download Speed: 940Mbps | ACSI Score: 71 | 

Cox Communications offers solid value for its baseline plans with no contracts and locked price for three years but has data caps and poor service.

Features:

Elite Gamer data optimization software available for gamersNo contract for 50Mbps plans and upPromotional prices lock for 3 yearsPanoramic Wi-Fi limits dead zones1.25TB data cap

Pros:

Panoramic Wi-Fi for better coverage through homeLower-than-average installation feeNo contract required for some plans

Cons:

Price increase over timeCosts extra for unlimited data

Plans:

Internet Starter 10 (10 Mbps): $29.99/mo.Internet Essential 50 (50 Mbps): $39.99/mo.Internet Preferred 150 (150 Mbps): $59.99/mo.Internet Ultimate (500 Mbps): $79.99/mo.Gigablast (940 Mbps): $99.99/mo.
View Now at Cox Communications Internet

How did we choose the best cheap internet providers?

We evaluated internet service providers based on customer satisfaction, data caps, download speed, plans, and customer support to determine Reviews.com scores and create our best internet service provider reviews. To compare internet service providers with other brands across the board, we calculate each Reviews.com score based on the following:

Customer Satisfaction: Reviews.com used J.D. Power’s 2020 Residential Internet Service Provider Satisfaction Study to calculate an average rating of internet providers across all applicable regions.Top Download Speeds: We awarded higher scores to internet providers with higher download speeds.Number of Plans: Internet providers with more plan options to choose from scored higher in our methodology.Data Caps: No one wants to be left without internet for the rest of the month, so we awarded internet providers higher scores if they had high or no data caps. Customer Support: We reviewed and compared the number of channels that customers could reach each provider’s customer support representatives. The more channels of contact available, the higher the score.

How do I find cheap internet near me?

Bundle cable and internet: If you are planning to get cable as well as internet, you can get cable and internet by bundling with one provider. Most internet providers that offer cable and internet services have special bundles that can help save money every month. Search for “cheap internet bundles near me” to find providers in your area that offer bundles.Bring your own router/equipment: Most internet service providers either require you to purchase a modem and router directly from them or add a monthly rental cost to use their equipment. You can save money by using your own.Switch providers: The trick of most internet service providers is that the price offered at sign-up is not the price after a year. Often, that initial price is considered a promotional deal, with an increased built-in. You can save by bouncing around providers and scoring that initial price or finding providers that will pay off termination fees if you switch.Factor in fees: Also consider additional fees, like paying to rent equipment, overage charges, and post-promotion monthly price increases. The advertised price you see for home internet typically only covers the internet service itself. Most providers tack on extra fees and expenses that can quickly turn a cheap home internet plan into quite pricey.Consider your location and what you need: The unfortunate fact is that many parts of the country, especially rural locations, may only have one cheap internet provider available. Without competition, your best bet may be to settle for lower data speeds. If you can make that sacrifice, you can save some money.Decide how much speed you need: The internet plans we reviewed offer speeds ranging from 25 to 1,000 Mbps. If you live alone and don’t use the internet for much more than email and social media, something on the lower end should be more than sufficient. On the other hand, large families and those who enjoy video streaming and online gaming should consider a much faster plan. Use our internet speed guide to choose the right type of connection for your home.

Can I get internet if I come from a low-income household?

Low-income households can often feel at a loss when it comes to getting fast, cheap internet provider service. Still, there are programs available that can help make this essential service affordable. The Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program offers qualifying households a $9.25 per month stipend for internet service. If your household income is 135% or less than the federal poverty line, or if you receive other benefits like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA), Veterans Pension, and Survivors Benefit, or Tribal Programs benefits, you likely also qualify for cheap internet in your area through Lifeline.

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