According to surveys taken by the Pew Research Center, 75% of adults ages 65 and over use the internet, and 64% use their home broadband connection to do so. These numbers have been rising steadily over the past decade, and they've become even more pronounced over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. I think all of us have increased our use of FaceTime, Zoom and other video-chat tools.
The need to be online is acute, but too often, the price for being connected can be steep. That's an amplified problem if you're a retiree on a fixed income. How can you find cheap internet for seniors? I'm glad you asked. Here are a few ideas.
Start with some helpful government programs
Unlike your local diner,don't really offer senior discounts. There are certainly some ISP-specific deals worth exploring (and I'll talk about those in just a bit), but your best bet is to begin by taking advantage of federal programs. Two jump to mind -- one has been around since 1985 and the other is a new policy that just went into place in 2022.
You should begin with, a program that's been around for decades and can help eligible customers with either their phone or internet bill. While it's not specifically geared to the elderly, several of its qualifiers -- including participation in Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income and Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit -- apply to seniors. Lifeline is also geared toward helping low-income households, so retirees on an especially tight, fixed income, including those in Federal Public Housing Assistance or those using Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, might also be able to participate.
What do you get if you do qualify? Seniors can get up to $9.25 a month off their internet bill for a total of $111 a year off the cost of being connected at home.
Even better, once you qualify for Lifeline, you're also eligible for the government's, a subsidy from the Federal Communications Commission. Again, this is not specifically geared to seniors, but those eligible for Lifeline assistance can also qualify for this benefit, which provides a monthly discount on the cost of broadband service.
What's exciting is you can use the funds from the ACP toward the specific programs we list below and you might find it fully covers the cost of your monthly internet bill. One other option is to use the ACP to help pay for a faster plan to help you better stream your favorite TV shows or get a better connection on those video chats with your family.
Finally, a note of caution: Beware the "senior deals" pages on some ISP sites. Many are just glorified ads masquerading as helpful tips. Instead of showing you legitimate discounts or unveiling special deals, they're trying to sell you on higher-speed plans. Definitely use some discernment as you shop.
Top internet deals and discounts for seniors
This affordable internet plan is $10 a month and features up to 50Mbps download speeds. No contracts or credit checks are required. Though not exclusively for seniors, it is open to eligible, low-income households and participants in SSI. In addition, Astound is offering the first 60 days for free.
If you receive SSI benefits in California or participate in SNAP in any of the 21 states within the AT&T serviceability area, you're eligible for this program, which features download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second for $30 a month or less. You won't have to deal with any installation fees, data caps, contracts or deposits.
AT&T Home Internet
Cox has long had a discount program, called Connect2Compete, aimed at low- or fixed-income families. But in 2021 it introduced ConnectAssist, which is geared toward low-income households without children. Several of the programs for eligibility -- including Veterans Pension, Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid -- apply to seniors. Qualifying households can receive a 100Mbps plan -- including a free modem, access to 3 million Wi-Fi hotspots across the country, and unlimited data for 12 months (data cap of 1.25TB of data kicks in after that) -- for $30 a month. No contract is required.
This program includes eligibility for people 65 and older who receive SSI, and US military veterans receiving state or federal assistance. The no-contract internet plan features up to 50Mbps download speeds for $15 a month. It also includes free installation, unlimited data and a free modem/router combo.
As well as participating in the ACP, Rise Broadband features a discount of 10% off monthly internet service for retired (and active) military personnel.
Seniors age 65 and over that receive SSI are eligible for this assistance plan. It features up to 30Mbps download speeds for $15 a month and includes a free modem, no data caps and no contracts.
Seniors enrolled in the federal Lifeline program can save $10 a month on any Verizon Fios plan offered at their address.
Also, seniors participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program may be eligible to receive free internet through Fios Forward, including all fees and router costs. You must have a Fios Mix & Match plan and be approved for the ACP to qualify.
Finally, eligible seniors can get free internet via Verizon 5G Home or Verizon LTE Home services through the company's Verizon Forward program. Customers must enroll in the ACP to take advantage of this no-cost option.
If you're a senior, participating in Medicaid or SSI, or receive a VA pension, you may be eligible for this internet plan, which features up to 50Mbps download speeds for $10 a month. No credit check is required and participants also get free access to Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots. There's also an option to double your speed to 100Mbps for $30 per month, with similar terms.
Best internet deals and discounts for seniors FAQs
Can seniors get internet service for free?
Technically, yes, but it'll take a few maneuvers. First, you'll need to be eligible for the federal program, Lifeline. It's not explicitly for seniors, but if you participate in Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income or Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit, you may likely qualify. Once you do that, you become eligible for a subsidy program from the FCC called the Affordable Connectivity Program. This would provide you with $30 a month toward your internet service. If your ISP is participating in the ACP and offers an internet plan for $30 or less (and many of them do), you would be able to get your internet service for free.
Do any cable companies offer discounts for older adults?
No, not specifically. But several cable internet companies do feature discount programs and plans that can apply to seniors. For example, Optimum offers Optimum Advantage Internet, a low-cost, 50Mbps plan for $15 a month that includes free installation, unlimited data, no contracts and a Wi-Fi router. Among the eligibility criteria are veterans receiving state or federal public assistance or seniors 65 and older who participate in Supplemental Security Income. Astound Broadband's Internet First program and Spectrum's Internet Assist also include the SSI participation qualification. Finally, Comcast Xfinity's Internet Essentials accepts SSI and participation in Medicaid or a VA pension.
Does Xfinity offer discounts for seniors?
Xfinity does not offer a discount that's explicitly for seniors. Still, Comcast's Internet Essentials program for low-income households -- featuring a 50Mbps plan for $10 a month and free access to Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots -- does include eligibility that applies to seniors. Among the qualifications is participation in Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, public housing assistance and VA pension.