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Best Cheap Internet Providers of 2022

Get a cheap internet plan without sacrificing speed or connection quality. Here are our picks of the best cheap ISPs.

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Looking for cheap Wi-Fi? Many of the top internet providers offer plans in the $30 to $50 per month range without requiring you to significantly sacrifice fast download speeds or connection quality.

Our list of the best cheap ISPs, which is periodically updated, is a good place to start if you're shopping for affordable internet options. We chose the cheap internet providers highlighted here for their high nationwide availability and customer-friendly perks such as unlimited data or low equipment costs, as well as low plan pricing.

Read more: Best WordPress hosting of 2021

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In mid-January of 2022, AT&T launched two multigig plans that, combined with its existing tiers, now give the company the lowest cost per Mbps for fiber internet of any major provider. Across five tiers, the cost per Mbps for AT&T Fiber plans is 10 cents. That includes unlimited data and no additional equipment rental fee either. A few other providers might approach that cost per Mbps with their promo offers, but even then, after you factor in the monthly modem rental fee, AT&T will end up being cheaper.

If you don't need multigig speeds, AT&T Fiber's cheapest plan still comes with plenty of speed with max download and upload speeds of 300Mbps. The plan also comes with no added equipment costs and unlimited data, as do all AT&T Fiber plans. 

One note of caution: Around 70% of households in AT&T internet service areas are not eligible for AT&T Fiber. Cheap broadband service may still be available from AT&T, however, as its DSL-based service offers speeds up to 100Mbps starting at $45 a month.

Cheapest plan: Internet 300

  • Cheapest plan price: $55 a month for up to 300Mbps
  • Cost per Mbps: 18 cents
  • Wi-Fi equipment fee: None
  • Expected all-in monthly cost: $55, plus taxes
AT&T Home Internet
Mediacom

Mediacom doesn't boast the same customer reach as larger competing cable providers such as Spectrum or Xfinity, but that can largely be attributed to the internet provider's service areas. Residents of rural areas throughout the Midwest and South as well as parts of Arizona and California can rely on Mediacom for cheap broadband service starting at around $20 a month for speeds up to 60Mbps. 

The one downside to Mediacom's cheapest Wi-Fi internet plan is the 200-gigabyte monthly data cap, which many households are likely to exceed (and incur an overage fee of $10 per 50GB block of data, up to a maximum of $50). Streaming HD video can use 3GB or more per hour, so streaming TV just a few hours a day can quickly put you over the cap. For more monthly data, consider higher-tiered Mediacom plans, which come with up to 6 terabytes a month. 

Cheapest plan: Access Internet 60

  • Cheapest plan price: $20 a month for up to 60Mbps
  • Cost per Mbps: $0.33
  • Wi-Fi equipment fee: $12 a month
  • Expected all-in monthly cost: $32, plus taxes
Mediacom Communications
Sarah Tew/CNET

At $20-$25 a month for up to 50Mbps, Xfinity's Performance Starter isn't the best internet deal you're likely to find, but it is one of the cheaper broadband options available throughout much of the US. 

If you'd like a little more speed, Xfinity offers two additional plans in the $50 a month range in select areas. Performance Select includes speeds up to 100Mbps starting at $35 a month while Performance Pro comes with up to 200Mbps starting at $50 a month. You may be required to sign a one-year contract to get the lowest introductory pricing on these Xfinity plans or others. Opting for no contract could increase your bill by $10 a month for the first year.

Regardless of the Xfinity plan you choose, be prepared to keep your data usage under 1.2TB a month to avoid overage fees. Like Mediacom, Xfinity charges $10 per each 50GB block of data, but with Xfinity it could add a maximum of $100 to your bill. 

Cheapest plan: Performance Starter

  • Plan details: $20-$25 a month for up to 50Mbps
  • Cost per Mbps: $0.50
  • Wi-Fi equipment fee: $14 a month
  • Expected all-in monthly cost: $39, plus taxes
Xfinity Internet
Optimum

Opting for a low-cost internet plan often means settling for a slower speed, but Optimum's gig service lets you have your cake and eat it, too. Starting at just $50 per month, Optimum arguably has the cheapest gig plan (speeds up to 940Mbps) of any major provider. A $10 equipment fee will put your all-in cost for gig service at around $60 per month, but you can avoid that fee by using your own equipment.

If you don't need gig service, Optimum offers a few other cheap internet plans with download speeds of 100, 300 or 500Mbps starting at $30 to $40 per month for the first year. Just be sure to keep an eye on your bill after that first year, as an unpredictable price increase may spoil the value of your plan.

Cheapest plan: Optimum 300

  • Plan details: $30 a month for up to 300Mbps
  • Cost per Mbps: $0.10
  • Wi-Fi equipment fee: $10 a month
  • Expected all-in monthly cost: $40, plus taxes
Optimum Internet
Tim Rue/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Cox internet plans are priced a bit on the high side. In fact, the cheapest internet plan from Cox has the highest cost per megabit per second of any plan featured on our list of top providers, and in some areas only offers a max speed of only 10Mbps.

Still, Cox made our list of the best cheap internet providers thanks to its budget-friendly prepaid service. For $50 a month, Cox StraightUp Internet comes with up to 50Mbps, a free router/modem device, free installation and a three-year price guarantee. The plan is ideal for those who may have less-than-perfect credit or simply want a pay-as-you-go service.

Cheapest plan: Internet Starter

  • Cheapest plan price: $30 a month for up to 25Mbps
  • Cost per Mbps: $1.20
  • Wi-Fi equipment fee: $11 a month
  • Expected all-in monthly cost: $32 plus taxes
Cox Communications
Charter

Spectrum has the highest-priced internet plan on our list, but the provider makes up for it with fast download speeds -- up to 200Mbps -- and cheap Wi-Fi equipment fees. Spectrum internet service comes with a free modem and the router rental fee is only $5 per month.

With an all-in monthly price of around $55, download speeds up to 200Mbps, unlimited data and no contracts, Spectrum Internet rivals AT&T Fiber, our pick for the best overall cheap internet provider. Given the choice between the two, I'd recommend AT&T Fiber as its 100% fiber connection provides faster upload speeds and better speed consistency than cable internet service from Spectrum.

Cheapest plan: Spectrum Internet

  • Plan details: $50 a month for up to 200Mbps
  • Cost per Mbps: $0.25
  • Wi-Fi equipment fee: $5 a month
  • Expected all-in monthly cost: $55 plus taxes
Spectrum Internet

Cheap internet honorable mentions

These national providers also have broadband service starting at or below $50 a month, but did not make our list of the best cheap ISPs due to high cost per megabit per second, inconsistent pricing or limited service areas.

  • CenturyLink: CenturyLink DSL plans come at a flat fee of $49 per month DSL service, but available speeds can vary widely from 3-100Mbps. If your address is only serviceable for less than broadband speeds (25Mbps download, 3Mbps upload or higher), CenturyLink's cheapest plan may not be worth the cost.
  • Frontier CommunicationsFrontier FiberOptic internet starts at $45 per month (with auto pay) for max speeds of 500Mbps. The plan doesn't have the lowest cost per Mbps you'll find, but it's still a really good internet deal. Your equipment and unlimited data is also included in the price. 
  • HughesNetSatellite internet offers unrivaled availability, but the high latency and data caps that come with it make HughesNet's Gen5 plan not worth the cost of $50 a month for speeds up to 25Mbps.
  • RCNRCN offers plans as low as $22 a month for up to 25Mbps, but available pricing and speeds vary in every RCN market. 
  • Verizon Fios: The cheapest Verizon Fios plan, with speeds up to 300Mbps starting at $40 per month, offers plenty of value. The midtier plan (up to 500Mbps starting at $65 per month) and gig service (starting at $90 per month) aren't bad deals, either, but you may be able to find faster speeds for the money from other providers.

That's all for our list of the best cheap internet providers. Read on for related information on low-income internet options, tips for shopping for cheap internet providers and ways to save on your monthly bill.

Cheap internet FAQs

What's the cheapest internet available?

Dial-up is the cheapest internet connection available, with plans starting under $10 a month from providers such as AOL, EarthLink and NetZero. In spite of the low cost, we wouldn't recommend dial-up service. Dial-up speeds are painfully slow and will not support a Wi-Fi connection or nearly any online task more demanding than sending an email. 

Another phone-based internet service, DSL is a popular go-to for cheap internet. Providers like Frontier and Verizon offer DSL plans ranging from $25-$35 a month, but these plans typically come with sub-broadband speeds. 

Cable and fiber internet are likely to be your best cheap internet options. While plans can be a bit more expensive than dial-up or DSL service, the speeds and connection quality that you get are well worth the added cost. 

What cheap internet options are available to low-income households?

The Federal Communication Commission's Lifeline program provides a monthly credit of up to $9.25 that qualifying consumers can apply towards their broadband bill. To qualify, applicants must have a household income at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines, or qualify for other government assistance programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Supplemental Security Income or the Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit.

Many internet providers, including AT&T, Cox and Xfinity, also offer a discounted internet program. Plans typically cost between $5 and $15 a month and come with speeds of 10-30Mbps. Qualifications are similar to those of the FCC's Lifeline program. 

President Joe Biden's recently passed infrastructure law promises to help make fast, affordable internet even more accessible, setting aside roughly $65 billion for broadband expansion and further assistance for low-income households. It could be years before real headway is made on bridging the digital divide, however, so what you pay each month for internet service is largely dependent on the available ISPs in your area and the plan you choose. 

Is the cheapest internet plan the best deal?

Not always. In addition to the sticker price, also be sure to consider these factors to avoid overpaying for home internet service:

  • Speed: Will the lowest-priced plan deliver the speeds that you need? If not, you may want to explore other providers or upgrade to a more expensive plan.
  • Added costs: Taxes are to be expected with any internet service, but added costs for equipment rental, data overages, installation and more will vary by provider.
  • Contracts and price increases: Getting locked into a contract with your ISP can be costly, especially if the plan price increases before the service agreement is up. Canceling before the contract expires can also result in early termination fees.

How can I save money on my monthly internet bill?

There are a few ways you may be able to get cheaper internet. Common ways to lower your internet bill include using your own equipment, negotiating a lower cost with your provider and switching providers. 

View our guide on how to save on your internet bill for more details about how you can lower your monthly internet costs.

More internet advice

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