Best Internet Deals for Seniors

Are you a retiree looking for discounted broadband? Here's what you need to know about cheap internet for seniors to avoid scams and save money.

Article updated on Jan 21, 2024

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Trey Paul
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trey-paul
Trey Paul Senior Editor
Trey Paul is a CNET senior editor covering broadband. His 20+ years of experience as a writer and editor include time at CNET's sister site, Allconnect, and working with clients like Yahoo!, Google, The New York Times and Choice Hotels. An avid movie fan, Trey's career also includes being a film and TV critic while pursuing a degree in New York.
Expertise Home internet and broadband, including plans, providers, internet speeds and connection types. Movies and film studies. Credentials
  • Master's degree in Cinema Studies from NYU and interviews with Conan O'Brien, Stan Lee and some of his biggest Star Trek childhood idols
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Xfinity: Internet Essentials - Cheapest internet plan
  • Prices: $10 - $30 per month
  • Speeds: 50 - 100Mbps
  • Key Info: No credit check, free Wi-Fi hotspot
Or call to learn more: (877) 645-2012
Astound Broadband: Internet First - Best try-before-you-buy internet plan
  • Prices: $10 a month
  • Speeds: 50Mbps
  • Key Info: No contracts, first 60 days are free
Or call to learn more: (877) 528-8790
Optimum: Advantage Internet - Best internet plan for older people
  • Prices: $15 a month
  • Key Info: No contracts, equipment included
Or call to learn more: (888) 234-4209
AT&T: Access from AT&T - Best seniors internet plan for speed
  • Prices: $30 a month
  • Speeds: 100Mbps
  • Key Info: Unlimited data, no contracts, no installation fees, no deposit required
Or call to learn more: (888) 963-7321
Spectrum: Internet Assist - Best internet plan to bundle with Wi-Fi
  • Prices: $15 a month
  • Speeds: 30Mbps
  • Key Info: No contracts, free modem, unlimited data
Or call to learn more: (877) 408-0818
Cox Communications: ConnectAssist - Most comprehensive internet plan
  • Prices: $30 a month
  • Speeds: 100Mbps
  • Key Info: No contracts, free modem, free Wi-Fi hotspot
Or call to learn more: (833) 881-7171
Rise Broadband - Best internet for military personnel and veterans
  • Speeds: 25 - 50Mbps
  • Prices: $45 - $65 per month
  • Key Info: Unlimited data on some plans, low price increase
Or call to learn more: (877) 853-0096

According to Pew Research Center surveys, 75% of adults, ages 65 and over, use the internet, and 64% use their home broadband connection. These numbers have risen steadily over the past decade, becoming more pronounced after the COVID-19 pandemic.

The need to be online is imperative, but too often, the price of a reliable internet connection can be steep. That's an amplified problem if you're a retiree on a fixed income. How can you find cheap internet deals for people over 65?

To help you decide which internet deal is best for you, we compiled a list of the top internet discounts based on cost, added fees, service details and military status and provided you with our top picks.

What's the cheapest internet service for older people?

Our top picks for the cheapest internet for seniors are Xfinity's Internet Essentials and Astound Broadband's Internet First plan. Both plans offer a 50 megabits per second plan for $10 monthly, targeted at low-income households and people over 65 who participate in Medicaid or SSI. With no data caps or required credit checks, these plans are perfect for people who want affordable options.

However, the best internet deal for you depends on the one available at your address and that caters most to your specific needs.

Locating local internet providers

Best internet deals and discounts for older adults

7 Internet providers
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Connection
Cable
Speed range
50 - 100 Mbps
Price range
$10 - $30 per month

Xfinity: Internet Essentials

Cheapest internet plan

Our take - You may be eligible for Xfinity's Internet Essentials plan if you're a senior who participates in Medicaid or SSI, receives a VA pension and more. It offers up to 50Mbps download speeds for $10 monthly without a data cap. No credit check is required. Participants also get free access to Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots. There's also an option to double your speed to 100Mbps for $30 a month, with similar terms.

Read full review
Or call to learn more: (877) 645-2012
Check with Xfinity:
Connection
Cable
Speed range
50 - 100 Mbps
Price range
$10 - $30 per month
Show more details
Product image
Connection
Cable
Speed range
50 Mbps
Price range
$10 a month

Astound Broadband: Internet First

Best try-before-you-buy internet plan

Our take - Internet First, Astound's affordable internet plan, is $10 monthly and offers 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 with no installation fees.

Read full review
Or call to learn more: (877) 528-8790
Check with Astound:
Connection
Cable
Speed range
50 Mbps
Price range
$10 a month
Show more details
Product image
Connection
Cable
Price range
$15 a month

Optimum: Advantage Internet

Best internet plan for older people

Our take - People 65 and older who receive or are eligible for SSI, US military veterans receiving state or federal assistance, and households participating in the National School Lunch Program qualify for Optimum Advantage Internet. The no-contract internet plan features up to 50Mbps download speeds for $15 monthly. It also includes free installation, unlimited data and a free modem/router combo.

Read full review
Or call to learn more: (888) 234-4209
Check with Optimum
Connection
Cable
Price range
$15 a month
Show more details
Product image
Connection
DSL/Fiber
Speed range
100 Mbps
Price range
$30 a month

AT&T: Access from AT&T

Best seniors internet plan for speed

Our take - 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 the Access from AT&T program. This plan features download speeds of up to 100Mbps for $30 a month or less. You won't have to deal with any installation fees, data caps, contracts or deposits.

Read full review
Or call to learn more: (888) 963-7321
Check with Access
Connection
DSL/Fiber
Speed range
100 Mbps
Price range
$30 a month
Show more details
Product image
Connection
Cable
Speed range
30 Mbps
Price range
$15 a month

Spectrum: Internet Assist

Best internet plan to bundle with Wi-Fi

Our take - People aged 65 and over who receive SSI are eligible for Spectrum Internet Assist. It features up to 30Mbps download speeds for $20 a month and includes a free modem, no data caps and no contracts. Wi-Fi is available for an additional $5 monthly.

Read full review
Or call to learn more: (877) 408-0818
Check with Spectrum
Connection
Cable
Speed range
30 Mbps
Price range
$15 a month
Show more details
Product image
Connection
Cable
Speed range
100 Mbps
Price range
$30 a month

Cox Communications: ConnectAssist

Most comprehensive internet plan

Our take - Cox has long had a discount program called Connect2Compete, aimed at low- or fixed-income families. Now, there's ConnectAssist, which is geared toward low-income households without children. Several eligibility programs apply to older people, including Veterans' Pension, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicaid. For $30 a month, qualifying households can receive a 100Mbps plan -- including a free modem and access to over 4 million Wi-Fi hotspots across the country. There is a monthly data cap of 1.25TB, but no contract is required.

Read full review
Or call to learn more: (833) 881-7171
Check with Cox
Connection
Cable
Speed range
100 Mbps
Price range
$30 a month
Show more details
Product image
Connection
Fixed wireless
Speed range
25 - 50 Mbps
Price range
$45 - $65 per month

Rise Broadband

Best internet for military personnel and veterans

Our take - As well as participating in the ACP, Rise Broadband features a discount of 10% off monthly internet service for retired (and active) military personnel.

Read full review
Or call to learn more: (877) 853-0096
Check with Rise
Connection
Fixed wireless
Speed range
25 - 50 Mbps
Price range
$45 - $65 per month
Show more details

How does internet access benefit older people?

For many people, browsing online is a way of life. Gaming, streaming and staying connected through social media isn't just a habit. It's a need. However, some older generations may be more apprehensive about getting online, especially with the never-ending developments and changes in technology that occur so frequently.

However, internet access can benefit seniors in many ways, including social connection and mental stimulation. Also, with medical alert systems just a tap away, internet access can provide a safe and quick way to reach out in an emergency.

Tips for choosing the best internet plan for seniors

Start with government programs

Unlike your local diner, internet service providers don't really offer senior discounts. But older people do need affordable internet service. Some ISP-specific deals are worth exploring, but your best bet is to begin by taking advantage of some federal programs. Two in particular jump to mind -- one has been around since 1985, and the other is a newer policy that went into place in 2022.

You should begin with Lifeline, a program that's been around for decades and can help eligible customers with their phone or internet bills. While it's not specifically geared to older citizens, 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 the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, might also be able to participate. 

What do you get if you do qualify? Older people can get up to $9.25 a month off their internet bill for $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 Affordable Connectivity Program, a subsidy from the Federal Communications Commission. Again, this is not specifically geared to older adults. Still, those eligible for Lifeline assistance can also qualify for this benefit, which provides a $30 monthly discount (and up to $75 for households on tribal lands) on the cost of broadband service.

What's exciting is you can use the funds from the ACP toward the specific programs we listed above, 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. 

Try to avoid scams

Beware of some ISP sites' "senior deals" pages. Many are just glorified ads masquerading as helpful tips. They're trying to sell you on higher-speed plans instead of showing you legitimate discounts or unveiling special deals. Use some discernment as you shop.

Also, be sure to pay close attention to the fine print. If a "senior deal" doesn't explicitly mention data caps or additional fees, you might see some extra charges added to your bill. Know exactly what you're paying for before you buy.

How can older people stay connected online?

Two essential elements are required to stay connected online: a device for internet access and a reliable internet connection. Whether you opt for a cellphone, computer or tablet, accessing the internet from your household requires a service plan. While there are multiple providers and options, the right fit for you depends on availability and what type of internet plan you're looking for.

What are the best social media apps for seniors?

Email is one of the most popular online tools that older generations utilize. It is a great option for efficiently communicating back and forth with loved ones, regardless of distance.

Unlike email, social media outlets like Facebook, Pinterest and YouTube won't come already downloaded onto your phone. But these three apps make it easy for older people to interact with family and friends.

What's the easiest way for seniors to get internet on their phones?

To access the internet on your phone, you have two options: connecting to a home internet server or visiting a location that provides local Wi-Fi.

Some providers offer a phone and internet bundle if you want a phone plan and a household internet service. Companies like AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile offer plans that combine the two to save you money.

How CNET chose the best internet deals for older adults

Internet service providers are numerous and regional. Unlike the latest smartphone, laptop, router or kitchen tool, it’s impractical to personally test every ISP in a given city. So what’s our approach? We start by researching the pricing, availability and speed information, drawing on our own historical ISP data, the provider sites and mapping information from the Federal Communications Commission at FCC.gov.

But it doesn't end there. We go to the FCC's website to check our data. We also input local addresses on provider websites to find specific options for residents. We look at sources, including the American Customer Satisfaction Index and J.D. Power, to evaluate how happy customers are with an ISP's service. ISP plans and prices are subject to frequent changes; all information provided is accurate as of publication. Once we have this information, we ask three main questions:

  • Does the provider offer access to reasonably fast internet speeds?
  • Do customers get decent value for what they’re paying?
  • Are customers happy with their service?

While the answer to those questions is often layered and complex, the providers who come closest to “yes” on all three are the ones we recommend. To explore our process in more depth, visit our explainer on how we test ISPs

Internet deals for older people

Older adults have access to various deals and discounts regarding home internet connection. Some companies, like Xfinity, Optimum, Spectrum and Cox Communications, offer plans exclusively for people over 65, but others are more targeted toward low-income households.

Government programs like Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program are also a way to get money knocked off your monthly broadband bill. Even if you're unsure whether or not you're eligible for these programs, they're worth checking out.

But if you're looking for speedier plans, the option to bundle television or mobile devices with your internet, or if cost is not a major concern, be sure to explore all of your options before making a final decision. Pay attention to added fees, service terms and the fine print to maximize your savings and avoid being scammed.

Best internet deals and discounts for seniors FAQ

What's the cheapest internet plan for older adults?

Xfinity's Internet Essentials and Astound Broadband's Internet First tie for the cheapest plan: 50Mbps for $10 a month. Both plans come with no data cap and no credit check, but Astound offers the first 60 days free for customers to try out the plan before they buy.

What's the best type of internet plan for older people?

Ultimately, the best type of internet plan will come down to availability at your address and which one is best for your household needs. If you want the cheapest internet plan that is aimed toward older people, Xfinity or Astound are the providers who offer the best deals. However, if you want more speed or want to bundle your service with television or mobile devices, you'll want to look into other plans.

Can older people get internet service for free?

Technically, yes, but it'll take a few maneuvers. First, you must be eligible for the federal program, Lifeline. It's not explicitly for older adults, 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 can get your internet service for free. 

Show more

Can older people bundle their internet with TV service?

Although cable companies don't offer any senior-specific bundling options, many providers have plans that combine internet with television service. Companies like Cox Communications, Spectrum, Optimum, Xfinity, and even AT&T have multiple bundling plans with various speeds and television packages.

Do any cable companies offer discounts for older adults?

No, not specifically. But several cable internet companies feature discount programs and plans that can apply to seniors. For example, Optimum offers Optimum Advantage Internet, a low-cost, 50Mbps plan for $15 monthly 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 people aged 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. 

Show more

Does Xfinity offer discounts for older people?

Xfinity does not offer a discount that's explicitly for older people or a 55+ plan. Still, Comcast's Internet Essentials program for low-income households, which features a 50Mbps plan for $10 per month and free access to Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots, includes eligibility for older adults. Among the qualifications are participation in Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, public housing assistance and VA pension.

Show more

What are the best internet discounts for veterans?

Rise Broadband is your way to go if you're seeking a veterans discount on any internet service plan. They offer 10% off any monthly plan for those active in or retired from the military. However, other companies like Cox Communications and Optimum have specific plans at a discounted price for military personnel.

How do I troubleshoot my Wi-Fi?

If you can't connect to your home internet through your phone, computer or tablet, your first step is to narrow down the issue. Verify that your modem is connected to the outlet, Wi-Fi is enabled in your device settings, and it's not just a single device experiencing connection issues. Next, check the weather outside -- bad weather has a habit of causing internet outages, which may be an issue you have to wait out. If you've run down the list and don't know why you can't connect, try restarting your modem and router by unplugging them, waiting for 15 seconds, and then replugging them. If that doesn't fix the problem, head to our CNET internet outage troubleshooting article for further guidance.

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