Heyo! Sorry for the hiatus 😀 I was building and experimenting with life projects. Also, Hubby and I are trying to get PREGNANT 🙂 come onnn, babies!
I haven’t been totally absent though, check out my interview on MinaFI with my pal Adam (he’s amazing and already truly FIRE’d!) This dude is amazing and so smart. I talk about how my husband and I started investing (it’s embarrassing!!)
I also gave an interview on my favorite casual blog on money & sustainability – Tread Lightly Retire Early. I go into a mad rant on WHY I HATE CARS ON ALL LEVELS (to a personal degree that is applicable to an urbanite millennial hahaha. It’s a fun read.)
OK that’s it. On with the show!
Affordable Internet Service Options
Ah, the internet – you can’t live without it, right? But all of that doesn’t necessarily make your monthly internet service bill any easier to swallow.
Hubby and I have our internet supplemented by our employer (which is another option that seldom people explore so ask yours!) Our average internet bill is $55 per month, and I had to argue with 3 different Comcast representatives to get that rate after they threatened to increase it to $70+ a month. More on that battle next time…
Good internet allows you to stay connected with friends and family, research, browse Facebook, watch movies, shop – and even work. According to Credit Donkey, the average household spends $67 per month on internet use. Sure, it might be a necessary expense, but if your budget is tight, that’s $67 that you might not be able to afford.
Wouldn’t it be great, then, if you could access the internet for free? Surely, such a thing would be too good to be true?
Well, maybe not. It turns out that there are actually plenty of companies offering free internet services, and even more which offer heavily discounted services that will fit even the tightest budget.
We’re going to show you exactly how to get free or discounted internet services through one of these internet service companies.
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1. Nielsen Computer and Mobile Panel
Ok, let’s start with the Nielsen Panel App. Yes, that’s right, this is an app – not an internet service provider. More specifically, it’s an app that can help you offset a big chunk of your monthly internet services bill.
You’re probably wondering how an app can help you to bag free or discounted internet services, so let me explain.
How Does it Work?
Consumer data is valuable. So valuable, in fact, that certain data research companies are willing to pay you for it. Nielsen, one of the largest information and data research companies, is a prime example of this.
The Computer and Mobile Panel is the branch responsible for researching various internet metrics. To get hold of this data, they need to collect it from you – the average internet user. Like I said, your data is valuable, so your not going to just part with it for free.
Instead, Nielsen will pay you for it. They do this by rewarding you with points for browsing the internet as you usually would after downloading their app. You can cash out these points for gift cards and other rewards, which you can then sell to make back some of the money you spend on internet services each month.
All you have to do is the following:
*Sign up for the panel and answer a few questions about you, your household, and your devices.
*Download the app to all of your devices
*Go about your business and start earning points passively
The app then collects data on your browsing habits and stores this data anonymously (it won’t store your name). The data it collects includes:
*The URLs of websites that you visit
*Details of the time you spend on different sites
*Other more general device activities
How Much Will I Earn?
You can earn up to $50 worth of points through this app per year. It might not seem like much, but it’s totally passive income that should reduce your internet services bill at least a little, and the savings potential doesn’t end there.
You’ll also be entered into monthly sweepstakes with the chance of winning $10,000, and THAT should definitely cover your internet services bill for at least a few years!
Plus, there’s another way you can earn even more money passively too…
You can download the Shoptracker app, also owned by Nielsen, to your devices to earn even more rewards. This app tracks your online shopping activity and rewards you with $3 per month.
Add that to the rewards from the Computer and Mobile Panel App and the potential for savings on your internet services bill might start to seem a little more appealing!
As you can see, using these Nielsen apps alongside your regular internet service provider can be a great way to save money, but it’s not going to get you completely free internet access. Now, let’s move onto a company that will…
FreedomPop is a mobile network provider that offers 100% completely free internet access as part of their free monthly plans. Not only that, but they also offer a free bundle of 200 minutes and 500 texts, free international calls, and free unlimited calls and texts to other FreedomPop phones.
I know, I know, it sounds too good to be true, but it really is. So how can a company work on a business model where they give out something for free and get nothing in return? Let’s find out.
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How and Why is FreedomPop Free?
The reason FreedomPop is free is that the company is really hoping that, after the free offer has enticed you in, you’ll decide to pay them for a few extras.
Their free plan offers 500mb of data, 200 minutes, and 500 texts. However, if you’re willing to pay more, you can get extras like:
*500mb of data and unlimited minutes and text for $10.99
*1GB of data, unlimited minutes and texts for $19.99
*2GB of data, unlimited minutes and texts for $24.99
You get the picture. FreedomPop is basically giving you a taster for free and then holding out hope that you’ll pony up some cash once you’ve depleted your monthly data, calls, or texts.
However, if you’re only a light internet user and only intend to use your data for things like browsing social media and Googling things, then you’ll never have to pay a dime!
What’s The Catch?
As I said, the free internet service on offer with FreedomPop isn’t without its drawbacks. You won’t pay a penny for your internet access, but you will have to deal with disadvantages including:
*Poor coverage in some areas
*Hidden fees for things like voicemail and device protection
*Limited data (500mb)
*Limited devices (no iPhones or Samsung Galaxy phones)
All that being said, it’s still a great option if you’re tight on cash and don’t want to pay monthly fees for your network.
How Do I Sign Up?
To sign up for FreedomPop, you just need to visit their website, put in your location to see if they cover your area, and choose a phone.
A third company worth mentioning is NetZero. If you already know about this company, it’s probably because they rose to fame in the 1990s when they offered Americans free dial-up internet access in exchange for being able to expose them to advertisements.
Unfortunately, many users feel that dial-up is now dead, and wireless broadband is much more expensive. Nonetheless, NetZero still offers free broadband internet services, albeit with a few catches. These catches are:
*Internet services are only free for 12 months
*You need to purchase the NetZero broadband hotspot first, which costs $79.95
*The free plan is limited to 200mb monthly data use and speeds cap at 10mbps.
If those speeds just won’t cut it, you can check http://ispprovidersinmyarea.com instead to find the fastest ISPs in your area and then try to find the one that offers the cheapest deal!
Dial-up might be dead in the sense that it’s no longer in mainstream use, but it lives on in rural communities that don’t yet have access to cable or fiber internet.
If you live in an area like this, or you just can’t afford wireless broadband, then Juno’s free dial-up internet services might be just what you need. This free internet package lets you browse the internet for 10 hours every month, completely free.
You also get access to a free email platform and virus protection is included. The free basic plan is pretty slow at just 56kbps, but it’s enough for very basic tasks like browsing emails and social media.
If you want something a little better, you can always pay a little extra for their highly-affordable accelerated dial-up services instead.
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Basic Internet is a low-cost, affordable internet service provider. It isn’t free, but it’s very cheap.
They offer two packages: The Starter Plan ($10 monthly) and The Starter Plus Plan ($20 monthly). The former offers 1.2 GB of monthly data and 4G speeds, the latter offers 3.2 GB of data.
6. Internet Essentials
Internet Essentials offer affordable, high-speed internet services designed specifically for families that need it most. Their internet packages include 15Mbps Wifi and cost just $9.95 per month.
Only certain eligible households qualify. Eligible households include:
*Housing Assistance Recipients
Low-Income Internet Options
Now that we’ve covered free/affordable internet service providers, let’s talk about low-income internet options.
Low-income internet options are essentially discounted internet services reserved especially for low-income households. To qualify, you’ll usually have to meet certain eligibility criteria, and your income may not exceed the specified maximum threshold to be considered low-income.
If you qualify, you’ll be able to access more affordable internet packages, all of which are significantly cheaper than the national average of $67. Here are some of the best options:
7. Century Link Internet Basics Program
The Century Link Internet Basics Program offers low-income families speeds of up to 1.5mbps for just $9.95 per month. You can also get a discounted netbook and access to free basic internet training.
8. Access from AT&T
Access from AT&T is a low-cost wireline home Internet service for eligible households. To qualify, you’ll need to live in a household:
*In one of the 21 states covered by AT&T
*With no outstanding debt owed to AT&T within 6 months
*With a resident currently participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or in receipt of Supplemental Security Income if you live in California
Internet speeds vary between 768Kbps and 10Mbps depending on where you live, and prices range from $5 per month to $10 per month.
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I found this company on CheapInternet.com – it’s an excellent resource for finding what’s suitable for you and your lifestyle. Cox is another company which offers affordable, low-income internet service packages of either 5Mbps or 10Mbps, depending on which program you’re eligible for.
They offer 2 programs: the first is for families who participate in TANF, SNAP, or the School Lunch Program, and the second is for families with children of school age who are living in HUD-assisted housing.
Both programs cost just $9.95 per month for internet access.
Spectrum is a tiny bit pricier than most of the other low-income internet service options on this list. It costs $14.99 per month. However, it’s also much faster than all of the other options, with up to 30Mbps download speeds.
According to the official website, households that qualify will have at least one resident who:
*Participates in the National School Lunch Program
*Participates in the Community Eligibility Provision of the NSLP
*Or over-65s in receipt of Supplemental Security Income
A final low-income internet service option worth mentioning is Mediacom’s Connect2Compete program. Like many others on this list, this package is $9.95 per month and offers speeds up to 1.5Mbps
You qualify as long as you live in an area covered by Mediacom, don’t owe them any money, and a child who lives in your home qualifies for free or discounted school lunches.
Financial Freedom Starts With Saving:
Personal Capital: Sign up and use their net worth calculator for FREE. They are a free financial service platform that helps you analyze your portfolio, retirement, and financial health all on one simple & secure account
Imperfect Foods: We all need groceries. Try out Imperfect Foods to get $80 off ($20 off your first 4 orders.) Read my review of this revolutionary and money-saving grocery delivery service.
ThredUp: The only online recycle clothing store I currently shop and sell with. Great mission statement, company model, customer service, prices, and selection. Sign up with our invite link and you can get $10 free in ThredUP credit.
Survey Junkie: SJ is one of the few survey companies that are 100% legit, user-friendly, and great for making extra money. Earn up to $1,000 a month doing surveys online. You can make anywhere from $5-$20/day in your free time.
Janet Fazio says
Thanks for the tips! I recently cut the cable cord, Now I’m looking at ways to reduce my internet bill, which is outrageously high (comcast).
You have to fight Comcast! Find another provider in your area, and threaten to leave using your customer history. Customer acquisition is their real loss. They won’t do the homework so just bother them until it folds. It takes about 3 tries until they give in, and make sure all the fine prints are exactly what you want.
Welcome back! It has been a long time. And congrats on trying for a baby (your world will completely change but it is so worth it).
Unfortunately where I live I am stuck with quite expensive satellite internet. The price has come down but nowhere near the levels and amount of data you could get with cable.
I guess its part of the compromise that living next to a waterfall makes you endure.
Oh yeah, I remember you mentioning you live in a remote area with a waterfall. Very cool!! You should give us photos 😀
“Your world will completely change but it is so worth it” – oh man that’s scary. I like how everything is like now… O_O
Ms. Frugal Asian Finance says
So excited to see you back! I’ve been in a hiatus too. I need to get a new post up soon. These free services sound great! I love free stuff, especially if it’s a recurring expense!
And yay to the baby plan!
Focus on coding Ms FAF! It’s probably more worthwhile. My friend is out of boot camp and has a starting salary 80k, not including bonus.
Relatively new reader here (I stumbled across your blog a few months ago and love your content), but glad to see that you’re back on the blog! 🙂
I’m stuck with Comcast here. I’m dreading the day my one-year promotional pricing is up haha. I haven’t had much luck in the past with knocking off more than a few bucks off of my bill, but I’d love to read more about your Comcast battle later.
You have to fight Comcast! Find another ISP in your area, and threaten to leave for them (and use your customer history.) Customer acquisition is the REAL game and their worst fear. They won’t do the homework for a customer, you can make bluffs – and just bother them until the service reps folds. It takes about 3 tries until they give in, and make sure all the fine prints are exactly what you want.
Yay! Really glad to see you back Lily. I’ve missed reading your posts. I’m so excited for you and Hippo (sending fertile thoughts your way)! Wishing you all the best with your big projects, and looking forward to reading more from The Frugal Gene!
Thanks Chrissy!! Can’t wait to read your korea trip report!! I really want to gooooo!
Mr R2A says
Nice! We need some cheap internet options like that here in NZ. The best we can do is $10 a month off if we have phone and internet with the same provider 🙁 I guess that’s what happens in a small market.
Woah a NZ resident! Nice to meet ya =) at least you guys don’t have to deal with Comcast or the other evil corporations out there.
Mrs. Sweetspot says
Nice line up! I’ve been without internet at the house for over 2 years, and I’m kind of used to it now.
That said, I’d add- investigate your public library. We discovered ours has a hot spot wifi thingy (yeah, no clue what it’s called… an internet box…?) that you can check out for free for 5 days. So a limited time, but free, offer!
Did you know that Comcast is the most hated company in the US? I think I read that somewhere a while ago. I really hate these guys. Why can’t I get affordable internet. We’re paying almost $60/month for the basic package. Next year, Why do I have to fight with them every year to get this price?
Next year, I might go with Century Link instead. Although, I don’t think the price is any better. Bah!
Good luck with babies. Enjoy it while you can.
“Did you know that Comcast is the most hated company in the US?”
Bwahaha, yes yes I do!
Yes you have to pick a fight with them at this price. It’s just how it is. We do it EVERY YEAR I’m basically shameless now.
Michael @ Financially Alert says
I was about to cut the cord with DirecTV a few months ago, but I figured I’d call their customer retention line to see if there were any good deals to be had.
I couldn’t believe it. They gave me my existing TV lineup + HBO, and AT&T 100mb Internet for… wait for it… $40 a month! That cut our cable bill by $50 per month, so not bad for a quick 15-minute phone call. Somehow I don’t think I’ll be getting this deal renewed next year. 🙂
Good luck with a baby in the future! And, you gotta do an interview with me on my site soon. Cheers!
That’s AMAZING! Yeah the retention team gives the best deals. But they do lie sometimes, they say you’re with the retention team and that’s the best you’re gonna get…LIE!! You’re just with a normal rep. Get to the retention team. Hang up, try again until they give in.
Do you have to do it every year? The same song and dance.
There is a internet provider in the Bay Area called Sonic where they offer residents internet and phone for $40 a month. That’s a really great deal with all the other competitors here like Comcast and AT&T offering $50 or more on just internet. Right now we are with Comcast at $50 a month but we planning to switch to Sonic pretty soon.
All the best with the baby plan Lily!!
THE BAY AREA HAS THE BEST INTERNET OPTIONSSSSS. Well SF and Kansas with Google. When I was working I needed REALLY fast internet that AT&T just couldn’t do so I hired UHHH oh man a commercial ISP for residential places…I forgot the name but i did a quick google search, don’t see anything besides Wave and Sonic. Maybe the merged, it was 6 years ago.
SC | MissFunctional Money says
Eeeeeek! BABIES! So excited for y’all <3
I'd never heard of Cox? Def doing a quick google search after this.
And I think the Nielson stuff is interesting, but I just can't bring myself to do it. I don't like feeling like my habits are tracked! Then again, I also think about moving to the farm and excommunicating myself from society like…. 3–4 times a week ?
Haha so afraid of being a mom…so much pressure.
I personally have no real experience with Nielson, it comes highly recommended from some people and not from others. I think it’s really really location dependent.
Cathy P Ferra says
Thankyou for providing all this information. I have been trying to find an internet service I can afford. I am 63 on SSI and on a very tight budget. This will make my shopping around a lot easier!