The internet is an essential tool of daily life, but not everyone can afford it. Fortunately for seniors and other low-income households, there are ways to get highly discounted — or even free — internet access.
Average Cost of Internet
Americans pay an average of about $64 per month for internet, but these costs largely depend on the connection speed and provider you choose. You can find internet for under $30 per month, but it will likely come with lessened download speeds.
In many cases, you can check whether your internet provider offers bundle options to save more on your monthly internet bill. Providers may offer a certain discount for bundling your internet, TV, phone, or home security services.
How Seniors Can Get Free Internet
To receive free or discounted internet, you can take advantage of programs including the Affordable Connectivity Program and Lifeline.
Affordable Connectivity Program
The FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program offers up to a $30 per month credit toward internet service. With this program, households on qualifying tribal lands may receive up to a $75 per month credit toward their monthly internet service bill.
To be eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program, one of the following must apply to you.
Your household income is at or below 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
Your household is on qualifying tribal lands.
A member of your household participates in one of the following assistance programs:
The National School Lunch Program
Federal Public Housing Assistance
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Veterans Pension or Survivor Benefits
Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
Tribal Head Starts
The federal Lifeline program helps reduce the monthly cost of phone or internet service for low-income households. Eligible customers can get a monthly $9.25 discount on their phone or internet services. Customers who live on tribal lands can get a discount of up to $34.25 each month.
To be eligible for the Lifeline program, one of the following needs to apply.
Your income is 135 percent or less of federal poverty guidelines.
You (or someone in your household) participate in one of the following assistance programs:
Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
Tribal Assistance Programs
How to Apply for Lifeline
You can apply for Lifeline by visiting the FCC’s website and entering your state or territory. Customers who live in California, Oregon, or Texas will need to check with their internet provider or state website for information on how to apply.
If you prefer a paper application, then you can use a paper form instead. You will need to recertify for benefits to keep Lifeline and confirm that you still qualify for benefits. You can recertify for benefits by completing an online form, mailing a form, or calling 855-359-4299.
Discounted Internet Service for Seniors
There are no senior-specific discounts on internet, but many providers offer affordable monthly plans that work within limited budgets.
The least expensive internet service plan by AT&T is Fiber, which starts at $55 per month (including taxes) and has no annual contracts or equipment fees. The plan’s availability varies depending on your location, and the most heavily concentrated fiber-optic connections are in the Midwest and on the East Coast. AT&T Fiber is available in select areas in 21 states.
The Spectrum Internet plan starts at $49.99 per month for 12 months, with up to 200 Mbps of download speed. You can get Spectrum cellular service for $29.99 per month per line, with two unlimited lines when you select a Spectrum Internet plan for $49.99 per month for 12 months. Spectrum Internet is available in 41 states.
Seniors on a budget can choose Cox Internet’s Starter 25 plan, which starts at $39.99 per month for 12 months with no term agreement. If you opt for a one-year term agreement, then you can get a $10 per month discount, bringing the Starter 25 price down to $29.99 per month. Cox currently services 19 states.
T-Mobile’s 5G Home Internet plan is one of the more affordable internet plans T-Mobile offers. The price starts at $50 per month with autopay. T-Mobile is currently running a deal that will pay up to $500 in termination fees when you switch. T-Mobile 5G Home Internet customers can also get Paramount Plus for free for one year.
Viasat offers four home internet plans. Unlimited Bronze 12 is the most affordable plan, starting at $49.99 per month or $69.99 per month after three months. The plan offers download speeds of up to 12 Mbps, but you may want to consider Viasat’s top-tier Unlimited Platinum 30 plan if you’re looking for something faster. Viasat is available in all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico.
To find the most affordable internet provider, we recommend comparing quotes online. You may also want to consider the type of internet connection you’re looking for or whether the internet provider offers no contracts or data caps.
If you’re not looking for extra features and don’t need the fastest internet speeds, then we recommend going for a provider that offers cable internet connection plans or fixed wireless internet plans.
Another way to find affordable internet is by bundling your services. Many providers, such as AT&T and Xfinity, offer television and phone services as well as internet. When you subscribe to more than one service, you’ll get a discounted rate.
To learn more about other affordable internet providers, read our reviews: