These days, it’s hard to get by without the internet. If it seems like just about everything is online these days, you’re not imagining it. You can find almost anything on the internet, and it’s easier than ever to pay bills, catch up on news, and connect with friends.
Unfortunately, paying for internet access can eat up an enormous piece of your monthly budget. For many people, the internet is more than just a convenience. It’s also a necessity that allows them to use vital technology like home security and fall monitoring. Luckily, there are a number of companies and programs that can help seniors get the internet access they need. Each program requires seniors to meet different qualifications, so if you don’t meet the requirements for one be sure to check out the others.
AT&T already offers discounted phone plans for seniors. In 21 states across the South and Midwest (plus in California and Nevada—they also have an Access program. This helps qualifying households get low-cost internet access. If you live in the 21-state service area and at least one resident in your home participates in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), you may qualify. Check out AT&T’s website for more information and to start the application process.
If you don’t live in an area with AT&T service, don’t despair. You may be eligible for Comcast’s Internet Essentials Program. Comcast offers this program to recipients of a number of public programs. If you receive Medicaid, SSI, SNAP, VA pension, or other benefits, you may be eligible for Comcast’s low-cost internet service. You won’t be subject to credit checks or long-term contracts and may qualify for free installation. Check out the Internet Essentials website for more information about how to qualify and apply.
EveryoneOn is an organization that helps people find affordable internet service in their area and provides digital skills trainings. Just enter your zip code on their website to find local options for low-cost internet and computers.
This federal program is available to people who participate in programs like Medicaid, SNAP, SSI, VA benefits, and more. If you qualify, you can receive up to $9.25 toward the cost of your internet or phone bill. Find out more at lifelinesupport.org.
If you receive Supplemental Security Income benefits, you may be eligible for Spectrum Internet Assist. This program has a low-cost internet plan that offers high-speed internet at a more affordable price. Plus there are no data caps and no contracts.
If you already have wi-fi at home but aren’t happy with how far it reaches, consider getting a wi-fi booster. These can extend your wi-fi signal throughout your house to reach those annoying dead zones. This can help make sure you don’t have to pay more for something you already have.
If you’re sick of your plan’s prices going up, the final thing you can do to save on your internet bill is to negotiate. However, this requires a little more work. It also works best if you’re near the end of your contract. If you do decide to go this route, just be ready to spend some time on the phone. When you do call, you’ll want to know how much prices have increased since you started your contract. If you’ve had previous billing issues or incorrect charges, you’ll want to bring those up, too. Lastly, be ready to cancel your contract. It sounds counterintuitive, but your internet service provider may lower the price to keep you as a customer. And don’t forget to be polite!
Of course, the downside to this is that you may not actually receive a lower bill. You’ll want to check out other providers in your area just in case you do cancel your contract. Some companies, like Comcast and Time Warner, are more willing to negotiate than others.