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The Hidden Costs of Spectrum

Let’s navigate your Spectrum bill

A cable subscription is a gold mine of entertainment these days, with hundreds of channels to choose from. Unfortunately, cable bills often feel more like land mines than gold mines, thanks to all the regulatory fees and taxes involved.

To help clear up any confusion and avoid surprises, we’ll walk you through all the various charges and fees you might see on your Spectrum bill and explain the what and why of each.

About Spectrum, Charter, Time Warner Cable, and Brighthouse Networks

Just a quick note before we dive in: as you look at Spectrum packages, you may see mentions of Charter, Time Warner Cable, or Brighthouse Networks, depending on where you live. That’s because Spectrum is the result of a merger between these three cable companies.

Big mergers take time, and Spectrum is still adjusting to change. Just be aware that these are all the same company now, and you’ll avoid any confusion.

The hidden costs of Spectrum TV plans

 Summary of Spectrum TV Fees

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FeeAmount
Broadcast TV service charge$11.99/mo.
Professional installation$49.99
Reconnection fee$4.99
TV receiver with built-in DVR and remote$6.50/mo.
DVR service fee (1 DVR)$12.99/mo.
DVR service package (up to 4 DVRs)$19.99/mo.
DVR Equipment Rental$11.99 per month
HBO®$15/mo.
SHOWTIME®$15/mo.
CINEMAX®$9.99/mo.
STARZ®$9.99/mo.
Late payment fee$8.95

Data as of 10/7/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Spectrum TV promotional cost: $44.99–$84.99/mo.*

Spectrum offers pretty straightforward pricing for its TV packages. If you go for just TV, with no bundles, you’ll pay the following prices:

  • TV Select: $44.99/mo.*
  • TV Silver: $64.99/mo.*
  • TV Gold: $84.99/mo.*
    * For 12 mos.

Of course, these package prices don’t include all the little taxes and fees (listed in the table above) that increase the total cost of your bill. Still, these will be the base prices your bill is built on, so it’s worth leading with them.

Price increases after promo period: up to $35/mo.

Spectrum bundle prices increase by $10 to $35 per month after the 12-month promo period ends. How much of an increase you’ll see depends on which services you bundle—TV prices go up $25 per month and phone prices go up $10 per month.

Of course, since there’s no contract, there’s nothing stopping you from calling and selecting a new promotion.

But many of Spectrum’s promotions apply only if you haven’t been a Spectrum customer for 30 days, so you may want to check out other options in your area. If you put in your ZIP code below, we’ll show you the other TV and Internet Service Providers near you:

Please enter a valid zip code.

Taxes and fees: vary by package and area

“Taxes and fees” is the nebulous category of additional charges you may see mentioned in the fine print of your TV package. A lot of these are regulatory fees imposed on providers by the federal government, which are then passed onto customers. These fees sometimes vary by region, but there are a few that are common across the country.

So basically all providers charge these fees—there’s really no getting around it. What catches most people off guard is that they are almost never included in the advertised price for a plan, so when you get your first bill, the number may not match your expectations.

One of the most common regulatory fees is the Broadcast TV Fee, which is $8.85 per month with Spectrum. Another common fee is the Regional Sports Fee, though Spectrum customers appear to be off the hook for this one.

Here’s a very thorough rundown from Spectrum on what each fee is and why you might see it.

Installation fee: $49.99 onetime charge

At $49.99, Spectrum’s installation fee is one of the more reasonable ones we’ve seen. This is the onetime fee for when a professional comes out and sets up your service for you.

Spectrum also offers a self-install kit, and unlike some other providers (looking at you, Xfinity), it doesn’t charge for it. Being a cable service, the self-install is pretty simple, so we’d recommend most people go that route.

Equipment fees: $6.50/mo. for DVR equipment, up to $19.99/mo. for DVR service

Spectrum charges $11.99 per month for its TV receiver with built-in DVR, which isn’t all too uncommon for a cable provider these days. Keep in mind that you’ll also be charged $12.99–$19.99 per month for Spectrum’s DVR Service Fee, depending on how many boxes you need.

Equipment fees can be a real bummer, but they’re a fairly standard practice for cable companies. Budget accordingly so your total monthly bill doesn’t sneak up on you.

Premium channel fees: up to $15/mo. per channel

Spectrum offers a wide variety of premium channels like HBO, SHOWTIME, CINEMAX, and STARZ. These channels can be added to any package for an additional $9.99–$15 per channel, per month.

Select premium channels are also included in higher-tier Spectrum packages:

  • Spectrum TV Silver: Includes HBO, CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, and NFL Network
  • Spectrum TV Gold: Includes HBO, CINEMAX, SHOWTIME, TMC, STARZ, STARZ ENCORE, NFL Network, and NFL RedZone

If you know you’ll want some of these channels, it’s probably worth springing for either TV Silver or TV Gold to get them, rather than adding the channels à la carte to another package.

Late payment fee: $8.95 per missed payment

Most cable companies charge a late payment fee, and Spectrum is no exception. It does offer an unusually long grace period, though—you get thirty days after your due date to pay your bill. After that period, you’ll be assessed a late fee of $8.95.

Cancellation and early termination fees: none

Spectrum is a contract-free provider, meaning none of its packages require service agreements or commitments. That also means you won’t find any fees for cancelling service, so you’re free to come and go as you please.

Our recommended Spectrum package

Our pick for the best balance of features and price from Spectrum is Spectrum TV Silver. This package gets you 175+ channels—including HBO, CINEMAX, and SHOWTIME—for $84.99 per month. We feel it’s the best bang for your buck.

Check out the TV Silver package from Spectrum.

The hidden costs of Spectrum internet plans

Summary of Spectrum internet fees

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FeeAmount
Professional installation$49.99
Wi-Fi activation fee$9.99
Reconnection fee$4.99
Internet equipment rentalIncluded
Late payment fee$8.95
Data overage feeNone

Data as of 10/7/19. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

What is Spectrum’s internet-only price?

Spectrum internet packages are as simple as it gets: there’s one plan, with a single price of $44.99 per month for up to 100 Mbps.

The actual speed you’ll have available depends on where you’re located and what infrastructure Spectrum has available in that area—since Spectrum is a combination of what used to be three
different networks, there is a pretty wide variance in speeds.

To see what speeds are available in your area, enter your ZIP code below:

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Taxes and fees: varies by package and area

Spectrum Internet is pretty light on recurring fees. In fact, if you have an internet-only plan, the only thing you should see on your bill—other than the plan itself—are required state and federal taxes. If you add TV service, you’ll see those fees as well, including the Broadcast TV Fee and various federal regulatory fees.

Installation fees: $49.99 onetime charge plus $9.99 Wi-Fi activation

Spectrum charges the same $49.99 installation fee for internet-only service and bundles as it does for TV. The main difference is that there is an additional, separate $9.99 charge for Wi-Fi activation when you have internet service set up. As with TV, you can opt for a self-install kit to avoid the fee (and scheduling an appointment).

Equipment fee: included in price

Unlike Spectrum TV, there is no additional charge for renting Spectrum internet equipment.

You can still use your own modem or router, but there’s no financial incentive to do so. If you do decide to buy your own, you may see performance gains depending on the equipment, and it will also prevent you from

Late payment fee: $8.95 per missed payment

If you miss paying your bill, Spectrum gives you a 30-day grace period to pay before incurring a late fee. The fee is $8.95—not too bad. And the grace period gives you plenty of time to correct the issue.

Cancellation and early termination fees: none

Since Spectrum is a contract-free provider, there are no cancellation fees or early termination fees (ETFs) to worry about. Service is on a month-to-month basis, and if you decide you want to try another provider, all you need to do is cancel service and return any rented equipment.

Data overage fees: none

Many providers have a data cap on internet service, after which they charge overage fees for additional use. Not Spectrum—there’s no data limit and no overage fee. Users are free to stream, download, and game to their heart’s content.

What is the best low-cost Spectrum internet and TV bundle?

Our pick for the best-value Spectrum bundle is the Silver Triple Play. This package offers 175+ channels, up to 100 Mbps internet, and unlimited calling for $109.97. This plan is well worth the money, especially considering the unlimited internet use and lack of a contract.

Find your perfect Spectrum bundle.

Our final take

Hopefully seeing everything laid out like this helps ease any fee-related fears you may have had. The fees seem like a lot, but the reality is it’s just par for the course with TV providers. And knowing what to expect on your bill should give you some peace of mind so you can kick back and enjoy your new cable service stress-free.

Enter your ZIP code to see available Spectrum packages near you.

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*All prices and offers are current as of publication and subject to change.

About the Author

Rachel’s catchphrase is “I’ma Google that.” This go-getter writer has a talent for finding incredible and bizarre facts on the web, and she is happy to pass her knowledge on to you.

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