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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 cable 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 Communications, 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

Swipe Left to See All →
Broadcast TV service charge$16.45/mo.
Professional installation$49.99
Reconnection fee$4.99
TV receiver with built-in DVR and remote$7.99/mo.
DVR service fee (1 DVR)$4.99/mo.
DVR service package (2–4 DVRs)$9.99/mo.
Cloud DVR$5.00/mo.
Late payment fee$8.95

Data as of 10/30/2020. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

Spectrum TV promotional cost: $44.99–$89.99/mo.*

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

  • TV Select: $44.99/mo.*
  • TV Silver: $69.99/mo.*
  • TV Gold: $89.99/mo.*
    * For 12 mos.

Of course, these package prices don’t include all the little Spectrum 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 Spectrum services you bundle—cable TV prices go up $25 per month and phone prices go up $10 per month.

However, there’s no contract, so 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 cable providers near you:

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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 $16.45 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 TV service, the self-install is pretty simple, so we’d recommend most people go that route.

Equipment fees: $7.99/mo. for HD-Box, up to $9.99/mo. for DVR service—or $5.00/mo. for cloud DVR

Spectrum charges $7.99 per month for each HD-Box (TV receiver). You can activate the built-in DVR in one HD-Box with a $4.99 per month fee, or pay a flat $9.99 per month for DVR service in two or more TV receivers.

While equipment fees can be a real bummer, it’s rare to see this kind of deal on DVR service. But Spectrum is going one step further—a new cloud DVR that replaces its old HD-Box and DVR.

With Spectrum’s cloud DVR, you can record up to 100 shows and keep them for up to a full year. All you have to do to watch them is pull up the Spectrum TV app on your streaming device. You can snag this DVR included for a year on some plans, but the normal price is only $5 per month. That’s a steal.

Premium channel fees: up to $15.00/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–$15.00 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 Spectrum fees for cancelling service, so you’re free to come and go as you please.

Our recommended Spectrum TV 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 and SHOWTIME—for $69.99 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

Swipe Left to See All →
Professional installation$49.99
Self-install kit$9.99
Reconnection fee$4.99
Modem equipment rentalIncluded
Home Wi-Fi equipment (modem/Wi-Fi router)$5.00/mo.
Late payment fee$8.95
Data overage feeNone

Data as of 04/29/2020. Offers and availability may vary by location and are subject to change.

What is Spectrum’s internet-only price?

Like it’s cable packages, Spectrum has three internet packages, which are available at the following prices:

  • Spectrum Internet: 100 Mbps for $49.99/mo.*
  • Spectrum Internet Ultra: 400 Mbps for $69.99/mo.*
  • Spectrum Internet GIG: 940 Mbps for $109.99/mo.*

*For the first 24 months

Be aware that Spectrum’s prices go up after the two-year promotional period, after which your bill will increase. We recommend you set a reminder on your digital calendar for 24 months out to call and ask for a discount before your prices go up.

Also, Spectrum’s highest internet speeds may not be available in all areas, because some of its internet lines might be a little dated. To see what internet service providers (ISPs) are available in your area—and what their internet speeds are—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. If you have an internet-only plan, you’ll see the plan itself and a router rental if you opt for Spectrum’s home Wi-Fi service (or you could just buy your own router). 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 for professional installation, $9.99 for self-installation

Spectrum charges the same $49.99 installation fee for internet-only service and bundles as it does for TV. But if you’re just getting Spectrum Internet, you can save cash with the $9.99 self-installation kit.

Equipment fee: cable modem included, $5/mo. for Wi-Fi router

Spectrum doesn’t charge for its essential cable modem device. But if you want Wi-Fi (who doesn’t?) you can rent a Spectrum router for $5 per month—unless you’re on the Spectrum Internet GIG plan, which includes a Wi-Fi router for no extra cost.

And those aren’t the only ways to get home Wi-Fi. You can buy your own Wi-Fi router for around a hundred bucks, which is a great way to save cash in the long run.

Late payment fee: $8.95 per missed payment

If you miss paying your bill, Spectrum Internet 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. Internet service is on a month-to-month basis, and if you decide you want to try another internet service provider, all you need to do is cancel Spectrum Internet 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 Internet—there’s no data limit and no overage fee. Customers are free to stream, download, and game to their heart’s content.

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 Spectrum 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.

Spectrum hidden costs FAQ

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

Our pick for the best-value Spectrum bundle is the Select Double Play. This package offers 125+ channels and up to 200 Mbps internet download speeds for $89.98 per month. This plan is well worth the money, especially considering the unlimited internet use and lack of a contract.

Find your perfect Spectrum bundle.

How can I get a Spectrum discount?

Spectrum offers discounts for people in qualifying assistance programs. Recipients of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can apply for a 30 Mbps internet plan that costs $14.99 per month.

Do I have to pay more to watch Spectrum shows on the go?

If you have a Spectrum TV plan, you can watch shows on the Spectrum app for no extra charge. Download the Spectrum TV app from Google Play or the Apple App Store, and you can watch live TV from anywhere that has internet access.

Does Spectrum have contracts?

Spectrum doesn’t have annual contracts—you can leave your Spectrum service whenever you need to.

How much does Spectrum cost after 12 months?

After the first 12 months, Spectrum TV prices increase by $25 per month and phone prices go up by $10 per month. Plans that include internet stay the same price for 24 months—after internet-only plans increase by $12 per month and bundles increase by $25 per month.

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