How to Negotiate Your Cable TV Bill
Get the details on how to lower your cable bill, find TV and internet deals, and more.
How to lower your cable bill
What do you do if you want to keep your cable subscription but don’t want to pay big bucks for it? Or maybe you’re just looking for the best TV and internet deals around.
Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to lower your bill without sacrificing your favorite reality shows. From supplementing with other services to negotiating like a pro, read on to find out how to lower your cable bill.
1. Drop to a cheaper cable package
We’ll start with the simplest tip: every couple months, take a few minutes and evaluate your usage. You might not need the fastest internet available or all those premium channels.
In particular, packages with large channel counts can add a lot to your bill. If you find you’re paying for features you don’t want or need anymore, drop them. Otherwise, they’re a waste of money.
Enter your zip code to find a package with just the right features for you:
2. Supplement your cable package with other services
Many cable providers offer internet-only packages that are fairly affordable. You could sign up for one to cover your internet service and then subscribe to a TV streaming service like Sling TV, AT&T TV NOW, Hulu, or Netflix to get the programming you want.
Most of these streaming services cost far less than cable TV, so subscribing to one of them as well as one of your current cable provider’s internet-only packages will less than a premium cable package.
3. Bundle TV and internet services
Bundling services is a great way to save money, and it’s often more convenient as well. Why have two or three separate bills when you can just have the one?
But if you happen to have services at competing providers, this can also be a great opportunity to negotiate—many sales reps will offer discounted packages in an effort to get you to go all-in with their company.
By bundling TV and internet, you’ll usually save anywhere between $10 to $40 per month. To find out what bundles are available in your area, enter your zip code below.
4. Sign a contract
While we normally consider a contract or service agreement to be a negative thing, the reality is many providers will offer discounted rates to customers willing to sign a one- or two-year agreement.
That’s because they are guaranteed to make a certain amount of money from you under a contract, thanks to Early Termination Fees (ETFs). Xfinity is one example of a provider that offers both contract and no-contract pricing—and yes, the contract pricing is less expensive.
If you expect to stick with one cable company for a while, it might be worth signing a contract to save some money. Typically, the difference between contract and no-contract pricing is around $10 per month, so it can really add up.
5. Shop around for a better cable provider or package
This applies to both competing providers and your current provider’s own offerings.
Cable providers frequently offer special TV and internet deals for new subscribers, and many times these include either more value for the money or cheaper prices. Switching providers to take advantage of one of these deals could easily make your monthly payment more manageable.
Keeping up with current TV and internet deals also gives you leverage during negotiations with your provider. It might be worth calling and asking why a loyal customer such as yourself can’t get the better rates you’ve seen offered to new customers.
To see what packages are available in your area, enter your zip code below.
6. Ask for a discount from your cable provider
Yes, it really could be that simple. Nearly every provider is willing to talk pricing, especially if you’re nearing the end of a service agreement and could potentially jump ship. Just call and ask what the rep can do for you. You might be surprised.
This does depend heavily on the service rep you get when you call. To maximize your chances, be extra nice. A little patience goes a long way. And if your first rep won’t offer any discounts, be prepared to call back until you get a rep willing to work with you.
7. Negotiate with your cable provider
How to negotiate your bill with DISH
DISH’s main competitor is DIRECTV. Before calling DISH, check up on current DIRECTV packages and offers. You can then use them as leverage when asking for a better price.
How to negotiate your bill with DIRECTV
As a satellite provider, DIRECTV primarily competes with DISH, so compare offers between these two companies when negotiating.
How to negotiate your bill with Xfinity
Xfinity is widely available, so any of these other providers could be competition depending on your location. You’ll have to do some homework on this one. Use our zip code tool to check offers in your area and pick the best one—then use those as leverage.
How to negotiate your bill with Spectrum
Spectrum’s biggest competition is likely to be another cable provider—either Xfinity or Cox. Find the best deal from those two and use it in your bargaining.
How to negotiate your bill with Cox
Look at deals from Cox and Xfinity for negotiating firepower with Cox.
How to negotiate your bill with Frontier
Frontier is pretty limited in availability, but the biggest competitor in most markets is probably Xfinity, so we’d start there when looking to price match.
Not sure what other providers are available in your area? Enter your zip code to check.
Remember that even if the sales rep isn’t budging on the price of your service, don’t give up. They might at least throw in some extra premium channels or a bump in your internet speed.
8. Threaten to leave your cable provider
If asking nicely and negotiating don’t work, pull out the big guns. Many sales reps will panic when you say you’re leaving, and that’s when they start pulling out deal after deal to entice you to stay.
And there’s a little trick with this one that providers don’t want you to know: if you call in to complain about pricing, lower your current plan, or cancel service, many providers will offer you packages that are much cheaper than what you’ll find online.
These are plans that aren’t necessarily advertised but are available to representatives in order to retain customers, and they can be really good. We’ve heard of people saving $10 or $20 a month with these “secret” packages.
9. Switch cable providers
Finally, if your current provider just isn’t giving you what you need, there’s no shame in switching. This is the beauty of a no-contract package—you can switch whenever you want.
And remember the tricks above when you call to shop for a new provider. Particularly if you mention your current provider on the call with a new one, the rep might be willing to sweeten the deal.
If you end up needing to switch, you can enter your zip code below to see what providers are in your area:
How to negotiate your cable TV bill FAQ
How much is an average cable bill per month?
Cable TV subscriptions in the United States average approximately $85 a month. That is just the cost of the TV package. Bundling cable TV service with internet and telephone plans can affect the price.
What is the best alternative to cable?
Instead of subscribing to cable TV, many people have chosen to go with a streaming TV package. Becoming a cord-cutter—saying goodbye to a cable or satellite TV plan—offers various options. Sling TV, Philo, and YouTube TV are a few of the options.
The advantage of a streaming TV plan can include lower prices, no cumbersome equipment, and access to numerous channels (including local channels), as well as on-demand programming.
Our Best TV Streaming Services article offers information on plans, pricing, and features.
What can I say to lower my cable bill?
Once you have determined your priorities—channels, features, and what you are willing to spend—there are different points to bring up with a customer service representative that might allow you to negotiate a lower price for your cable bill. If they absolutely can’t do that, negotiating might get you some other perks and extras. Here are a few suggestions for a productive chat with an agent.
- If you have a history of on-time payments, find out if that can be used to get a lower price for your plan.
- If you are getting new service or upgrading your current subscription, find out if free activation or free installation is available.
- Ask about perks like free channel additions or free subscriptions to streaming providers like Netflix and Hulu—while these might not lower your bill, they increase the value of your package.
- If you are bundling your cable TV with an internet plan, ask if there’s a lower internet speed that’s cheaper than what you’re currently using and if that will still give you the speed needed for a quality viewing experience.
- Let the provider know you have seen better offers from competitors and ask if they can match or better that price in order to keep you as a loyal customer.
Cable can be expensive, but it doesn’t have to be. These tips should get you off to a great start with paying less for TV service.