How to squeeze more savings from your cable bill

Like it or not, you’re probably stuck with your cable company even if you cut the cord on pay TV.

Cable companies, after all, still provide the home internet service that’s necessary for streaming video. Mobile internet plans are still no substitute for cable-based internet, and much-hyped alternatives like 5G home internet and high-speed satellite internet are still years away from being widely available.

That doesn’t mean saving money on your cable bill is a lost cause. Whether you haven’t quit cable yet or remain tethered to cable internet service, you can still maximize your savings in several ways. Here are some ideas:

Don’t fear slower speeds

If you try to cancel cable TV, you might encounter some scare tactics as your provider tries to upsell you on speed boosts. But even for streaming video, upgrading your internet speed might be unnecessary.

Let’s look at Comcast as an example. The cable giant charges a non-promotional price of $78 per month for 100Mbps “Performance” internet, versus $93 per month for 200Mbps “Blast” internet. While doubling your speed might be nice, 100Mbps is more than enough for streaming, even in 4K on a few TVs at the same time. (Netflix recommends a connection speed of at least 25Mbps for 4K video, and that is the FCC’s minimum spec for broadband internet.)

Cox, meanwhile, charges a non-promotional price of $66 per month for 50Mbps speeds, which is $18-per-month cheaper than 150Mbps service and should also be fine for one or two simultaneous streams. If you’re having streaming problems at these speeds, I’d wager the problem is with your Wi-Fi router, not a lack of internet bandwidth. (More on that shortly.)

Beware of “free” internet upgrades

Related to the above, cable companies sometimes try to sneak in speed upgrades that appear to be free, but can cost more later if you’re not careful.

When you bundle TV and internet with Spectrum, for instance, you might get an offer for 400Mbps service at the same price as 200Mbps service. After a two-year promo period, however, the faster plan becomes $20-per-month pricier than the cheaper one.