How to get better rates on your Internet, cable, and phone services

Amy Winter

Think you're paying too much for your digital services? If so, now could be the perfect time to shop around and see if you can save money on your Internet, cable, and phone services.

Although providers and prices can differ by location, these tips could help you find the best digital living services for your needs.

Keep reading to learn more.

[Click to get quotes from multiple digital living service providers.]

Tip #1 - Determine What You Want from Your Digital Services

Before choosing digital services for your home, it's a good idea to ask yourself what features you actually need. For example, can you live without hundreds of cable and premium movie channels? Do you really need the fastest home Internet speed?

Asking these types of questions could help you avoid overbuying - and more importantly - overspending.

This is a tip Dominic Carrozza, a Redondo Beach, Calif., resident, became familiar with when he was shopping around for lower digital services rates.

"First, as with any service, you need to decide on what you can afford to spend," says Carrozza. "Then you need to study the menu options available to make sure you are not buying more than you need."

Is customer service important to you? That's also something to consider when you shop around. "It is not always about just price," says Carrozza. "You need to factor in service quality and services provided."

Tip #2 - Compare Quotes from at Least Three Companies

Whether you're looking to save on Internet, cable, or phone services, you need to do your homework. This means you'll want to get ready to research at least three different digital services providers.

Why? Because comparing rates from several different companies could give you a better idea of what's competitive.

So that's exactly what Carrozza did. He started his research by going online to compare services and costs of available digital services providers.

[Find the best digital services package for you. Click to compare rates now.]

And this is what he found from his experience: "If you only get one quote, you don't know if it is a good deal," says Carrozza. "If you get two quotes and they are different, you don't know if one is too high or too low. By getting three, you have a better chance to identify which is the best deal and which quotes are 'out of the family.'"

Something else to consider is calling a digital services company more than once. It may sound strange, but a 2011 Consumer Reports article titled "The Benefits of Bundling and Bargaining," noted that different phone sales reps might quote you different prices - even on the same day.

Tip #3 - Get Personal References

When shopping for any new product or service, would you trust the opinion of a stranger over the opinion of someone you know? Probably not. And when it comes to finding the right Internet, cable, or phone carrier, it shouldn't be any different.

You want to see what companies your friends, family members, or neighbors prefer - especially if they live in your area.

Ask them questions to find out more about their carrier's prices, policies, and customer service:

  • Are you satisfied with your Internet, cable, and phone services?
  • How is your provider's customer service?
  • Would you recommend this provider?

Tip #4 - Avoid Long-Term Contracts

Yes, the lower prices of long-term contracts can be very enticing. But what happens if you find a better rate for your digital services and want out of your existing contract?

According to "The Benefits of Bundling and Bargaining" article, if you want to get out of your contract before it expires, you could get hit with a termination fee of several hundred dollars.

Perhaps that's why the article notes that "As a rule, avoid contracts if possible because they limit your ability to switch providers or negotiate rates."

[Click to compare rates from multiple providers now.]

So, before signing on with a new company and contract, be sure to ask your sales rep if the provider has an early-termination penalty. Asking this question beforehand could save you from the surprise of a cancellation fee.

However, if your only option is a long-term contract, consider asking the provider if there's any way they can reduce the length. There's no harm in asking, right?

Tip #5 - Look into Bundling Your Digital Services

Have you considered bundling your digital services? In other words, have you considered getting two or more of your home digital services - Internet, cable, and phone - from one company, on one bill?

If so, you may be on your way to potential savings.

"We went with an Internet, cable, and phone bundle and got a better rate," says Carrozza.

And he's not the only person who's benefitting from bundling services.

[Find the best digital services bundle for you. Click to compare rates now.]

In fact, of the one in three surveyed Consumer Reports readers who said they bundled their TV, Internet, and home phone services from one provider, "more than half reported significant savings compared with buying the services from separate companies," notes the "The Benefits of Bundling and Bargaining" article.

But before choosing a bundled package, it's important to make sure that your new bundle yields savings that outweigh costs like cancellation fees, installation fees, and any another costs that may come up.