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How to Lower Your Cable or Satellite TV Bill

By Brian
Published 09/22/2013
 | Updated 07/16/2020

DisableMyCable.com is mainly devoted to alternatives to cable TV and satellite.  However, even I have to admit that for some people, cable and satellite are the only options.  You might live far from TV transmitters.  Or, you might be a sports fan who wants to see teams other than the home teams broadcast on your local stations.  In these cases, you probably need cable or satellite.

But, all is not lost.  You can still negotiate to lower your monthly cable/satellite/Internet/phone bill, sometimes with no decrease in channels or services!

1. Cut the Extras (movie channels, DVR, etc.)

First, scan your bill and look for any premium services that you don’t need like movie channels, DVR, and so forth.  If you can live without these, cut ‘em.  Are you paying to get cable on additional TVs in your home that could be using an antenna?

Do you really still need a landline when you are also paying for a cell phone?  See if eliminating it will lower your bill (on the other hand, sometimes keeping services will actually result in a lower bill, see below).

With Internet access, there are often unpublicized cheaper plans if you can accept slower download speeds.  I know that doesn’t sound appealing, but going from 30Mbps to 20Mbps is not really noticeable for people doing normal things like normal web surfing and watching online videos.

2. Eliminate Rental Fees

Some cable companies charge you to rent a cable TV box, remote control, or Internet modem.  Check your bill for any rental fees.  If you don’t have premium channels, and you own a modern flat-screen TV, you can often just plug your cable directly into your TV with no cable TV box, eliminating the rental fee for the box and remote.  Just try it out to be sure before turning in your cable TV box.

I was able to purchase a cable modem for my Internet access from Amazon for $70, thus avoiding a $6 monthly rental fee!  Other companies may charge even more.

3. Don't Pay for Additional TVs

Cable and satellite companies charge you if you want to use additional TVs with their services. But now, many providers have an accompanying Internet-based streaming service with the same programming. So instead of having to buy an extra box for that second TV and paying a monthly fee, you can get a Roku or other streaming box and watch your cable or satellite content using your Internet connection. Spectrum offers this. Check your provider.

4. Bundle

If there are services like land line, Internet, and cable TV that you really do need, but are getting from different companies, you can often save big if you get all of these services from the same company. 

One reader reported that her cable company was giving her basic cable TV for free with purchase of cable Internet.

Here is one ludicrous example.  I called Verizon to try to lower my DSL bill.  They said I could lower it by bundling a landline with it.  I didn’t need the land line, but it was cheaper to get it and just not use it!  The catch is that the rate could go up later to more than what you are paying now, so be sure to ask about the “fine print” and any future cost increases before doing this option.

5. Ask for Promotional Deals and Discounts

I know people who've gotten special discounts simply by calling the cable company and asking for them.  The only catch was that the rate was “promotional” and would only last six months.  But, the salesman said all they would have to do is call again to re-activate the rate.  Yes, calling every six months is a pain, but the savings add up!

6. Look at the Competition

Take note of competitors' rates before calling your cable/satellite company and ask them to match it.

7. Threaten to Leave

I saved the most effective tactic for last.  When I told my cable company that I wanted to cancel my service, they offered me a $15 discount on my monthly bill if I would stay with them for another year.  You can simply call and say “I need to find a way to lower my cable TV bill or else I’ll have to cancel it.”  This doesn’t always work, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.  If no dice, you can simply say “ok, I’ll think about this”, and hang up without actually canceling.  Wait a month and try again.

8. Become a Seasonal Customer

One of my readers told me that all he needs cable TV for is sports. Therefore, he signs up at the beginning of each season, and drops it at the end of the season. Each time, he gets a low promotional rate. There may be a limit to how many times you can do this, but it might work for a while! You can also switch between cable and satellite to take advantage of their introductory offers.

9. Switch to an Internet-Based Service

Internet streaming services like Sling TV and Hulu with Live TV are offering many of the same channels as satellite and cable for less cost. Read more about these here.

Hope these ideas will help you save on your next cable or satellite bill!  Give us your ideas, or tell us about your experiences below! - Brian

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Brian Shim, DisableMyCable.com
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Check out my other site, thefrugalnoodle.com, with ideas on saving money and living simply.

Ask a Question or Tell Me Your Story

If you have a question about this article, leave a comment below. I personally read and answer each one. If you want advice on TV reception, leave your zip code. I'd also love to hear how you're saving money on TV. Tell me your story! Note, I cannot answer individual email sent to me; please leave your questions here instead. - Brian

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