Internet Fees: Your Guide to Hidden Costs


When it comes to making sure you stick to your budget, the Internet companies are known for making this very difficult. When shopping around the price you see rarely ends up being the price that you pay. There is an array of hidden or unexpected costs that you must account for to make sure you’re not stuck in a contract paying more than you originally intended to. These tips are a great starting point for things to keep in mind when you are shopping around for new internet or just looking for a new ISP. You can also look for a internet advisor to help you along.


Installation and activation fees ($10-$200)

These will usually make your first bill a bit pricier which can hurt your wallet especially if you are moving and incurring other expenses as well. If you opt to purchase your internet service over the phone instead of online, in many cases the agent may be able to wave these fees for you or throw in some additional incentive.

Installation fees can be as high as $200. Self-installation is the way to go — it’s free with providers like CenturyLink but could cost you as much as $35 with AT&T. If you self-install, you’ll receive everything in the mail and you can plug in and connect your service yourself. Professional installations are sometimes required and always more expensive ($50-$200). Many promotional packages for new customers waive the installation fees, and if you don’t see a deal online, we’d recommend calling a representative.

Equipment rental fee ($5 to $15)

Many providers can provide you equipment for monthly rental fee. Another option here is to purchase your own modem/router. In many cases you can get equipment with better technology which will give you a smoother internet experience.

Recovery fee ($1 to $4 per month)

A recovery fee is more unique and may be hidden among other fees and taxes. This can be very misleading and this fee goes toward maintaining and expanding their broadband network.


Data overage fees ($10+)

You’ll only be charged a data overage fee if you go over your monthly internet data allotment. Many ISPs claim this is to give a better experience, but likely they are trying to recover lost revenue from people streaming versus signing up for a “Triple play” bundle with TV included.

Late payment fee (Varies)

This can vary by provider and a late fee will be applied, ranging from $10 to $25 or a percentage of the bill. We recommend setting up automatic payments online, so you’ll never miss a bill. Some providers may offer a small discount for opting paperless, too.

Early termination fees (Varies)

If you’re moving or switching internet providers, breaking that contract could be costly. You may have to pay the remainder of the months your contract has left, or be charged a flat rate upwards of $300. Worried about commitment? Many providers offer no-contract plans at a higher monthly price, and some internet providers, like Spectrum, don’t require contracts at all. Before signing a contract, consider how long you’ll need the internet service and what it might cost you to cancel early — the monthly savings of a contract might not outweigh the cost of breaking that contract if you need to cancel.