According to surveys conducted by the Pew Research Center, 75% of adults age 65 and older use the Internet, and 64% use their home broadband connection to do so. These numbers have grown steadily over the past ten years and have become even more pronounced during the COVID-19 pandemic. I think all of us have increased our use of FaceTime, Zoom, and other video chat tools.
The need to be online is acute, but all too often the price of being connected can be high. This is a compounded problem if you are retired on a fixed income. How to find cheap internet for seniors? I’m glad you asked. Here are some ideas.
Start with some useful government programs
Unlike your local restaurant,don’t really offer senior discounts. There are certainly some ISP-specific offers worth looking into (I’ll talk about those in a moment), but your best bet is to start by taking advantage of federal programs. Two come to mind – one has been around since 1985 and the other is a new policy that went into effect in 2022.
You should start with, a program that has been around for decades and can help eligible customers with their phone or internet bill. While not specifically aimed at seniors, several of its qualifications — including Medicaid participation, Supplemental Security Income and Veterans Pension and survivor benefits — apply to seniors. Lifeline is also aimed at helping low-income households, so retirees with particularly limited fixed incomes can participate, including those on federal public housing assistance or those on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
What do you get when you qualify? Seniors can get up to $9.25 a month off their internet bill, for a total of $111 a year off their home connection costs.
Even better, once you qualify for Lifeline, you’re also eligible for government, a grant from the Federal Communications Commission. Again, this is not specifically aimed at seniors, but those eligible for Lifeline assistance may also qualify for this benefit, which provides a monthly discount on broadband costs.
What’s exciting is that you can apply ACP funds to the specific programs we’ve listed below, and you may find that it completely covers the cost of your monthly internet bill. Another option is to use ACP to pay for a faster plan to help you better stream your favorite TV shows or get a better connection on those video chats with family.
And a final warning: Beware of “bargain” pages on some ISP sites. Many of them are just glorified ads masquerading as helpful tips. Instead of showing you legitimate discounts or revealing special offers, they try to sell you on higher speed plans. Definitely use a little discernment when shopping.
The best online deals and discounts for seniors
This affordable internet plan costs $10 per month and offers download speeds of up to 50 Mbps. No contracts or credit checks required. Although not exclusively for seniors, it is open to eligible low-income households and SSI recipients. In addition, Astound offers the first 60 days free.
Read our Astound Broadband review.
If you get SSI benefits in California or participate in SNAP in any of the 21 states in AT&T’s service area, you’re eligible for this program, which offers download speeds of up to 100 megabits per second for $30 a month or less. You won’t have to deal with any installation fees, data limits, contracts or deposits.
Read our AT&T home internet review.
Cox has long had a discount program called Connect2Compete aimed at families with low or fixed incomes. However, in 2021 it introduced ConnectAssist, which is aimed at low-income households without children. Several eligibility programs—including Veterans Pension, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicaid—apply to seniors. Qualifying households can get a 100Mbps plan – including a free modem, access to 3 million Wi-Fi hotspots across the country and unlimited data for 12 months (after which the 1.25TB data cap kicks in) – for $30 a month. No contract required.
Read our Cox Communications review.
This program includes eligibility for people over age 65 who receive SSI and U.S. military veterans who receive state or federal assistance. The contract-free internet plan offers download speeds of up to 50 Mbps for $15 per month. It also includes free installation, unlimited data and a free modem/router combination.
Read our Optimum home internet review.
Seniors age 65 and older who receive SSI are eligible for this assistance plan. It offers download speeds of up to 30 Mbps for $15 per month and includes a free modem, no data caps and no contracts.
Read our Spectrum home internet review.
Seniors currently enrolled in the federal Lifeline program can save $10 a month on any Verizon Fios plan offered at their address.
Also, seniors participating in the Affordable Connection Program may qualify for free Internet through Fios Forward, including all fees and router costs. You must have a Fios Mix & Match plan and be approved to qualify.
Read our Verizon home internet review.
If you’re a senior citizen, on Medicaid or SSI, or receiving a VA pension, you may qualify for this Internet plan that offers download speeds of up to 50 Mbps for $10 a month. No credit check is required and members also get free access to Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots. There is also an option to double the speed to 100 Mbps for $30 per month under similar terms.
Read our Xfinity home internet review.
FAQs about the best online deals and discounts for seniors
Can seniors get free internet?
Technically yes, but it will take some maneuvering. First, you must be eligible for the federal Lifeline program. It’s not specifically for seniors, but if you’re on Medicaid, Supplemental Security, or Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefits, you likely qualify. Once you do this, you become eligible for a subsidy program from the FCC called the Affordable Connection Program. That would give you $30 a month for your internet service. If your ISP participates in ACP and offers an internet plan for $30 or less (and many do), you will be able to get your internet service for free.
Do some cable companies offer discounts for older adults?
No, not specifically. But several cable companies offer discount programs and plans that may apply to seniors. For example, Optimum offers Optimum Advantage Internet, an inexpensive 50Mbps plan for $15 per month that includes free installation, unlimited data, no contracts, and a Wi-Fi router. Eligibility criteria include veterans receiving state or federal public assistance or seniors age 65 and older participating in Supplemental Security Income. Astound Broadband’s Internet First program and Spectrum’s Internet Assist also qualify for SSI participation. Finally, Comcast Xfinity’s Internet Essentials accepts SSI and Medicaid or VA pension participation.
Does Xfinity offer senior discounts?
Xfinity does not offer a discount specifically for seniors. Comcast’s Internet Essentials program for low-income households — with a 50Mbps plan for $10 a month and free access to Xfinity Wi-Fi hotspots — still includes eligibility that applies to seniors. Qualifications include participation in Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, public housing assistance, and VA pensions.