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Internet for Seniors on Low and Fixed Incomes

Connecting to the internet just got a whole lot cheaper.

The internet is a place with endless possibilities for older adults. Whether you want to connect with friends and family, learn a new recipe, stay up to date on the latest news, or shop until you drop, everything is just a click or two away. In this guide to all things internet, we'll cover costs and providers and offer tips on how to snag the best internet plan for your needs. We'll also dive into the important topic of internet fraud and theft and how to avoid becoming a victim.

Reviewing the Best Internet for Seniors

Looking for an internet provider in your area? We've reviewed the nation's top internet providers so you can find the one that's right for your needs and budget.


Useful Internet Resources for Seniors

Whether you want to learn how to make your internet faster or get food delivered straight to your door, these resources will help you make the most of your internet connection.


What Percentage of Seniors Use the Internet?

Older adults are more internet savvy than ever! According to a recent survey by Pew Research Center, 96 percent of adults aged 50 to 64 use the internet. For adults aged 65 and up, the number drops slightly to 75 percent.1

From internet connectivity and cell phones to wearable technology and home security, older adults are embracing the benefits of being powered up and plugged in.

How Much Does Internet Service Cost for Seniors?

As you shop for an internet provider and plan, you'll discover pricing varies widely. This is why comparison shopping is key.

Basic internet plans for low-income seniors start at $10 a month. Older adults who need a top-of-the-line plan that supports multiple devices, high-speed downloads, and lag-free streaming can expect to pay between $50 to $100 a month.

Quick Tip: If you already have an internet connection, but it seems slower than usual, there are several ways to speed things up. Head to our guide on how to make your internet faster for our top tips.

Internet service and plan pricing are heavily impacted by:

  • Where you live
  • Your income level
  • The type of internet connection (such as fiber, DSL, or cable)
  • How much speed is needed
  • Which providers offer coverage in your area

Is There Free Internet for Seniors?

If your post-retirement budget is tight, you're not alone. Many older adults, including veterans, lower-income seniors, and those with disabilities, struggle to pay for internet coverage. Nearly 22 million American seniors don't have internet access at home. This represents 42 percent of the nation's over-65 population.2 Luckily, there are a few options for affordable internet.

Participants in Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Supplemental Nutritional Access Program (SNAP), Veterans benefits, and other federal and state assistance programs may be eligible for free or low-cost internet through these Federal Communications Commission (FCC) programs:

  • Emergency Broadband Benefit: The EBB program provides a discount of up to $50 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands.
  • Lifeline: Lifeline provides up to a $9.25 monthly internet discount on service for eligible low-income subscribers and up to $34.25 per month for those on Tribal lands.

Want to learn more about free internet for seniors? Watch our video below!

Who Are Some Providers That Offer Internet Service for Seniors?

If you're shopping for a new internet provider, you're likely wondering who the best providers are for seniors. Let's take a look at our top picks.

AT&T

AT&T is a communication industry leader, servicing U.S. consumers for over 144 years. With a wide range of plans, including AT&T Access low-cost internet, you can choose a plan that meets both your budget and your needs. AT&T provides coverage in 21 states.

The AT&T THANKS program delivers major perks, such as chances to win trips and VIP tickets to sporting events. Worried about staying safe online? AT&T has you covered with antivirus software and an AT&T Internet Security Suite powered by McAfee. You can also pair your internet and AT&T cell phone plan for optimum savings!

Spectrum

Spectrum is part of Charter Communications, a leading broadband connectivity company and cable operator serving more than 31 million customers in 41 states. There are three internet plans available through Spectrum Internet, including Spectrum Internet Assist, for low-income adults. The company also offers Spectrum TV and internet packages if you want to bundle your services together.

Spectrum offers customers extra perks, like a free modem and antivirus software. With a 30-day, money-back guarantee and no contract or data caps on internet usage, Spectrum is certainly customer-focused.

CenturyLink

CenturyLink is a telecommunications company that offers DSL and fiber internet packages in 36 states. With low, moderate, and high-speed plans, customers can choose a plan tailored to their online needs.

Tech-savvy seniors can take advantage of CenturyLink's free self-installation kit. If you're not the do-it-yourself type, help is a phone call away with 24/7 technical support. Be sure to cash in on savings by bundling services and opting for paperless billing.

Cox

Cox provides strong and fast internet connectivity in 19 states across the U.S. There are several plans to choose from, including Cox's StraightUp prepaid internet plan. You can try Cox's service risk-free with their 30-day, money-back guarantee. If you're looking for a bundle, you can also check out Cox's cable TV, internet, and phone packages.

All Cox internet plans come with Cox Security Suite, an antivirus software powered by McAfee to protect up to five devices. Cox provides 24/7/365 service, so you can always connect to a representative for support.

Xfinity

Available in 39 states across the United States, Xfinity is part of Comcast NBC Universal and is a leader in innovation and entertainment. Customers have the option to bundle services for access to high-speed internet, hundreds of HD channels with Xfinity cable TV packages, and a home phone line. Xfinity also offers affordable internet options for older adults, including the Xfinity Internet Essentials plan designed and priced for low-income customers.

5 Tips for Finding the Best Internet for Seniors

Choosing the best internet service for your needs takes some detective work. Here are our tips for finding the right provider for you:

  1. Determine your need for speed. Think about your internet usage and all of the devices you'll connect to the internet (such as laptops, hearing aids, medical alert systems, and home security systems). The more devices you connect, the more speed you'll need.
  2. Get the inside scoop. Whether you live in a retirement community or are aging in place, chatting with your neighbors about who they use will give you excellent insight into internet providers in your area.
  3. Check up on contracts and hidden fees. Find out what's included in your monthly payment. For example, are you required to rent the internet provider's equipment? Is there an activation fee? Are there data overage fees?
  4. Get the best bang for your buck by bundling. Look for options to lower your out-of-pocket cost by bundling internet, TV, and phone services.
  5. Ask for senior discounts. Don't forget to snag any senior-specific discounts. These can come directly through the service provider or a membership, such as AARP.

Did You Know: Internet discounts are just the beginning! From grocery and retail to travel and insurance, our research team has compiled over 100 senior discounts to cash in on.

Internet Safety for Seniors: Preventing Internet Fraud and Theft

The Federal Trade Commission's latest data is certainly alarming when it comes to internet crimes. The FTC received 2.2 million fraud reports from consumers in 20203 and 1.4 million reports of identity theft.4

Older adults need to be especially vigilant against cyberattacks. Today, half of all scams against older adults occur online rather than over the phone or in person.5 Luckily, you can protect yourself by learning about common senior scams and following these five simple steps.

Five Ways to Avoid Being Scammed on the Internet

  1. Choose strong passwords. Passwords that include letters (upper and lowercase), numbers, and special characters help keep your accounts secure.
  2. Never use the same password twice. While it may be tempting to use the same password for your my Social Security account and online shopping sites, this practice makes your online information more susceptible to being compromised.
  3. Avoid unknown links and attachments. If you receive an email from someone you don't know (even if it looks official), don't open links or download attachments, as they can contain computer viruses.
  4. Keep your personal information personal. Never give out your credit card, bank, or other private information in response to an unsolicited email.
  5. Check your social media privacy settings. Imposters can target public social media accounts. Stick to sharing your status update or travel photos with family and friends.

Pro Tip: Searching for a simple and secure way to protect yourself from identity theft? Check out our list of the best identity theft protection services for seniors.

If you enjoy checking in with friends and family on Facebook or Instagram, check out the video below. Our editor-in-chief, Jeff Hoyt, will walk you through the best ways to stay safe on social media.

How Older Adults Can Stay Internet Savvy

Whether you need an introductory lesson on how to connect your laptop to the internet or a refresher course on how to download Zoom to chat with the grandkids, there are several ways to keep up with the latest tech!

  • Community colleges: Many community colleges offer noncredit classes geared toward older adults, including computer technology classes.
  • GCFLearnFree.org: Supported by the Goodwill Community Foundation, GCFLearnFree.org offers resources on over 200 topics, including more than 2,000 lessons and 1,000 videos, completely free.
  • National Association of Area Agencies on Aging: The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) provides support and resources for older adults. Based on your city, state, or ZIP code, n4a serves as a gateway organization to help you find local resources.
  • Public libraries: The library in your town is a fantastic resource for computer assistance and classes.
  • Senior Planet: Senior Planet from AARP taps into technology to offer courses, programs, and activities to help older adults learn new skills.

Pro Tip: Visit our guide to tech for older adults for more resources and step-by-step guides on topics ranging from mobile apps to video chatting to food delivery services.

If you're interested in learning a new skill or mastering an old one, the internet is a great place to start. Many websites and organizations offer free or inexpensive online courses, and you can sign up with just a few clicks. Watch the video below to learn more!

Written By

Jeff Hoyt

Editor in Chief

Since graduating from Harvard with an honors degree in Statistics, Jeff has been creating content in print, online, and on television. Much of his work has been dedicated to informing seniors on how to live better lives. As Editor-in-Chief of the personal… Learn More About Jeff Hoyt

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