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Internet service providers (ISPs) offer money-saving options for seasonal customers who spend part of the year at another residence. Yet, there are some scenarios where it is not possible to take advantage of seasonal holds. So, how can a savvy consumer navigate the service contracts and fees for two or more places while still keeping their sanity and savings intact?
Option 1: Have two separate accounts
John stays in his mountain house primarily during the summer months. He keeps the internet on all year to monitor his smart thermostat and make sure the cabin stays warm enough to prevent the pipes from freezing. John also has an exterior security system with wireless cameras to keep an eye on the property. He has the same internet provider at both of his homes.
This common situation luckily has the easiest solution. Maintaining two separate accounts is the best way to get introductory promotional rates.
Companies do not typically combine accounts at separate properties onto one monthly bill. If, like John, you are working with the same provider at each location, you can often access both accounts via one online login. Many companies offer discounts when you set up auto bill pay, so take advantage of those options to manage and save on both accounts.
A lot of providers charge monthly rental fees for their gateways (modem and router combos), which begs the question, “Can one modem be used at both locations?” No, it cannot because the equipment is configured to work with only one account at a particular service address. But even if it were possible, it would be a headache to haul the equipment between properties and get re-connected each time.
You can, however, invest in purchasing your own modem, router or gateway for each residence, which should save you money in the long run. For instance, CenturyLink’s equipment rental charge is currently $9.99/mo. If you instead purchase the equipment outright from them for $99.99, then you are saving $20 in the first year alone, and twice that amount if you have two homes.
If you use two different companies at each location, make sure you are getting their best introductory rate. Even if you have been a long-time customer, you can still call customer service to inquire about special offers. Plus, you always have the option to shop around if you don’t feel you are getting a fair deal.
Option 2: Use a hotspot
Lydia and Tom have a beach house their family visits one or two weekends a month. Vacation hold is not an option since they visit year-round. They feel they are paying too much to have internet services full-time since they stay there just a few days a month.
Lydia and Tom’s internet use is infrequent enough that they might want to consider other internet solutions for their beach house. If they are visiting the house on average three-four days a month and paying $60/mo. — the average cost of broadband in the U.S. — that breaks down to about $17 per day of use.
A better solution could be a mobile hotspot. A hotspot would allow them to still connect tablets or other Wi-Fi devices, maintain access to email, web browsing, streaming music and even light gaming.
Keep in mind, a mobile hotspot does use data so it can be costly with a limited data plan. However, depending on the cellphone carrier, there are other options. One example is Verizon’s “Get More Unlimited” cellphone plan, which gives you an additional 30 GB of data on mobile hotspot use per billing cycle. That amount is enough data to power almost 2,000 hours of web surfing or 40 hours of standard definition streaming — plenty for Lydia and Tom’s weekend trips.
Option 3: Negotiate with your provider
The Bakers own several properties which they rent out using a popular peer-to-peer rental app. They must keep the internet and basic TV services year-round for the safety and convenience of their guests. The problem is these services are underutilized during the slow season.
The Bakers use several different internet providers at their various properties. Their first step should be to tally how much they are spending with each provider. They can then start by contacting the provider they spend the most money on to work out a better deal. If the Bakers run their rental properties as a small business, they can see if they can get business rates or discounts.
Love a bargain but hate negotiating? You can try signing up for a service to negotiate your bill on your behalf. They get paid by keeping half of any savings earned in the first year.
A few words on TV
Substituting TV service at a secondary location is easier to navigate because there are multiple TV alternatives. By using a Roku Stick or an Apple TV device, you can access tons of streaming entertainment. You can also login to network websites with your cable or satellite TV account from your primary residence to watch live TV. Here are a few popular networks to get you started.