How to Negotiate a Lower Spectrum Bill (as an Existing Customer)

Like most internet companies, Spectrum increases your cable bill after the first year of service.

This can be frustrating, especially considering you’re also paying activation fees, WiFi fees, sports fees, and other miscellaneous costs on top of the basic internet and TV pricing.

The result: long-time customers paying upwards of a hundred dollars for internet each month, unable to access the “introductory” pricing advertised for their new customers.

How to reduce your Spectrum bill

In this post, I'll show you how to reduce your Spectrum bill. This will require you to complete some or all of the following:

Want to see some success stories? Skip to the bottom to hear about reader experiences calling in to Spectrum to negotiate lower rates.

Spectrum does not have promotions for veterans or seniors at this time, but they sometimes treat these demographics more favorably on the phone (if you don’t start yelling at them).

As a call center company worker myself, I know a thing or two about navigating Spectrum’s signup process and finding hidden deals. It takes time, but they do exist.

Before we start, be aware that this is a time-consuming process. If 1–3 hours of your time is worth more than the $100–300 you stand to save over the year, consider services like BillShark that will negotiate with cable companies on your behalf.

If you’d prefer to do it yourself for the biggest savings — keep reading.

Prerequisite: Understand How Spectrum Works

Before we start, you need some basic information about how Spectrum operates.

Like most cable companies, Spectrum uses a tactic called “introductory pricing” to sell internet service. This means that the price they advertise is not the actual cost of service — it’s a promotional rate for the first 12 months or so.

Because their sales agents are incentivized to sell as much as possible, this fact is often downplayed when customers sign up. In fact, if you ask a Spectrum agent what the final price is, their script requires them to say: “the current rate at the time your promotion expires.”

Spectrum mail offers
Spectrum offers very low rates, but only for new customers. Once you've had an account for 12 months, they switch to aggressively pushing add-on packages like TV. You can expect to get a mail offer like this every two weeks or so for the duration of your account.

No matter how you ask, they will never reveal the final price. And this is why so many customers are surprised when their bill suddenly jumps 40%.

The final pricing eventually shows up on bills, so I’ve been able to track down the current rates. The plans are regional, generally divided between their “upgrade” service areas (cities like Los Angeles and the standard Spectrum service area (mostly suburbs). The pricing is the same for each of the three tiers of service; the only difference is the internet speed. While this site is focused on California, Spectrum pricing is more or less the same nationally:

Plan NameSpeed Down/UpPromo PriceFinal Price
Spectrum Internet100/10 Mbps$49.99/mo$69.99
Spectrum Internet Ultra400/20 Mbps$69.99/mo$94.99
Spectrum Internet GIG940/35 Mbps$109.99/mo$129.99

As you can see, you’re looking at anywhere from 10–80% price hikes, depending on the promotion you signed up on (these change a few times a year).

This is the primary reason that customer bills go up over time — although there are also instances where Spectrum’s “current rate” will go up for your subscription tier, or where extra fees or services might be added to your bill due to clerical errors or changing policies at Spectrum.

In order to get your bill back down, you’ll need to remove services, reduce equipment costs, call to negotiate the rate down, and/or re-qualify for a promotional rate.

You may also want to try and qualify for a subsidized plan, although those plans have much slower speeds and no TV options.

Let’s get started:


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Call and Negotiate a Lower Rate

As covered above, Spectrum bills always go up after the first 12 months, and then creep up from there as regional price changes and fees get tacked on over time.

The solution: call Spectrum and negotiate a lower rate.

Customers who were with Time Warner Cable before Spectrum bought them out in 2016 will remember this as a tried-and-true method for reducing costs. Time Warner was very generous with promotional rates, to the point that practically every customer had a unique price for their account thanks to haggling with the TMC call center.

Spectrum has cleaned that up, by enforcing minimum prices and refusing to grant "new customer" pricing for existing customers.

However, you can still reduce the rate by calling, and not just by shaving off TV packages. I'll walk you through it:

Step 1: Prepare your account information

Before you call, have a bill handy so you can give them your account number and any other necessary information to identify the account.

step-by-step for calling Spectrum
The secret to getting a lower rate with Spectrum is to gather your account information, calmly call and negotiate with their retention department, and to be willing to repeat with different agents if you don't get a retention offer on the first call.

Speaking of accounts, make sure you’ve paid your most recent bill. They won’t reduce the price for you if you don’t have an account in good standing.

Also ensure that you have information on competing offers for internet service in your neighborhood — especially if it’s a fiber service like AT&T Fiber, which Spectrum has more incentive to undercut on pricing. These can be helpful for convincing Spectrum that you mean business about canceling.

Before the call, collect:

  • Copy of most recent Spectrum bill (paid to date)
  • Case number for any past disputes you've had with Spectrum
  • Price and speed for competing internet/cable offers in your neighborhood.
  • The promo rate you signed up for (you'll be asking them to match this).

Step 2: Make the call

When you call Spectrum, your goal is to:

  1. Convince them that you’re going to cancel if they don’t give you a better rate.
  2. Navigate their call center correctly so you find an agent who can grant price reductions.
  3. Be polite to them personally, but express frustration about Spectrum the company.
  4. Be exceedingly polite. If you worked in a call center, who would you give promos to: rude customers, or friendly ones? Nice guys finish first in this process.

Finding the right agent is easier said than done.

When you first call, you’ll be given prompts to route your call to the right department. You can either go directly to the cancellation department, or go to general customer service.

I recommend that you start with customer service, because they’re more likely to transfer you to an agent with pricing power than if you go directly to cancellation.

This part is very important: you need to talk to the customer service or billing agent for at least five minutes before they transfer you.

This ensures that they send you to “retention,” rather than simply giving you cancellation information on the spot.

Retention is where you want to be ultimately, because these agents have the best promotional offers and the most power to lower customer pricing. However, sometimes the customer service agent can grant your request on the spot — it depends on the current promotions, and where you call from.

Your Script For Reducing the Spectrum Bill

Quick Tip

Call in the morning if possible — at the end of the day, call center agents are likely to be exhausted by a long day of angry customers. They may also be given a limited amount of coupons per agent to placate customers, similar to how grocery store employees are often allowed to discount a certain amount of produce each day to keep customers happy.

Start by asking how their day is going and being friendly. Then, start in with the issue:

I’m calling because I’d like to get some help with my bill – my price recently went up quite a bit, and it’s more than I can afford. I’ve been a customer of Spectrum for a long time, and it’s frustrating to see that my neighbors get the same service for a much lower rate. Can you tell me about your current promotions, or any other ways that I can reduce the bill?

At this point, their script should require them to try to sell you a bigger TV package, Spectrum mobile, or even home phone service. Hear them out but politely decline to add additional services or increase your internet speed.

Thank you for that, it’s helpful to know all the options. Part of the reason I’m calling is because another internet provider is offering me a new customer rate to switch to them. That said, I’ve been happy with Spectrum and as you can see I’ve been paying my bill on time for a long time now. Is there a discount you could attach to my internet price to recover the introductory price I was paying? I’d be happy to sign up for automatic billing if there’s a bonus for that.

At this point, they will do one of two things:

  1. Tell you there’s nothing they can do.
  2. Offer to revert your account to “intermediate pricing,” which is currently around $54.99/month for the base internet plan.

For the base 200 Mbps internet-only plan, it’s common to be able to argue it down to around $55. The $54.99 price point is an “intermediate” price for entry level plan in some areas.

This is likely to be the best discount you’ll get on an internet-only plan, so I recommend you go ahead and accept it if they offer it.

Involve a manager

If they can’t reduce it, ask to speak to a manager, and politely repeat the above script.

Remember, you are frustrated at Spectrumnot the call center employees.

For the manager, try expressing frustration about the “bait and switch,” and say that you weren’t made aware of the final price when you signed up. This may trigger them to offer a discount, if they believe you are going to submit an FCC complaint.

Move to retention

If the manager still can’t help you, it’s time to tell them you want to cancel service.

Telling them you want to cancel — after spending five or more minutes on the phone — should trigger their script to require a transfer to the retention department.

They’ll transfer you to a new agent, who ostensibly is going to help cancel your service. However, this agent has access to “retention offers,” and will make one last attempt to convince you to bundle more services instead of canceling.

Once again, you need to politely decline, and make one final request:

I understand the introductory rate is for new customers, but if I could at least get closer to it, I’d happily just stay with Spectrum instead of going through all this trouble to switch. Do you have any kind of coupon or promotion you can attach to my account?

This is where it comes down to luck. Some agents, on some days, will have the power to attach a discount. But the default is for them to simply allow you to cancel.

If you have the nerves, or are truly willing to switch to a competing provider, go ahead and follow the rest of the cancelation process. In some cases, they will “find” a promotion in their script the last second before clicking cancel — similar to how Adobe Photoshop offers you three free months, but only if you go through 4 of the 5 steps required to cancel.

Step 3: Try multiple times

Since promotions and coupons seem to come and go in the Spectrum call center, you’ll likely need to repeat this charade a couple times to get a result.

If you have no luck with the script above, try calling in the next day, or the next week.


Remove Unnecessary Services

The easiest way to reduce your Spectrum bill is to “cut the cord” and remove extra services like cable TV packages and home phone service.

Take a look at your bill and you should see line items for each extra service on top of internet, plus fees and equipment.

Between the DVR, receivers, and sports fees, the cost of Spectrum TV adds up really fast. Some customers pay more than $200/month for what amounts to a handful of premium channels. In this day and age, that’s crazy.

Pro Tip

Don't change your package within the first twelve months, it causes them to void your promotional rate and you are no longer considered to be a new customer.

The primary reason people stay with Spectrum is the sports packages. However, getting sports over the internet is easier than ever. Just Google “streaming” and the name of the channels you actually watch. Chances are you can get them “over the top” via a direct subscription and drop your TV costs dramatically.

Google search for sports treaming NFL.
If you're only subscribing to TV for a handful of channels, you can save money by buying those channels directly via a streaming service. This allows you to reduce your package to internet-only, which should reduce your cost more than 50% each month.

Also take a look at Roku, Firestick, and other streaming platforms. These sometimes have special deals and make it really easy to view sports on your widescreen TV, regardless of who you are buying the sports content from.


Reduce Equipment Fees

One of the biggest hidden costs on Spectrum plans is the router fee.

When you sign up for Spectrum, they offer you a “free modem.” This is true… but a bit misleading.

The modem only “translates” your internet connection for your home devices. You need a WiFi router in order to connect wirelessly.

The catch: the WiFi router usually costs money to lease from Spectrum, currently around $10/month on most plans.

So, the equipment is “free” with Spectrum — but only if you don’t mind only using the internet from one device, plugged into the modem with an ethernet cable (like in the nineties).

Obviously, this is a no-go for virtually everyone.

customer-owned router.
Spectrum charges around $10/month for the WiFi router on basic internet plans. You can recoup this fee by purchasing your own router — as a bonus, your own router will likely provide better WiFi reach than the devices they provide.

The solution is to buy your own router. In fact, I’d recommend buying your own modem as well, so you can control the whole setup and take it with you if you move. But you can certainly use their “free” modem to save an extra $40 or so. Spectrum maintains a page of modems that they are compatible with.

Aside from increasing your internet performance, using your own router will save you $120/year on Spectrum internet. Considering that a decent modem and router will only cost you $100 or so, that’s a savings of $620 over just five years.

Exception: Spectrum’s “Gig” internet plan includes the WiFi router free, in addition to the modem. This is sometimes true for the middle plan tier as well, though you may need to ask about it when signing up in person.

I’ll be updating this article in the near future with a full guide to swapping out your own router with Spectrum.


Qualify as a new customer

Quick Tip

If you cancel your Spectrum service for 30 days or more, you should be able to sign up again for a new customer rate with the same account login, address, name, and phone number.

If all of the above fails you, another way to get the new customer rate is to take advantage of loopholes in the Spectrum corporate process that allow you to become “a new customer” again.

There are four ways to do this:

1. Sign up under a spouse or roommates name.

This is the simplest approach, and is sometimes even recommended by Spectrum agents if you go to one of their store locations.

All you have to do is cancel service, then have your spouse/roommate call and sign up under their name, phone number, and email.

If you lease Spectrum’s modem/router, you’ll need to return this first. If you use your own, you’ll just need to act like it was “left by previous tenant” when you call to give the MAC address on the back of the modem (this is how they activate new service if you have your own modem).

disguise
If Spectrum thinks you're a new customer... you can get a "new customer" promotion for an extra 12 months.

2. Sign up with a new phone number and email address through a reseller.

Spectrum may notice you have the same name if you attempt to sign up with them directly at the same address. However, if you go through one of their many “authorized resellers,” you’ll get the same promo rate as signing up with Spectrum directly — but it’ll be harder for them to cancel the order or notice that you’re an existing customer.

The catch is that you must use a new phone number and email address. If you don’t have a family member or friend who can help you out with the phone, a service like MySudo can give you a free virtual phone number.

Getting a second email is easy — just make a new account with Google, Yahoo, or the email provider of your choice.

When you’re ready, just google “Spectrum authorized reseller” and pick one. You’ll recognize them because there will be text saying “authorize reseller” under the Spectrum logo on their web pages. All you have to do is cancel your existing service, then call the reseller.

3. Claim account issues in a Spectrum store.

If you’re having issues with any of the above, or have already exhausted them by claiming a promo rate for many years in a row, another method that works is to create issues with your online account that force them to create a new one for you.

Again, resellers are a good way to do this. If you submit multiple orders through resellers under your existing name and email, it will likely cause an issue with your account. Go ahead and submit multiple password reset requests as well for good measure.

Then, go into the Spectrum store and claim that you had been trying to switch service, but changed your mind and want to go back to Spectrum. The problem is that your account has locked you out now, and the reset isn’t in your spam folder.

After this complicated story, ask the agent in the store if they can create a new account tied to your phone number instead of your email. I’ve personally been able to unlock a new account and extra 12 months of promotional rate service by using this trick. (Your mileage may vary, it depends on the mood of the store employee.)

4. Cancel and wait 30 days.

Finally, an inconvenient method of getting a new customer rate is to cancel for 30 days. After that, they consider you a new customer and you can sign up for the promo rate in a Spectrum store or via phone.

If you can survive on a hotspot or mobile tethering for a month, this is probably the simplest method.

Spectrum install van.
Spectrum can be installed without calling in a technician if your building or unit had service recently. This can make it relatively painless to cancel and sign up again at a later date.

Qualify for a low-income subsidy

Finally, Spectrum has low-income plan options. I don’t recommend these because they have dramatically reduced speeds compared to their normal service.

Here are the basic plan details for their subsidy plan:

Plan NameSpeed Down/UpMonthly PriceWiFi Fee
Spectrum Internet Assist30/4 Mbps$17.99/mo $5/mo

How to Qualify for Spectrum's Low-Income Plan

You are supposed to only be able to get Spectrum "Internet Assist" plans if you already participate in one of the following public assistance programs:

  • National School Lunch Program
  • Community Eligibility Provision of the NSLP
  • Supplemental Security Income (must be 65+)

However, there is a bit of a loophole for qualifying that still works for some locations in 2020. In 2016, Spectrum merged with Time Warner Cable and Brighthouse Networks, two other large cable providers in the US. This merger was a bit controversial at the time, as watchdogs viewed it as anti-competative for the broadband market.

As a result, Spectrum agreed to a variety of terms in order to get the merger approved by the FCC: 1

  1. Provide data-cap-free service.
  2. Expand high-speed broadband to 2 Million new locations.
  3. Provide subsidized plans to qualifying households.

Because the qualification is tied to the user address rather than the user’s name or account, future residents of the same building can often call and sign up for the Assist program… even if they have a high income, or don’t participate in the required programs.

To check if this applies to your location, you can just call Spectrum directly and ask if your address still qualifies for the Assist plan. It’s not likely, but some readers have reported this still happening in 2020. If it works, you get decent 30 Mbps internet for only $17.99/month. However, since three years have passed since the merger terms, this price is no longer protected by the strict limits that originally applied.


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Reader Success Stories

Did these tips help you negotiate a lower rate with Spectrum? If so, please drop a line and let me know so I can share your story with future readers.

Share your story

Here are current success stories shared by our readers:

Wanted to share my experience trying the negotiation route. I called their direct line (866.892.0019) and the first rep said “hell no.” So I asked for a manager like you recommended. The manager said the same thing. So, I said fine, let’s cancel my service. Bam: retention transfer. The lady in retention said no problem at all, we can adjust the bill back to $50. (I was paying close to $70!!!) She was super nice and I’ll definitely do the same next year. Thanks for the tips!
Dan W., 2020
Hey, read your article five times before making my call. Thanks for all the tips... I got my bill for TV/cable and internet down to $99.55, it actually only took one call. I was paying $172 before. They put me on a plan that just has my favorite channels and some local stuff I wanted.
Jimmy A., 2020
I didn’t expect much calling but the agent actually helped me get a $30 deal for internet and phone without extra costs on top. They said if you can prove SSI it’s not problem. I was calling for my mom. She’s using Netflix and 20mb internet now and very happy to save the $60 per month she was paying!
John R., 2020
So, we’re snowbirds and obviously this is a “pain in the b**” for internet service. I called to complain and just got the regular schpeel about our promo price being out of date. They charge us $15 per month for seasonal hold which I think is crazy, but whatever. Comcast at our other home is even worse. Finally got through to retention after two calls this morning and they gave us a $65.99 price (was $69.99 before). Not sure if that’s worth the time but wanted to share our experience.
Dan & Angela., 2020

  1. https://transition.fcc.gov/Daily_Releases/Daily_Business/2016/db0510/FCC-16-59A1.pdf 

Page Summary
  • 12 months is the longest a new customer can get promotional rates from Spectrum.
  • $10–30 per month is the highest amount most customers are able to remove from the bill by making their case to the Spectrum retention department.
  • Deals for existing customers are mostly TV bundles in disguise. Try to avoid signing up for whatever "promotion" a Spectrum employee pushes on you, assuming it involves adding services to your account rather than removing them.

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Last Update: September 17, 2020
Published: May 29, 2020
CC BY-ND 4.0

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