The average cable bill is now over $100 a month, and at the rate it’s climbing, it’s set to cost $140 each month by 2020 just to have cable TV. It’s insane. And here’s the really crazy part — a huge chunk of the typical cable bill is made up of various hidden fees the providers tack on to get more money out of their subscribers.
Seriously, have you actually looked at your cable bill lately? Did you realize you are spending hundreds on hidden fees annually? Can you imagine what you could do with all that money? It’s absurd.
Here are 13 of the top hidden costs that can show up in an average cable and some ideas of what you could buy with the savings.
Monthly Fees in the Average Cable Bill
1) Equipment Fees— Many companies force you to lease their equipment for a small monthly fee. Problem is, these fees add up quick. DVR, cable boxes, modems…you get the picture. And if that’s not bad enough, cable companies have been caught overbilling customers for this equipment and not making any effort to provide refunds for their mistakes. From January to April 2016 alone, Time Warner Cable overbilled its customers by $639,948, while Charter overcharged its subscribers nearly $450,000 a month for equipment fees. It’s all just another way to tack extra fees onto your bill.
Cost range: $8-20 per month or $96-$240 per year
What you could buy with the savings: A great pair of running shoes to start a healthy lifestyle
2) HD Technology fees–Want HD? Don’t count on getting it for free. For example, at the time of writing this article, AT&T is charging a $10 a month “HD Tech Fee” for their U-verse HD Technology. Don’t want to pay it? You’re stuck with low quality standard definition television.
Cost range: $10 per month or $120 per year
What you could buy with the savings: A couple’s massage and a night at the movies
3) Broadcast TV surcharge–Want to watch your local channels like ABC, CBS, and NBC? You’ll have to pay for it. And the worst part is broadcast TV fees charged by cable companies get higher every year. In 2017, Comcast is increasing its broadcast TV fee from $5 to $7 each month. Keep in mind, you can get your own digital antenna and watch these same broadcast TV channels for free. But the average cable bill has you paying for it.
Cost range: $7+ per month or $84+ per year
What you could buy with the savings: Mohu Leaf Paper – Thin Indoor HDTV Antenna so you can get those broadcast channels for FREE
4) Regulatory video cost recovery charge–“What the heck is this?” I know, that’s what I’m saying too. Turns out, the FCC put a new charge on cable operators a while back, and some companies decided to pass it on to the consumer…except they actually end up profiting from the hiked up charge. Crooked.
Cost range: $1-$2 per month or $12-$24 per year
What you could buy with the savings: A slow cooker (my meal savior)
5) State and local fees–These fees vary by location. But rest assured, they’re there.
Cost range: $10-$15 per month or $120-$180 per year
What you could buy with the savings: Dental insurance…a healthy body begins with healthy teeth!
6) Disappearing bundle discounts–You may forget that you got that “great” price on your bundle, because you are getting one of those services “free” for a limited time. That’s how they rope you in. But then you’re stuck, the promotional prices expire, and you’re bill skyrockets.
Cost range: $25-$75 per month or $300-$800 per year
What you could buy with the savings: Investing $75 per month, at 7% interest, over the course of 20 years will get you…wait for it…$39,478.68!!! That can make a nice dent into college expenses, a home down payment, major debt reduction…you get the picture!
One-Time Fees in the Average Cable Bill
7) Installation fee–When you first get your cable installed, you’re probably going to have to pay to have a technician come out and install it. Even if all the wiring is already done and they just have to plug things in.
Cost range: $50-100 per installation
What you could buy with the savings: Concert tickets to see your favorite band
8) Activation fee–Activating new service? Make sure you don’t get dinged for it. And if you don’t get everything together at the same time, you may end up with multiple activation fees. You’d think this would all be part of the installation fee. Isn’t it activated when they install?
Cost range: $25-50 per activation
What you could buy with the savings: Cards Against Humanity game (and hours of laughs)
9) Service Call fee— So their crappy service doesn’t work, but then they try to stick you with a service call fee to come fix it. Granted, they will typically waive the fee if it’s “our equipment’s fault,” but do you trust them?
Cost range: $50-100 per service call
What you could buy with the savings: The first few months of sponsoring an underprivileged child
10) Upgrade fees–Not getting exactly what you want with the basic cable package? Time to upgrade! Also time to watch the fees pile up and wonder why you’re practically paying a new car payment.
Cost range: $50-100 per upgrade
What you could buy with the savings: A year of Amazon Prime11) Convenience Fee–Need to make a one-time payment over the phone? Well that is such hard work for the customer service rep that they need to charge you a fee to handle it.
Cost range: $5-10 per payment
What you could buy with the savings: A large cappuccino at your favorite cafe.
12) Late fees–Forget to change your credit card information? Or maybe it just slipped your mind to pay altogether? Don’t count on getting any mercy.
Cost range: $25-$50 per late period
What you could buy with that money: More girl scout cookies than you could possibly need
13) Cancellation fees–Sick of all the fees and ready to cancel? Oh, there are fees for that too. BIG FEES. Expect to pay anywhere between $100-200. Just to wash your hands of them.
Cost range: $150-$250 per cancellation
What you could buy with the savings: My entire cord cutter setup
There you have it. 13 fees tacked on to the average cable bill. Compare this to yours. Can you find them?
The Average Cable Bill Doesn’t Have to Be Your Reality
I don’t know about you, but I got tired of looking at all those fees in my cable bill. So finally, I tore it up and said “NO MORE!” You can too, and I’ll walk you through the entire process. Just check out my step-by-step guide.