Cable Modems: Should You Buy or Lease?


If you have cable internet service, odds are you lease a cable modem every single month without realizing it. That’s because most cable internet providers automatically install one of their modems during the standard installation process, then tack on an extra fee to your monthly bill. It’s kind of a sneaky practice, and it costs you an extra $4 to $10 per month (that’s $48-$120 per year!).
Cable Modems: Buy or Lease

Here’s what most consumers don’t know: you can buy your own cable modem for $50 to $100 and avoid paying that lease fee to your provider.

In most cases, you’ll break even on your modem investment in under a year. Every year after that is just extra savings!

So what do you need to know before buying a modem?

Pick the Right Modem

Cable Modems - Buy or Lease?

There are lots of modem brands and models available. If you buy the wrong modem, it may not work with your internet service. If you buy an older modem, you may not get the full internet speeds you’re paying for.

Luckily, most internet providers have a list of approved modems on their websites. For example, here is Comcast’s list:

Still not sure if you’re buying the right modem? Call your internet provider and ask them.

Modems Don’t Always Transfer Between Providers

Cable Modems - Buy or Lease?

Sadly, the modem you used with one provider won’t always work with another. I experienced this when I moved from DC to Wisconsin. I had recently purchased a brand new modem for my Comcast service in DC. When I moved to Wisconsin, I switched to Time Warner Cable. My brand new modem was now useless!

If that happens to you, I would recommend selling your old modem to help offset the cost of the new one.

More than likely, you’ll still save money by owning your own modem instead of leasing.

Servicing Your Modem

Cable Modems - Buy or Lease?

There are pros and cons to any decision. With buying your own cable modem, the biggest con I’ve found is that your cable internet provider won’t service it.

If something breaks, you’re on your own. Most new modems are covered under a factory warranty, and the manufacturer often has troubleshooting tips on their website. If you consider yourself tech savvy, you can probably solve any minor issue that crops up.

In my personal experience, I’ve had zero issues with my own modems. Plus, I don’t see that nasty $7 charge on my bill every month!

Still Not Sold on Buying Your Own Modem?

Cable Modems - Buy or Lease?

Consider this – most internet providers raise their modem lease fees every couple of years. Worst of all, they usually don’t replace your old modem with a new, upgraded version. You pay all the additional costs with no benefits.

Stop the madness. Buy your own modem and start saving today.

Author: David

David is a University of Memphis graduate (Go Tigers!) who loves eCommerce, real estate, and tech toys. He recently moved to Milwaukee, WI where he lives with his fiancée, newborn son, and two dogs. When he isn’t shopping for great deals on, he is waiving a Terrible Towel and hoping for the next Steelers Super Bowl victory.

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