Should you buy or rent a modem?

Getting new internet service can be a bit of a hassle. Not only do you have to schedule tech support appointments to install your service, but you also have to figure out where you're going to put your modem and possibly a router if the modem doesn't have one in it. Of course, there are other things to worry about, too.

One of the biggest questions you might ask yourself, especially if you're trying to cut down on the monthly cost of your internet, is whether you should buy or rent a modem. Unfortunately, the answer isn't always clear-cut. Ultimately, choosing whether you should buy or rent a modem comes down to several things.

The benefits of buying your modem

If you want to buy a modem, there are several benefits to look forward to. First, you'll cut down the cost of your monthly internet bill. When you rent a modem, the internet service provider (ISP) charges you a flat fee each month to rent the device. This ultimately costs more than just outright buying one, so you'll be saving money in the long run.

Secondly, it will give you complete control over what kind of modem you purchase. Not all modems are created equal (via Router-Switch). Some models offer a built-in Wi-Fi router — these are often called gateways — while others require being paired with a router to transmit wireless internet throughout your home. Being able to pick and choose your modem will give you access to options and features that your ISP might not offer on rentals. You'll also find that some modems support different internet speeds, so make sure you buy one that fits the service you plan on paying for.

ISPs typically charge around $10 to $15 for a modem each month, so if you rent one, you'll end up paying over $200 over the course of a couple of years. When you consider that some modems can be purchased for under $150, the savings really become more apparent. Of course, there are a few other things to take into account when deciding to buy a modem, and we'll touch on those shortly.

The benefits of renting a modem

Just like buying a modem, renting one has its own benefits, too. For one, you won't have to worry about replacing it if the modem goes out at any point during your tenure with your ISP. Because you're renting from the company, you simply exchange the router for another one without any upfront costs. Additionally, you won't have to worry about running tech support on your own modem. Part of the point of renting the device from the ISP is that they know how to troubleshoot their modems. As such, they can set everything up, send out a tech if needed, and get everything working the way it's meant to.

Renting is also great if you have a temporary living situation. Because different ISPs serve different areas, if you move around a lot, renting a modem from your ISP will allow you to turn the modem in without having to worry about whether it works with the ISP at the new place you're moving to. It's also handy if you're living with roommates, as you can split the bill entirely so that nobody has to eat the upfront costs of buying a modem outright.

Should you buy or rent your next modem?

Now that you know the benefits of renting and buying a modem, let's tackle the big question: should you buy or rent a modem? Ultimately, the answer lies in what you want to deal with. If you'd rather provide your own tech support – and you're comfortable doing so – then buying a modem can be a great way to cut monthly costs and wield more control over the tech used in your home network. You'll also need to check with your ISP to see what kind of modems are compatible, as not all internet connections support every modem out there.

If you aren't very comfortable providing your own tech support, though, we'd highly recommend renting, as you can always fall back on the ISP to do most of the legwork of troubleshooting any issues that crop up. There are also monetary implications to consider, as well. If you don't mind spending a little more over the course of a few years, renting isn't a bad bet, especially for the benefits it grants you.