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Should I Bundle My Services?

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Is the bundling of household services like internet, phone and television with a single provider a good idea? The answer is a definite "maybe". The simplest approach would be to add up your monthly bills for these three services and compare it to a phone or cable company "triple play" bundle that closely mirrors what you currently have individually. If the bundle is cheaper, you can sign up and save some money.

However, if you are making the effort to research bundles, we think it is worth spending a little more time to answer two related questions:

Do I currently have the right levels of each service?

For home phone service, it might be a good time to think about whether you still need landline service at all. If you have reliable cell service that you are using for most of your calling and if don't need the security of landline as a back-up, it will probably make more economic sense to just ditch the landline rather than including that as a component of a bundle. The savings associated with giving up your home phone will exceed the savings associated with bundling all your services.

For television, are you paying for channels you don't use or, conversely, are there channels you'd like to have but don't yet subscribe? The cable and satellite companies don't give us complete control over what basic programming channels we get, although there are usually multiple tiers from which you can choose, along with decisions about whether to take premium networks like HBO.

For high speed internet access, pricing usually varies by download speed. If you use the internet primarily for activities like checking email and surfing web pages (as opposed to downloading large files or gaming), you might be paying for speed you don't need.

Once you figure out what you need from each service individually, we'd suggest finding the single service packages that best match your specific needs. If this 'personal bundle' adds up to less than what you are currently paying, then you know you can save even before thinking about a bundle offered by a phone or cable company.

Once I determine the right levels of each service, is there a bundle out there that gives them to me less expensively than buying them individually?

Now that we know what we'd pay individually to get all the services we need, the final step is to see if we can save even more money by bundling them with a single provider. Look for bundles combining all three services that are cheaper than the cost of your 'personal bundle', keeping in mind that the price of the bundle might be higher after an introductory period. If you find one that matches (or exceeds) the service levels of your 'personal bundle', then you might be a good candidate for bundling. If you can't locate any triple play bundles that meet your criteria, most providers also let you combine two services (e.g.; internet and TV).

While price is important, there are other pros and cons to bundling services.