Buying vs Renting Your Modem & Router

Whatever you should buy or rent depends on a couple of factors. You will, however, nearly always save money on buying your internet hardware, but it will come with some drawbacks.
Buying vs Renting Your Modem & Router

As a network engineer, I often get the question from friends whatever or not they should buy or rent their router and modem.

I always say it’s generally better to buy, but not for everyone. Thus, I put together this overview so you can choose the best option for you.

Pros And Cons of Renting

Here are the pros and cons of renting your modem and router.

Pros

  • Free tech support
  • They set it up for you
  • Free replacement if it breaks or gets outdated

Cons

  • Costs more in the long term
  • Lower-quality router/modem

Pros And Cons of Buying

Here are the pros and cons of buying your modem and router.

Pros

  • Cheaper in the long run
  • Can get a better router/modem

Cons

  • An upfront cost of $100 to $250
  • Tech support not guaranteed (depends on your warranty)
  • You must install it

How Much Money You Save

When you buy your internet plan from an internet service provider (ISP) they will offer to rent you their router and modem (or gateway).

This adds between $8 to $15 to your monthly internet bill. A new modem and router (or gateway) cost around $100 to $250. [1]

If you buy a modem and router for $100 and before paid $15/month in renting fees, you would be saving money after seven months.

If you, however, want better devices, and pay $250 for them, and also has a lower monthly fee of only $8. Then it would take you 32 months to start saving money.

But you would get much better devices during this time than what you would have gotten otherwise. I recommend calculating this for yourself and see how fast you are saving money.

Whats Should You Do

Depending on your situation there are a couple of things to consider when choosing to buy vs rent. Because some of the cons listed above won’t be cons for everybody.

For example, if you are tech-savvy, the con “you must install it” won’t be a con for you. But for the person who knows next to nothing about tech, it might be a dealbreaker.

Therefore, I have some things you should ask yourself before making your choice.

Are you planning on moving or change ISP soon?

If you are planning on moving or change your ISP anytime soon it might be better to rent. Because if you buy a modem/gateway and then moves a couple of months later you might need to change your ISP.

And different ISP uses different types of modems, so you might need to buy a new one. The same applies if you don’t move and only change ISP.

Are you tech-savvy?

If you are good with tech, installing the hardware won’t be a problem and neither will simple troubleshooting, which is enough to fix most problems.

And with tech-savvy, I don’t mean anything insane.  Only to understand basic things about technologies and how to use them.

Do you have a problem with a slow and weak Wi-Fi signal?

If you now have problems that your Wi-Fi signal doesn’t reach all over the home, which often is the case for larger homes, it might better to buy a new device. Because the router/modem you get from your ISP is not the best.

Is a couple of hours of your time worth the money you save?

The last thing to consider is if you think it’s worth it. Because It will most likely take you a couple of hours to change.

It could even take more than that if you get problems with something. Therefore, you must decide whatever it’s worth the money you are saving.

Modem, Router & Gateway

There are two types of internet hardware that are responsible to provide your home with the internet. These are the modem and the router.

Now if you know that you only have one device, then you have something called a gateway. Which are a modem and a router built into one device.

Most of the time if you rent from your ISP you will have a gateway. Thought, some ISP have them separately, giving you one modem and one router. [2]

If you decide to buy your internet hardware you must decide for whatever you will buy a gateway, or a modem and a router separately. If you want further information about the pros and cons of each one you can find it in my router vs modem article.

Things to Consider If You Buy a Modem & Router

If you decide to buy a router and a modem there is a couple of things that you should consider.

First, consider the speed of your internet plan. Then make sure that the device is capable of delivering those speeds.

Because otherwise, you will create a bottleneck for your internet. Then no matter how much you upgrade your internet plan, your internet speed will stay the same. [3]

Furthermore, you must make sure that the modem is compatible with your ISP. Because all modems are not approved by all ISP. If you buy the wrong modem it will not work with your internet.

Next, you must consider how powerful a router you need. If you have a big home with thick walls you need a better router than if you live in a small apartment. More expensive routers have generally a stronger signal.

If you want help choosing, check out these:

There you will find the best performer, best budget offer, my pick, and best gateway. For both routers and modems.

What to Consider If You Buy a Gateway

If you want to buy a gateway you need to consider the same things as if you would buy a modem and router separately.

Which is how strong off a Wi-Fi signal you need and to make sure it is compatible with your ISP. I recommend checking out the guides link above, which both mention a good gateway for each ISP.

Bottom Line

In most cases it is better to buy your modem and router, the pros simply outweigh the cons most often.

There is a reason the ISP’s are so eager to rent out their devices, they make a killing from it. In the end, however, it’s all up to you if you want to buy or rent.

For more guides on topics such as this check out our Home Networks Guides.

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