Do I Have to Rent My Router? What You Can Do Instead

Do I Have to Rent My Router title picture

When a contract for an internet plan is established with an internet service provider (ISP), the ISP usually provides you with a router as part of the service.

After a contract is signed, the internet provider sends a technician to your house to activate your internet plan and set up the router for you.

Chances are, you won’t think twice about this interaction.

What you might not realize is that you’re renting (and paying for) the router that the technician set up for you in your home.

The question is, does it have to be this way? Do you have to rent your router from your ISP, or are there other options?

The router in a home network does not have to be rented from an internet service provider. As an alternative, a router can be purchased and used in a home network instead of renting a router from the ISP.

In this post, I’ll detail all your options when it comes to the router in your home network. I’ll also talk about why there might be better options instead of renting your router from your ISP.

Can You Buy a Router Instead of Renting?

When it comes to setting up your home network, you have more options than you think.

For many people, it’s convenient to have a technician from their ISP come to their home and set up a router for them.

That way, they have a working internet connection when the technician leaves. They don’t have to worry about configuring anything.

In these scenarios, the routers that’re set up by the technician are owned and managed by the ISP. For the convenience of not having to set up or manage the device, an additional monthly fee is added to the internet plan for the rental of the router

Although this may be the most convenient option for establishing a home network, it’s not the only option.

Rather than renting a router from your ISP, you can provide your own.

In other words, you have the option of buying the home networking equipment that will give you a connection to the internet.

You’ll still have to purchase a monthly internet plan from your ISP, but you’ll be in control of everything else in your home network.

What Is the Point of Buying Your Own Router?

So why would you buy your own router instead of renting one in the first place? Are there any benefits to buying your own router instead of renting one from your ISP?

The answer here is yes.

There can most certainly be benefits to using your own router in your home network. It all depends upon what you’re looking for out of your internet experience.

As you’ll see, there are tradeoffs that you need to consider when making this decision.

Let’s take a closer look at a few different aspects you should think about.

You Can Save Money in the Long Run by Buying Your Own Router

The most obvious factor when buying your own router is the financial impact of the decision.

As I mentioned previously, if you rent a router from your ISP, you’ll have to pay a monthly fee.

Depending upon your internet provider, this can add up in the long run.

For example, some internet providers charge $10 a month (or more) for renting a router from them.

For example, when I was renting my home network devices from my ISP they were charging me $14 per month:

ISP Modem Rental Fee from internet bill
My internet service provider charged me $14 per month to rent home networking equipment from them

Think about what that means over the course of a year.

That means every year, I was paying $168 just to use my internet provider’s equipment.

After a few years, I’m sure you can see how these fees add up.

This is where there’s tremendous value in purchasing your own router.

As a side note, the equipment that you rent from an ISP is actually a modem router combination device. A modem and router combination device is essentially a device that functions as both the modem and router in your home network.

modem router combo example
An example of a modem router combination device rented from an ISP

If you’re not familiar with what modem router combo devices are and you’d like to get a better understanding of them, check out the previous article I’ve written that breaks down these devices.

You may be wondering why I’m mentioning this, but the context is actually important when considering the finances of buying your own equipment.

Rather than renting a modem and router combination device from your ISP, you could buy your own modem and router combo and use that in your home network.

Approximately how much would that cost?

As an example, a top-of-the-line modem and router combination device is the Netgear Nighthawk CAX30S. This modem is one of the highest performing modem router combination devices you can buy, and at the time of this writing it costs about $350.

Even if you bought a standalone modem and router (which you’ll find out more about in the next section), you’d be able to find a high performing pair for less than $350.

This means that if you rented your modem and router from your ISP for more than two years, you’d be spending more than if you bought a Netgear Nighthawk CAX30S.

Adding insult to injury, you can definitely find a high-performing modem and router combo that fits your internet needs for much less.

Most people plan on using the internet for the foreseeable future, and buying your own home networking equipment instead of renting from you ISP will save you money in the long run.

Buying a Router Is More Customizable Than Renting From an ISP

Another aspect to consider when deciding if you want to buy your own equipment is how much you want to customize your home network.

When you rent from an ISP, your ISP still owns the equipment.

This means they’re responsible for the configuration and updating of the device.

In other words, your ability to make changes to the device and customize your internet experience is limited.

For some people, that’s more than ok. They aren’t technical people and they just want the internet to work in their home.

If this sounds like your mentality, you might consider renting from your ISP instead of buying your own equipment.

On the other hand, modem and router combination devices are very easy devices to set up and configure, so you could save money and have a more customizable internet experience by buying your own device.

For those that want to get the most out of their internet plan, you have the option of buying a standalone modem and router for your network.

Standalone modem and router
An example of a modem (right) and router (left) as standalone devices

When you buy a modem and router that’re separate devices, you have the unrestricted ability to customize your home network. You’re responsible for setting up, configuring, and making sure the devices get updated.

With the ability to customize your network, you’ll be able to tailor it to the unique needs of the internet users in your home. This usually results in better internet performance compared to what you get when you rent equipment from your ISP.

Which leads me to my next point…

Buying Your Own Internet Equipment Can Result in a Better Internet Experience

The last major thing to think about when deciding if you want to rent or buy your home networking equipment is what kind of internet experience you want.

If you rent your equipment from an ISP, you’ll have a working internet connection that’ll hopefully meet your needs.

If you buy your own equipment, you can maximize your internet plan and ensure you’re getting the performance you want.

This has to do with the equipment you’re using in your home network.

When you rent a modem and router combination device from your ISP, it’s not usually top-of-the-line equipment.

Think of it like a rental car.

Rental cars usually aren’t brand new cars when you rent them. On top of that, they might not always be in the best shape.

It’ll get the job done, but it probably won’t be exactly what you want.

The same goes for a rented modem and router combination device.

When you rent equipment from your ISP, you don’t have any choices. They assign you a device to be installed in your home.

They’re usually older devices, and they’re certainly not tailored to your individual internet plan and needs.

As a result, you’ll be able to access the internet, but you probably won’t be maximizing your internet speed.

When you buy your own equipment, however, it’s a different story.

You can buy a modem and router that’re designed for your internet plan. On top of that, your purchased equipment will offer more features and be much more customizable than a rented device.

With purchased home network equipment, you know you’re getting the most out of your internet plan. With rented equipment, you’re just hoping it doesn’t cause you any problems.

Although it takes a little bit more effort to set up purchased equipment, the improved internet experience is well worth it (in my opinion).

Wrap Up

When it comes to your home networking equipment, you have the freedom of choice.

Rather than paying monthly to rent your internet equipment, you have the ability to save money and improve your internet performance by buying your own.

If you have any questions about this information, or you’d like to share your experience with making the decision between renting and buying a modem and router, please leave a comment below.

For more information about similar topics, check out these other posts I’ve previously written:

What is a Modem Router Combo?

Do Routers Need to Be Updated? What You Should Be Aware Of

What Does a Router Look Like? How to Identify Your Device

How Does a Router Connect to the Internet? The Basics

What Speed Can My Router Handle? What You Need to Look At

Ross Ricky

Ross Ricky is an engineer and cybersecurity professional who wants nothing more than for you to get the most out of your home network.

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