To the average consumer, the term “low cost cable TV” is seemingly a thing of the past. Cable providers tend to boast about their low prices, but you know as well as anyone else that these attractive deals tend to creep up as soon as their introductory periods end.

Even though cable companies are using various strategies to squeeze as much money as possible from their consumers, you don’t have to fall victim as well. You can still enjoy a low cost, versatile TV package without paying an arm and a leg each month. Keep in mind that while some providers are very open about disclosing their plan details up front, others are a bit more deceptive and illusory in their practices.

With this guide, you’ll find out about the best cable TV deals offered from the top providers. You’ll also gain a better understand of how cable TV packages tend to work so you can make the best overall choice when comparing deals.

TWC (Time Warner Cable)

Often time, Time Warner Cable is the go-to solution for people who are interested in saving money because they offer a wide range of extremely affordable options. Ranging from entry level packages all the way up to comprehensive solutions, Time Warner offers a plan to meet most any set of needs. Specifically, their entry level plan begins at roughly $20 per month, and it includes approximately 20 channels. Among these channels are local programs and weather broadcasting.

If you find you want a little more than the bare minimum, you can choose the 70+ channel package (also known as the Standard TV Package). This package comes in at roughly $49.99 per month for the first 12 months of service. Their Preferred TV Package is a rank up from the Standard TV Package, offering up over 200 channels for $59.99 per month for the first 12 months of service. The Preferred TV package comes with access to over 15,000 titles in its On Demand service. However, the On Demand selection typically depends on location.

Always keep in mind that Time Warner tends to bump plan pricing up after its 12-month introductory period ends with new customers. Likewise, be aware of the costs associated with your DVR device selection. Time Warner tends to slap hefty rental prices on their more expensive equipment. This can and does equate to a higher bill each month.

AT&T U-Verse

AT&T is practically the only provider that offers an affordable solution that is powered by fiber optic technology. Their rates are often affixed to 12 month agreements, and they generally want their consumers to hold other qualifying subscriptions with them to benefit from their discounted rates. They also disclose their additional fees upfront.

In a nutshell, their plans can become a bit pricey depending on package setup, but many people choose them for their fiber optic connection. Their most affordable plan (the U-Family Package) starts out at approximately $50 per month, and it includes up to 140 channels, including local and music stations, and DVR technology. The most costly plan of theirs, the U450, includes a maximum of 470 channels, premium music and sports packages, HD options, DVR technology, and local/music stations. There are two other packages available as well, starting out at $70 and $75 per month with their own perks.

The true bargains offered by U-Verse are found in their entry-mid level packages. The U-Verse introductory period tends to last roughly six months, so you can expect price hikes after the first 180 days of service. Their fiber optic technology offers crystal clear reception in most cases, and if this technology is bundled with an internet package, you can expect impressive data speeds online as well. If U-Verse is offered in your geographic location, it’s certainly worth a look.

Comcast XFINITY

Comcast XFINITY is one of the most affordable picks for consumers because it services 40 out of 50 states in the U.S. XFINITY is a wise choice if you retain your options to the low-mid range packages.

For those looking for a bare bones solution, you can choose the Digital Economy Package. This plan includes 45+ channels, as well as access to the XFINITY TV Go App. This plan starts at around $19.99 per month for the first 12 months of service. Beyond that, you can choose the Digital Starter package which is loaded with 140+ channels, Streampix access, sports coverage, and access to the XFINITY TV Go App. This plan starts at $49.99 per month for the first 12 months of service. The HD Preferred package is also a viable pick if you have multiple people in your household. The only difference between the HD Preferred package and the Digital Starter package is that the former has 220+ channels, up from 140+.

If you plan on subscribing to a Comcast XFINITY package, be wary of the terms and conditions of their agreements. While they offer attractive pricing and options, their plan terms can often be rather deceptive and misleading. Always stay aware of each item included on each bill, and at all times, keep your introductory period in mind.

Cablevision (Optimum)

Gaining ground in the cable provider industry is the newer “Optimum” solution offered by Cablevision. Affordable packages offered by Optimum tend to range from roughly $40 per month to $70 per month. Their entry level plan is a bit pricier than those of its competitors, but their mid-high range package packages are where the value truly lies.

Once Optimum’s introductory period comes to a close, prices will generally increase somewhat. At that point, if you’re subscribing to one of their higher packages, it might be wise to move on to a more affordable provider. Because Optimum is still a relatively new service, it currently only covers 8 states, and therefore, it might not be an available option for many consumers.

However, their services are rather unmatched. For example, Optimum offers certain DVR devices that can simultaneously record four titles at the same time. For households with multiple people, this can be quite an attractive feature. Likewise, Optimum does not operate a credit check on new customers, and this can be helpful for those who have less than perfect credit histories or those who lack any credit at all.

Overall, it’s a good idea to always fully understand the terms of the cable package you inevitably choose. Likewise, if you don’t like your new rate after your introductory period ends with your preferred package, don’t be afraid to switch to a new provider that offers better terms. Many people maintain affordable cable service by merely hopping around from provider to provider and taking advantage of the best deals at that current time.

Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to check into other packages offered by the same company if rates are too high after the introductory period ends. As the old saying goes, “It pays to shop around.” After all, staying ahead of the providers and keeping in tune with their pricing strategies will always help to keep your cable bill low and manageable.