Whether you’re buying a new car or just signing up for an internet provider, extra fees and conditions can leave you feeling like you’re not getting the best deal. But rather than haggle, you might feel as if it’s easier to just go ahead and pay the asking price.
If you’re willing to invest some time and effort into negotiations, however, you can score a better deal. And you won’t have to resort to hardline tactics. Instead, there are non-confrontational ways to open negotiations for better prices on everything from bank account fees to medical bills, so you can keep more of your money in your pocket.
Last updated: Sept. 6, 2019
Whether you’re looking for a new place or trying to avoid a rent increase in your current place, you can always try to negotiate. Before meeting with your landlord, research the rental market in your area to see if the proposed rent price is in line with the going rate. If not, you can use the information as a negotiating point.
If the rent does align with the market, try to negotiate in other ways. Start off by mentioning the advantages of having you as a tenant, such as you always pay on time, you keep your apartment in tip-top shape and you get along well with other tenants. You can also offer to sign a longer lease — of up to two years — for a locked-in rental rate. Finally, offer to compromise if nothing else works. If the rent is increasing by $80, offer to pay half of the increase or $40.
If you live in an area where several different gyms compete for business, research the prices and special perks in order to use them as leverage for either getting a discount at your current gym or taking your business elsewhere. When you approach the manager, mention why you like being a member of the gym first. Then, mention how other clubs in the area charge less or offer additional perks for the same price. Politely ask if you can get a discount on your membership. If not, you can always go to a competing gym and see what it will offer you to gain your business.
Sometimes the prescriptions doctors write end up being for medications priced way out of your budget. Instead of sabotaging your finances or going without, call your doctor. Tell him you cannot afford the prescription price and ask for other options. The doctor might be able to prescribe a cheaper alternative or give you some free samples to help you out. If that doesn’t work, contact the drug manufacturer and take the same approach.
Bank Account Fees
Depending on the financial institution you use, you might be able to negotiate or avoid paying costs, such as monthly maintenance fees or overdraft fees. If an overdraft fee was due to a one-time oversight, call your bank and ask if it can be waived.
Although it can be difficult to find accounts that have no fees attached, credit unions and online financial companies often offer these kinds of deals. Even better, Aspiration’s Spend & Save account, which features zero atm fees worldwide, zero overdraft fees and a 2.00% APY, allows you to choose your own bank fee — even if it’s $0. Plus, you can actually make money with them by earning up to a 2.00% APY and unlimited cash on your purchases. If that’s not enough, Aspiration is committed to giving back to socially and environmentally conscious causes.
A Consumer Reports survey shows that around 60 percent of consumers who ask for a better deal on electronics get one. But before trying to negotiate, you need to know what the item is selling for elsewhere, according to Consumer Reports. Visit the store during off-peak times when it’s less busy and ask for a discount, citing lower prices you’ve found elsewhere. It also might help if you offer to pay in cash and allow the merchant to sidestep credit card fees. If you strike out on the discount but still decide to buy, ask about other benefits, such as free installation or a free extended warranty.
Again, comparison shopping tactics might give you some bargaining power when it comes to jewelry but only if the items are the same or very similar. Being persistent by revisiting the store several times and politely trying to negotiate a discount each time could be another successful avenue to paying less. You can also ask if the item you’re interested in ever goes on sale. If there is an upcoming sale, you might be able to lock-in the sale price by paying for the item in advance and picking it up when the sale is slated to happen.
Medical bills can cost a fortune, and many people don’t realize they can get their bill reduced considerably just by asking. Use an online healthcare shopping solution such as Healthcare Bluebook to find out how much you should be paying in your area for a health-related procedure, test or service. Then, call the billing department of your doctor’s office and request a detailed statement of the amounts applicable to the care that you need. If you find that the price is higher than what Healthcare Bluebook quotes as a fair price, use the information to negotiate.
Try to negotiate a sliding scale fee to keep more of your payment in your pocket. For example, you could negotiate a 33% attorney fee for the first $50,000; 23% for the next $50,000 and 13% for anything above $100,000. For a service, you might want to negotiate for a flat fee instead of the attorney’s billable hourly rate.
If the attorney insists on an hourly rate, you should ask for the rate to be billed at 6-minute intervals instead of 15-minute intervals, according to the website for The People’s Law Library of Maryland. Then, if the attorney spends five minutes speaking with someone, you’ll be billed for one-tenth of the hourly rate, instead of one-fourth, which can save you some serious cash.
When it comes to negotiating prices on furniture, you might have a better chance of getting a discount at independent retailers than at large-scale chain stores, which often have price arrangements in place with manufacturers. Also, if you’re willing to purchase a display or floor model, the chances of getting a discount from the salesperson might increase.
Another way to negotiate for a lower furniture price when shopping online is to install the Price Waiter extension from the Google Chrome store on your device. Price Waiter partners with major furniture retailers and allows you to make an online offer on items that the retailer is willing to negotiate on. The retailer can accept your offer or offer you the lowest price it’s willing to accept, and you can choose to take the deal or move on.
Before you call your cable provider and try to negotiate a better price on your bill, make note of competitor pricing and decide if you could save by switching to a different provider. If you can, you’ll have leverage when you call in to negotiate.
Timing is also key. Ask for a cable discount when competitors are advertising promotional deals or when your promotional deal with your current provider is about to expire. When you call, state that you’d like to cancel your service, which will route your call to the cancellation department. Representatives who routinely deal with cancellations will likely have more negotiating power than the average customer service representative.
Explain to the representative that your bill is too high and you’d like to see if you can get a better deal. You can even mention a promotional deal from one of its competitors and ask if the company can match it. At first, the representative might only offer a perk like a few extra channels, but be persistent and polite and your efforts might pay off.
Cell Phone Bill
Negotiating your cell phone bill is a lot like negotiating your cable bill. Start by researching the competition and note the prices on plans that are similar to yours. After you’re armed with pricing information, call your cell phone service provider and tell the person who answers that you’d like to cancel your plan because it’s too expensive. Once you are transferred, tell the representative that you’ve shopped around and found that you can get a comparable plan from another provider for much less. The representative will likely offer you some sort of discount, or, at the very least, go over your bill with you to see where costs can be cut.
Home Repairs or Upgrades
Consider trying to secure services during a time when business is slow. For example, if you need a new roof, the slow season is likely in the winter when weather conditions are more apt to be adverse. Shop around and get several bids so that you have some bargaining power.
Review each bid and the cost of supplies listed. Research the cost of each item and make your own itemized supply list. Compare your supply costs to the ones listed on each contractor’s bid to find out if you are getting the best price. If you aren’t, offer to buy the supplies upfront rather than have them added into the cost of the contractor’s bid or mention a competing bid’s offer and see if the contractor will lower his price.
Even though you can use a service like CarMax, which offers a no-haggle price, you might be able to save more money if you choose to negotiate with a traditional dealership. According to Edmunds, consider a car negotiation deal at the end of the month or year because salespeople might need to meet monthly quotas or move last year’s models.
Also, research dealer invoice prices in advance to find out what a fair price is for the vehicle you want to purchase. Consumer reports recommends starting out by offering invoice price plus $100 at the dealership.
A car salesperson will likely try to get you to focus on the MSRP or ask you what your budget is for a monthly payment when you first enter the dealership, which is a mistake that can cause you to spend much more than you need to, according to Consumer Reports.
Your negotiating power will depend on whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market, according to Zillow. If it’s a buyer’s market, decide on the price you’re willing to pay and go 10% below that to make your offer, which leaves some negotiating room. You can also ask the seller to pay closing costs. If there’s anything you’d like for the seller to leave in the home, such as appliances, ask.
In a seller’s market, however, you’ll probably find it more difficult to negotiate in your favor because sellers will generally have many homebuyers who are interested.
The best time to negotiate for a better hotel rate is during its low season — when people are less likely to be booking vacation reservations. Once you know your dates of travel, target boutique hotels instead of chain hotels for a better chance of receiving a discount. Write down the published rates of the rooms you’re interested in, as well as any discount rates you find online.
Call the property directly and ask to speak with the manager. Start the conversation off on a positive note, such as stating that you received a glowing recommendation from a friend who recently stayed there. Tell the manager when you’re planning to travel and ask for a rate. If the rate seems high, ask if there’s any possibility of a discount — especially if you’re booking a room for more than one night — and mention the discounted rates you found online. If you’re not successful in getting a lower rate, try to negotiate for other perks, such as complimentary meals or a discount on spa services.
Special Event Items or Services
When trying to secure services or venues for an event, such as a wedding, take the time to get detailed estimates from several providers. Then, start negotiating with the vendor that you would most like to work with. Use the other competing bids as a negotiating point.
For example, if the vendor you prefer is charging you for cloth napkins, but the other vendor is throwing them in for free, ask politely if you can get the napkins at no charge. Another way to get discounts is to consider hosting your event at a non-peak time, instead of the weekend, when vendors are less busy and more likely to consider discounts.
Credit Card APR
As long as you’ve taken care to keep from exceeding your balance and maintained solid payment history, you should be in good shape to ask for a lower annual percentage rate. Before you contact your creditor, however, you should take the time to find out common rates charged to people with your same credit score, according to myFICO.
Visit credit forums, such as the one on myFICO, and ask users what APR you should expect based on your credit profile. Then, call your creditor, list your strengths and tell them about your research. Finally, ask politely if you can get a lower APR. If not, you can always shop for a better deal.
Credit Card Fees
As long as you are a loyal customer with a good payment history, you should be able to negotiate with your creditor. Whether or not you’ll be successful depends on the type of fee you’re trying to lower or eliminate. For example, if you had one late payment among months of on-time payments, your creditor might be willing to waive the late fee at your request.
For other fees, such as annual fees, know what competing creditors who offer similar cards are charging before you contact your creditor so that you can use the information to negotiate. For example, if your creditor’s annual fee is much more expensive than other similar cards, ask about the possibility of lowering it, citing other card’s annual fees.
The perfect time to negotiate salary is when you’re switching jobs, but you can also initiate a salary negotiation during a performance review or on the cusp of promotion. To start, you’ll need to know what you’re worth. You can research employer-reported pay data on a site like Salary.com to find out.
If you’re interviewing for a new job and the salary you’re offered is too low, state that you were really hoping for a certain amount and give some compelling reasons why you’re worth that amount. For example, talk about impressive achievements or advanced certifications. If you’re trying to negotiate a higher salary with your current employer, make notes about your recent accomplishments and contributions to prove your worth to the company.
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About the Author
Cynthia Measom is a Texas-based writer specializing in finance, business, parenting and education. With almost a decade of online writing experience, her work has appeared on websites such as Chron.com, The Bump and The Motley Fool. Measom received a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Texas at Austin.