Think you only need to haggle when you buy a new car? Think again.
From household needs to utility bills, there are actually many common expenses that you may be able to lower, or eliminate altogether, simply by bargaining. Smart shopper deals and discounts are always great, but sometimes you can get even greater savings if you’re willing to work for them.
So take off the kid gloves and get ready to haggle your way to major savings! Here’s our Top 10 goods and services you should always haggle over:
1. Flea Market Treasures
Let’s start off easy — flea market haggling. If you finally found that vintage mink coat or collectible teapot of your dreams at the local swap meet, you can probably knock down the price with a little negotiation.
Tip: Make your interest in the items very clear. Passion and care for the objects can be a huge selling point for flea market purveyors, and if they think you really deserve to own their wares, they may take a few dollars off the ticket price.
But don’t be afraid to bluff and start walking away if you have to.
2. Credit Card Late Fees
Hit with a late fee because you were late on a payment? Call your credit card’s customer service department and ask them to remove the fee.
Remain calm and polite and explain that was a simple mistake.
Tip: If you meet resistance, one good tactic is to remind them of your continued patronage.
You can also imply that you’re willing to cancel your account and switch companies if they won’t accommodate your request.
3. APR Rates
Bothered by that pesky interest on your credit cards? You may be able to lower your own annual percentage rate (or APR). Call the customer service number on the back of your card and point out that there are more competitive rates on the market.
Tip: If you’ve been paying the full bill for a few months, you may have an even better shot at getting your credit card company to ease up on the interest.
4. Used Cars
Buying a car can be so stressful that consumers sometimes avoid negotiating altogether. But you’ll avoid inflated prices and hidden fees from unscrupulous dealers if you can muster up the strength to haggle.
Tip: Do your homework. Research the Blue Book price of the vehicle and get a CARFAX report. It’s also a good idea to consult with your mechanic or a trusted car-savvy friend, and if possible, bring a second pair of eyes to inspect the model you’re considering.
5. Your Home Mortgage Rate
Even the FTC says you should negotiate for the best mortgage rate! Visit a number of mortgage companies, and ask a financial advisor for input.
Tip: You’ll have more success haggling for a lower mortgage rate if you have good credit. Get a free credit report at www.annualcreditreport.com and make sure your credit history doesn’t have any mistakes.
6. Your Rent
Is the end date of your lease approaching? Take the opportunity to haggle for lower rent. It’s generally easier for landlords to keep current tenants than look for new renters.
Tip: If you’re often late with your rent, this might prove to be a problem — so remember to always write that check on time! Try using Google Calendars to create a free monthly email alert to remind you when rent’s due.
7. Gym Memberships
Does your monthly gym fee make you feel a little out of breath? Try negotiating a lower rate by reminding your gym of your faithful patronage — and threatening to switch.
Tip: You can also try this tactic when renewing your membership or even when you first sign up. Commercial gyms have a lot of competition and you can use this to your advantage.
8. Phone, Internet and/or Cable Service
Keep your eye on what your provider’s competitors are charging. There’s nothing worse for cable/internet/phone PR than losing faithful patrons due to excessive costs.
You may find that your provider is willing to shave a few bucks off your bill to avoid word-of-mouth about high monthly fees.
Tip: Be persistent yet remain calm when talking to customer service. Politeness can go along way when you’re speaking to a call-center employee.
9. Home Maintenance
Whether you’re having your gutters cleaned or building a new sun deck, home improvement and yard work can cost a pretty penny. Fortunately, there are many small businesses and independent contractors in this field, which means more opportunities for haggling.
Tip:When negotiating a lower rate for home and yard services, offer to provide a referral to friends and family. It’s a great way to entice smaller businesses who hope to expand their territory. (Bonus tip: Always remember to call 811 before you start a new project to avoid buried electrical lines.)
10. Furniture Shopping
There are a few ways that the savvy consumer can put themselves in a position to haggle over furniture. You can offer to pay cash, or take the floor model.
You can also purchase several pieces as a package deal (like a dining room set), or make it clear you’re willing to wait for specialty pieces on back order. All of these things may make a salesperson more likely to throw you a discount.
Tip: For even better results, visit an independent showroom. Their sales associates are more likely to cut you a deal than a mega-chain.
Haggle Hints: Go Forth and Grab Savings!
While you’re negotiating, just remember to keep your cool. No matter how outrageous the original price, or how rude the seller, staying calm and sticking to your savings goal can go a long way towards securing the deal you want. Smile, be polite, and be firm in the face of stubbornness!
Do you have any top-secret haggling tips? Have you ever negotiated an item or service that’s not on our list? Do you disagree with us? Sound off in the comments.