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When to Haggle

Written by Nickel - 6 Comments

When to Haggle

I’ve talked quite a bit in the past about the fine art of haggling. While many are afraid to dicker over the price of a purchase, there’s no doubt that you can save a good bit of money by simply asking for a better price.

If you fall into the “I don’t like to haggle” camp then do yourself a favor and take a look at the following list (courtesy of Time Moneyland) and pick out at least a handful of places where you’ll asked for a better price.

  1. Cars. This one is a no-brainer. Only a fool pays the asking price when buying a car.
  2. Home and yard work contracts. As with just about any service, you’d be well advised to shop around. If you get a lower rate from one but prefer another, don’t be afraid to tell them so. This actually makes the whole process much easier, as you’re being complimentary while asking for a price cut.
  3. Furniture. This can be especially effective if you’re paying cash (and you have it on you) or if you’re willing to haul it home yourself instead of availing yourself of their free delivery. Conversely, if they charge for delivery and won’t deal on the price, then perhaps you can at least get them to drop the delivery charge. To this I would add: shop around. If you find a better price at a more distant store, contact the nearby place and tell them that you’d prefer to buy from them but can’t justify the price difference.
  4. Credit card costs. If you’re carrying a balance, you can save a ton of money by calling to ask for a better rate. If you’re not comfortable just asking straight up, tell them about the awesome balance transfer offer you just got but how you’d prefer to stay with your current issuer because of your long history together (or whatever). Similarly, if you get nicked for a late fee, call and ask them to waive it.
  5. Special event goods and services. Planning a wedding or other extravaganza? Be sure and shop around and then ask for a more competitive price from the caterer, limo, florist, etc., etc., etc. Major events typically come tons of bills which means there are lots of opportunities to save a few bucks here and there.
  6. Used or bulk items. If you’re buying secondhand — whether it’s at a garage sale, thrift store, on Craiglist, or elsewhere — be sure to ask for a better price. The worst they can do is say no. Likewise, if you’re (for example) planning a special event for your kids school and you need to buy a ton of supplies, ask the store manager for a bulk discount. Works like a charm.
  7. Jewelry. I hate buying jewelry. But if you must buy, try to hit a locally-owned jeweler before finalizing your buying decision. While the best deal might come from one of those perma-sales at a chain jeweler, mom and pop jewelers often have a bit more latitude to adjust prices and win you over.
  8. Vacation lodging. This is a particularly good strategy if you’re booking through a privately owner property, such as through VRBO — even mores if you’re booking near the very beginning or tail end of the “high” season when demand might be down.
  9. Health care. Most of us (at least those with health insurance) don’t give a second thought to the price of healthcare procedures. But if you’re paying for it yourself, have a high deductible, or are just concerned about the high cost of healthcare, it doesn’t hurt to comparison shop. And if you don’t have coverage, you should definitely ask your provider to honor the “usual and customary” rates that major insurers have already negotiated.
  10. Insurance rates. This one’s a little less clear to me, as my experience has typically been that the price is the price when it comes to insurance. Sure, you can move the premium up or down by tweaking your coverage, but I haven’t found insurers to be particularly flexible when it comes to pricing. That said, you can at least shop around and make sure you’re getting any discounts that you might qualify for.
  11. Telecom services. This is a huge one because it’s a recurring expense — and because it’s often pretty easy to get your provider to cut you a deal. At least once a year you should call around and ask for a better deal. If you have cable, tell them you say a great offer for satellite, and so on. I did this last winter and saved a ton on our landline and internet.
  12. Subscriptions and memberships. More often that not, you can score a better deal if you call and threaten to cancel a subscription or membership (this actually ties into #11, above). If they say no, just say that you’ll have to think more seriously about whether or not to continue your service and then call back later for another shot.

And one last bit of advice… When they’ve reached what seems like their bottom line price, simply look them in the eye and utter these words:

“Is that the best you can do?”

Seriously, try it. You’d be shocked at how often they’ll come back with an even better price.

Published on October 17th, 2012
Modified on October 27th, 2012 - 6 Comments
Filed under: Consumer, Frugality

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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6 Responses to “When to Haggle”

  1. 1
    Rohit @ The Money Mail Says:

    I have personally negotiated on Airbnb, a site like VBRO. I paid a 3day rate for 4 days. On top of that I got a 2 bedroom apt – with all amenities I expect from a hotel at a price less than a single room on those days in a hotel.

    Also it never hurts to ask your credit card company to lower the rate, even if you are not carrying a balance.

  2. 2
    Lance @ Money Life and More Says:

    I love the is that the best you can do line. I bet it works all the time to get a little bit extra :)

  3. 3
    Nickel Says:

    Lance: It really does. Not always, but often. Try it sometime. :-)

  4. 4
    KT Says:

    Haggle with cable companies. They will usually give you a “1-year promo rate”. When the year is up, call again. They just keep renewing the promo, assuming you pay your bills on time.

  5. 5
    Jess Says:

    You can haggle with medical providers. As an extreme example, a family member had cancer and insufficient insurance. She told the hospital that she’d sign up for treatment, but they had to just accept what the insurance paid and couldn’t ask for more out of pocket. She got this in writing, which was key because they later tried to charge her for various services. It saved her well over $50k. Was this extreme? Yes. Was it worth negotiating? Absolutely.

  6. 6
    Linda Says:

    Anyone who will give you a discount when you haggle is not worth dealing with. The asking price was not a fair price in the begining so why would you give your business to such a company or person. Elderly people rarely haggle so most of them are just plain and simply getting ripped off.

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