I’ve been in foreign countries where it’s actually an insult not to haggle with merchants in the marketplace. By contrast, Americans generally see price tags as final. But here are five items whose prices can be negotiated.
Housing is generally our biggest expense. If you’re renting, and you’re renewing your lease, then you may have room to negotiate. This is especially true if you’ve always made your payments on time. First of all, why would your landlord sacrifice a responsible tenant for an unknown one? Second, as in any business, it’s easier to retain a customer than to replace one.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for a new place, then let your current landlord know about other options in the neighborhood that are less expensive. Your landlord may then be more willing to come down in price.
If you’re buying a house, shop around for the lowest interest rate on a mortgage. If you have a history of making on-time payments on credit cards and other bills, you have room to negotiate the interest rate on the mortgage. Looking around for the best mortgage will not hurt your credit score if you do it all within a 30-day period. Credit bureaus know you’re “shopping around,” and that should not lower your score. Sometimes a finance company will be willing to negotiate closing costs as well, which can be quite costly.
Now that you’re in your home, you need furniture. The furniture industry is known as a high-margin industry, with many showrooms marking up merchandise as much as 250 percent! Here are a few options:
- Buy floor models. Since they are “used,” you should get a good deal.
- Simply ask for a lower price.
- If you’re buying antiques, antique dealers expect to negotiate.
Now that you got a great deal on that couch, don’t fall in love with it so much that you become a couch potato; join a gym. Sometimes it’s difficult to negotiate the monthly fee, unless you use the argument that you don’t use all the facilities. (And even that is a bit iffy.) However, many times gyms have add-on fees, such as registration costs or an annual fee. These are fees you can negotiate. There’re plenty of gyms around, and you can simply tell them you’re considering taking your business elsewhere.
Cable / phone / Internet
The thing about cable, phone and Internet is that promotions are always expiring and new ones are always cropping up. When your contract is about to expire, make sure you’re aware of what the other providers are offering and what they’re charging. Tell your current provider you’ll switch unless they match the deal. Remember the landlord situation? Again, it’s easier for a business to retain a customer than go out and get a new one.
Credit card fees and interest rates
Once again, if you’re a good customer, you may be able to negotiate late fees. This is especially true if you were late only once and there were extenuating circumstances. You can also ask your creditor to lower the interest rate. Credit card companies would rather you pay them the interest, albeit at a lower rate, than for you to pay someone else the interest.
When it comes to haggling, the worst that can happen is the seller simply says “no.” When you negotiate, make sure you have an alternative route to take that you can use for leverage.