12 Things You Should Always Negotiate On

Americans typically don’t like to haggle. It’s just not part of our culture. But not haggling could be costing you lots of money. Even if you don’t prefer to be pushy, you should at least politely ask for better deals on these 12 things.

1. Cars

Car dealerships, unlike many other retailers, expect you to haggle. It’s built into their price tags. So if you pay the sticker price for any new or used vehicle, basically ever, you’re getting hoodwinked.

When you walk into a dealership, prepare to haggle over just about everything — from the trade-in value of your car to the price of the car you’re buying to extras like warranties. You’ll have more leverage if you have more cash, but even cash-strapped buyers can and should negotiate at the dealership.

2. Homes

Again, when you’re buying a home, real estate agents expect some negotiation. But when buying a home, negotiation doesn’t have to be all about price.

If the seller isn’t willing to come down on the price, ask for extras. For instance, ask that the seller pay more closing costs (which basically amounts to a cheaper deal for you). Or ask that the seller take care of some maintenance issues you found when you had the home inspected.

3. Mortgage Rates

Mortgage companies will quote you a rate when you ask, but that doesn’t mean you need to stick to that rate. If your credit is good (here’s how to find out if yours is) or you have a big down payment, you have plenty of leverage to negotiate a lower rate.

And if you can’t straight-up negotiate for a lower rate, you may be able to save by paying for “points.” This basically means you put more cash down for a lower rate, and, in some cases, it can save you a lot of money.

4. Rent

If you’re renting from a landlord for the first time, rent may not be as negotiable. But if you’re getting ready to renew your lease, don’t just accept the now-higher rental price you’re quoted.

Keep in mind that it’s a pain for rental companies and landlords to get you moved out, prep the property, and move someone new in. Unless you’re living in the hottest area in town, they’ll likely lose money looking for a new renter. This means they may be more willing than you’d think to negotiate pricing.

5. Medical Bills

Insurance companies usually get special rates from doctors’ offices and hospitals. But those rates don’t automatically apply to uninsured individuals — or those who haven’t yet hit their deductibles.

If a medical bill isn’t going through your insurance company, negotiate it. Often times, the doctor’s office or hospital will come down on the price, so that it’s closer to (or if you’re lucky, even less than) what your insurer might pay.

6. Credit Card Costs

If you’re in good standing with your credit card, you have plenty of negotiating power. You can negotiate for everything from lower credit card rates (see these pointers for how to do that) to waived annual fees to a higher credit limit.

Even if you aren’t in good standing, credit card companies can help you come up with a payment plan if you can’t afford the minimum payments. You just need to ask.

7. Home & Yard Work Contracts

When you’re thinking of hiring someone to maintain your lawn for the summer, re-roof your home or pop out a dormer window on your second story, always get at least three quotes. And once you have those quotes, negotiate for a better price or a better deal.

As with buying a home, you don’t just have to negotiate for a lower price. Some service providers and contractors won’t bring down the price, but they will add in extra services for the same price — or at least for a discount.

8. Your Cable Bill

If you’ve recently gotten away from your cable or Internet company’s promotional pricing, you may be in for a shock. Most of us fail to read the fine print that says just how much the service will cost after the promotional period.

Before you call the company, look at the promotional offers other services in town are offering. Then, tell them you’re considering switching so you can get a better deal. You may not talk them all the way back down to the promo price, but you can get pretty close.

9. Furniture Prices

Any time you buy big-ticket items like furniture or appliances, you should always negotiate the price. This is especially true if you’re buying in quantity — like if you’re purchasing both a washer and a dryer or an entire living room set.

If the salesperson won’t negotiate with you, ask to talk to the manager. They often have more leeway when dealing with customers, and will usually work with you.

10. Insurance Rates

As with credit card companies, if you’re in good with your insurance company, you may be able to negotiate for better rates. At minimum, you should ask about bundling your insurance policies to see how much that could save you.

And if you notice your insurance company is running a new promotional deal that you’re not in on, ask about it. The company may sign you up just for asking.

11. Collections Accounts

Collections calls are never fun, but they can be productive if you look at them the right way. Once an account of yours has gone to collections, that means the company has paid pennies on the dollar for the account.

In other words, your $5,000 debt may have cost them $200 to take over from the original company. So collections companies may accept $1,000 for a $5,000 debt — or possibly even less. The key is to stick to your guns when negotiating outstanding debts.

12. Used Stuff

Whether you’re shopping at a thrift store or a garage sale, you should always negotiate the price of used stuff. You can usually buy two or three things at once to get a better deal, or just negotiate for a better price on a single, bigger ticket item.

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Image: Catherine Yeulet

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