Smart Buying

How to Haggle for Almost Anything

These strategies will help you negotiate a better price for just about any product or service.

Haggling over prices isn't just for people buying cars or houses. Think bigger. You can negotiate for just about any product or service -- your cable and cellphone bills, credit card interest rates, even your rent. You just need to borrow these tried-and-true methods of savvy negotiators.

Talk less, listen more. Ask open-ended questions rather than ones that might yield an abrupt yes or no response. A common mistake is to ask, “Do you have flexibility?” says Kwame Christian, director of the American Negotiation Institute and author of Finding Confidence in Conflict: How to Negotiate Anything and Live Your Best Life. Instead ask, “What flexibility do you have?” This sets the conversation off with the assumption that there is always some wiggle room. You’ll find out just how much room there is by listening more and talking less. That lets the other person reveal more information that you can use to drive a bargain.  

Know when to walk away. Before negotiating, research market conditions and prices. Sellers of products with a large profit margin and short shelf life usually have more flexibility with pricing—think seasonal items, perishables and consumer electronics that are quickly updated and made obsolete.

Consider how the deal looks from the other side. What are the barriers to agreement, and what might prompt the seller to reconsider? If your offer gets rejected, ask, “Is there a price you would accept?” The best negotiators stand their ground, so practice saying no.

Launch a charm offensive. Studies show that when people do business with someone they like, they’re more inclined to discount the price. So introduce yourself by name; ask the name of the clerk. If you realize you need to speak to a manager to get a discount, promise to put in a good word for the person who has been helping you. You can ramp up the charm by empathizing with the other person’s position. If possible, when you negotiate, emphasize your long-standing tenure as a customer and ask about the options for lower fees, better rates or improved terms.

Most Popular

Education is Key: 3 Financial Lessons for Retirees Nearing Retirement
retirement planning

Education is Key: 3 Financial Lessons for Retirees Nearing Retirement

When it comes to retirement planning, educating yourself can keep you from making big mistakes. Here are three key lessons that everyone preparing for…
May 24, 2022
Your Guide to Roth Conversions
Special Report
Tax Breaks

Your Guide to Roth Conversions

A Kiplinger Special Report
February 25, 2021
Why Are Gas Prices Still Going Up?
spending

Why Are Gas Prices Still Going Up?

The cost of a gallon of gas is heading back toward its March highs. What’s driving the resurgence, and will gas prices go down anytime soon?
May 23, 2022

Recommended

Why Are Gas Prices Still Going Up?
spending

Why Are Gas Prices Still Going Up?

The cost of a gallon of gas is heading back toward its March highs. What’s driving the resurgence, and will gas prices go down anytime soon?
May 23, 2022
11 Best Things to Keep in a Safe Deposit Box
home

11 Best Things to Keep in a Safe Deposit Box

These valuables and documents, along with some items you hold dear, should be stored securely at your bank.
May 18, 2022
Age Bias in the Workplace: Still a Battle for Older Workers
Making Your Money Last

Age Bias in the Workplace: Still a Battle for Older Workers

Many older Americans face age bias in the workplace even though federal law prohibits discriminating against workers 40 and older.
May 9, 2022
7 Things Medicare Doesn’t Cover
Healthy Living on a Budget

7 Things Medicare Doesn’t Cover

Medicare Part A and Part B leave some pretty significant gaps in your health-care coverage. But Medicare Advantage has problems, too.
May 4, 2022