Published in: Banks | March 11, 2019

7 Bills You Didn't Realize You Could Negotiate

By:  Lyle Daly

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Odds are there’s at least one bill you’re spending too much on.Excited woman looking at piece of paper.

Image source: Getty Images.

If you’re the type of person who pays whatever the amount due is on all your bills, then you could be leaving money on the table.

Yes, negotiating bills can seem awkward and uncomfortable at first. But it’s also one of the fastest ways to save yourself a lot of cash and put more money in your bank account.

Here are some of the most common bills that you can negotiate and exactly how you can get those negotiations started.

1. Healthcare

Even with health insurance, medical bills can add up quickly, whether it’s from treatments at the doctor’s office, medications, or an unexpected stay at the hospital. Healthcare can be so expensive that medical debt is even the leading cause of bankruptcy among Americans.

But healthcare is a business like any other, and facilities are usually willing to work with you. When you have an expensive medical bill, try contacting the billing department and proposing a smaller amount.

In many cases, a healthcare facility will prefer a smaller payment made immediately over hounding you for a larger amount and possibly never getting it.

2. Cable, TV, and internet

Everyone knows how cable, TV, and internet providers work by now. They give you a low introductory rate, typically for about a year, and then your price goes up after that.

That doesn’t mean you need to accept that higher price, though. You can contact the provider and see if they have any deals available.

If you’re unsuccessful, you may need to break out the big guns and mention that you’re considering canceling your service. This will get you to the company’s retention department, which has more authority to cut deals.

3. Rent

Whether you’re getting a new place or you have one already, rent isn’t necessarily set in stone.

There are several ways you can negotiate a lower rent. If other places in the area are renting for less, you could show that to the landlord and see if they’re willing to work with you.

You could also offer something that will sweeten the deal for your landlord, such as signing a longer lease, paying multiple months of rent in advance, or giving up the parking space that comes with your unit.

4. Gym memberships

Gyms run promotions frequently to drum up business, especially during certain times of year (like right after New Year’s). It’s a good idea to check what promotions are available regularly, both at your gym and any others, to see if you can get a discount. If another gym is offering better prices, don’t be afraid to ask yours to price match.

Remember also that gyms are often flexible regarding their pricing, as their goal is to get and keep members. You may be able to score a lower rate by signing a long-term contract instead of going month to month, or by paying for a multi-month package upfront.

5. Credit card fees and interest

That cardholder agreement you got with your credit card is more flexible than you might think. While you can’t exactly argue against paying for something you charged on your credit card, here are some of the things you can negotiate with credit cards:

  • Late fees -- If you miss your payment due date and get hit with a late fee, you can usually contact your card issuer and get it waived. This tends to be a one-time courtesy, though.
  • Annual fees -- With certain cards and card issuers, consumers have reported success asking to have their annual fee waived for a year. Sometimes this works even when the annual fee was already waived for the first year.
  • Interest rates -- Although not many consumers request a lower interest rate on their credit cards, the odds favor those that do, as almost 70% are successful.

6. Real estate agent commissions

Here’s one that can save you big time if you sell your home -- you don’t always need to accept your real estate agent’s standard commission. Agents will sometimes accept a smaller amount, and you’re more likely to find one who will if you meet with several.

By asking them to take a smaller cut, you could negotiate 1% off their usual commission. With a home selling for $500,000, that’s $5,000 you’d save.

7. Cell phone service

Consumers have quite a bit of power when it comes to their cell phone service. There are several low-cost carriers out there and it’s easy to port your number over to a new one, so if you don’t like the deal you’re getting, you can switch your provider.

Start by checking your normal text, talk, and data usage to get an idea of exactly what you need service-wise. Then, see how much that service would cost through different carriers. Once you have that information, contact your provider and see what they can do for you.

Never overpay for bills again

I get that not everyone likes to negotiate. Truth be told, I’ve never been a huge fan of it. But like everyone else, I’m a fan of saving money, and negotiating your bills is a great way to do that.

All it takes is a bit of time and a willingness to ask for a better deal. The worst-case scenario is you get a “no,” and the best case is that you slash your monthly spending in the course of a single phone call.

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