How to Negotiate Your Bills
January 11, 2023
We’ve all got bills to pay, and it’s rarely any fun. But did you know that you might be able to negotiate certain bills?
That’s right — if you have certain strategies in mind, you might be able to lower the cost of certain services, as well as negotiate one-time costs like medical bills. The process depends on the type of bill, but it’s absolutely worth looking into. Here’s how to negotiate bills like a pro.
What Bills Can Be Negotiated?
It’s possible to attempt to negotiate a wide variety of bills due to the nature of competitors all vying for your business. However, you’re more likely to find success with certain bills, including:
- Cable or satellite TV
- Bundled services (internet, cable, phone)
- Gym memberships
- Cell phone
- Car insurance
- Home insurance
- Home security/alarm systems
- Newspaper subscriptions
In addition to these recurring bills, you may be able to negotiate one-time expenses like medical bills. This guide will focus on negotiating recurring bills.
How to Negotiate Your Bills
Once you’ve identified some bills to target in your situation, it’s time to get down to business. In general, negotiating usually starts with a call to the service provider. However, before you start dialing, keep these tips in mind.
Do Your Research
It’s important to do your research ahead of time to prepare for your phone call. Here’s what information you should gather:
- What you’re currently paying
- What services you are currently paying for
- How much you’re using the services (i.e. how much data you’re using per month on your phone)
- How long you’ve been a customer
- What competitors are offering
For example, say you want to negotiate your cable bill. You would first check your account to see how much your monthly bill is, and what services/channels you’re paying for. Then, you’d research competing cable providers in the area to see what their packages cost. You’d take notes on all of this, and use that information in your negotiations.
Have a Goal
The general goal of negotiations is usually either to save money or to pay the same amount for upgraded services. It’s often a good idea to have a rough goal in mind — for instance, maybe you’d like to trim your bill by 20%.
Taking notes can help you organize your thoughts, both before, during, and after the call. You should start by taking note of your goals and the data you found during your research. You can also jot down notes during your call to have them to review later.
Talk To the Right Person
When you first call in, you’ll be connected with a front-line service representative. This person may or may not be the correct representative to talk to.
To get redirected to the appropriate department, explain that you’re considering canceling the service. This will typically get you transferred to the “customer retention” department or the sales department, where representatives will usually have more power to negotiate bills.
Be Patient and Respectful
Negotiating your bills usually involves talking to someone on the phone. It’s absolutely vital to be friendly, patient and understanding with the customer service representative — even if you don’t get what you want.
A phone call may or may warrant results in getting you what you want from the negotiations. But in any case, you will find more success by being polite.
Get Crystal Clear on the Terms
If you are offered a deal, it’s important to understand the specific terms of the agreement. In some cases, agreeing to a new price might lock you into a new contract, or may change the specific services you receive.
For instance, a provider might be willing to lower your rate if you go from a month-to-month agreement to a 12-month contract. While this could save you money, it also locks you in for a longer period of time. Or, the provider might be able to lower your price by cutting out certain services.
In any case, it’s important to understand what you’re getting into. If you are confused or have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask the customer service representative for details. At the very least, before committing to anything, be sure to have the details of your new terms sent to you in writing. You should be able to request the terms be sent to you via email.
Come In with a Strategy and Know Your Deal Breakers
It’s often effective to politely make it clear that you are willing to cancel the service if you’re not offered a better deal. This can create a sense of urgency for the provider, as they know they might lose you as a customer if they don’t lower your bill.
It’s also okay to explain that you’re considering canceling the service, even if you’re not seriously considering it. As long as you’re polite and patient, it doesn’t hurt to inform the service about your willingness to leave.
Consider Perks or Upgrades
In some cases, providers won’t be able to offer a discount, but they can instead offer a free upgrade. In this situation, you might be offered things like additional channels or a higher data cap without an increase in your bill.
What About Bill Negotiation Services?
If you don’t want to negotiate your bills yourself, there are third-party services that can help negotiate on your behalf. Examples include Billshark, Trim, and Billcutterz.
Usually, all you need to do is upload information about your bills, and authorize the company to negotiate on your behalf. From there, the company attempts to negotiate your bill for you.
These companies charge a fee for the service. This is often a percentage of the savings they can get for you. For example, a company might charge 50% of the annual savings. If they lower your cable bill from $100 to $80, that will save you $240 per year — and the bill negotiation service would take half of it ($120).
Keep the Money-Saving Momentum Going
Successfully negotiating a bill can be a satisfying feeling, and it can certainly give your finances a boost. But why stop there?
If you’re struggling to save money, consider starting a budget to keep your spending in check. If high-interest debt is holding back your finances, make a plan to pay it off. And if you just want to learn more about personal finance, read through the Happy Money blog today.