August 29, 2016
8 Bills You Should Negotiate with Service Providers
The costs of rent, utilities, cable, and Internet can add up quickly, and a large part of your paycheck likely goes to paying your bills each month. If you want to slash those bills and keep more money in your pocket, we’ve outlined eight simple ways to renegotiate your monthly payments.
If you’re paying too much for cable TV or aren’t getting the shows you want to watch, it may be time to look into satellite channel options or adding a streaming service. You could get the programming you desire at a better price point. Do your research, though; cutting the cord can lower monthly costs—but only with a careful comparison of the available options.
Negotiation Tactics: Research what your rate would be if you were a new customer in your area and use that number as the starting point for your negotiation. You may want to go straight to the cancellation department, as well: employees in the billing department often don’t have the authority to lower your rates, so talking to them won’t get you the better deal you’re looking for.
Your phone bill can get out of control if you don’t monitor it closely. Carefully look at each month’s bill and make sure it doesn’t contain any surprise fees. You should also ensure you’re paying only for what you need: some plans contain padding for voice, text, and data that you need to watch out for.
Negotiation Tactics: You’ll have the best luck negotiating your rate if you’re near the end of your contract, when the company is most desperate to keep you. Mornings also tend to have higher success rates for negotiation. If the service representative isn’t able to help you, ask to speak to someone in the cancellation department.
If you stream multiple TV shows, movies, or games, watch out: many Internet Service Providers (ISPs) employ data caps and will charge you for going over your data limit. To avoid the overages and penalties—some ISPs will even lock down your account, preventing further streaming, in addition to charging financial fees—you should weigh your needed bandwidth against your budget.
Negotiation Tactics: You could get a better deal by bundling services or taking advantage of a limited-time offer. Be careful with the latter; it likely comes with an expiration date that you’ll need to plan for. If you’re trying to negotiate your bill and the representative you’re talking to won’t or isn’t able to help you, hang up and try calling again. Eventually you will find an agent who is willing to work with you to reduce your bill and keep you as a customer.
Many consumers assume they’re locked into their current credit card interest rates and fees. However, if you have a good credit history, your odds of receiving a better credit card interest rate are fairly high. Even if you don’t have a stellar credit report, you could still negotiate an improved payment plan.
Negotiation Tactics: Before calling your credit card company or loan institution, you’ll want to carefully review your debt and create a reasonable repayment plan for yourself. Be prepared to get specific with the representative you talk to: they’ll want to know exactly why you are unable to pay your bills. Remember to always get your new agreement in writing before submitting new payment.
Negotiating a lower insurance premium is different than negotiating other bills: you’re unlikely to get an insurance company to reduce your rates just because you ask. But you can still find useful discounts if you’re willing to ask what they are—and put in the time and research necessary to make it happen.
Negotiation Tactics: Ask the representative to walk you through any deductible charges that could save you money and request a list of the possible discounts you may be qualified for. You’ll be surprised by how many discounts may apply to your situation—good driving habits, home security systems, and high GPAs can all lower your premiums.
Medical bills are notoriously expensive. To reduce them, you should first guarantee that the bill was sent to your health insurance carrier. If it wasn’t, ask the medical provider to submit it before paying any money. If the bill has been referred to insurance and you still owe a large amount, contact the medical provider directly. Many healthcare facilities offer financial hardship programs.
Negotiation Tactics: You’ll want to negotiate your medical bills quickly, as hospitals send unpaid bills to collection agencies quickly, which could hurt your credit. If you can afford to pay a bill at once, ask if they can offer you a discount for doing so—you may be able to cut as much as 60% off your total bill just by agreeing to pay it in one lump sum.
Rent and Mortgage
You may not think of your rent and mortgage as negotiable, but you may be able to come to an agreement with your apartment complex or mortgage lender. These negotiations—especially for mortgages—may require more time and sensitivity, so be prepared to spend extra time formulating a negotiation plan.
Negotiation Tactics: If you live an apartment, try renegotiating the rent during the lease renewal phase. Many apartment and condo communities increase rents during the time period, but finding new tenants costs them time and money, so keeping you around works in their best interest. If you need to renegotiate your mortgage payments, you’ll want to pay your bills on time and let your lender know as soon as paying on time becomes an issue. Calculate how much you can afford to pay and ask to pay to the loan modification department.
You have the right to negotiate any service you pay for. If you find the idea intimidating, you can work with a negotiating service. They manage the research, interact with service providers, and deliver cost savings to you.
Negotiation Tactics: Junk mail also works in your favor. The circulars can be used to get a better rate with cable, phone, or Internet providers. If they refuse, you still come out ahead: you can go to the other company and enjoy savings with them.
Monthly bills don’t have to consume your paycheck. No matter what bills you want to renegotiate, make sure you do your research beforehand: look at what other providers offer and use it as leverage as you begin negotiating. Learn to negotiate or work with a service that does and keep more money in your bank account.