Updated on 09.30.15

Six Bills You Can Negotiate Down to Save Money

The worst they can say is 'No.'

woman on cell phone

When it comes to your cable, Internet, insurance, or credit card bills, it never hurts to pick up the phone and ask for a lower rate. The worst they can do is say no. Photo: Marjan Lazarevski

If you have a love-hate relationship with your monthly bills, you’re not alone. While most of us enjoy a modern lifestyle and all the perks that come with it, that doesn’t mean we actually enjoy paying for it.

But did you know certain monthly bills can be negotiated down to a lower rate? While some bills like mortgage payments, property taxes, and car payments are set in stone, others can be reduced if you’re willing and able to haggle.

Six Bills Worth Negotiating

If you want to lower your monthly bills across the board, it helps to know which bills might have some wiggle room. This list includes some of the bills that might be easiest to minimize:

Cable or Satellite TV

With so much competition in this space, cable and satellite television providers are typically eager to negotiate. In most cases, they realize that it is easier (and cheaper) to keep the customers they have vs. trying to get a new one. Cable and satellite providers may be greedy, but they’re smart, too.

If you want to negotiate your cable bill down, call your cable company. Have a list ready with their competitor’s prices for similar services, and be ready to state your case. If you take it far enough, you may even be transferred to the customer retention line where they are trained to negotiate with you.

And remember, you usually have the power to walk away if you find a cheaper rate elsewhere (unless you signed a two-year agreement, as DirecTV often forces its customers to do).

Internet Service

Just like cable TV, home Internet service is highly competitive. If your Internet service is tied in with your cable provider, you might be able to negotiate both in one fell swoop. But if your Internet is offered through a different provider, a separate phone call may be in order.

Either way, call up your provider with a list of competitors’ rates in hand — or hit them up in an online chat (if their website has it). When you get to the right person, ask them to lower your bill in order to meet their competition’s introductory pricing. And remember, the worst they can say is no.

Medical Bills

Even if you have the money to pay your medical bills in full, it makes sense to negotiate them down if you can. After all, cash-strapped hospitals are often willing to take less than the billed amount if you’re willing to pay in full and early. (Major insurers negotiate discounted rates all the time.) At the very least, you should ask.

When I had both of my daughters at my local hospital, for example, I faced a $4,000 out-of-pocket max. Once I received all of my hospital bills, I negotiated a 30% discount for paying over the phone and in full that day. So, instead of paying $4,000, I paid $2,800! All it took was a 20-minute phone call to save a whopping $1,200.

Credit Card Interest Rates

If you’re unhappy with your credit card’s interest rate, you might consider shopping around for a new card. However, you may not need to switch cards completely. Just by calling your card issuer and asking, you may secure a lower rate on the card you have.

If you have a history of responsible credit use, point to it as proof that you deserve a line of credit with better terms. And be willing to walk; if you let them know you are willing to transfer your balance or get a competitor’s card instead, they will be more inclined to cave to your request.

Car Insurance Rates

Car insurance is another highly competitive industry. Because of that, you often can negotiate serious discounts and savings — and with very little effort on your part. In some cases, insurance companies may even offer an “off the top” discount to keep you as a customer.

Other ways you can save include signing up for online billing (instead of paper statements), bundling your homeowners or renters insurance with the same issuer, or signing up for a safe-driver program such as Allstate Drivewise. You can also review your current coverage and cut back on superfluous items you don’t need, like rental car replacement if you have a backup vehicle, or roadside assistance if you already have AAA.

To find out what your options are, call your insurance company and tell them you’re looking for ways to save on your monthly payments. If they want to keep you as a customer, they’ll be open and honest about your options.

Monthly Rent Payments

If you think rent prices are always set in stone, think again. Clean and reliable renters with a lengthy history have a good chance at negotiating their rent — and that’s especially true if they plan to stay for the long term.

When your lease is up, ask your landlord for the best deal possible. If you plan to stay a while, you can even offer to sign a longer-term lease to reflect that commitment. Either way, you’ll be in the best position to score a discount if you have been a good renter from the very beginning. When you’re reliable and trustworthy, it’s cheaper for a landlord to keep you as a renter — even with a discount — then it is for them to replace you.

It Never Hurts to Ask

When it comes to negotiating your bills down, it’s important to remember that it never hurts to ask. The worst any of your providers can say is no, but the best-case scenario could lead to big, ongoing savings. Either way, you’ll never know what might happen if you never pick up the phone.

Which monthly bills have you negotiated down? How much did you save?

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