How to haggle for a great deal – Financial Management – bargain being reached

How to haggle for a great deal

A 5 minute read • Simon Q

Part of our financial management and life hacks series. Here at we don’t give financial advice, but we do offer some tips that you can consider when deciding how best to manage your money.

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If you had told me five years ago that I would be haggling regularly for great deals when I buy goods and services, I wouldn’t have believed you. But today I regularly ask for discounts and deals and have saved plenty of money re-negotiating the cost of contracts and services.

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Haggling, or bargaining, involves a buyer and seller debating the exchange of something for an agreed cost. And it’s not just about getting a lower price: sometimes it’s useful to ask for something extra to be ‘thrown in’ if the seller won’t – or can’t – budge on price.

Haggling is expected in some countries

While there are some clear cultural differences in attitudes to haggling around the world, it’s considered normal in parts of North Africa and Asia where you can barter in shops, at markets and hotels. But if you are away from home, remember to check that haggling is accepted in the place you’re visiting before you start pushing for a special deal.

In much of the west, although common in business transactions, haggling by consumers is usually reserved for buying large items such as cars and property. But it has become increasingly common with the growth of price comparison websites that have made pricing more transparent and help us compare costs and benefits quickly and easily.

Before you haggle

Haggling is a person-to-person interaction and best done over the phone, online chat or in person. It’s less easy to haggle with a price comparison website but this is an important tool that will arm you with data before you try to get yourself a great deal.

Here are some tips that will set you up for a successful haggling exchange:

  • If you want to haggle for something you pay annually, have last year’s costs to hand plus your renewal fee so you know what difference you are being asked to pay
  • Always shop around so you know the ‘going’ price for something. Price comparison websites are useful here
  • Have a price in mind before you negotiate so you know when to agree or walk away
  • Be prepared to do some calculations so you know when you are being fleeced – or offered a good deal
  • Think carefully what something is worth to you. Would you still buy it if you cannot negotiate the price down?
  • If you are buying something that attracts taxes, check if the tax has changed in the last year and whether or not that explains an increase in renewal costs
  • Be prepared to be flexible. You may discover that an upgraded model of something you are looking to buy has a special feature that the original model did not
  • Be prepared to walk away if you feel you are being taken for granted
  • Remember that some suppliers cannot shift on price but may throw in a free gift voucher or other item
  • Similarly, many suppliers will have a minimum price for something. Aim to pay that amount as you can usually find this by haggling
  • Remember always to keep your cool. Exert your influence politely, calmly and keep your eye on the end game

How to haggle

How to haggle for a great deal – Financial Management – bargaining for carrotsNow that you’re armed with some data, you are ready to haggle. If you’re not used to it then be prepared to practice on something low risk such as some vegetables at your local market. Remember that the initial price of something – sometimes called the anchor price – is often a guide or recommended price. You should see it as your challenge to reduce it.

“If you’re not used to haggling then be prepared to practice on something low risk such as some vegetables at your local market”

How to bargain for a great deal

Here are some expressions you can use to show that you mean business – and yes, I have used most of them:

Set the scene

  • I’m looking for a great deal today – with this you are stating your goal up front
  • I’ve shopped around and see that I shouldn’t be paying more than £100/$140 for this product – you are showing that you know the marketplace
  • I see that you have put this year’s premiums up and I’d like to explore the reasons why and what you can do to help me get a better deal – you are holding them to account and positioning them as the key to a solution
  • I’m really interested in one of those but don’t want to pay more than £50/$70 for it – you are asserting your own anchor price as an opening offer

Ask for a discount

  • Do you have any special offers at the moment? – if you don’t ask, you probably won’t be offered one
  • I haven’t claimed on this insurance for several years and hope that you can offer a no claims discount – again, usually applies to insurance but you can ask for a greater discount anyway
  • I have been a loyal customer for five years and hope that you have a customer loyalty discount – play the loyalty card
  • I noticed that your competitor is offering this product at a lower price – can you match the price? – many shops will price-match if you ask; some even match internet prices if you can prove the product is in stock
  • If I buy an X and a Y, can you offer a discount? – some companies will offer a discount on bundles
  • If I buy 10 of these from you, will you offer a discount? – asking for bulk discount is good if you are sure that you will use all 10

Look for something to reel in the deal

  • If I agree to sign up today (or pay the asking price), what else can you offer that would seal a deal? – you may be pleasantly surprised to be offered a voucher, gift card or small accessory
  • Can I pay in several instalments at no extra cost? – some companies charge to spread the payment but there’s no harm in asking this anyway
  • I’ll go for it if you drop the credit card fees – many companies will add on a few percent to cover their banking costs; you can use this as a negotiating lever

And here’s how some companies will try to twist your arm:

Be ready for these responses

  • This deal is available for today only – usually an attempt to get you to make a decision before you’re ready
  • The price has gone up because insurance tax has increased – this may be true but probably only accounted for a tiny increase. If you did the sums beforehand you’ll already know that this was only 1% of the 15% increase they propose
  • I can offer you a significantly upgraded policy for only an additional 45% of the cost of what you have now – take care here as ‘upselling’ can be very persuasive. If you did not take the upgrade initially, you probably don’t need it
  • If you sign the contract now we can discuss the numbers later – a car dealer actually tried this on me once. Don’t fall for it as you cannot walk away

I said earlier that I had used most of these expressions. They have worked for home and car insurance, mobile phone contracts, energy suppliers, buying a car, car breakdown cover, buying beds and paying for home repairs.

Give it a go. You really do have nothing to lose and remember: if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

”If you don’t ask, you don’t get!”

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