Did you know there are secret sale prices for people who ask? It's true! You just need to know the ins and outs of a little trick called haggling.
Follow our easy pointers and you could save a great deal on a number of common purchases and even lower your credit card rate. Here's how to master the art of haggling.
LOWER CREDIT CARD RATES
Negotiating a lower interest rate can be one of the fastest and easiest things to work out. It costs card issuers about $300 to obtain a new customer, so they'd much rather give you a lower rate than lose your business, says Scott Bilker (yes, that's his real name), founder of debtsmart.com and author of Talk Your Way Out of Credit Card Debt. You may need to repeat your request to a supervisor who will have more leeway to meet your terms.
How to Prepare
- Collect three tempting credit card offers that came in the mail
- Use bankrate.com's Credit Card Rate Search tool to find the best rates for someone with your credit standing
- Use the lowest interest rate you find (or lower) as your opening offer
What to Say
You: I'm calling about my card. The rate is just too high. Can you lower it?
Rep: I see you're paying 18.99 percent. Based on your good standing and credit history, I can offer you 13.99 percent.
You: That's a great start. But I've been a customer for 10 years, and although I'd like to keep using this card, I have a few better offers. One card issuer promises 0 percent for nine months and 10.99 after that. Can you do better than 13.99 percent, or may I talk with your supervisor?
Rep: (after putting you on hold): Good news! We can match the 10.99 percent.
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"It's really a buyer's market now," says Kathryn Finney, author of How to Be a Budget Fashionista. Just be sure to tailor your strategy to the type of store. Discount stores like Target or Kohl's respond best to tactics emphasizing what their competitors are doing. At single-brand stores, like Gap or New York & Company, you'll often get better results by pointing out how long a particular item has been on the rack.
How to Prepare
- Gather price information at competing retailers and e-tailers. Avoid extra legwork by using the Frucall comparison service when you're in a store. Call 888-363-7822 or text "FRU11" and enter the item's bar code. Frucall will hunt down the best deals online
- Time your visit wisely: Weekdays and mornings are best. You're more likely to get on the good side of a sales associate or manager if you haggle when she isn't dealing with crowds of customers
- Make your opening offer 10 to 15 percent less than the lowest price you've found
- If a sales associate says she isn't authorized to bargain, politely ask to speak to a manager or supervisor
What to Say
You: I'm interested in this sweater. But I just came from [a competing store] and they had it for $10 less. I'd rather finish my shopping here than go back there. Can you match their price?
Manager: Our policy is to match competitors' prices, so that's not a problem.
You: I also noticed this skirt has a stain along the hem. I checked the shelf and it's the last one in the color I want.
Manager: Let me see. That's not major damage, but I could knock off 10 percent.
You: Could you go a little lower?
Manager: Well, 15 percent is probably the best that I could do.
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While electronics-store staffers haggle routinely, you may need to get creative to break the fixed-price mentality at department stores. If an employee won't budge on price, ask about free delivery or a complimentary extended warranty. Ally yourself with a salesperson. "On big-ticket items, she gets a commission no matter how much you pay," says Tawra Kellam, who runs the Website livingonadime.com. "You might try to politely remind the saleswoman that she doesn't want you to walk away and have someone else from the store grab that bonus."
How to Prepare
- Price-shop the appliance online using helpful comparison search engines like nextag.com or pricegrabber.com. Then, print out the lowest amounts you find there from big-name retailers
- Call two locally owned stores for their prices, so you know what they're charging
- Calculate your opening offer. Aim for 15 percent below the lowest price you've seen in person or online or you've heard on the phone
What to Say
You: I've been looking at this washer-dryer combo, but $1,900 for the pair is a bit more than I'd like to spend. Is this really the best price I can get?
Employee: Hmm...let me see... Well, right now, there's a $100 mail-in rebate. So that would lower the price to $1,800.
You: Great! But that's still a bit more than I'd like to spend. I was wondering if you could do any better than that.
Employee: If you buy today, I can get my manager to throw in free delivery. You'd still get the rebate.
You: That's good. But I also found this offer online from your competitor, which has the same washer-dryer set on sale for $1,700. Can you match that?
Employee: Let me check with my manager... (Employee disappears and then returns.) Good news! It turns out that I can do you one better. We'll actually price-match and deduct another 10 percent, so that brings the set down to $1,530 before the rebate, $1,430 total.
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KEY PHRASES TO USE
You'll boost your odds of haggling success by tossing around these words:
"I've been comparing prices." Translation: "I know what I'm doing." The salesperson knows you'll go where the best deal is.
"This item's not perfect." Point out any problem - maybe it's a discontinued model or the floor sample that has a nick on it. Noting this tells the sales rep you're doing her a favor by buying the item.
"Thank you." Employees are more likely to help a gracious customer than someone who comes off as rude or pushy.
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Have you tried haggling? What are your tricks for snagging a lower price?
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Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.