You Can Negotiate More Bills Than You Think
Bills can be negotiable. If you know who to ask and what to say, you may be able to save money on monthly bills.
November 16, 2021
When we get a bill in the mail, many of us pay without thinking about it, even if it’s higher than we think it should be. In reality, it’s quite possible to negotiate certain types of monthly bills.
Knowing how to lower bills through negotiations, payment plans and other actions can help save you a lot of money in the long run.
This article will discuss the types of monthly bills that can often be negotiated and how to negotiate a lower cable bill, phone bill or other monthly expense.
Which bills can be negotiated?
To be clear, not all monthly bills are negotiable. And in reality, the companies that are billing you don’t want their bills to be negotiated — but it’s often worth trying, particularly for certain types of expenses.
The bills that are most commonly negotiable include:
Cell phone bills
Cable or satellite TV bills
Credit card bills (APR and fees)
Each company is different in how they handle bill negotiations. Some will flat-out refuse to budge, while others are more willing to work with you.
How to negotiate your bills
For the best results, it helps to come prepared to the negotiating table.
The strategy for how to negotiate an internet bill will be different from the approach to negotiating a medical bill. With that said, there are some broad strategies that you can employ for better results.
Generally speaking, the first step is to call the company’s main customer service line. You’ll want to speak with the billing department or main customer care department. Explain that you’re calling to discuss your bill, and you’ll be directed to the appropriate department.
Once you reach the right department, explain that you’re hoping to receive a discount or adjustment to your bill. Here are some things to keep in mind during this call:
Highlight your history. Tell them if you have been a loyal customer for a certain number of years. Mention that you would like to stay with the company but that the price is too high.
Understand your alternatives. It helps to have leverage in the form of other service providers. Research alternatives in your area — cell service providers, cable companies, etc. – and be prepared to explain your alternatives and their pricing to the service representative.
Connect with the right person. The first person you speak with may not have the ability to authorize a discount. If they are unable to, it may be appropriate to politely ask to speak with their supervisor.
Be gracious. Even if you feel frustrated, do your best to be kind to the person helping you. This will help the conversation go smoothly and can also improve your odds of successfully negotiating the bill.
Be prepared to walk away. In the case of a service bill like internet, cell phone or cable, you’ll have the most bargaining power if you’re genuinely prepared to cancel the service. If you aren’t offered a discount, make it clear that you’ll be switching providers or canceling the service unless the provider can work with you on the cost.
Consider upgrades. In some cases, a provider won’t be willing to lower your bill, but they may be able to offer you complimentary upgrades. For instance, an internet service provider may be able to give you faster internet for the same price.
Ask about promotions or offers. Customer service representatives may be able to see promotions or special offers that are attached to your account. It’s worth asking directly if you qualify for any available promotions.
How to negotiate medical bills
Medical bills are different from your typical monthly bills. It may not seem like a hospital invoice or doctor’s bill could be negotiable, but in fact, many medical facilities have entire departments dedicated to providing financial assistance.
To negotiate a medical bill, call the provider’s billing department. Explain that you’re seeking financial assistance and see what options they have available.
Many medical providers offer payment plans which can allow you to pay the bill over time. Some may even be able to discount the billed amounts, particularly for patients without insurance. This guide from Equifax can help you prepare for your negotiation.
How to negotiate credit card bills
If you purchase something on a credit card, you must eventually pay off that purchase. This cost is not negotiable. However, other aspects of credit card bills, such as fees and interest rates, may be negotiable.
In the case of fees — like late fees, annual fees, etc. — it’s a good idea to simply call in and ask if the fee can be waived. In many cases, providers are willing to waive these small fees to keep you as a customer.
In the case of the APR, if you believe your interest rate is higher than it should be, you may be able to negotiate it. This is particularly true if your credit score has improved since you applied for the card.
How to save money on bills
Some bills may not be negotiable, but that doesn’t mean you can’t save money on them.
Here are a few ways you might be able to save money on bills:
Canceling unnecessary services, such as cable (or consider cheaper streaming services as an alternative)
Downgrading to a cheaper plan
Joining a family plan or other group plan
Sharing services with family or friends
Keep in mind that even a small decrease on a monthly bill can make a big difference in the long run. It’s definitely worth putting in some effort to see if you can lower these recurring costs to help improve your financial standing.
Another way to improve your financial situation is to pay off any high-interest credit card debt. Check out Tally†, a personal finance app that can help you manage your credit card payments and potentially help you get out of debt faster.
†To get the benefits of a Tally line of credit, you must qualify for and accept a Tally line of credit. The APR (which is the same as your interest rate) will be between 7.90% and 29.99% per year and will be based on your credit history. The APR will vary with the market based on the Prime Rate. Annual fees range from $0 - $300.