10 Bills You Probably Don't Know Are Negotiable

Drowning in a sea of bills? You might be surprised at how much you can cut those costs simply by asking for a break.

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Updated June 6, 2024
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Bills range from annoying to downright debilitating. But many have one thing in common — you probably have more power to negotiate them down than you think. 

Even though it can be challenging to garner the courage to ask for lower payments, doing so can help you get ahead financially, and the companies would rather you pay something than nothing. 

Here are the bills you should consider negotiating and some pointers for decreasing your payments.

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Medical bills

cat027/Adobe Hospital bill and stethoscope

The U.S. may be one of the wealthiest countries in the world, but residents still have to pay for medical insurance and health care bills, sometimes in crippling amounts.

Fortunately, it is often possible to negotiate and lower medical bills.

For example, if you cannot pay a debt from a recent trip to the hospital, try to work out a more manageable payment plan with the institution where you were treated. They might be willing to work with you, rendering your overall bill less scary.

Parking tickets

rh2010/Adobe man putting parking ticket on car

We’ve all had the experience: You head downtown to run some errands and forget to extend the parking time when things inevitably run long. You return to your car, and there’s a parking ticket on your windshield.

While that’s bad news for you, the good news is that you have options, especially if you can make a case for why you shouldn’t have gotten a ticket.

Perhaps you spotted some mistakes on the citation — such as the wrong license plate number — that leave room for negotiation. Take a snap of the scene with your phone’s camera if you see something amiss, like unclear signage.

Cable/internet bills

nenetus/Adobe Woman working on computer

When you shop for cable or internet service, many companies will entice you with a sign-on deal, only to hike the price once the promotional period has passed.

Fortunately, you may be able to hold onto that introductory pricing by threatening to cancel altogether, which can spur your provider to negotiate.

This strategy is especially effective if your provider faces a lot of competition for customers in your area.

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Phone bills

Prostock-studio/Adobe senior black businessman talking on phone holding papers working indoors

Your phone bill can eat a significant portion of your income. This is especially true if you upgrade to the newest iPhone model as soon as it’s available and add that cost to two years of carrier service.

However, you might be able to barter with your carrier for a lower bill.

Why? Many low-cost carriers provide service at a lower cost (though their coverage might not be as good). So try telling your original provider that you have better offers, and see if the carrier will keep you as a customer by charging you less.

Electronics

Pixel-Shot/Adobe Electronic products

The expense of buying a new television, computer, or microwave can make managing money a headache. These big-ticket items can cost quite a bit, but you have options to reduce the pain at the register.

For example, opting for a floor model will usually get you a discount. Also, check pricing on sites like Amazon. If you find a better deal on the same product, point that out to the retailer and see if they will match the price.

If your heart is set on a black microwave but they only have chrome, let the retailer know. They may offer you a deal on the black one.

Expensive jewelry

Piman Khrutmuang/Adobe Gold jewelry diamond shop with rings and necklaces luxury retail store window display

If you or your significant other has a penchant for shiny things, you know how expensive jewelry is, especially the good stuff. There is often an insane markup on high-end jewelry, like diamonds.

To avoid paying so much for that engagement ring, head out to an indie jeweler instead of a chain shop. Independent shops might be more willing to negotiate on price, although you may have to deploy your best haggling skills over several weeks before you claim your prize.

Gym membership

Joshua Resnick/Adobe Three people running on treadmills at the gym

Gyms often offer discounted rates in January, when people are determined to fulfill New Year’s resolutions. But you don’t have to sign up early in the year to get the best rate on a membership.

Regardless of the time of year, consider signing up at the end of the month, when gyms are likely looking to meet quotas. Then, you may be able to negotiate. Speak with a manager instead of a salesperson, as a manager is probably better able to cut you a deal.

Consumer Reports says simply offering to work out during off-hours might get you an even bigger discount.

Rent

Song_about_summer/Adobe Searching for apartment online

Rental costs are off the charts right now, and paying rent is more difficult than ever. However, there may be some ways to soften your landlord’s heart.

If you’re able to do so, try offering to pay several months’ rent at a time, putting more cash in the landlord’s coffers. 

You can also volunteer to sign a multi-year lease or provide free maintenance services, like painting or mowing the lawn. Paying your rent doesn't have to be as difficult as it currently is. 

College tuition

Drazen/Adobe happy multi-ethnic group of college students

College tuition is one of the biggest expenses many parents will ever have. The good news is that there is often some wiggle room.

So, inform financial aid officers if you have financial hardships. This may qualify you for additional scholarships and grants.

Also, if another school has made a better scholarship offer, show that to officials at your preferred university and see if the latter can match it.

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Credit card fees

Mix and Match Studio/Adobe girl looking amused at credit card

Credit card fees can be more negotiable than you realize. If you’re carrying a balance with a high interest rate, phone the company and ask it to reduce the rate.

Let the representative know that the high rate is a hardship and point out how loyal you’ve been to the lender. This may not always work, but it can be worth a try.

You can also suggest that you'll transfer your balance to a different company if your current lender won’t reduce the interest rate.

Another more modest way to save is to ask your lender to waive a card’s annual fee in exchange for your agreement not to cancel the account.

Bottom line

StockImageFactory/Adobe Senior couple reviewing bills

Speaking up can save you big, and you don't need to feel bad for asking.

Getting these discounts may cost you some time, but the money you’ll save by negotiating can really add up. Plus, what’s the worst that can happen? They say no, and you’re no worse for the wear.

So go ahead and try to negotiate your first bill today. With any luck, negotiating your bills will pay dividends and increase your financial fitness.

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Author Details

Cat Lafuente

Cat Lafuente is a Florida-based writer and editor with extensive experience in digital and print content spaces. Her own personal finance journey — particularly consolidating debt and paying it off, in turn boosting her credit score and becoming a homeowner — inspired her to join the FinanceBuzz team; she hopes she can help others do the same.