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UMe’s Helpful Tips: How to Negotiate and Save More

Good news: Inflation is slowing down, which is a positive thing! However, it’s unlikely that it will decrease much further. That means it’s important for U to keep track of expenses that are hard to reduce within your budget. But here’s more good news: You can negotiate some things and possibly lower them! Start by shopping around and gathering evidence to make your case. Then stay cool, calm, and collected. You might be surprised by what you can accomplish!

Here are some examples of bills that can be negotiated:

  1. Rent. If you’ve been a great tenant, remind your landlord about it. They may hesitate to replace you because it can be expensive for them. You can suggest signing a longer lease or paying a few months of rent in advance if you’re able to afford it. If they won’t reduce the rent, try asking for other perks like a smaller security deposit, free parking, or upgrades to your apartment, like new appliances.
  2. Medical Bills. First, try to schedule procedures or exams with providers who are covered by your insurance. If you’ve already received the bill, don’t worry—it’s not too late to negotiate! Ask your doctor’s office or the hospital for an itemized bill, and carefully check for any mistakes like duplicate charges or services you didn’t receive. You’d be surprised how often this can happen! If you find errors, reach out to the billing office and let them know. Now, if you’re unable to afford the full amount, don’t hesitate to ask about options to minimize your responsibility. Billing departments are accustomed to patients requesting lower bills, and they might be willing to work with you. Inquire about financial aid or medical forgiveness programs, or explore the possibility of setting up a payment plan that doesn’t accrue interest. Remember, it’s super important to advocate for yourself and explore available options to make medical bills more manageable.
  3. Credit Cards. Consider calling your credit card company and asking for a lower interest rate. This can help you pay off your debt faster, since you’ll be charged less interest. If you’ve recently improved your credit score or consistently make on-time payments, let your creditors know — show that you’re a responsible customer worth keeping. Additionally, once you’ve paid off your credit card, it may be tempting to close the account. However, doing so can negatively affect your credit score. Closing the account can lower your credit capacity and increase your credit utilization ratio, which is the percentage of available credit you’re using, and it can shorten the average age of your accounts. Instead, simply choose to stop using the card while keeping it open, especially if you have another card with better terms or benefits (like a UMe Visa Credit Card, which offers U a low, fixed rate!). This way, you’ll maintain a positive credit score while using a more favorable credit card!
  4. Phone and cable. Contact your provider’s customer service and ask them if there are any discounts or cheaper plans available. Especially if your current plan includes things you don’t need, such as unused TV channels or extra data because you’re mostly on WiFi. If the price is still too high, refer to your notes and see if your current provider can match or beat the lower prices you found when comparing different options. If the representative can’t help, ask to speak to a supervisor for further assistance.

Negotiating bills can be an effective way to save money. Here are some steps U can take to help you negotiate your bills:

  1. Research and gather information: Start by researching the current rates and offers from competing providers in your area. This knowledge will give you leverage during negotiations and help you make informed decisions.
  2. Review your current bills: Carefully examine your bills to identify any unnecessary charges, fees, or services that you can potentially eliminate or reduce. Make a list of these items to discuss during negotiations.
  3. Contact your service providers: Reach out to your service providers, such as internet, cable, or mobile phone companies, and express your desire to reduce your bills. Be polite and explain your reasons for seeking a better deal. Ask to be connected to the retention department, as they often have more authority to provide discounts and incentives.
  4. Be prepared to negotiate: When speaking with customer service representatives or retention specialists, be confident, assertive, and persistent. State that you are considering switching to a competitor if they cannot offer a better deal. Refer to the research you’ve done and the offers you’ve found elsewhere.
  5. Bundle services: Inquire about bundle deals or discounted packages that combine multiple services from the same provider. Companies often provide discounts for bundling services like internet, TV, and phone.
  6. Mention your loyalty: If you’ve been a long-standing customer, mention your loyalty and emphasize that you would prefer to stay with the company if they can offer you a better rate. Some providers have retention offers specifically designed for long-term customers.
  7. Ask for promotional rates: Inquire about any ongoing promotions or special offers that might not be advertised. Companies often have hidden deals available, but you need to ask in order to access them.
  8. Consider downgrading or eliminating services: Evaluate your usage patterns and consider downgrading or eliminating services that you don’t fully utilize. For example, if you rarely watch cable TV, consider cutting the cord and opting for a streaming service instead.
  9. Request fee waivers: If you’ve incurred late payment fees or other charges, ask the company to waive them as a goodwill gesture. Often, they will accommodate such requests, especially if you have a good payment history.
  10. Keep records and notes: During your negotiations, make sure to keep detailed records of the conversations, including dates, times, names of the representatives you spoke with, and any agreements or offers made. These records will be helpful if any discrepancies arise in the future.

Don’t forget negotiating bills requires patience and persistence. Don’t be afraid to explore other options if your current provider is unwilling to accommodate your requests.

UMe Pro Tip: A good negotiator has three important qualities: Confidence, politeness, and being well-informed. Don’t hesitate to ask for what you want. But remember to ask nicely because — and this is sad but true — customer service representatives deal with rude people all the time, and they’re more likely to help you if you’re polite. Before negotiating, do some research to understand the current market rates and what different prices mean. Sometimes, switching to a cheaper service might not be worth it if you end up losing features that you actually need and use frequently.

If this still sounds a bit too daunting for U, there are also bill negotiation services that can take care of the negotiation portion for you! More often than not, this service comes with a fee, but if they are unsuccessful with lowering your bills, then you typically wouldn’t be charged. For example: Goodbill helps with negotiating medical bills, and Rocket Money helps with a number of bill negotiations — but there are a few out there, so feel free to explore!

We hope this information has been helpful because U matter to Me, to all of us, at UMe!

For more money-saving tips, check out this UMe blog post.

Disclaimer: U matter to Me (all of us) at UMe — and that’s why we do our best to deliver helpful information on our blog. Please note the following: (1) UMe Credit Union works hard to make certain that the information we post here is as accurate as humanly possible. But as you know, information can change and evolve quickly. While we try to update the blog on a regular basis, the content of some older posts may not be correct or up-to-date. (2) Some destinations on the World Wide Web that we link you to will exist on external websites. UMe Credit Union does not officially endorse any connected sites, nor do/did we compensate or get compensated by any entities to be featured in our posts (unless otherwise noted). (3) Everyone’s situation is unique and we advise you to consult with our personal bankers or your finance, tax, or legal professional for advice individualized to you!