6 Common Bills You Can Negotiate

Bills, bills, bills: They may be ever-present in our daily lives, but they don’t have to be stressful. Between rising costs of living and everything from groceries to gas becoming more expensive, you should know that you have some flexibility in negotiating a lenient, more consumer-friendly payment plan for some of your expenses. Many companies will work with you since they would rather you pay in smaller increments than pay nothing at all — you just need to know which companies and how to approach them. Before you hit “send payment,” take a moment to research and potentially negotiate these six common bills.

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Medical Bills

An estimated 100 million Americans are burdened by medical debt, but you can get help paying off your bills. Ask your healthcare provider or hospital’s billing department about financial assistance. Most nonprofit hospitals are legally required to provide some level of assistance to patients in need. Also, always request an itemized list of your charges. This receipt exposes inflated prices, giving you exactly what you need to negotiate further with the medical provider or your insurance company.

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Internet, Cable, and Cell Phone Bills

Many internet and cable providers offer a discounted rate to new customers for the first year. If your deal is about to expire, call the company to ask if new deals are available. If they say no, suggest canceling your service and switching providers to convince the company to offer you an extended promotional rate. This works exceptionally well in regions where many providers are competing for business.

You can negotiate your cell service down to a much lower rate using the same method. Tell the representative that you’re considering switching to a low-cost alternative and ask if they can reduce the price to a more affordable rate. They often lower your cell phone bill to stay competitive and keep your business.

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There are several ways to negotiate a lower rent. When it’s time to renew, you can potentially avoid a raise in rent by agreeing to a longer lease or offering to pay several months upfront at the current rate. You can also offer to perform maintenance and repair duties in exchange for a lower rate. Not all landlords will be receptive to the idea, but if you’ve been a proven and reliable tenant, they may be willing to work with you to keep you in their property.

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Gym Memberships

Gyms offer year-round promotional rates to new members, but the lowest prices are often available at the start of each year to attract people trying to fulfill their New Year’s resolutions. Contact your gym’s billing office in early January to renegotiate your rate. Tell them you’re considering switching to another gym that offers lower rates to see if they will adjust your fees to keep you around. You can also try other strategies, such as using friends, family, and corporate referrals or seeing if you can get a discount for attending during off-peak periods.

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Credit Card Bills

Many credit cards have sky-high interest rates that add up quickly. Fortunately, most providers will work with you if you request a reprieve — they would rather you pay them than declare bankruptcy. If this doesn’t work, there are other ways to negotiate a lower bill, such as paying your original balance in a lump-sum settlement or applying for a hardship program to temporarily suspend interest payments.

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Parking Tickets

If you want to challenge your parking ticket before going to court, read it carefully for any disqualifying features from the issuer, such as an illegible signature or the wrong make or model of your car. If your car was parked correctly, take photos before moving it. Mail an appeal as soon as possible to prevent further late fees. If your ticket isn’t dismissed, you can avoid paying the total amount if you take it to court. By pleading not guilty, many courts will offer a reduced fine and a lesser charge in exchange for changing the plea to guilty.

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