What’s the easiest way to lower your monthly bills?
The answer is simple: Ask for it.
I know it seems too good to be true. But over the years, I’ve developed a process of regularly contacting my vendors and utility providers to take advantage of savings and discounts I’d otherwise be missing.
With one phone call this spring, I saved $414 on my family’s cell phone plan. I also learned how to get 20% off every time I dine at my favorite restaurant.
Cutting my monthly bills simply by asking the question is almost like finding free money!
Follow these steps to try it yourself.
1. Call All the Companies That Bill You
You might be surprised by how many vendors you pay on a regular basis. Cable and internet providers, cell phone companies, insurance agencies, software providers, landscapers . . . the list goes on.
If you don’t have a list readily available, check your credit card or bank statements and make one. This is your hit list.
If you’ve ever called your cable company, you’ve probably waited on hold for too long. I use Fast Customer, an app that calls thousands of companies on your behalf and patches you into the call once someone answers. No more waiting on hold!
2. Ask for the Best Deal
When you’ve got a representative on the phone, say, “Hi, I’ve been a customer for [number of] years, and I want to make sure I’m getting the best deal on my service.”
Then wait. Let the rep do the talking.
First, they’ll look up your current plan or pricing. Businesses often change their rates and offer new specials to be competitive, so merely asking for the best deal is the easiest way to get it.
When a company reduces pricing for new customers, they don’t always call their old customers and hand out discounts. It’s your responsibility to ask.
Last month, I cut my cell phone bill by $70 per month because AT&T released new plans.
3. Fish for Deals
If the first option doesn’t work, you might have to dig a little. Ask these questions, and chances are you’ll find savings somewhere:
Ask About a Promotion They’re Running
“I saw a commercial about some new promotion you guys are offering . . . what is that?”
It doesn’t matter whether you’ve actually seen a commercial, an ad in a magazine or a banner on the company’s website — or even a competitor’s ad. The point is to ask about marketing, and let them tell you which specials are running.
Ask Them to Match Competitors
“[Competitor name] keeps sending me things in the mail with really good deals. I don’t want to leave you guys, so is there something you can do to help?”
This is a hot button, and many customer service representatives will offer deals only when a customer is about to jump ship.
Ask for a Special Discount
“Is there any discount for pre-payment, or for paying in cash?”
Local vendors, especially, will gladly offer discounts for favorable payment terms. If you’ve got the money to pay early, you might as well take the savings!
Ask About Your Club Affiliations
“Do you offer discounts for any associations or clubs?”
Being a member of AAA has saved me more money than I can count.
You also want to check whether the company offers discounted gift cards for its service at a warehouse club, such as Sam’s Club or Costco. For example, I buy restaurant gift cards at Costco at 20% off.
4. If You Don’t Get a Discount, Get Something Else
If a rep can’t or won’t provide any sort of discount or new pricing, they might be able to give you something extra for the same price.
Here are some examples:
Get Free Trials or Upgrades
“Is there anything else you can do for me? Do you offer trials for premium services?”
For instance, almost every time I call DirecTV, I end up with a three-month trial of HBO. With local vendors, sometimes employees aren’t authorized to provide discounts, but they can offer some type of upgrade or one-time promotion.
“Do you run specials at any time during the year, so I can call back?”
Many businesses have annual promotions, and their customer service representatives can give you all the details on how to take advantage of those deals when the time comes.
“Is it possible to move back my bill date to later in the month?”
Pushing back a due date isn’t something you can do often. If you can do it, though, it can effectively give you a couple free weeks of service.
5. If You Get a Deal, Make It Count
This one is big. If you get a discount, or qualify for a new plan or pricing, ask if you can get a credit for the previous month (or previous several months) that the new pricing or promotion was available.
This way, you capture every last cent they’re willing to give you!
These savings can multiply quickly and will often be applied as credits on your account so your monthly bills drop dramatically for a little while.
Why Not Try?
Using this process, I spend less than an hour on the phone every few months and walk away with savings or benefits each time.
I’ve gotten better internet speed, a cheaper cell phone plan, free shipping, extra cable channels, credits toward future purchases and thousands of dollars in discounts.
All you have to do is ask.
Chris Ronzio helps business owners organize chaos and get things done so they have more time to do what they love. As a high school student, he founded a nationwide video production business that sold over $3 million in youth sporting event videos. Visit his site for more time-saving tips!
This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, one of the largest personal finance websites. We help millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. In 2016, Inc. 500 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the No. 1 fastest-growing private media company in the U.S.
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