How to haggle like a pro

Money saving experts explain how to save dosh

Marcus Webb – Virgin Money Living Mentor

by Marcus Webb | Independent Money Mentor

Editor of Delayed Gratification and independent journalist

Haggling is an art form, but not everyone feels comfortable doing it. As part of a Virgin Money Living Live event at one of our Lounges, we assembled a crack team of experts to show how to save £725 a year. Here are their top tips…

Start haggling and stop throwing money away

Richard Headland, Editor-in-chief Which? 

Which? has carried out some extensive research into how much people can save by haggling over household bills. We found out that even a moderate user could save a staggering £725 a year by negotiating the price of their mobile phone contract, insurance (car, breakdown and home), broadband and TV bills.

Think about the difference that money would make

Eileen Adamson, Financial Coach and founder of

Haggling takes time and effort, so you need to find the motivation to do it. Think about the difference you could make with that money. The £725 the average person could save is roughly £60 a month, and there’s a lot you can do with that. Say you have a £130,000 mortgage on a 25-year term paying interest at 3.5% interest rate, if you overpay that mortgage by £60 a month you will save £9,195 in interest over the term of the loan. What’s more, you’ll pay off that mortgage three years early, meaning an extra £651 per month in your pocket from that moment on. That’s £24,000 in total over final three years. Feeling motivated yet?

Believe in your haggling abilities

Karyn Fleeting, founder of Miss Thrifty, winner of the Plutus Award for Best International Personal Finance Blog

You don’t need to have a God-given talent for negotiation to be a competent haggler, you just need to do your homework and be persistent.

Know which tariffs you are on

Richard Headland

When it comes to energy bills, if you’re not on a fixed tariff, you’re on the standard variable tariff (SVT). According to Which? research 70 percent of households on SVT pay at least £300 more a year for their energy as a result.

Know what you are using

Karyn Fleeting

Knowledge is power. The more you know about how much energy you are using, which channels you actually watch or how much data you actually need on your phone the better the position you will be in to negotiate down the price by turning off extras you’re not using anyway.

Follow the four steps

Richard Headland

Good haggling boils down to four simple steps:

1. Do your homework – use a comparison site to find out the cheapest price available for any of your household bills.

2. Call the company’s cancellations department – don’t bother with any other department: cancellations have the power to lower the price you pay.

3. Ask them to match or beat the best price you’ve found.

4. If they will, check the details. You want to know exactly what you’re signing up to – they may want to do things like put you on a much longer contract. If they won’t match or beat the price, then cancel and switch instead – you need to have the confidence of your convictions.

Get your timing right

Eileen Adamson

The best prices are usually available between four and six weeks before you are due to renew. If you are locked in to an expensive long term contract then it might be worth looking at paying the exit fee needed to break it – you can often save in the long run. And it’s worth noting that exit fees do not always apply in the last six weeks of a contract, so it’s worth checking.

Don’t put up with price rises

Karyn Fleeting

Many providers raise prices during a contract. Challenge this whenever you can: do you need the new service they are claiming is behind the rise? Also, remember that if the price is increased by more than the current rate of inflation then you have the right to terminate the contract without paying an exit fee.

Loyalty doesn’t always pay

Richard Headland

According to research by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Citizens’ Advice, people who renew their insurance policy over five years with the same provider pay an average of 70 percent more than new customers. You have nothing to be embarrassed about here – they do. So call.

Before making financial decisions always do research, or talk to a financial adviser. Views are those of our mentors and customers and do not constitute financial advice.