How to Negotiate Lower Monthly Payments on Just About Anything

by Vincent King · 3 comments


It seems like everything we do is set up on a payment schedule. We make monthly payments for rent, mortgages, credit cards, school loans, and car payments. We even make payments for our music — Pandora One, anyone?

It’s a convenient way of life, especially since few people have the means to pay for all the things they need at once.

It’s all good, until it’s all due.

Daycare fees are due. Rent is due. Credit card payments are pushing the calendar, too. How are you going to make all your payments and still buy groceries? Don’t forget that Annie needs new shoes this month — how will you possibly pay for them?

Something has to give somewhere. But where?

You’re overstretched and can’t see the light. Before you consider something as drastic as bankruptcy, or giving up and falling behind, try negotiating with your lenders for lower payments.

Negotiations are an art. When done correctly, they can score you extra cash at the end of the month, so that you don’t fall short ever again.

7 Ways to Master the Art of Negotiation

1. Be a good tenant/client/customer.

If you’re often late on payments, it’s unlikely that your landlord or phone service is going to show leniency. On the other hand, if you’ve proven yourself trustworthy and honest with your on-time payments, you may find them more likely to empathize and agree to your request for a reprieve.

2. Know what their competition is up to.

Entering a negotiation knowing rates, fees, and lower payments from other services can give you a leg up when dealing with your lender. An informed buyer always has a higher chance of success than an uninformed one. If you know what you’re talking about, they’ll be more likely to negotiate with you.

3. Time your requests.

If you’re considering negotiating a contracted service like your lease, it’s best to negotiate when the demand is low. For real estate, that happens in February. If your lease is approaching renewal, use empty waiting lists to leverage a better monthly payment from your landlord. If your phone contract is almost up, now is the time to haggle for a better price — since the company knows you could potentially walk away without a fee.

4. Be polite.

Instead of entering the conversation in a domineering manner, ask the company what you should do, while reminding them that you can get better prices elsewhere. If you’re dealing with your phone service, politely say something like, “I’ve just found out I can get a better contract over at Sprint. But, I really enjoy the service here. What should I do?” Warning: don’t go into this bluffing — you may get called out. (Follow step #2 to prevent that!)

5. Be the best type of customer: a referrer.

By sending new business to your landlord or other provider, you increase your value to them. They’ll want to keep someone who’s a positive (and free) promotional service for their business. Use that information in your negotiation. If you’ve sent your landlord three new tenants that have proven as easy to deal with as you (they’ve kept their apartments clean and don’t cause disturbances), politely remind your landlord of the revenue you’ve helped bring to his building.

6. Know your credit score.

For many lenders, your credit score weighs heavily on your ability to pay and to pay on time. If you have good credit, use it as leverage in your request for a lower monthly payment. Landlords want tenants with excellent track records on their residence list. This also comes in handy if you’re negotiating with your credit card companies. Good credit means less interest. Find out what you should be paying for interest and ask for slightly less, which will lower your monthly payment.

7. Be confident.

When you start your polite conversation with your lender, begin by looking them in the eye and giving them a firm handshake. If you’re negotiating over the phone, let them hear your confidence. Even if you’re prepared in all other facets, your efforts will be undercut by a wishy-washy voice and timid eyes. Practice what you want to say and how you want to say it. Also practice power poses, such as standing with your hands on your hips. These stances have been proven to enhance success rates when trying to win at negotiations.

Have you ever been successful at negotiating lower monthly payments? 

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  • KT says:

    Easiest way to negotiate down is not to fall in love with a specific product/service. I made that mistake for years until recently when I realized how much it was costing me. By changing providers (and moving from a land line to wireless) I’m saving $30 a month on home phone service. Last month I negotiated my satellite TV service down to what I’d pay as a new cable subscriber without compromising any stations I regularly watch (another $30/month savings) and without the headache of actually changing services. And I even negotiated with a relative whose Netflix subscription I paid for to move from DVD mail delivery to streaming only (resulting in a $17/month savings) once I found s/he was primarily using the streaming service while watching very few DVDS. Instead I’ll pay for any low cost DVDs that s/he actually watches when they pick them up versus the Netflix DVDs that were ordered and which sometimes sat for weeks before being watched.
    Those additional savings per month add up quickly – which I’d made these changes a few years ago – I could have been saving over $900 a year with no noticeable difference in lifestyle!

  • @pfinMario says:

    I suppose. I negotiate on as many things as I can. That said, I’ve found that the easiest way to get a big discount on something is by not buying it…

  • Alex C says:

    With negotiations, most of the work is done outside of the conversation. When negotiating for rent, cable bill or even a raise at your work, it is important that you do all the research you can. Come to the negotiation with information, and think of the next best alternatives ahead of time.

    Once you have all the information, practice with your friend negotiating. Yes, I know that it probably sounds weird, but it is good to practice so you know what you are going to say and can build confidence.

    When it finally comes down to the phone call or the in person conversation it is helpful to explain how you have been as a customer, tell them what you want and show them the next best alternative that you could agree to. It is important that you go into a negotiation being ready to walk away if you do not get what you want. I do not mean rudely walking away, but taking your money or work elsewhere.

    When negotiation it is also important to be confident. When stating to get your bill lowered, do not ask if they can lower it because usually they will say no. Be sure to state what you want like so: “I would like to lower my bill this month.”

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