How to Haggle

Five Methods:Haggling in a Foreign CountryHaggling at Flea Markets or Yard SalesBuying Houses, Cars, or Other Expensive ItemsKnowing What to AvoidUsing Different Phrases and Tactics

Sometimes the asking price is just too much—or maybe you need to convince a potential customer otherwise! Either way, polite haggling is a fun and skillful way to negotiate a price everyone can agree on. Read on for everything from bargain bin flea market goods to closing a real estate deal!

Method 1
Haggling in a Foreign Country

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    Know when it's appropriate to haggle. Different countries have difference cultures. Some of their customs might be similar to your own, while others may be strikingly different. Take time to familiarize yourself with the culture of the country you are visiting. In some places, haggling is expected and encouraged for everything, while others are more restricted.
    • In general, most posted prices tend to be final. Haggling is less likely to be successful.[1]
    • If you see two prices listed—one in English and one in the local language—take note of the currencies and exchange rates. If the values are different, consider haggling for the lower price.
    • Sometimes, it is inappropriate to haggle for certain items. For example, in some countries, it is acceptable to haggle taxi prices, but not acceptable to haggle food prices.[2]
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    Be mindful of religious customs. If you are visiting a foreign country, the dominant religion might be different from your own. Some vendors may close specifically for a holiday, while others for prayers. Do not disrupt a person while he or she is praying, and do not get angry if a vendor closes due to a religious holiday.
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    Be aware of different manners and customs. What may be considered polite in one place may be considered rude in another. Before you go haggling, take time to study the culture. This will prevent any unexpected surprises. It will also prevent you from accidentally insulting a vendor. For example, in many Middle Eastern and Islamic countries:
    • Handshakes are important. They are always done with the right hand. It is also rude to break a handshake. If a vendor initiates a handshake, wait for him or her to break it, no matter how long it takes.[3]
    • The interactions between men and women can be different. If you are male, and the vendor is female, do not initiate the handshake. Wait for her to extend her hand, if at all. Avoid making extended eye contact with her.[4]
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    Be respectful of others' culture and language. If you are rude, people might be less willing to negotiate with you. If you are polite and respectful, however, the vendor may be more willing to haggle and negotiate a lower price. Consider learning a traditional greeting (and response) as well as a "thank you" before you visit a marketplace, or anywhere where there might be haggling. Even if you cannot say anything else in the vendor's language, he or she may see that you are trying and respect you for it.[5]
    • If you are a beginning language student, consider using the local language's words for numbers even if you can't carry out a full conversation.
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    Don't advertise your nationality. If you're in a much poorer country than your own, locals may expect you to pay higher prices. Chances are you won't be able to hide this, especially if you aren't fluent in the local language, but try to minimize flashy foreign clothing and expensive accessories.
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    Consider going shopping near the end of the day. This is when sellers are preparing to leave and eager to offload stock.[6]
    • Ask a local for any regional exceptions they might know about. For example, in the city of Chiang Mi, Thailand, some vendors may be willing to provide a good bargain for the lucky first sale of the day.[7]
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    Shop around.[8] If you are going to a marketplace, you might find several stalls selling the same (or a very similar) item. Take note of the price differences between the items. If one vendor's price is higher than the marketplace average, take note of the item's quality. There might be a reason why it is a higher price. For example, real fur items tend to be more expensive than fake fur items. If the price is the only difference, then you may try to haggle for a lower price that falls within the average range. The vendor might even offer up a lower price.
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    Consider bringing a friend with you. Try to bring a friend who has lived in that country for a long time, or is familiar with the culture and customs. Not only might this make negotiating prices less intimidating, but any conversations and input from your friend might influence the vendor's final price. Don't be afraid to hold conversations with your friend over the item's value—just remember to keep it respectful. You don't want the vendor to refuse to sell the item to you.[9]
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    Negotiate the seller down to your price. Decide what you're willing to pay secretly, then bargain the seller down to that amount with offers and counteroffers. For example, you can begin by offering to pay half the price listed. The vendor will likely offer a higher price than what you offered, but still lower than the original. If this still seems unfair to you, don't be afraid to disagree, make a face, or act disappointed. The vendor may lower the price to keep you happy and to sell the item.[10] Here are a few more tips:
    • Choose a price in your home currency, then translate it (roughly) into the currency you're using. It's easy to get used to local prices, but don't let a high or low exchange rate trick you into turning down a good offer or paying more than you'd like.
    • You can make a much lower offer than the listed price if you are sure the price is inflated for foreigners. Let the seller know you know and they might give it to you for the local price.
    • The correct counteroffer may vary depending on the area you are in. If you can, ask a local beforehand what seems reasonable. If you have to guess, never offer below 50% of the initial price.
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    Continue negotiating until you agree on a price. Once it's at a price you're willing to pay, purchase the item and thank the seller. In order to achieve that price, you might need to resort to the following tactics:
    • Showing hesitation or remaining silent can cause the seller to respond with a better offer. But in some cultures, this can be interpreted as a sign of disinterest. If they start turning away, immediately start talking again—but you don't need to raise your offer right away.
    • Agree to their last offer on the condition they throw in another item you're interested in for a reduced rate.[11]
    • Have a friend pretend to pull you away or convince you to move on. This may trigger a final offer from the seller.[12]
    • If you don't have a friend handy, simply start walking away for the same effect. Once you try this, though, you may not get a better deal if you walk right back to the stall.
    • Pull out the amount of cash you're offering and show it to the seller to tempt them directly. Don't try this with what is considered large amount of money in that country. This may put you at risk for mugging or pick pocketing later on.[13]

Method 2
Haggling at Flea Markets or Yard Sales

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    Dress down. You don't need to go out of your way to look ratty, but avoid obviously expensive clothing. Chances are you'll be negotiating over cheap items, and a fancy suit or dress tells the seller you can afford to pay full price.[14]
    • Don't forget to remove flashy jewelry and watches for the same reason.
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    Arrive at the end of the day. In the last hour or two before they pack up and leave, sellers will be eager to get rid of their remaining merchandise [15]
    • The flip side of arriving late is a smaller selection. For maximum choice (but higher prices), arrive early.
    • If the flea market is seasonal, the time of year can also have an effect on the price. When the flea market has just opened, sellers will have a large inventory from the off-season and may be eager to offload it so they have room to obtain more desirable goods.
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    Secretly decide on a maximum price. Once you've found your item, decide to yourself what you're willing to pay for it. Having a clear boundary will prevent you from being convinced to pay more than you are willing.[16]
    • Never reveal this price to the seller! If you do, he has no reason to offer you a lower one.
    • You can try browsing around first to get an idea for how similar items are selling, but there's no guarantee you'll find anything comparable, and the item may be snatched up in the meantime.
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    Make a low but reasonable offer. Most vendors expect haggling, but offering less than 50% the asking price will only offend them.[17]
    • Asking for a 25 to 50% discount is usually considered reasonable as an initial counteroffer at a flea market, although the final price will more likely be 10-25% below the listed one.
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    Show hesitation before responding to their counteroffer. Saying "hmmm" or simply pausing before you reply will make you seem less willing to purchase the item. This gives you more bargaining power.
    • Simply remaining silent can cause them to respond with a better offer. This works better if you have the seller's full attention. If you're trying to buy a $1 keychain, the seller might just ignore you and move on to another customer!
    • After a pause, respond with a new offer between your last one and the seller's current offer.
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    Continue negotiating until you agree on a price or the seller balks. Continue to show hesitation until the seller reduces the price below your secret "maximum price". If the seller won't reduce the price to that amount, try these other tactics:
    • Agree to their last offer on the condition they throw in another item you're interested in for a reduced rate.[18]
    • Have a friend pretend to pull you away or convince you to move on. This may trigger a final offer from the seller.[19]
    • If you don't have a friend handy, simply start walking away for the same effect. Once you try this, though, you won't get a better deal if you walk right back to the stall!
    • Pull out the amount of cash you're offering and show it to the seller to tempt them directly. Don't try this with a large amount of money, or anywhere with a high risk of pickpocketing or mugging.[20]

Method 3
Buying Houses, Cars, or Other Expensive Items

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    Do your research. Do some preliminary "homework" by searching the Internet or visiting other stores to find the lowest prices for the item you want.
    • Printing out a counteroffer or writing down the website to show the seller during negotiation demonstrates that you've done your research and are willing to go elsewhere.
    • Make sure you're looking at comparable products. Just because you found a used model for half the price doesn't mean you can get a new one for that amount.[21]
    • If you're considering a house, ask a real estate agent to provide you with a list of comparable listings and sales. Also find out how long the house has been on the market — the longer it has, the more willing the owners will be to sell it at a discount.[22]
    • Familiarize yourself with the product's features and how they compare to similar products. The more knowledgeable you are, the better you'll be able to judge the terms of the deal.
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    Dress well. When negotiating over expensive items, looking your best will garner more respect from the other party. This is especially true if you're negotiating over a house.
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    Be discreet in your negotiations. If you're purchasing a television or car in a public location, the seller won't want nearby customers to discover they can get a cheaper deal. Keep the volume down and the conversation private to get the best deals.[23]
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    Make a low but reasonable starting offer. Your earlier research should give you a good idea of how much "wiggle room" you have. Be careful not to undershoot and offend the seller.
    • When shopping for houses, a polite offer is usually 5 to 10% below the listed price.[24]
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    Give the other person a reason to change their price. If they don't agree to your offer, you'll need to give them a reason to change their mind. It's difficult to haggle over very expensive items simply by naming prices back and forth.
    • Point out your loyal customer history if you have one, or offer an additional benefit. If you're buying a car, for instance, offer to have the car serviced at their garage if they sell it to you. If you're selling a home, agree to pay for a repair.
    • Discuss any flaws in the product, however minor. A small dent or a feature that doesn't live up to its advertisement can be reasons for a discount.[25]
    • Mention dissatisfaction with some aspect of the product, such as the style or lack of associated product (e.g. a wireless keyboard for a computer). Be careful not to insult the seller, especially if they are the craftsman or designer of the product.
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    Ask about available coupons, sales, or a cash discount. Retailers won't have to pay a credit card fee for a cash transaction, and may pass on that discount to you.[26]
    • Warning: This could backfire if you're trying to buy a house. Having enough cash on hand to buy a house can signify to the seller that you're wealthy enough to afford more.
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    Continue negotiating until you agree on a price or the seller balks. Act hesitant until the seller reduces the price to an acceptable level. If the seller won't reach a price you're happy with, try these other tactics:
    • If you're making an offer on a house, send a polite thank you email to their counteroffer, but don't respond with a counteroffer of your own for several days. This gives them time to worry you might not be interested, and to consider lowering the price.
    • Say you have a spouse or family member at home that's limiting your budget. You could even fake a call to them if you have to. If the price is "out of your hands" the seller might concede some ground.
    • If all you can get is a mediocre deal, ask the seller how long they can hold that price for you. Quoting that price at other establishments could cause both them and the original one to lower their price.[27]
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    Keep a close eye on the transaction. Reading the fine print on your real estate contract or warranty plan is always a good idea. If the final price or terms are different than you expected, immediately bring it up with the other party. You may need to haggle further.

Method 4
Knowing What to Avoid

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    Never appear enthusiastic. If you show that you're eager to buy or sell the item, the other party knows they'll be able to get a more attractive price.
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    Don't haggle when the other party is unwilling. Negotiation is expected when purchasing an expensive item, or when people are trying to get rid of items at a flea market or yard sale. You'll have much less success — and irritate the seller — if you try to bring down the price of a restaurant meal or a bus ticket.
    • Although the owners of an independent "mom and pop" store have the authority to strike deals, they often have a smaller profit margin and less wiggle room for discounts. If they seem offended by your attempt, don't try to continue haggling.
    • Larger chains and department stores often have a set policy which may or may not include allowing discounts. If the clerk says they are not authorized to do so, try asking to see someone who is.
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    Never act rude or condescending. Treat the other negotiator well and they will do the same to you.[28]
    • Careful! This does not mean you have to compliment the item you're intending to buy. Appearing enthusiastic shows the seller you are willing to pay more for it.
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    Don't get angry or over-invested in the haggling. Haggling can be fun, but it's a means to an end. If you've been arguing for ten minutes and neither of you have changed your price, more talking is unlikely to help.[29]
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    Never haggle over insignificant amounts. Bargaining someone $50 away from their initial offer and then refusing to close a 50¢ gap will make the other party regret doing business with you.
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    Don't ask for the seller's "best price" and then continue haggling. Especially for small items at a flea market, the vendor knows what they're willing to sell for. If they gave you an honest "best price" answer they'll only be annoyed if you continue to argue.[30]

Method 5
Using Different Phrases and Tactics

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    Appeal to the seller's sympathy. Let the seller know if you don't have much money to spend.
    • I'm unemployed / a student / retired.
    • I only have (X) to spend this month. Can you make that work?
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    Get the seller to make adjustments. Try to convince them to tell you how low they'll go, or at least start making concessions.
    • What's your range of flexibility on this item?[31]
    • If your competitor can sell it for (X), you probably can as well. (Make sure the comparison is reasonable; don't offend the seller with a comparison to a clearly inferior item.)
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    Pressure the seller to make a deal soon. If you appear in a rush, they won't have time to convince you to pay more.
    • I can pay you in full right now if you go down to (X).
    • I'm only around this afternoon.
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    Be adamant with the buyer. If they didn't want your item, they wouldn't be haggling for it.
    • I'm sorry, but I really need (X) for that item.
    • Any lower and I won't be making any money off it.
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    Send the buyer away temporarily. If the buyer won't meet your current price, making a conditional deal will get them out of your hair and still let you sell the item if you don't manage to offload it for a better price.
    • I'm not willing to sell for that price right now. Come back half an hour before closing and I'll consider it then.[32]
    • I'm going to try to sell it at my price. Why don't you leave me a contact number and I'll phone you if no one's purchased it by the end of the sale?[33]
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    Tell the other person the decision isn't yours to make. You appear harder to convince if you claim the decision rests with someone else.
    • I'd love to buy this, but (my wife/my father) won't let me spend that much.
    • I'm sorry, but it's company policy not to give discounts.
    • (The owner/the company) sets the prices. Unfortunately I'm not able to adjust them myself.


  • Local culture always trumps general advice. If you're traveling in a foreign country and a seller seems offended by your tactics, apologize gracefully and switch tactics. They are likely to give you leeway if they know you're a foreigner, as long as you remain polite.
  • Browse the sale items or ask about upcoming sales. Besides being cheaper they may be marked down further by a retailer who wants to make room for more popular products.


  • Sometimes asking for and getting a discount on an item at a major retailer may make the sale final. They won't take back, exchange, or refund the item. You'll probably be stuck with it so make sure you really want it.
  • Bullying, intimidating, or condescending toward the other negotiator will lessen your chances at a good deal.

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