Learn the art of haggling to save cash


By James Smith

We all know that bagging a bargain, especially one that didn't appear to be overtly on offer in the first place, is a pretty sweet feeling. Honing those bargaining skills isn't just a good idea for your pocket but can help you out of a few other tight spots too! Overbooked flights spring to mind!

If you have not yet experienced this, then rest assured, by the end of this guide you will be on your way to haggling like a pro and walking away with some discounted gems. First and foremost, the person on the other side is most likely in sales, they want to sell you the item or service, so leverage that thought. Perfecting the air of nonchalance is a skill, but it can pay handsomely if you can pull it off. Save those pennies on your travels and it will not only help you avoid those online loans but will also give you extra cash to spend on something fun.

tourist haggling

Haggling is a concept that is known and used around the world, it relies on the basis that a buyer and seller can negotiate on a price before completing the transaction. Whilst it is normal to feel a tad rude or abrupt when trying to convince the trader or salesmen to give you a lower price, they are open to it and most of the time expect it. For official travel advice check out the Foreign Office travel advice page.

Behold some excellent tips and tricks to arm yourself with the next time you hit the bazaar:

First things first, ask yourself whether the item is sensible to buy. Can you get it at home? If you are on holiday have you factored in shipping costs or excess baggage?

Knowledge is power. Obviously if the product is something you can get at home, and you already know the price for it then try and aim for a better price. However, it is a good idea to keep your top price in your head and then ask for the opening price from the salesman. If you are not familiar with a product or service try to think of a comparable and base it on that. Failing that just go with what feels right. Remember if it seems too good to be true it usually is! Do your homework, like you would before you took out a payday loan by visiting our questions page.

If you are in a big market which is clearly a tourist attraction then you may struggle to get a bargain compared to what a local would pay. The traders in these areas are aware that you are a tourist with imperfect knowledge and that you most likely are looking to make a purchase in a time limited scenario. You might get a better deal if you go to less tourist-oriented places, for example, side streets or on the roadside.

Perception is everything in the dance of haggling. You should never appear nervous or too hesitant when approaching the trader otherwise they are likely to come off better in your exchange. No one wants to get ripped off. Show yourself as being confident and if you are not satisfied with where the sale is heading then simply walk away.

If the salesman is adamant on a price for an item, then one tactic is to say that you will deal if they throw something extra in too. Sometimes this technique works, so it is worth a try. An ultimatum may also help but be prepared to honour it if they don't bite!

Remember that it's a game and keep it light. On the other hand, this is the trader's income so don't take the mickey. More often than not traders like to have fun when haggling with tourists. If you are friendly and have a sense of humour, the storekeeper may even enjoy your company and then you are more likely to get a great deal.

Stepping through the technique

No two deals are the same just as no two people are the same so bear that in mind. That being said there are some common tips and techniques and most negotiations follow a similar pattern. Just modify according to the location and cultural differences.

  • Don't accept the first offer. This is just the opening position and more than likely a price that the trader knows is beyond his accepted profit margin. You would be surprised to hear that quite a few people accept it as a fixed price.
  • Take the opening price and half it. More than likely the return from the trader will be along the lines that they cannot possibly give you this valuable item at such a low price. Enjoy the banter and perhaps raise your offer slightly but in controllable increments. Maybe after a while the seller will give in and agree to your price. You are then put in the position of whether you want to try lowering the price even further or sticking to it.
  • Ask for a multi-buy. If you are settling for a price it's worth asking if the seller will throw in extra item. This technique can get you more for your money but be careful to select the correct item, one that is less than the value of the original item.
  • Same product different location. An effective technique can be to threaten to buy the same item elsewhere. Tell the trader that another stall is selling the same product for a more reasonable price. Some sellers may then be willing to drop to this price (whether it is true or not) because they do not want to lose a sale.
  • Walk away. If you are unsuccessful with getting the price down to a range where you are happy, then begin to leave. This may have the effect of signalling the haggle is over and flush out the seller's final position. However be prepared to lose the sale.

"Be prepared to lose the sale"
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6 haggling tips

Now that we've stepped through the technique we can now look at some tips and tricks to hone your bartering skills and bag that bargain.

1. Know the value

Prepare to peform. If you know what you will be haggling for, then get yourself on the internet and find out how much (the average) the item is selling for. After all, you would not want to be walking into an expensive deal without even realising it only to kick yourself later on. However, if you don't know the value of the item, roughly half the asking price, this is a good place to start if you are unsure. Whilst online, print out any competitive prices that you can find to see if any local store can beat it.

2. Be hesitant

Play hard to get. Never let on that you are eager to buy, show yourself being apprehensive of the price. Act indifferent. It is obvious you want the item otherwise you would not be trying to buy it, however do not let your body language display any type of eagerness. If the seller knows you are already taken with the product, they could get the upper hand when you start negotiating. Stay in control.

3. Know what you want

Stick to your guns and try not to end up with what the seller wanted to sell you rather than what you wanted. It's not a good idea to go into a market without an idea of what you want to be leaving with. Do your research and find out what stall sells what. It's ok to say thanks but no thanks.

4. Build rapport

This is a vital strategy. The first thing you should do is strike up a friendly conversation, start talking about the weather, local news or attractions nearby. This will "break the ice" and from then you can speak on an informal level about the product or service you want to buy. Once you have built some sort of rapport then you can start to barter. The better rapport you build, the more likely a seller will give you the benefit of the doubt, after all they are only human too!

5. Defer the decision making

Tell the seller you cannot buy the product without consulting the price with your partner. You can do this by a phone call or with your significant other if they're nearby. The aim is to express that you are interested in the item but you are given instructions not to buy it if the price is too high. Explain that you have agreed on a price with your significant other, but are not able to go higher than a specific amount. The seller will then know you are unable to budge on the price, and may be convinced to giving you the product at the agreed price.

6. Help me to help you

It can help if you are not getting anywhere to set the context for the trader. Suggest that you have a finite budget and that you are choosing how to spend it but make no mistake it's burning a hole in your pocket. The idea behind this is to give the impression that you are very committed to spending and that you are ready to open your wallet but just need the right excuse. A few hints that you shouldn't really but could be persuaded to at the right price always helps!

Where to haggle

Are you feeling confident about haggling now? Good. Well now you need to know where to deploy them. Try the following:

  • Markets
  • Car boot sales
  • Jumble sales
  • Stalls in shopping centres
  • Car dealerships

Or perhaps think about what you can try to haggle for

  • Cars (most likely used)
  • Gym memberships
  • Clothing
  • Bags
  • Souvenirs
  • Rent
  • House prices
  • Payday loans
  • And the list goes on...

Some classic errors to avoid

We have given you tips on what-to-do and how to haggle, but now we need to focus on the things to avoid saying or doing in front of the seller that can jeopardise your deal, so avoid:

Haggling too soon

Do not be in too much of a hurry to secure a deal. Allow the seller to settle into a conversation with you before talking numbers. It is good to let the trader tell you about the product you want to buy because it relaxes them and it's polite to listen to the information they are giving. Your patience may lead to them showing you more items that are also on offer.

Getting your cash out at the start

Make sure not to count your money, or in any way show how much money you have because if the seller sees, they may choose to adjust their price to match your budget. The only time you should get your wallet out is once the price is agreed.

Being too pushy

Vendors may like a playful barter but if you are too pushy it could actually turn them off and result in no deal rather than a good deal. Be polite, stick to your price, propose a multi-buy and/or halve their offer.


We hope you enjoyed reading our guide and are now excited to see how you fare at your own haggling. Haggling can be a fun experience! As long as you know what you are doing you can manage to save yourself a lot of money, and if your credit history isn't great, you can avoid those bad credit loans. There are many places to visit to test your skills, remember to do your research beforehand and get a proper feel of the culture before trying to strike up a deal.

Happy haggling.