Knowing how to haggle is an easy skill to learn, just like riding a bike or learning to drive. We have great advice for you that will have you grabbing a bargain in no time.
Haggling or bargaining is a big part of many cultures around the world. Haggling for your food, taxi, clothes or even bus tickets is common place and a very accepted part of some societies. Everything is a business deal.
When you are new to bargaining your might feel awkward, embarrassed or even rude. Follow our ten tips for learning how to haggle will stop you from being ripped off, scammed or even help you grab yourself a bargain. Learning how to haggle is an important holiday safety tip that comes naturally to some, while others learn the hard way.
One of our fellow tour members is trying to bargain (successfully) for a guidebook on the Great Wall of China.
1. Shop Around
If you are shopping for something in particular like a T-shirt, a pair of shoes or a souvenir, make sure you ask the price at a few different shops. This technique will give you an idea of what price the haggling might start at.
2. Talk to People
Talk to people at your hostel or hotel. As fellow travellers what they paid for similar items or services. Even ask for a rough estimate for a big purchase, such as a leather jacket. This technique will help you know if the price is realistic or if you are being ripped off.
3. Agree on a Price First
If you want a service such as a porter, taxi, tour guide etc. always agree on a price first. You may be told not to worry, that you can pay later or pay what you think the service is worth when you are finished. It is very important that you agree on a price before you hire their service. This will avoid any confusion, anger or scam. But most importantly pay for the service after you have received it (unless a deposit is needed). That way you are assured to get what you pay for.
When travelling through Asia, we always made sure we bargained and agreed on a price for a trip around the city. We also made sure we had the right change on us to avoid any 'confusion'.
4. Bargain with a Smile
Don't get too serious. Haggling should be a great experience. If you are laughing and smiling it gives the impression of a challenge, a bit of a game to get the best price. If you are too serious they will be serious too.
5. Only Bargain for Something You Want
Never ever bargain seriously for something you don't intend to buy. It is very rude. If you are not sure if you would like the item or service, casually enquire about the price then go away and think about it. When you are ready to buy come back and haggle.
"I once haggled for a pair of shoes in China that I didn't buy. It resulted in the shoes being thrown in my direction - which was fair enough. Not only had I wasted their time, but I had also given the impression that they would be earning some money to take back to their families." - Alex
6. Agree First, Wallet Second
Always agree on the price of the item before picking it up and getting your wallet out. Also make sure you have some change or small notes when paying. This avoids all your hard bargaining work being undone when you don't get change from a large note.
7. Think about it
Think about how much money you are actually bargaining over. Don't get stuck haggling over 50 cents! Also, make sure you consider the exchange rate.
We haggled for a better deal in India when four of us all were shaved with a cut-throat razor.
8. Better Deals
You might get a better deal if you pay cash or buy more than one item.
9. Be Happy
If you are happy with what you paid, then you got a great price! Don't worry too much if you paid too much! Just remember that someone benefited from your purchase.
Tell the person you are buying from or haggling with, what you are expecting to pay. Here is a basic conversation you might have when learning how to haggle.
Buyer: How much is this?
Buyer: Oh that's expensive. I was hoping to pay $40
Seller: No, no that is not possible.
Buyer: Well I only have $50 for this. Can you do a better price for me?
Seller: I can make it $80.
Buyer: It is just too much I'm not sure. Is that you best price?
Seller: Ok, you are my first customer today so I will give you a good price. It will make me lucky today! $65.
Buyer: It still seems too much. The shop next door is selling it for $60.
Seller: Ok, Ok! You have broken my heart. I will give it to you for $60.
Buyer: That is great! I'll buy it now!