Cash is king for scoring discounts
Cash is the preferred method of payment for businesses, so much so that they often reward customers who use cash with discounts.
Discounts can range from just a few percentage points to nearly half off. Sometimes, all you need to do is ask.
Here’s where you can expect to find cash discounts:
Only about 5 percent to 10 percent of independent gas stations nationwide offer cash discounts, says Jeff Lenard, spokesman for the National Association of Convenience Stores. But Lenard advises consumers to be on the lookout for cash deals at the pump.
Customers who pay cash can trim about 2 percent — the merchant’s typical fee for using plastic — off the total.
Just don’t expect a cash deal on anything inside the store. Lenard says convenience store owners don’t offer cash discounts on things like candy and soda.
If you’re out on the town dining at a 5-star restaurant, don’t expect to receive any cash discounts. But if you just want some quick food to-go, you may be able to score some percentage points off the bill.
An informal survey of restaurants around the country found 10 percent is the norm for cash discounts, but a few eateries took as much as 15 percent off the bill.
The more than 20 upscale restaurants that participated in the survey did not offer a cash discount. So customers should stick to restaurants that do a large takeout or delivery business if they want to find a deal.
In some cases, patients can cut their doctor bills in half just from negotiating.
Talk to your doctor’s office manager before scheduling treatment. Often the price reflects an agreement between the insurance company and the health care provider, so it’s not what your doctor actually gets. And that means there’s a lot more room for negotiation than people think.
You have to ask, but some computer repair businesses will happily knock off 5 percent of your bill if you pay cash.
Businesses may not offer this for the sale of hardware or software, but it’s a definite possibility for services.
The rule of thumb for scoring discounts: Customers must be willing to pay cash, and they have to ask.