Are Bill Negotiation Services Worth It?

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These days, it may seem like monthly bills increase exponentially over night. In some major cities across the U.S., energy bills are expected to spike this summer due to environmental and economic factors. And even when you’ve been a loyal customer to your cell phone or utility company, it’s common for services to increase in price with time.

One way to lower your monthly bill is to hop on the phone to negotiate with service providers. By calling them up directly, you might be able to cut fees and lower your subscription costs.

But not everyone has the time to spend hours on the phone, especially when there’s no guarantee they will score a better deal. That’s where a bill negotiation service like BillCutterz, Trim and Billshark may be your saving grace. Increasingly, these apps and online services are sprouting up to pair you with an expert who will negotiate bills on your behalf.

Bill negotiation services exist for the following types of bills:

  • Phone
  • Internet
  • Cable
  • Medical
  • Home security
  • Trash and waste
  • Gym memberships
  • Various subscriptions

These services usually charge a flat rate, or a percentage of your total savings for the year. Sometimes, there’s an additional monthly or yearly membership fee. No matter the price, bill negotiation services typically let customers link their credit or debit card accounts and/or upload bills. Then, a trained professional skilled in negotiating steps in to spot savings opportunities.

Are bill negotiation services worth it?

Anybody can get on the phone and ask for a deal, but not everybody is a shrewd negotiator. If you’re wondering whether paying someone to strike a deal for you is worth it, let’s take a look at the prices of popular bill negotiation services.

Our best overall pick, BillCutterz, charges 50% of whatever savings they find. You can pay monthly or receive a 10% discount for paying in full for the annual amount. So if BillCutterz saved you $20 per month on a cell phone contract, you’d owe them $10 per month, or $120 per year. With the 10% annual discount, that’s a $108 service fee in order to get $240 savings.

Trim, on the other hand, charges a membership fee of $99 per year, which includes text-message access to the service and the ability to inquire about your bills on an ongoing basis. The company offers a 14-day free trial before charging the membership fee. Then, there’s a one-time bill negotiation fee of 33% your total annual savings. Trim customers save, on average $600, in their first year, according to the company’s website. Trim also offers a FDIC-insured high-yield savings account called Trim Simple Savings with a 4% annualized bonus on users’ first $2,000 saved and .001% on any amount saved after that.

To know if a bill negotiation service is worth it, look out for these fees and compare them to the benefits/savings:

  • Service fees (monthly, one-time or annual)
  • Membership fees (usually annual or recurring/monthly)
  • Bill negotiation fee (percentage of your savings)

The possible benefits include:

  • Canceling old, forgotten-about subscriptions
  • Lowering existing bills for services
  • Finding areas where you’re overpaying and/or opportunities to save more

Make sure that any fees you end up paying don’t outweigh the amount of money the service saves you.

Free alternative: Here’s a sample bill negotiation script

Trying your own luck at negotiating your own bills for free, and it may be simpler than you think. Use these tips to get the customer service representatives on your side.

Be polite

  • You: Hello, [Customer service rep’s name]. How are you today? I’m doing well, thanks for asking. I’m having an issue, and I’d appreciate your help.
  • Them: Sure. How can I help you?

Be succinct

Customer service representatives often have several open requests to handle in a timely fashion. It’s helpful to be succinct and communicate your wishes clearly instead of giving them the entire spiel. You can simply say, “I’m reviewing my XYZ bill and noticing that it’s really expensive. I’d like to be (or remain) your loyal customer, but something has to give in my budget. What can we do to lower these costs?”

Be informed

Your rep might be prepared to offer you a new package or promo deal, but it’s better for you to do your research ahead of time. That way, if they reply by saying “Sorry, there’s nothing we can do,” you’re ready to say, “Well, I noticed you are running an XYZ promo that costs $15 per month less than my plan. Can I switch to that?”

For medical bills, have your explanation of benefits (EOB) out while you call and be ready to look up the exact amounts your insurance company paid for each medical treatment.

Be persistent

It may be uncomfortable at first, but gentle persistence will usually yield some results. There’s no need to hassle the rep who answers (in fact, that will probably backfire). But you can ask for their partnership in helping you solve your problem. After all, their job is to retain customers, and there’s very often a way to meet in the middle.

Our picks for best bill negotiation services

Best overall

Billcutterz

On Billcutterz’ secure site

  • Cost

    Charges 50% on whatever savings you earn (can pay monthly or receive 10% discount for paying in full for the annual amount)

  • Standout features

    Also aggregates quotes for car loans, car insurance and renters/home insurance

  • Categorizes your expenses

  • Links to accounts

    Not required; you create an account and send your bills to Billcutterz (as opposed to linking bank accounts)

  • Availability

    Sign up online for free (no app required)

  • Security features

    Encrypted website with bank-level security, the savings experts undergo background checks and are extensively trained to ensure customer security

Pros

  • Types of bills negotiated: cell phone, cable and satellite TV, internet, landline phones, cable/phone/internet bundles, alarm and security systems, satellite radio and electricity (only in eligible states)
  • Customers only get charged when they save (for example, if you save $60 a month on your cell phone plan, you’ll pay BillCutterz $30 each month or save 10% by paying annually; but if BillCutterz doesn’t find any savings you won’t get charged at all)
  • Average savings turnaround time is two days (48 hours)
  • Has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau (average 4.5 star BBB rating with 24 reviews)
  • Available to small businesses, nonprofits and individuals

Cons

  • Does not include medical bill negotiation
  • Electric bill negotiation only works if you live in a deregulated market

Best for texters

AskTrim.com

  • Cost

    Offers 14-day free trial, after it’s $99 per year; one-time bill negotiation fee is 33% of total annual savings

  • Standout features

    Communicates via SMS text: Scans users’ bills and texts them to get permission to cancel any subscriptions it finds. Users can easily ask questions

  • Categorizes your expenses

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank and credit cards

  • Availability

    Offered online and via SMS text

  • Security features

    Trim uses major bank 256-bit SSL encryption and Plaid API so user credentials are never stored, hosts servers on secure Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is used by the Department of Defense, NASA and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), plus two-factor authentication or OAuth when signing in

Pros

  • 14-day free trial available
  • Syncs to your bank accounts and credit cards
  • Makes it easy to cancel unwanted subscriptions
  • Website says customers save over $600 in their first year on average
  • Trim negotiates cable, internet, phone and medical bills, plus credit card interest rates, for a fee (Trim works with Comcast, Time Warner, Verizon and most other providers)
  • You can also ask Trim (via SMS or Facebook Messenger) questions like how much you spent with a certain merchant or for info on your credit card balance
  • Offers a FDIC-insured high-yield savings account called Trim Simple Savings with a 4% annualized bonus on users’ first $2,000 saved and .001% on any amount saved after that

Cons

  • $99 annual subscription
  • One-time bill negotiation fee is 33% of total annual savings
  • Does not negotiate satellite radio, electric or utility bills
  • Has less-than-average Better Business Bureau score (2.53-star BBB rating with 46 customer reviews with 79 customer complaints in the last three years)

Best for saving on utilities

Billshark

On Billshark’s secure site

  • Cost

    Charges 40% on whatever savings you earn and $9 per canceled subscription

  • Standout features

    Also provides free auto and home insurance quotes

  • Categorizes your expenses

  • Links to accounts

    Not required; you create an account and upload your bills (as opposed to linking bank accounts)

  • Availability

    Sign up via app (iPhone or Android) or online

  • Security features

    Encrypted website with bank-level security (256-bit encryption), doesn’t store your credit card information or provide your information to outside companies

Pros

  • Types of bills negotiated: internet, subscriptions, cable and phone
  • Provides a page to record outages with phone/internet/cable companies and request a statement credit as compensation
  • Only charges customers when Billshark finds savings
  • Accredited with an A+ rating by the Better Business Bureau (a 4.45-star average BBB rating with 150 reviews)

Cons

  • Does not include medical bill negotiation
  • Charges $9 fee to cancel subscriptions

Best for finding unused subscriptions

Truebill

On Truebill’s secure site

  • Cost

    Free, with option to upgrade to Truebill Premium Service for fee of $3 to $12 per month; bill negotiation costs between 30% to 60% of the 12-month savings achieved as a result of the negotiation

  • Standout features

    Easily cancel unwanted subscriptions, track your spending and credit score, automate savings and get help lowering bills

  • Categorizes your expenses

    Yes, Truebill instantly identifies your top spending categories

  • Links to accounts

    Yes, bank and credit cards

  • Availability

    Offered in both the App Store (for iOS) and on Google Play (for Android), as well as online

  • Security features

    Truebill accesses users’ transaction data via an encrypted token, uses Plaid API so user credentials are never stored, provides bank-level 256-bit encryption and hosts servers on secure Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is used by the Department of Defense, NASA and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)

Pros

  • Negotiates cell phone and cable bills, plus helps you get refunds for some bank fees
  • Free version available
  • Syncs to your bank accounts and credit cards
  • Instantly finds and tracks your subscriptions
  • Website says 80% of people save money by using Truebill to find and cancel unwanted subscriptions
  • Provides breakdown of user spending and notifies of upcoming charges and low balance alerts
  • Helps users create a budget
  • Users can see their Experian VantageScore 3.0 credit score and get access to their credit report
  • Provides an interest-free pay advance up to $100 directly to qualifying users’ checking accounts
  • Users can set goals, save money with autopilot Smart Savings feature
  • Concierge service available to identify bills to be lowered and, for a fee, Truebill will negotiate on users’ behalf for the best rates (non-refundable negotiation fee is anywhere from 30% to 60% of the 12-month savings achieved as a result of the negotiation)
  • Truebill Premium Service features include free access to Smart Savings feature, unlimited budgeting categories, custom spend categories, real-time account balance updates, premium chat, subscription cancellation concierge, “Truebill Offers” and educational material
  • Coming soon: Users can track their net worth
  • High Trustscore rating of 4.3/5 stars (from 392 reviews)

Cons

  • Costs between $3 and $12 per month to upgrade to Truebill Premium Service
  • Non-refundable negotiation fee anywhere from 30% to 60% of the 12-month savings achieved as a result of Truebill’s bill negotiation on users’ behalf
  • Less than 10 Better Business Bureau reviews
  • Does not negotiate internet, landline phones, cable/phone/internet bundles, alarm and security systems, satellite radio/TV or electric bills

Editorial Note: Opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the Select editorial staff’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any third party.