How-To’s for Haggling in a Foreign Country

27 December 2017

In many parts of the world, the price marked on an item is just an invitation to enter into negotiations. Haggling is accepted – and often expected – as a way to reach a compromise between the buyer hoping for a bargain and the vendor seeking to make a sale. But if you’re on the purchasing side, you can’t just jump in with both feet and start shouting numbers. Haggling can backfire if you don’t have a plan, especially since the merchant has a very good idea of an item’s fair price. With some practice and a few tips, you can get the best bargain and have a fun time doing it.


  • Can You – and Should You – Haggle? Attempting to strike a deal isn’t appropriate in all situations. If you stroll into Harrods in London and try to haggle over a leather jacket, you can bet security will showing you the door. If you can, do some advance research and talk to people in-the-know. If that’s not an option, start off by casually showing some interest – but then pucker your brow at the price. At this point, you’ve got the vendor on the hook to throw out the first offer. If they come down around two percent of the price, you’ve got a little wiggle room.
  • WWLP – What Would Locals Pay: In some markets, you may not see any prices posted. This is a possible sign that one number applies to you – and another one is offered to locals. Merchants typically assume that, if you’ve got the money to travel, you can afford what they quote you. The best way to figure out the price that locals pay is to check their national minimum wage and compare it to yours. Adjust accordingly and you’ll get WWLP.


  • Bundle Up: A vendor may not give you a great deal on a set of earrings – but you might get their attention if you’re buying a few. Merchants know their margins and are usually willing to work with you if you’re open to bundling up. The more they think you’ll buy, the more accommodating they become on price.


  • Pay Cash: Leave the credit cards at home, because any vendor agreeable to haggling isn’t too keen on absorbing the fee charged for processing a transaction. Take your cash and know how much you’re spending in your own currency. XE has an awesome currency converter for both iPhone and Android.

This video should give a little bit more insight into haggling:


Even if you walk away empty-handed after trying out these tips, you did get something of value: You had fun and learned a lot from a memorable experience. Now, get ready to go shopping!