When and How to Bargain Like an Expert

Whether you’re visiting a vintage shop, the local market or a foreign country bargaining is an essential skill to have. Bargaining is about more than getting the best price possible it’s a talent and it’s important to be considerate of cultural aspects, be open to compromise, and to be fair. Here’s how to negotiate without making a fool of yourself.

When to Bargain Hard

Before you visit markets, you should have a general idea of what the prices are like. In general, tourist places will have inflated prices, so be ready to haggle. Try to bargain 15 to 20% of the asking price. At local markets, the prices shouldn’t be much more than the locals so bargain down by 10% of the price, but beware that many markets have fixed prices. Whatever you do, don’t bargain for food because it’s considered rude in many cultures. 

Talk to Sellers

Try and figure out who made the product and if the craftsman is working in front of you, ask them about the product, how long it took them to complete it, and where it comes from. If the seller says something like my “my brother made,” it’s probably from a factory and you can bargain down the item. Also, talk to the seller about yourself, so they become invested in you and are more likely to give you the item at a good price.


Know Prices

Shop between different booths to get a feel for the cost of an item and when you’re ready to buy from a merchant only start bargaining when you’re serious about purchasing the item. Wait for the merchant to name the price before you say the price you want to pay. It’s all about body language, so pay attention to these cues to see how willing the seller is to compromise.

Listen to Your Instincts

If you don’t like how the seller is acting towards you, just walk away and move onto the next booth. By walking away and appearing uninterested, the seller may give you a price you are willing to pay.