SPECIAL REPORT: 5 calls to save you money - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

SPECIAL REPORT: 5 calls to save you money

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

Before the internet, we relied mostly on the phone to conduct business. We'd look up the number, place the call and turn on the charm.

Computers have made all that a little less personal, but we can still use the phone to our advantage.

For instance, if you get an offer in the mail for a credit card with a 0% interest rate, pick up the phone and call the company with whom you already have a card and see if they'll match it.

"They just might do it", says financial advisor Don Bowman, but he adds a caveat. "Read that offer all the way through, because on most of those offers that's an introductory rate, and only lasts for a fixed period of time."

Bowman says mail solicitations can be tricky, especially credit card offers. He suggests you do your homework before making any decision, because fees and transfer charges may offset any savings.

Same goes for renting a car.

Research the agencies online, until you find the cheapest car that fits your needs. Book it over the internet, then call the company and ask for an upgrade. They could have a special deal for walk-in customers, and even if they don't it doesn't hurt to ask.  The only drawback is that you must be prepared to drive the car you rented.

Sometimes, others can do the work for you, like your insurance agent. Call them up and ask if they can find any savings that you may not be aware of.

State Farm agent Connie Wilkes says deals come in many different forms. "With auto insurance, you can get defensive driving credit", says Wilkes, "as well as benefits for accident-free driving." She adds that young drivers can get betters rates if they maintain good grades.

Special deals also exist for homeowners. "These include a security alarm discount", says Wilkes, "and savings are available if you update your utilities." Wilkes says the best way to save is by bundling both your home and auto policies under one company.

Want to save money on your cable bill?

We've all gotten offers in the mail to switch cable or satellite companies. If it sounds promising, call your current provider and see if they'll match it.  If they say no, ask to speak to the retention department. They're often the last line of defense and may not want to lose your business.

But Don Bowman compares that approach to the credit card gambit. "Most of those that I have gotten in the mail didn't tell me what the rate was after the promotional rate, and you need to ask that before you shoot your mouth off."

Again, doing your homework is the best approach.

Last, but not least, one phone call could get you a better hotel room. The key is to book the room through the hotel website. It doesn't have to be anything special, since your goal is to get an upgrade. The way to do that is to call the front desk a day or two before you check-in and see if you can get a nicer room for no additional charge. You just might get lucky.

By the way, if you're not good at haggling, it doesn't have to be you on the phone. If someone else in your family is a better dealmaker, have that person make the call.   

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