Choices abound, but we’re taking a look at four companies disrupting how we think about paying bills:
These and other bill negotiation services earn money by helping you save yours.
Bill negotiation services
A bill negotiator is the same way. She takes time to uncover money-saving hacks as if her job depends on it. Actually, it does.
Here’s how bill negotiation services work:
- Create account and upload bills via the provider’s website, app or email. Scan images of bills or take pictures with your phone.
- Skilled negotiators contact companies and use persuasive tactics to save you money, keeping you in the loop along the way.
- If the negotiator is successful, you realize savings in upcoming bill cycles. The bill negotiation service will charge you an upfront a percentage of the savings. No savings? No fee.
What I love about this? I’m empowered to shorten my ‘to-do’ list.
It’s nice to know you can offload a few things and save money in the process.
Arcadia Power review
“You’re 5 minutes and two clicks away from massively reducing your environmental impact.” touts mindbodygreen, an all things wellness website.
But mindbodygreen is not the only voice singing Arcadia Power’s praises. The BBB-accredited business has been recognized favorably by Forbes, Fast Company, The New York Times and other high profile publications.
What is Arcadia Power?
Founded and led by Kiran Bhatraju, Arcadia Power’s mission is to transform utility accounts into a bridge that connects to the well-being of the environment and the consumer.
When you pay a bill, the goal is to save money and help the environment simultaneously through renewable energy — power generated from an inexhaustible source such as wind.
In business since 2013, Arcadia Power has generated 680,000 Mwh of clean energy and is connected to 20 solar projects and 11 wind farms nationwide. They have 250,000 customers with large subscriber bases in California, Florida and New York.
How does Arcadia Power work?
The sign up process is free and straightforward. Enter your zip code, name, email address and utility provider on the Arcadia Power website to check availability in your state. You must have an online profile with your utility provider to advance through account setup.
Once connected, Arcadia Power kicks in. You can keep an eye on savings and energy usage through your account dashboard. This is a good way to be strategic about power usage to drive down energy costs.
Your electric will still be delivered from your local provider, but Arcadia will become a go-between for how that energy is supplied (renewable energy sources). You make payments for electric through Arcadia and they pay your utility provider.
How does Arcadia Power make money?
Arcadia Power makes money based on the programs customers choose.
For example, customers who choose the Evergreen membership are charged an ongoing fee of 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour.
Is Arcadia Power more expensive?
Creating an account is 100% free, but the programs chosen may incur additional costs. Here’s the breakdown of Arcadia Power’s programs:
- Bill Pay – Pay utility bills through Arcadia Power, no fees with credit card payments
- Wind Energy – Free 50% membership to get half of your energy sourced from wind farms, but 100% Evergreen membership has an additional cost of 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour with a $5 minimum charge. On average people save about $10 a month.
- Price Alerts – Arcadia monitors the electric market and emails lower energy rates as they become available. There is no fee to cancel this service as part of your membership.
- Community Solar – Upfront cost of $100 per solar panel. You’ll receive a solar credit on your Arcadia Power bill based on energy generated by your panels. Savings are about $1/month, per panel. If you live in Maryland, District of Columbia or New York, you may be eligible to connect to solar farms without installing panels.
- Home Efficiency – Get home efficiency products with no upfront cost. Pay over time.
Is Arcadia Power legit?
Arcadia Power is mentioned in major publications such as The Washington Post, is a BBB accredited business with a B rating, has a gold certification from Green America and is affiliated with PCI Security Standards Council, SEIA and AWEA. The site uses an encrypted connection for secure transfer of data.
Tip: always look for https:// in the web address before submitting private data.
Are you looking for help lowering monthly bills like cable TV or phone service? BillBargain may be able to help. The site design makes it easy to view services at a glance.
What is BillBargain?
BillBargain is a bill negotiation service for bills of all kinds, including:
- Satellite TV and radio
- Utilities such as gas, electric and water)
BillBargain encourages the submission of any kind of bill, from any service provider. Even if it’s not listed they may still advocate for a reduction on your behalf.
How does BillBargain work?
BillBargain uses a simple, three-step process to help you save money.
- Step 1 – Contact BillBargain.
- Step 2 – Send your bills to BillBargain.
- Step 3 – Wait for the savings.
Connect to BillBargain by desktop or using your cell phone. The initial signup process requires an email address, mobile phone number and a password.
Once you create your account you can upload copies of your bills through the site for review by the BillBargain team.
BillBargain quotes a success rate of over 85% on bill negotiations with a potential to savings of up to 30% on your monthly bills within a 12 to 24-month contract period. For example, if they save you $175, your upfront cost is $70.
A new contract is typically 12 months unless they can negotiate larger savings over a 24-month period.
How does BillBargain get paid?
BillBargain charges a one-time service fee of 40% of the savings from successfully negotiated bills. An add-on service to cancel unnecessary subscriptions will cost $9 per cancellation. If you wish to cancel your contract or make adjustments there is a $9 fee.
Is BillBargain safe?
BillBargain is 100% risk free. You pay nothing if they are unable to negotiate lower rates. The site uses 256-bit bank level encryption as it handles your financial information and they state that they never share information to outside parties.
Is BillBargain legit?
BillBargain appears to be a legitimate option for a bill negotiation service. I like the fact that BillBargain customer service responded to my questions via email within hours. Be sure to read through the customer testimonials on the site.
I think it’s a plus that they offer bill negotiation for businesses as well. Consider contacting BillBargain at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the chat feature to learn more.
What is BillShark?
Like BillBargain, BillShark is a bill negotiation service that proudly declares ‘no bill is safe.’ The business started in 2014. Like similar bill negotiation services, BillShark haggles with your service providers to snag savings on your monthly bills.
BillShark helps consumers and businesses lower existing bills, finds and switches cost effective service providers and cancels unnecessary subscriptions. BillShark then negotiates lower rates with cable, satellite TV, wireless and security services such as:
- Time Warner Cable
Don’t see your service provider listed? Just go through the signup process to see the full list.
How does BillShark work?
Though a mobile app (Apple and Android compatible) or desktop, create an account and upload copies of your bills to BillShark.
Next is the hard part. Waiting.
Depending on how many bills you throw to the Sharks, it may take time. Keep an eye on progress through your account or use the handy chat feature linked to Facebook Messenger (if that’s your thing).
BillShark claims to have an 85% success rate with lowering bills and handles negotiations for home and business accounts. While you won’t know your actual savings until you go through the process, the average savings is $300 to $500 per bill over a 12-month period.
Tip: Check out the Savings Calculator on the BillShark website. In just seconds you can view your potential savings. I tried it out and I am definitely paying too much for my services!
BillShark also provides a bill cancellation service, which combs your bank accounts for monthly or weekly fees like Beachbody, Spotify, New York Times Digital, Dollar Shave club and more than 100 others. You chose which services you want to cancel, and BillShark negotiates refunds for unused subscriptions. $19 per cancellation. The company claims a 98% success rate for this service.
How does BillShark get paid?
BillShark charges a fee of 40% of the savings they secure on your behalf. If they are unsuccessful, there is no fee. Fee is payable at conclusion of negotiations process.
Is BillShark safe?
Besides using a secure customer site (that good ol’ https://), the bill reduction platform used is SOC 2 compliant — a security and architecture standard for customer data management developed by the American Institute of CPAs.
Services are risk free and backed by a guarantee. If a provider backs out on negotiated savings, you will have a refund of BillShark’s 40% fee in full.
Is BillShark legit?
It’s a multi-location business accredited by the BBB with an A+ rating. Besides being featured in the Miami Herald and on The Today Show, CBS News, and Fox 35, it’s backed by Mark Cuban, notable businessman, investor and resident investor on ABC’s Shark Tank.
“It’s my new favorite service, and money I’m glad to pay for an overall lower bill,” says Jennifer Jolly, mom and tech-life columnist for Tech Now for USA TODAY. Her review is just one of more than 1400 on the site with an overall rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars.
Fun fact: BillShark donates one hour of financial literacy instruction to one child for every bill negotiated.
According to the money-saving app Trim, it has helped its customers save more than $20 million since it launched in 2015 just by answering questions like:
- How do I cancel a subscription?
- Am I being overcharged by my cable provider?
- How do I get out of debt?
- Do I have enough in my emergency fund? [Read: How to save $1,000 quick and where to invest it]
- How can I afford to retire?
What is Trim?
Trim bills itself as a holistic financial management service. Like other bill negotiation services, Trim combs your accounts for recurring bills, will cancel unused subscriptions and negotiate on your behalf to lower your bills. Trim also has budgeting tools and an interest-bearing savings account.
How does Trim work?
Similar to BillBargain and BillShark, Trim promises to use automation that helps you save money. The site promises to quickly save you money on your phone and Internet bills. On average customers save up to 30% on bills, according to Trim.
Here’s how it works:
- Sign up for Trim on your mobile device or desktop.
- Use your Facebook account or email to activate your account.
- Link your primary bank account or credit card so Trim can scan your spending habits and identify ways to ‘trim’ the fat.
Trim also has a personal finance dashboard, receive spend alerts and reminders, detect overdraft fees and identify, and will cancel old subscriptions.
- Bill Negotiation – An AI tool negotiating the best rates for providers of cable or Internet with companies such as Time Warner or Comcast.
- Debt Payoff – A plan to get you out of debt that also provides financial advice and ways to lower APRs.
- Trim Simple Savings – Sets up automated, weekly transfers to a high-yield, FDIC-insured savings account to help you build an emergency fund or save more of your hard earned money. Earns 1.5% interest, but charges a $2 monthly fee.
How does Trim get paid?
Trim bills you up front for 33% of the savings negotiated. If Trim saves you $120 over a 12-month period, you’ll pay Trim $40. Since Trim constantly monitors your accounts. If additional savings can be found, Trim will attempt a new negotiation.
The Debt Payoff program is $10/month and comes bundled with Trim Simple Savings.
The bill cancelation service is free, but the savings account costs you $2 per month.
Is Trim safe?
Trim uses 256-bit SSL encryption for its website and server side databases. If you opt for SMS communication, Trim requires a two-factor authentication protocol. If using Facebook Messenger, Trim relies on Facebook’s OAuth protocol for secure sign-on.
Trim servers are hosted by Amazon Web Services, and online data storage and hosting service also in use by the Department of Defense, NASA and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). They also claim never to sell your data or use it without your permission.
Is Trim legit?
Trim has relationships with more than 15,000 financial institutions nationwide and received favorable press from many sources including The New York Times, NBC News, ABC News, VentureBeat and Fortune.
Conclusion: Best bill negotiation service
Here’s our comparison of BillBargain, BillShark and Trim:
|Savings||Upfront customer fee||Legit?|
|BillBargain||Up to 30% over 12 to 24 months.||40% of savings paid up front.||Many positive customer reviews and testimonials on their site.|
|BillShark||$300 to $500 over 12 months||40% of savings paid up front.||BBB accredited with an A+ rating. Backed by Mark Cuban.|
|Trim||Up to 30% over 12 months||33% of savings paid up front.||“Trim, found nine line items that represented a monthly amount well into the three digits." — NYT|
Overall, these bill negotiation services all have legitimate methods to help you save money. I think it boils down to your comfort level.
If you don’t want to talk to anyone and like the thought of automating your savings, try Trim. You’d also have to be comfortable with linking your bank account or credit card so that Trim AI can monitor your payments.
If you’d rather talk to someone or prefer using an app, maybe BillShark is right for you. BillShark advertises a 100% guarantee on negotiated savings. They’ll refund their fee if your service provider fails to honor the negotiation.
If you get huge savings and want a payment plan instead of an upfront payment, consider BillBargain. The strength of this company is savings over time. Once you complete your contract term (12 to 24 months) you can enjoy continued savings free of charge.
Related: How do I buy stuff I can't afford?
Robyn Evans is an award-winning writer, inspirational author, and occasional songstress (especially in the shower). Born and raised in Baltimore, she focused on helping women make healthy choices for body, mind and soul. She’s a grateful bonus mom to a photographer son and activist daughter and works with young writers through a non-profit organization. Robyn writes for corporate clients, is a former feature writer for The Carroll County Times, has written for The Baltimore Sun and is the author of three books. Learn more about Robyn here.