20 Products With Giant Markups

Photo (cc) by naydeeyah

If you’re a merchant seeking profits, there’s only one way to find them: sell stuff for more than you pay for it.

But what’s a fair markup? Fifty percent? One Hundred? Two? It depends on both product and business, but one thing’s for sure – some consumer goods are being sold for a whole lot more than they cost.

Whether you’re sipping a martini in a swanky bar or bottled water from the grocery store, odds are you’re swallowing an astronomical markup. Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson reveals some of the most overpriced products and shares tips on how to get them for less. Check it out, then read on for more.

Here, in no particular order, is a larger list of products with high markups, along with ways to avoid paying a premium.

Movie theater popcorn/candy

What’s harder to digest: (1) Movie theater popcorn has an average markup of 1,275 percent, or (2) With a soda, that popcorn has a caloric equivalent of three McDonald’s Quarter Pounders? Nutrition aside, concessions like $5 tubs of popcorn and $6 boxes of gummy worms are big revenue streams for movie theaters.

Since most theaters prohibit moviegoers from bringing in outside food and drinks, the way to save is to bypass concessions altogether. If you can’t, find your cinematic savings elsewhere, like getting a five-pack of movie tickets for $30 at CinemaDeals.com.

Prescription drugs

Astronomical prescription drug prices – with markups ranging from 200 to 3,000 percent – are enough to give patients a headache. In fact, price hikes caught the eye of Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne, who is suing pharmaceuticals distributor McKesson Corp. for markups on Allegra, Celebrex, Coumadin, Flonase, Lipitor, and Valium.

To save on prescriptions, ask your doctor for free samples and about generic substitutes. Comparison-shopping is also a great idea. Walmart, Target, and warehouse stores like Costco are good places to start. And take advantage of mail-order suppliers like Express Scripts if your prescription-drug plan offers it. Check out 10 Tips to Safely Save on Prescriptions.

Diamonds

Shoppers in the market for a diamond should be prepared to pay anywhere from 50 percent to 200 percent more than the wholesale cost, according to TheStreet.com. Information at this Google Answers page suggests markups range from 50 to 400 percent.

A diamond’s sparkle may cause shoppers to turn a blind eye to the price tag, but you can land a better deal by understanding what you’re buying and doing a lot of shopping. Read our Guide to Buying Diamonds in 5 Simple Steps.

Bottled water

Some claim bottled water’s markup reaches 4,000 percent – more expensive than gasoline. Saving is simple: drink tap water. If you’re concerned about taste or quality, use a water filtration system.

Salad bars

Some salad bar items are marked up more than 350 percent, according to Food Network Magazine. Items that aren’t worth their weight: chickpeas (386 percent markup over retail), radishes (302 percent), and baby corn (277 percent). To save, load up on the lighter items that cost less than you’d pay at the grocery store, like bacon bits (55 percent markdown) and grilled chicken (44 percent).

Eyeglass frames

Dishing out $450 for Armani frames? Markups for eyeglass frames can reach 1,000 percent. That’s certainly not unheard of. Fortunately, focusing on warehouse stores and the Internet can help you find discounts. Check out 8 Ways to Save on Eyeglasses for more ways to save up to 90 percent.

Soda

Order a glass of Coke when you’re dining out, and you could pay 300 to 600 percent over cost. Sure, you know going into a restaurant that you’re paying for the service and ambiance too. But if you’re looking to save without sacrificing a night out, skip the extras like soda and opt for water instead.

Text messages

Outgoing text messages on a cell phone can cost the provider three-tenths of a cent, but users up to 20 cents – that translates to a 6,000 percent markup. Some plans charge 10,000 times more for sending a text than other types of data. If you frequently send text messages, get an unlimited plan.

Wine/champagne

It’s not uncommon for restaurants to charge two or even three times retail for a bottle of wine. Order by the glass, and you’re sipping on an item marked up as much as 400 percent. So scan the menu for a reasonably priced bottle (tip: look for house wines).

Hotel minibars

Whether you’re reaching for a Snickers or a toothpaste kit, minibar markups can hit 400 percent. Some of the most ludicrous minibar prices, according to Oyster.com: $14 gummy bears at Omni Berkshire Place and a $10 bottle of water at the Mansfield Hotel. Simple solution: Leave your room.

Coffee and tea

Lattes are one of life’s little luxuries, but they can be marked up by 300 percent. If you’re looking to save, start by turning on your coffeemaker and bypassing the coffee shop.

Handbags

Some of the world’s most expensive handbags: a $3.8 million purse made by The House of Mouawad in Dubai that’s adorned with more than 4,000 colorless diamonds and a $1.9 million Hermes Birkin bag.

Women own an average of 10 handbags and spend an average of $148 on a handbag “splurge,” according to a ShopSmart poll. Keep more cash in your purse by comparison-shopping online and in outlet stores. For more tips, read our story on Finding Designer Accessories at Deep Discounts.

Designer jeans

A $665 price tag on Gucci jeans and $225 for Sevens proves some shoppers are willing to go to great lengths for fashion. But these designer items are grossly overpriced. According to The Wall Street Journal, it costs about $50 to make True Religion’s best-selling jeans, Super T Jeans, but the wholesale price reaches $152 and the average retail price is inflated to $335.

Bakery goods

For items that can easily be baked at home, you could be paying a 100 percent markup. Granted, convenience is a factor, and maybe a baker is a better cook than you. If so, a good cookbook could offer a decent return on investment.

Greeting cards

Greeting cards are simple pieces of paper with a 200 percent markup. And that’s before factoring in so-called “Hallmark holidays.” On a budget? Make your own cards – or better yet, if you have school-aged children, have them design one. This will likely amount to a more sentimental gesture and will leave a lasting impression.

College textbooks

Most college students will shell out about $655 for required textbooks this year, according to the National Association of College Stores. It’s no secret that most of these books come with monster markups. Read 11 Ways to Save Big on College Textbooks for cost-cutting tips, from asking professors about coursework in advance to textbook rentals.

Flowers

An orchid can cost up to $25 per stem. Add Valentine’s Day or a wedding into the mix, and prices can surge. While disregarding flower purchases altogether isn’t always an option, shopping around for the best price is. Check out online retailers, and buy in season to help cut costs.

Produce

Produce is often marked up as much as 75 percent. Buying in season is the best way to find a bargain. As we explain in our Seasonal Savings post, look for deals on grapefruits and oranges in January, asparagus in March, and melons in May. Also steer clear of pre-cut veggies and fruit, which often have an additional markup of about 40 percent.

Furniture and mattresses

Furniture stores usually make a hefty margin, with markups of about 80 percent. Try to shop during sales, but if your timing is off, don’t be afraid to negotiate a better price. Also take note of the product number and then search online to see if any other retailers offer a lower price.

Cosmetics

The average markup on cosmetics: 78 percent. Since most cosmetics are made from various combinations of dirt, oil, wax, and fragrance, it’s surprising that shoppers pay such a premium. But thanks to anti-aging claims and celebrity-endorsed marketing, shoppers have been breaking the bank to look younger and more beautiful for years. Fortunately, there are some simple ways to get more bang for your buck when purchasing beauty products (hint: skip the drugstores and load up on free samples).

How to find cheaper car insurance in minutes

Getting a better deal on car insurance doesn't have to be hard. You can have The Zebra, an insurance comparison site compare quotes in just a few minutes and find you the best rates. Consumers save an average of $368 per year, according to the site, so if you're ready to secure your new rate, get started now.

Read Next
7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership
7 Ways to Shop at Costco Without a Membership

You don’t necessarily need to join to get in on the warehouse store’s savings.

2 Costly Rewards Credit Card Mistakes — and How to Fix Them
2 Costly Rewards Credit Card Mistakes — and How to Fix Them

If you commit either of these credit card sins, you are likely losing money every time you use a card. Here’s how to easily right this wrong.

10 Common Ways Seniors Get Scammed
10 Common Ways Seniors Get Scammed

Here’s what to watch for to make sure you don’t fall prey to some of the biggest rip-offs targeting seniors.

10 Purchases You Should Not Put on a Credit Card
10 Purchases You Should Not Put on a Credit Card

Credit cards offer many conveniences and protections, but sometimes it’s simply smarter to keep the plastic tucked away.

Retiree Households Lose $111,000 to This Social Security Misstep
Retiree Households Lose $111,000 to This Social Security Misstep

A study finds 96% of retirees make this mistake when claiming Social Security benefits.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?
Will I Get My Ex-Husband’s Social Security When He Dies?

Two factors determine how much money is coming to you.

7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast
7 Ways to Boost Your Credit Score Fast

Your financial security might soon depend upon the strength of your credit score.

16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now
16 Amazon Purchases That We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus
5 Household Disinfectants That Can Destroy the Coronavirus

You likely already have some of these products at home.

22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store
22 Things You Should Always Buy at a Dollar Store

The dollar store has great bargains on these purchases.

20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling
20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling

You probably don’t need a year’s supply of toilet paper to survive an outbreak, but consider stocking up on these items.

6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise
America’s Most Reliable Appliance Brand Is a Surprise

Have you heard of this appliance manufacturer?

The Top 11 Jobs That Employers Want Retirees to Do
The Top 11 Jobs That Employers Want Retirees to Do

Tired of age discrimination? Businesses are clamoring for older workers to fill certain roles.

This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked
This Type of Social Security Benefit Is Often Overlooked

The Social Security Administration is not helping certain people get money to which they are entitled, a report says.

9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline
9 Everyday Problems You Can Solve With Vaseline

Forget expensive specialty products. Good ol’ petroleum jelly can address many common annoyances.

Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia
Getting These 2 Shots Could Reduce Your Risk of Dementia

These vaccines may lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease by up to 40%.

19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret
19 Purchases That Buyers Almost Always Regret

Think twice before buying these things.

7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile
7 Tips for Building an Emergency Stockpile

A pandemic or natural disaster could leave you reliant on your existing food supply. Is your pantry prepared?

19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree
19 High-Paying Jobs You Can Get With a 2-Year Degree

These jobs pay more than the typical job in the U.S. — and no bachelor’s degree is required.

8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store
8 of the Worst Things to Buy at a Dollar Store

Not everything sold at dollar stores is a great bargain or a safe purchase. Here’s our list of products to avoid.

41 Things You Should Never Buy
41 Things You Should Never Buy

Some purchases are just plain dumb. Give yourself — and your budget — a break. Don’t spend money on this stuff.

5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free
5 Ways to Get Amazon Prime for Free

Hesitant to drop $119 a year on an Amazon Prime membership? Here’s how to get it for free.

9 Things That Are Free in August
9 Things That Are Free in August

As summer enters the home stretch, we’ve rounded up these sizzling freebies.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.