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
9 Ways to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal for Less Than $50
9 Ways to Boost Your Home’s Curb Appeal for Less Than $50

These products will instantly improve your home’s curb appeal without breaking the bank.

7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security
7 Things You Should Do Before Claiming Social Security

To get the most out of your Social Security retirement benefits, you have to think ahead.

Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams
Beware These 5 Common Work-From-Home Scams

You can spot scammers and con artists with a little know-how.

20 Generic Brands That Amazon Created
20 Generic Brands That Amazon Created

Amazon’s growing collection of private brands offers everything from toilet paper and coffee to motor oil and clothing.

5 Reasons You Should Claim Social Security ASAP
5 Reasons You Should Claim Social Security ASAP

Experts often recommend postponing claiming your Social Security retirement benefits. But there are situations in which you should start taking the money sooner.

View this page without ads

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

Get Started

Most Popular
Social Security Checks Likely to Grow This Much in 2021
Social Security Checks Likely to Grow This Much in 2021

The federal government recently released a key statistic that gives clear insight into what next year’s COLA will be.

This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers
This Gas Station Scam Is Victimizing More Drivers

For the second straight year, a growing number of Americans believe they’ve fallen prey to this scam.

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

Dollar stores have great bargains on both everyday and occasional purchases.

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.

7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home
7 Unusual Ways to Declutter Your Home

Tired of possessions weighing you down? Here are seven ways to declutter painlessly and effectively.

This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security
This Is the Most Popular Age for Claiming Social Security

Both men and women are most likely to start receiving Social Security benefits at this age.

6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s
6 Things You Should Never Buy at Trader Joe’s

We love Trader Joe’s for plenty of reasons. But think twice about this handful of products.

Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them
Don’t Toss These 7 Household Items — Sell Them

Here’s how to earn cash as you give new life to these unwanted items.

6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have
6 Legal Documents Retirees Need — but Don’t Have

Few retirees have these documents that are crucial to their golden years — especially during a pandemic.

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.

5 Awesome Places You Can Retire Overseas on $2,000 a Month or Less
5 Awesome Places You Can Retire Overseas on $2,000 a Month or Less

In this week’s podcast: tips on retiring overseas — from someone who’s been helping American expats for decades.

Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease
Eat This Food If You Want to Avoid Alzheimer’s Disease

One type of food associated with the Mediterranean diet offers especially large benefits.

11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet
11 Expenses That Quietly Drain Your Wallet

It’s scandalously easy to overspend in these areas of your life.

Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?
Could You Give Up These 7 Expenses to Save Thousands of Dollars a Year?

You could save more than $30,000 by setting aside these costly expenses for just one year.

10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday
10 Deep Discounts Available on Amazon This Friday

These items are all steeply discounted — but the deals won’t last long.

9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value
9 Dumb Ways You Are Ruining Your Home Value

Homeowners, beware these mistakes that can drive away potential buyers.

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

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

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?

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

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.