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Engaging the services of a bail bond company is a good way to get yourself or a loved one out of jail if you don’t have the cash on hand to pay the bail amount yourself. These companies charge a non-refundable fee for their services, though, and that fee could be quite steep depending on the amount of the bail. If you can’t afford the price bondsmen typically ask for, you may be wondering if it’s possible to negotiate the fee. No, and here’s the reason why.

The Fee is Set By the State

It’s commonly believed that bail bond companies set their rates, but that’s not true. In almost every state, the government decides how much bail bondsmen are allowed to charge for their services. In Nevada, for instance, the rate is 15 percent of the bail amount. So if the court sets bail at $10,000, the bail bond company can only charge the person $1,500 for their services.

This is generally fine if bail is set fairly low, but the fee can quickly become just as difficult to pay as the bail itself if the court sets the amount high enough. Fifteen percent of a $100,000 bond is $15,000, for instance. Not many people have that kind of money just lying around, so sometimes they look for the cheapest bail bondsman available.

The trouble is that the rate set by the state is typically both a maximum and a minimum. This means bail bond companies cannot charge less than legal amount for their services. If they do so, they are breaking the law and can lose their licenses if they’re caught. Unfortunately, this also means you won’t be able to negotiate a lower fee with the company if you can’t afford to pay it.

Alternative Options

If you’re having trouble paying the bail bond fee, you have a few options available to you. Some companies offer payment plans. Typically, you have to prove you will reliably make the payments as agreed (i.e. be employed; have decent credit). Additionally, the amount of time you’ll be given to pay the money may be just a few months. So this may only be a viable option if you can scrounge up the entire bond fee in the time you have available.

Some bail bond companies accept credit cards. This is a good alternative if you don’t have enough cash but have access to credit cards. Using the method of payment can also be more convenient, because many bail bond companies accept payments over the phone and even have websites that let you pay online. This lets you bail the person out of jail even if you can’t visit the bail bondsman in person.

You may want to call your credit card company first, however, because some banks will not approve charges for bail. However, this can make paying a large bond fee more manageable, though you will pay an additional fee for the money in the form of interest.

A third option for getting the money to pay a bond fee is to try to raise the cash online. If you have electronics or other items of value, you can sell them via online classified ads or auction sites. For instance, you could get $350 or more for popular name brand smartphones.

Alternatively, there are a number of sites dedicated to helping people crowdsource cash for their needs. If you have compelling story (e.g. the person was arrested for protesting), you could make a page on one of these sites and ask for donations.

For more ideas on coming up with bail money if you’re short or to bond someone out of jail, contact a local bail bonds company like All-Mobile Bail Bonds.