How Much Should I Pay for a Star Chart? and Other Key Questions Answered

by Julia Carpenter

A good psychic can be like cheap therapy: reassuring, murmuring and ultimately inconsequential when the rush of day-to-day life hits your neuroses like a 12-ton truck. Pick your poison: a stack of tarot cards? A trip to Sister Sandra’s Psychic Sitting Room? A room with candles, a clean table and your open palm? Before you pencil any of this into your budget, here are a few words to the wise that are good for every time you want your wallet to go exploring in the realm of supernatural consultation.

Rule No. 1

Don’t be afraid to haggle. These are psychics, fortune tellers and palm readers. Believe me, you won’t be the first person to haggle.

Rule No. 2

Don’t do any of this “over the phone” or “online.” Did you learn nothing from Miss Cleo’s fall from grace?

Rule No. 3

Similarly, don’t book this stuff online, and definitely don’t give them your credit card info. You know better than that. Do it the old-fashioned way.

Rule No. 4

This is the old-fashioned way: Walk around the hippest neighborhood in your town. Look for the neon sign. Investigate accordingly. Or find the hippest person you know. Ask her — and it’s always going to be a her, I mean, come on — for a recommendation. She’ll know someone good, or her organic grocer will know someone good, or that organic grocer’s acupuncturist will know someone good. This is a tight-knit community, honey. Welcome to it.

Neon signs beckon, but the only signs you need are the ones in the sky — and this handy guide below, of course, which has got you covered well into the future.

How much should I spend on a tarot reading?

Think about this realistically: you could wander into any dorm room in America and get this done for free. Any chick worth her wait in Claire’s has dabbled in tarot. You shouldn’t be shelling out the big bucks (read: “big bucks” in the tarot world is maybe, like, $10 plus tip) unless you’re abroad. For many in Portugal, Spain and beyond, tarot is religion. Tip accordingly.

How much should I pay for a star chart?

What’s your sign? I don’t mean that facetiously — seriously, consider your sign before you open your wallet. Do a bit of circumstantial research before you go into a star chart session. Are you a Taurus in the blankety-blank house this month? Then you’re going to need to save a few more bills. Are you a Gemini on the cusp? Then you’re probably OK skating in with the dregs of your tax return. Overall, budget $20–30 for a star chart; $40 if you get the actual chart for keeps. Those things are pieces of art.

How much should I pay for a séance?

OK, who are you? You must be a celebrity. Only Hollywood high rollers have enough money for seances (which we all basically know are big boozy parties with surprise guests … erm, ghosts). And I’ve seen anywhere from $60 This is why they’re such exclusive (and expensive) events — you pay by the guest. That’s the well-kept secret. So you could bring along three curious ladies and a handful of trinkets belonging to the person you need to reach, thinking it’ll be a cozy party of five, and then all of a sudden five more show up unannounced, and uninvited. Then you’re stuck with the bill. It’s basically the worst dine-and-dash of all time, because you can’t exactly call The Great Beyond the next day for some passive-aggressive shaming.

Further note: You always have to pay a security deposit for these things. Seriously. To guarantee you show up. This will run you anywhere from $50–100. Luckily, while you have to specify the guest number ahead of time, the security deposit amount is typically flat across the board.

Further further note: Don’t drink the wine. One time a friend of mine hit a séance in Québec and they took the wine offered and yep, that expensive bottle of Malbec was tacked onto their bill at the end of the night. Hey, no one said séance leaders were also moral leaders.

How much should I pay for a fortune teller in an outdoor area?

Think festivals, farmer’s markets, block parties, etc. Typically, these fortune tellers offer limited services — a zodiac-based analysis, maybe one or two questions answered, maybe a palm reading for you or a friend — and they only take cash. Don’t let that scare you away, though, because these are often the cream of the crop of the cryptic world. They’re visiting these places to reach more folk, and chances are if you feel called, you should honor that call. Expect anywhere from $5 to $20. Personally, I’ve never seen more than $20, mostly because festival fortune tellers never expect someone to carry bills that big.

How much should I pay a psychic with his/her own office or meeting place?

Talk about a mixed bag. Depending on the relative fame or notoriety of said psychic, an hour-long reading could run you anywhere from $30 to $200. Keep in mind services like palm readings, star charts and more typically run extra. You’ll be expected to offer your sign, your family background and your current career path — but unless it’s a free session, don’t proffer anything else. That info is all on the dime.

Should go without saying, but expect to pay more in a metropolitan area — every psychic I’ve consulted in New York, DC and San Francisco started the clock at $40 for a half-hour sesh. In Atlanta, however, a woman on Peachtree Street by Mary Mac’s Tea Room charges $50 flat. For however long it takes.

How much should I pay to have my palm read?

Are we outdoors or indoors?

Indoors. You already told me the rates for the outdoor tellers.

Oh, yeah, that’s right. Indoors at a restaurant or casbah (not joking here), don’t pay more than $20, maybe $30 if there are white tablecloths. These tellers are comped by the restaurant or event space, so any extra dough they’re charging isn’t necessarily going toward a more powerful reading. Prices for fortunes told indoors at an individual psychic’s office or workspace, however, will likely be steeper. Expect $40–50 before tip.

How much should I pay for a glimpse inside a crystal ball?

You have officially crossed the line into crazy town. Granted, the line was a blurry one given the past entries in this list, but still. Go home. Drink some wine with your girlfriends and stare deep into a snow globe / fishbowl / bowl of pasta. The effect is much the same.

A psychic once told Julia Carpenter she would grow up to visit more psychics.