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My husband and I buy a lot of things online — health supplements, accessories, decor, video games, bags, groceries, clothes, beauty products, books, small kitchen appliances, electronics and even furniture — it’s almost become second nature to us.
Especially now with the ongoing Covid-19 outbreak, many more (such as my mum) are turning to this mode of shopping.
It’s convenient to head to the SGD-based or local e-commerce outpost of our favourite brands. But why not consider buying directly from the overseas retailer?
You could be missing out on cheaper prices on the overseas shopping sites — and you don’t even need to pay the credit card conversion fees if you’re using a multi-currency e-wallet such as YouTrip.
Here are some hacks to save even more money when shopping online, especially if you frequent international retailers.
Compare prices among retailers’ global e-stores
If a retailer has various e-stores in different countries, such as Brazil, US, Japan, Australia, you might want to consider buying the same product from the cheapest locale.
Recently, I chanced upon a website that helped me compare the best prices in SGD across the various country e-stores for Nintendo Switch games. Since I would be buying a digital copy (and since Singapore doesn’t have a Nintendo e-store to call its own), I have the liberty to buy my game(s) at the lowest price.
Image via YouTrip
Of course, I would also need to do my due diligence in ensuring that the preferred language of the game I wanted to purchase is correct, and that the prices are up to date.
If you want to buy the actual console, however, it gets more tricky because you need to check out shipping fees, compatibility issues of the device, and so on. But it’s still possible if you know how!
Okay, maybe gaming is too niche. Here’s another example for Amazon shoppers.
Although we already have an Amazon Singapore, sometimes the item might be cheaper on the Amazon US site (do check shipping fees). This might be true for other global e-commerce platforms.
But don’t worry about trawling through pages and pages of search results, because there are handy US-based browser extensions such as Amazon Assistant, PriceBlink and Honey available to help shoppers get the best prices, deals of the day, coupons, promo codes and more.
ALWAYS pay in the local currency
If it’s a US site, pay in USD. If it’s a Japanese site, pay in Japanese yen, and so on.
Your first reflex might be to pay in SGD, but you’ll actually be paying MORE due to the following factors:
- Dynamic Currency Conversion (there’s usually a markup on top of the conversion rate, higher than the prevailing Forex rate, when you make overseas transaction on a credit card)
- Overseas credit card transaction fees (you still need to pay the ~3.5% foreign transaction fee even if you’re opting to pay in SGD, but using a multi-currency e-wallet such as YouTrip will waive this charge)
Stack your rewards
Always keep an eye out for opportunities to earn reward points or to take advantage of rebates.
For example, check if the overseas website has a rewards programme that you can join; or if your Singapore membership is actually a global one.
Do you have other rebate/rewards programmes that can be used as well? You might be able to stack a website’s rewards programme with an overarching cashback/rewards service such as ShopBack, MilkADeal or RebateMango.
Don’t forget to check the shipping fees
Before you happily click checkout and pay, remember to look at the shipping fees. Are you unwittingly opting for express delivery just to have your parcel arrive 2 days earlier when you can pay much less?
And even if the shipping cost appears acceptable, being MoneySmart means that you’re always open to a better deal if it’ll help you save cash for a better cause (such as investing, paying off your mortgage or saving for retirement).
Or sometimes, your gleeful online shopping spree ends in dismay when you realise that, uh-oh, the website doesn’t even ship outside the US.
But it’s not the end of the world.
Use a reliable freight forwarder (sometimes it could be even cheaper than using the website’s international shipping option as some freight forwarders offer repacking or consolidation services that help make overseas shipping fees lower) to get what you need, at the best price for your wallet.
Taobao furniture shopping, anyone?
YouTrip It Online for 3-5% cost savings
You’re probably familiar with YouTrip as a travel e-wallet, but did you know that it can be used like a regular card for your online shopping on overseas sites?
Time to #YouTripItOnline.
Here’s a quick recap of YouTrip’s features:
- No currency conversion/Forex fees
- Competitive exchange rates
- No extra markups, even on weekends
This means you might potentially save 3-5% when you don’t need to pay for all of those unneeded “extras” when you shop online at overseas merchants.
It’s also free to sign up for YouTrip, and new users can even use the promo code MONEYSMART5 to get $5 when they activate the card (yay, free money!). Promo code expires on 31 July 2020.
Sign up here for your free YouTrip account.