How to save on fees when shopping on overseas websites

Online bargain hunting can yield some true gems - but sometimes we forget about the extra credit card fees we'll need to cough up as well.

Foreign transaction fees will lump an extra 3% of the original sale price onto your credit card bill - which really adds up if you're regularly shopping with overseas retailers.

If you're on the hunt for cheap online shopping, we've created a guide to help you make it even more affordable.

1. Avoid foreign transaction fees

Foreign transaction fees apply when you purchase something online:

  • In a foreign currency;
  • From a foreign retailer (this can be tricky to determine if the website's prices are automatically listed in Australian dollars); and
  • With a retailer that has a foreign bank.

Basically, this fee will apply whenever a foreign financial institution is on the receiving end of your payment.

The easiest way to avoid foreign transaction fees is to use a debit or credit card that doesn't charge them. For exmaple, a 28 Degrees Platinum Mastercard doesn't charge foreign transaction fees on purchases or have an annual fee.

2. Check if the merchant bank is in Australia or overseas first

You'll be charged a foreign transaction fee when your retailer has a foreign bank, however this can be tricky to determine. Although you may be purchasing from an Australian company, if they have a bank located outside Australia, you may still be charged this fee.

Rather than asking every retailer if their merchant bank is offshore, the best way to avoid international transaction fees is with a credit card that doesn't charge the fee.

Online retailers also need to do a better job of alerting consumers when their payment systems is in another country - prefably at the point of purchase.

3. Reduce your shipping fees

To reduce shipping fees (which can be substantial when shipping to Australia), look for sites that offer free shipping. Consider buying in bulk, and look for deals which offer free shipping during promotional periods, like certain times before Christmas.

4. Use a travel card

Travel cards are also a good option. You can load up the card in the currencies you need when you're shopping online, such as USD and GBP, and then charge your purchases to the one card. Travel cards usually don't charge foreign transaction fees and you can set the exchange rate in advance.

And lastly...

If you're looking to save money while shopping online, why not take a look at our 10 Tips to Get the Lowest Price When Shopping Online

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