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Five things to know about online holiday shopping

If you’re planning to do some (or all) of your holiday shopping online this year, you’re not alone. In fact, 42 percent of Canadians have purchased clothes online, 34 percent have bought books online and 32 percent have made an electronics purchase on the internet according to data from the Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA). While online shopping can be convenient, fast, and offer competitive prices, ensure your online holiday shopping goes smoothly by watching out for a few things.

Be Smart About Mobile Shopping and Security

While holiday shopping from your smartphone, be aware of potential security issues so you don’t get a virus, or worse, have your identity stolen. For example, don’t open links offering great holiday savings deals from email addresses you’re unfamiliar with. They could be “phishing” scams to lure shoppers to websites where your private and financial data could be stolen.

Choose shopping apps with care. Read all customer reviews, and make sure that any “permissions” or required information they ask you to share makes sense for what you’re doing. Only download shopping apps from reputable app stores like Amazon, Apple, and Google Android.

Keep an Eye on Currency Exchange Rates

If you’re paying for online shopping Christmas gift list in a foreign currency, pay close attention to the currency exchange rate, the rate at which your Canadian dollar is “exchanged” when making a purchase in another currency.

Whether you’re paying with Canadian dollars from your Canadian dollar bank account, through a credit card, or through PayPal in Canadian dollars, your online currency exchange rate and foreign transaction fees can add up quickly. To minimize fees for frequent online shoppers buying from American sites, consider using a US dollar bank account or a US dollar Visa card, or look for a credit card that doesn’t charge foreign transaction fees. [Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/foreign-currency-exchange-1.3412059]

Watch Out for Extra Online Shopping Fees

If you’re excited to buy holiday gifts online from American retailers, watch out for additional fees for Canadian buyers, which can lead to a final bill that’s substantially more than you expected.

Firstly, if your American online purchase totals more than $20 CDN, you’ll be charged duty and sales taxes (which varies by province and by the items themselves) when your purchase clears customs. [Source: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/cyber-monday-2014-surprising-fees-canadians-pay-for-shopping-online-1.2852813].

Secondly, you could also be facing courier and/or customs brokers fees plus shipping and handling fees charged by the company!

To minimize these charges, try the following:

  • Look for U.S. retailers offering free shipping to Canada

  • Check for a Canadian site for the U.S. retailer, such as those offered by LL Bean, and Land’s End.  

  • Shop Canadian online retailers to avoid duty and customs broker fees

  • Subscribe to email lists for your favorite non-Canadian retailers to get notifications of  free shipping events or coupons that to reduce your holiday online purchase bills


Free Shipping to Canadian Stores

Almost seven out of ten people say that it’s important for retailers to offer multiple ways to make a purchase - such as buying online with free shipping to a nearby store, says a recent Google report. And retailers like Walmart.ca, Canadian Tire, and Chapters/Indigo are responding, offering this service to entice online shoppers offline and into their shops. By choosing a Canadian retailer offering free shipping to a store, you’ll also avoid currency rate issues, foreign exchange charges and shipping fees.

No matter how you complete your online shopping, do your research ahead of time so you aren’t surprised by fees and charges when your holiday shopping bills arrive.

Interested in a U.S. Dollar Account? Drop into your local Meridian Credit Union branch or visit our site to learn more today.