So, you decided to take a trip to another country instead of a walk to the nearby mall. If you look for some way-out clothes to enrich your wardrobe and for an amazing adventure as well, you made the right choice!
But aside of the undeniable fun and excitement overseas shopping usually brings, you can encounter several challenges during your trip. Unlike the familiar mall down the corner, shopping places in the foreign country may be quite different from the ones in your homeland, as currency, laws, culture, and prices vary for sure. This increases your chances to end up overcharged, unless you are aware of the essential rules for shopping abroad.
Tip #1: Take Advantage of Shopping Apps
All news from remote locations are on your phone, and so are discounts and special offers. You can do a little research using handy mobile apps and prepare the ground for an amazing shopping deal even before departure.
There are dozens of apps aimed at helping you save money while shopping locally, but some of them may be applicable to foreign stores as well. The best examples of such are Shopular, Shopkick, and Stocard.
Shopular offers discounts and promo codes on popular retail brand clothes based on your preferences and geolocation. Download the app and turn on location-based notifications to receive local offers and bonuses when you arrive at the place.
Shopkick is another shopping discount app but with a fundamentally different approach. Instead of just providing favorable deals with selected brands, the app allows you to choose the shop by yourself and earn reward points for its products. For example, you can earn them by just walking into the store or scanning barcodes of selected products.
And lastly, Stocard represents a mobile wallet for all your loyalty cards. This option is quite convenient for your travels since you don’t need to carry all your cards in your physical wallet. Coupons, promos, and reward points are also part of the app, so you can discover exclusive deals here as well.
Tip #2: Always Choose Discount Over Cashback
Cashback only looks like a generous offer equal to discount, actually benefiting the shops instead of customers. Moreover, it’s useless when it comes to shopping in another country.
Imagine you came to an overseas clothing store and bought jeans worth of $70. The shop asked your mobile number, registered it in the system, and happily declared that now you have $7 to spend on your next purchase. That’s 10%, what seems to be a good “discount”.
But if you’re leaving the country the following day, $7 are no more than empty numbers. Even in case you return to that place, you will feel obliged to buy something just because you have that $7.
This makes cashbacks offered by shops not a great way to save money, but sort of bonus and discount hunting which is not always leading to real profits. The same thing often happens in gambling, when players pursue bonuses hoping to win more money.
You might be surprised, but the concept of cashback in gambling is quite similar to the one we have in clothing stores. In an online casino, cashback is a percentage rate of total net losses credited to the player’s account in the form of bonus money. “Total losses” may be equated to “total spending”, what makes those things almost identical and reveals the truth behind a shopping cashback.
Interestingly enough, only players who lost almost all their deposit are eligible for a cashback bonus in a casino. So if you deposit $500 and lose only $100, you get nothing. Even with the naked eye, we can see that casinos are close to encouraging gamblers to lose more.
The shops are not much better than casinos. They compel people spending twice more when they don’t really want this (and of course you’ll get the cashback only if you pay the full price of that jeans). There’s the only way to avoid being psychologically tricked: take advantage of the offers that guarantee benefits here and now, no postponement.
Tip #3: Figure Out Your Sizes
Shoe and clothing sizes in Canada are the same as in the US, but quite different from such in the rest of countries. If you usually wear shirts of size 10, you won’t fit in this size in the UK and will have to look for clothes of size 12. In Australia, you need to add two more points to your regular US size and get size 14 in the result.
In other European countries, the 10 size converts into 40 in France, Spain, and Portugal, 38 in Germany and Scandinavian countries, and 44 in Italy. Asian countries feature sizes often being drastically different from the European ones, so it may be impossible to know your size on the spot, unless you arm yourself with a size conversion chart.
Even though the most common size charts are in the open access on the web, it’s quite hard to figure out sizes present in some non-mainstream shopping destinations. In this case, you may simply ask the store consultant to identify your local size and proceed to hassle-free shopping.
Tip #4: Bring a Card With No Foreign Transaction Fees
Most banks charge you a 2-3% transaction fee when making a purchase abroad. Since you don’t pay in your local currency, the fee often remains unnoticed, blending in the currency exchange. Thus, you may be constantly overcharged even without knowing about it.
To address this issue, you may order a credit card with no foreign transaction fees in one of Canadian banks. The best (and free) available options for Canadian citizens are:
- Home Trust Preferred Visa. Comes with few other pleasant bonuses — 1% cashback and Roadside assist membership are among them. The limit of 10 transactions per day may be a drawback for some customers.
- Rogers Platinum Mastercard. Offers three extra rewards: unlimited 3% cashback on purchases made in foreign currency, 2% on Rogers goods and services, and 1.25% on the rest of purchases.
- Fido Mastercard. Has identical bonuses to Rogers Platinum Mastercard, so the only difference between them is the name of a card.
For the Record: Cashback offered by banks is not similar to cashbacks received from particular stores. This kind of returned money can be spent as you wish, just like any other funds available on the credit card, what makes this bonus beneficial for a card holder.
Tip #5: Ask Locals for Shopping Advice
Online venue reviews and city-related articles may provide you the general guidance on the matter, but only locals may show you off-the-beaten-path outlets with indigenous fashion items. Even if you stay at a hotel or an apartment where you don’t have much contact with locals, you can always consult the receptionist or the owner of your apartment and ask them where they personally buy clothes and whether they have favorite venues to recommend.
And here is one more general tip that applies to any kind of shopping, not only clothes: always carry cash. There is no guarantee that every shop in the country you’re heading to will accept your credit card. Some of them handle Visa but don’t accept Mastercard and vice versa. So always be sure that you have enough cash to pay for all items on your wishlist and miss none of the great deals waiting for you during this shopping journey.