Shopping for family abroad this Christmas? Buying on international websites can save you money

With Christmas fast approaching, many Brits are buying presents for their loved ones, either finishing early thanks to Black Friday discounts, or still nagging family and friends for their Christmas wish lists. 48% of Brits have friends or family abroad, meaning as many as 32 million Brits could be sending gifts overseas this festive season — but at what cost?

Navigating international shipping charges and import fees means that buying presents in the UK and shipping them overseas is often a frustrating and expensive exercise. We spoke to a few Wise customers who shop for family during the Christmas season to find out more on how they get the best deals:

Debbie, who lives in Spain but is originally from Leeds, buys gifts for her family in the UK every Christmas. However, with import fees posing a challenge in both directions — last year she was charged import taxes when her family tried to send her a Christmas card — she has had to ask family to not send presents this year. To make things easier, she often sends money to her UK-based family through her Wise account so that they can buy themselves presents.

David, who lives in Portugal, buys presents for his nephews back in the UK each Christmas. As things are usually cheaper in Portugal, he would normally buy something there and ship it to the UK. However, due to Brexit, import taxes are incredibly high so he no longer finds it doable. Now, he uses his Wise card to pay in GBP on a UK website, usually on Amazon, which he can then ship domestically to his nephews.

With the cost of living crisis having a big impact on purchasing power and prices, 38% of Brits say they will spend less on Christmas presents this year, so finding ways to save money on shopping is more important than ever. To help shoppers buying presents abroad get the best deal, Nilan Peiris, Chief Product Officer at Wise, has some money saving tips:

- Shop online at a local store, in the local currency: It’s much cheaper to shop on a local website, using a local shipping company and the recipient’s local currency to pay for the gift. For example, this embroidered kimono from fashion giant Zara, costs £149 on the UK website, but if they wanted to send it to a loved one in Portugal, they could shop on the Zara Portugal website and purchase the same item for €129, which equates to £110 using Wise, which is still cheaper even after you add the €3.95 shipping fee. 

- Use a multicurrency card to shop: when shopping in a different currency, using a provider that charges the mid-market rate (the one you see on Google) and a low upfront fee, helps save shoppers from hidden fees and the marked up exchange rates they’d face when using their UK bank card or credit card. 

- Look out for transparency around the fees you’re being charged: most banks will let customers shop online on international websites. However, they often charge customers an inflated exchange rate, and a currency conversion fee — meaning you’re paying two types of fees without realising it. Make sure you read the small print and work out how much you’re actually paying.

- Watch out for customs fees: post-Brexit, shipping has become more expensive, and customs fees are pricier and trickier to navigate. When you’re paying for something online, make sure you take any added taxes into account that you may be charged depending on where you’re shipping it to. However, if you’re shopping on overseas websites and shipping locally, you’ll usually be able to avoid these. 

About Wise

Wise is a global technology company, building the best way to move money around the world. With the Wise account people and businesses can hold over 50 currencies, move money between countries and spend money abroad. Large companies and banks use Wise technology too; an entirely new cross-border payments network that will one day power money without borders for everyone, everywhere. However you use the platform, Wise is on a mission to make your life easier and save you money.

Co-founded by Kristo Käärmann and Taavet Hinrikus, Wise launched in 2011 under its original name TransferWise. It is one of the world’s fastest growing, profitable technology companies and is listed on the London Stock Exchange under the ticker, WISE.

16 million people and businesses use Wise globally, which processes £9 billion in cross-border transactions every month, saving customers around £1.5 billion a year.

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