Online shopping hacks for S’poreans to save money on overseas buys

Not being able to travel this year is a real bummer, but at least you can still have the travel shopping experience by buying things from overseas.

There’s nothing more satisfying than making an online purchase. You track it being shipped from overseas and watch it arrive at your doorstep after travelling thousands of kilometres across land and sea.

But you know what’s even more satisfying? Buying stuff overseas and saving money on the purchase.

Here are four hacks while making online overseas purchases.

#1: Always pay in foreign currency

When looking for items online, some of us may be tempted to pay for items in SGD even if there is an option to pay in other currencies. After all, SGD is the currency we are most familiar with.

However, when checking out your cart, it is sometimes actually better to pay in foreign currency instead.

Yes, you will incur bank administrative charges in foreign currency. But paying in SGD does not mean that you do not need to pay this conversion fee.

In fact, paying in SGD means you will have to pay the conversion fee, plus pay for another service: Dynamic Currency Conversion (DCC).

DCC is basically a service where the merchant will convert the local currency amount to SGD according to a particular exchange rate.

Paying in foreign currency, while a bit more unfamiliar, means that you save on the DCC charges.

#2: Make payment using a card that has cashback for foreign exchange spend

If you’re already spending money, why not get cashback for it?

Getting or using a card that has cashback or rewards for purchases in a foreign currency will help you save more money when buying things from overseas.

It’s not just credit cards, though.

Debit cards like the DBS Visa Debit Card also allows you to save on foreign exchange conversion fees and additional administrative fees, and get cashback for foreign currency spend.

#3: If you are shopping on Taobao, always choose consolidated shipping

More Singaporeans are looking to Taobao to find affordable items across a range of categories.

But shopping from different stores can be a real headache when it comes to shipping.

For Taobao, there are several shipping options including consolidated, seller and direct shipping.

If you choose consolidated shipping, all your items will be sent to a warehouse, where it will be consolidated and packed before it is sent to you either by air or ship.

Direct shipping means you’ll be paying for the shipping of each individual item, which is slightly more expensive than consolidated shipping.

Seller’s shipping means that you will need to negotiate with the seller to have your item sent to Singapore (if you aren’t fluent in Mandarin, this could become a nightmare).

Hence, consolidated shipping is often cheaper and far less troublesome compared to the other options.

#4: Download a plugin to look for promo codes

Promo codes are always a useful way to reap extra savings.

But if you are finding it hard to keep track of promo codes, download the Honey plugin, which sources for promo codes that you can apply when you make payment.

graphical user interface, application

© Provided by Mothership

graphical user interface, application

© Provided by Mothership

This plugin also boasts over 30,000 merchants including Asos, Zalora, Amazon and Netflix.

Exceptionally helpful when it comes to looking for promo codes for different sites, including those overseas, which you may be more unfamiliar with.

More information on the DBS Visa Debit Card

If you are thinking about how to save more money on your online spend, consider making use of cards like the DBS Visa Debit to make payment.

The card offers 2 per cent cashback on all foreign currency spent online across various categories.

You also get to save on foreign exchange conversion fees and additional administrative fees when you link your card to “My Account”.

graphical user interface

© Provided by Mothership

To be eligible for the 2 per cent cashback on foreign currency spend, simply spend a minimum of S$500 on the DBS Visa Debit Card and keep cash withdrawals to S$400 and below in the same month.

You can still get cashback for any foreign currency spend, even if your card isn’t linked to “My Account”.

For those who wish to transact at a preferred exchange rate, you can also make use of the foreign currency wallet in the DBS “My Account”, by pre-purchasing currencies. There are 11 foreign currencies, including Euro, Australian Dollar, Japanese Yen, and US Dollar.

More information on the card here.

Top photo credit:, Ashkan Forouzani/Unsplash

This is a sponsored article by DBS, which goes towards paying people like the author so she may shop online (and hopefully receive cashback).

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