Great 'Buy now from the US' Hunt.

MSE_Martin Posts: 8,273
First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
Money Saving Expert
Update Note: 17 April 2007.

This Great Hunt was originally started in August 06; the pound is even stronger now, having just touched $2 per £1 for the first time since 1992, so its the perfect time to rekindle it. Do remember though a little of the info in some of the earlier posts may now be out of date, so always check before acting. Anyway onto the original hunt info....

The US dollar is at its lowest rate to the pound for years, £1 buys $1.90. Of course this changes every day, but it's likely to be up and around there for the next few weeks at the very least.

The impact on us

This gives UK consumers massive purchasing power in the States especially for electronic goods and branded goods. Whether it's being physically there or just ordering from US websites which deliver to the UK (though then you have to beware of customs VAT and duty charges too, it varies with products).

How to pay

If you're going to pay in dollars, whether its actually over there or online, the same rules apply. Using the right piece of plastic is the cheapest way... but make sure its the right plastic, read the cheapest way to spend overseas article for details.

Credit cards are better than debit cards!

Spend on your credit card and you have more rights than you do on a debit card. This is all about Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act which makes the card provider jointly liable with the retailer if anything should go pear-shaped.

Up until recently this didn't apply to goods bought overseas but this was challenged so buy abroad and you are now protected. Pay for goods over £100 fully or partially on your credit card and if something goes wrong you can simply make a claim direct against the card provider without having to contact the retailer at all.

Special Warning on Electricals

While these are often a lot cheaper in the States, do remember they have a different plug and voltage system. So if you're buying something that plugs in, you will have to incorporate the cost of a transformer or different plug socket into the price. Most laptops tend to include multi-volt transformers so that's not too bad - but other electrical equipment isn't a problem.

For things like cameras, ipods and other portable goods which just take batteries there's no problem. Though do remember if you buy from the US and it goes wrong its more difficult to send back.

eBay USA

Remember as well as buying in stores you can also bid on the USA version of ebay. Most sellers there are more flexible about sending overseas than stores are. However do remember you've even less rights buying in an online auction there than here.

What suggestions are needed

I want to tap MoneySavers collective knowledge on what and where to find bargains. Plus include details of whether you actually have to go there or if there is a US website which will deliver to the UK.

Click reply to add your ideas.

Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
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  • I buy a lot of underwear from Victoria's Secret in the States but I always find that I get taxed like crazy when it gets here. Last lot total was approx $150 but had to pay the postman £44 in tax/charges.
  • Sui_Generis
    Sui_Generis Posts: 1,177
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Electronics are not a good or easy thing to buy because of potential voltage differences UK/UK. However that shouldn't affect things like cameras etc but then you run into further problems where retailers are not allowed to ship outside their geographic market. Even if you find one that does the warranty terms usually mean it has to be retturned to the retailer and that could be seriously £££. It's a pity we can't buy at Amazon US prices and ship returns to Amazon UK ...!

    Despite that there are bargains to be had in portable audio and computing and PC parts too. DVDs are a great buy especially at these prices and I'd recommend DVDPacific for those. Looking forward to reading other peoples favourite retailers across the pond...

    a good point above about import duty and VAT - PC related items are exempt as are packages under £18 (?) so sometimes it's worth paying for separate shipping to avoid the excessive Royal Mail £5-6 admin fee.
  • UltraCheap_2
    UltraCheap_2 Posts: 1,031 Forumite
    Costco's,, in the US has great deals and they carry a high-end range of electronics, my recommendation is to place and order, have it delivered to a friend's address in the states, and then go for a holiday to bring it all back. You get a better deal with Costco's if you have a membership (UK membership works overseas).

    Victoria's Secret is great for bras and knickers

    Banana Republic is great for clothes

    Nordstrom’s is a department store and great for all around items

    AND all of these stores have a 100% guarantee / refund policy, so if the item doesn't meet your high standards - you can take it back 1-2 years later (with your receipt) and get a full refund!:j
    I :heart2: Waitrose
  • UltraCheap_2
    UltraCheap_2 Posts: 1,031 Forumite
    And, if you are going to fly over to the states, then you might as well pre-order a Dell Laptop while you are at it,, the prices are far better the the UK website. Why should the same computer be **twice** the price in the UK?

    Be sure to get your order in about 3-4 weeks before you plan to travel, and arrange a safe delivery address (friend or family).
    I :heart2: Waitrose
  • afro_2
    afro_2 Posts: 146
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Forumite might be worth a look for CDs and DVDs
    All my views are my monkey's views. I give advice on behalf of my pet monkey and do I give banana related advice. All my posts are my monkey's opinion and no-one else's.
  • Postage is a big thing to factor into the price as well. I want to buy some Mountain Dew for a birthday present (can't buy it in UK normally - only on the net which is shockingly expensive) but as it is so heavy, it costs a bomb to send.
  • helenyw
    helenyw Posts: 86 Forumite
    I buy a lot of underwear from Victoria's Secret in the States but I always find that I get taxed like crazy when it gets here. Last lot total was approx $150 but had to pay the postman £44 in tax/charges.

    I bought about $150 worth of stuff from there too, and got stuck with a £20 import tax bill when it arrived! That was the last time I had stuff sent over here. Now I have them sent to my friend's place in New York (free delivery within the US for purchases over $100 too!) and she brings or sends them over.
  • helenyw
    helenyw Posts: 86 Forumite
    I've never tried these mail forwarding services myself, but sounds like a good idea.
    You have to sign up, and get your own US mailing address, useful for all those free postage offers on websites. They then forward the items to you for a fee.
  • nuttywoman
    nuttywoman Posts: 2,203
    Combo Breaker First Post
    I get my fabric for quilting, crafts etc from , great service and delivery its much cheaper than over here.
  • McAzrael
    McAzrael Posts: 917
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    I buy contact lenses from So far, so good. I've also used american based websites when I have needed to buy a gift for someone in America as it works out a lot cheaper than buying it here and posting it.
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