So today I thought I'd share with you my best insider tips to make the most of the strong currency.
1. Get a foreign currency transaction fee-free credit card
Yes - I know it's a mouthful, but if you stay with me for a minute, I promise to make it worth your while.
When you buy items that are not in AUD with a credit card or even Paypal for that matter, your bank or financial institution will hit you with a 'foreign currency transaction fee' (FX for short). This is usually 2.5% of the purchase price after converting at the prevailing exchange rate of the day, so that strong dollar doesn't look that strong after factoring this fee or the Paypal exchange rate and could drop that US98c down to US94c - definitely not as good of a bargain anymore.
But fear not, there are credit cards that actually don't charge this fee so your dollars are converted at the true exchange rate to give as close to US98c as possible for your hard earned Aussie dollar (there is still an unavoidable teeny cut the credit card companies take which they like to call 'the spread' ). The credit card I most recommend is the
2. The currency changes every half hour. Hit the Checkout button when the AUD soars to the highest point
Like the share market, there isn't just a single price for the AUD on a given day, it changes throughout the day and night due to overseas market movements and can go up in the morning and then drop down again in the evening with the market forces. When you see it rising high enough, lock it in and check your shopping cart out at that point in time to make the most of it.
3. Do not let Paypal convert USD to AUD for you
Why? because Paypal foreign currency exchange rates sucks. It already factors in the currency transaction fee. Instead, go get that Wizard Mastercard and link it to your Paypal account (see point 1). When you are confirming purchases, choose the credit card as your funding source and select the "Conversion options" link that allows you to change it to let your bank handle the foreign currency conversion process. I've now included screenshots for easy step-by step instructions.
|You want to make sure the above selection are chosen. If not, change them|
|Paypal credit card conversion options. Select to have your card handle this|
4. Use parcel forward services to shop at overseas online stores
The online store that sells your favourite brands don't ship international (I'm looking at you Sephora and
5. Combine all of the above to get the most of the strong Aussie dollar
This is very self explanatory. Combine points 1 to 4 and the power of compounding will work to maximise all the savings and give you the strongest rate with the greatest shopping options.
So there you have it - my shopping secrets are out. Happy shopping and may you find many good bargains all year round. No need to beat the crowd and wait for sales anymore. Everyday is a sale day from now on :)
What international online stores do you like to shop at? Do share and I'll do a post on the best places to shop online in a later post.
A lovely reader informed me that Nordstrom does indeed ship to Australia. I remember visiting a while back and they only allow international shipping for very limited products. They've now opened up shipping for more products including that Longchamp tote I've been lusting for recently- yay!
Travelling overseas? Want to use your own cash and not have to carry foreign currency?
Before leaving home soils, load your Wizard credit card up with your own cash so that your available credit is above your credit limit. When you go to overseas ATM and withdraw cash or make purchases, you will be withdrawing your own cash (as long as you don't dip below your credit limit). It will be converted to the Mastercard currency exchange rate at the time and there are no FX or cash advance fees. Too handy!
**Update 3 Nov 2010**
Finally uploaded screenshots for Paypal funding option changes.
**Update 4 Feb 2011**
The Wizard Clear mastercard has now changePublish Postd its name and is now known as the 28 degree Mastercard. It has the same features and like its predecessor, is supplied by GE Money.