Online shopping has opened the marketplace of the world to everyone. That’s just as true in Canada as it is in other places. In some cases, it is possible to find less expensive items at retailers in the U.S. and have them shipped to Canada. The downside, though, is that the shipping can get quite expensive.
For some items, the difference between shipping to the U.S. and shipping to Canada is quite small. For other items, though, the difference can be significant — almost enough to negate the savings associated with the lower price.
Don’t Ship to Canada
One way to avoid the higher shipping costs associated with having things sent across the border is to have the package stop before coming across. If you live close enough to the U.S. – Canada border, you can get a post office box on the U.S. side. Then, every week or so, you can drive over and pick up the packages and other mail from your post office box.
Because some sites won’t ship to P.O. boxes, you might need to use a service. SGS Can-Am Mailboxes will let you rent a “suite” in the United States for your packages. The company specializes in logistics, and can help you reduce your shipping costs. The Border Services is another company that will allow your packages shipped to them, for pickup by Canadians later. You can also use a company like Kinek to have your package delivered to a pickup point just across the border.
As a last result, if you have friends or relatives you can trust to receive the packages for you, that might be worth considering. You will have to weigh how much you value your time (since you will have to drive to pick up your packages), and the cost of the gasoline to get to your package. Realize, too, that you will need to pay a rental fee for your post box. After considering those costs, you might decide it’s worth it to pay the extra for shipping to Canada.
Offset Your Shipping Costs
Another option is to offset your shipping costs with rewards programs. One of the most obvious ways is to use your rewards credit card. Use your rewards credit card as part of your budget, and pay for your online shopping so that you can earn rewards. You can get cash back, free merchandise and other perks. In some cases, you can earn enough rewards to offset the cost of shipping goods to Canada.
There are also rebate shopping sites. Great Canadian Rebates is a site that provides you access to rebates, coupons and promos. As long as you shop through the site, you can receive deals from stores that ship to Canada, or that are located in Canada. Great Canadian Rebates pays through PayPal, if you don’t want a cheque, and you can earn even more cash with the help of certain credit cards.
Before you make a decision, carefully compare your options. Figure out what is going to be most cost-effective for your situation. If you order a lot from the U.S., it might be worth the cost to pay for a U.S. post box and drive across the border once a week to gather everything up. However, if you only order occasionally from the U.S., paying extra for shipping on occasion might not be so bad. And, of course, you might be surprised at the deals available in Canada when you visit Great Canadian Rebates and similar sites.
How do you save money on shipping to Canada?
Miranda is freelance journalist. She specializes in topics related to money, especially personal finance, small business, and investing. You can read more of my writing at Planting Money Seeds.