Cross Border Shopping Can Save You A Fortune

crossbordershoppingcansaveyouafortune.jpgMany Canadians at one time or another have done some shopping in the United States and most have probably remarked at how good the prices seemed while they were there. You’re probably one of them! But did it really stick with you? Do you realize exactly how much more we have to pay for things up here in Canada?

In the past couple of years, with the loonie doing so well, I have significantly increased my amount of cross border shopping. Actually, since the closest border town to me is 3 hours away and barely has any shopping centers, I have more technically increased the amount of my online cross border shopping. How is this possible when most online merchants either don’t ship to Canada or charge handsomely to do so? The answer is I don’t ship the items that I purchase to my home, I purchase and ship them right to the border in groups and go and pick them up there later.

How Much Cheaper Is It?

A lot! Although not for everything; you do have to pick and choose! Many items like food, clothing, and furniture can easily cost 50% less or more than the identical item would cost here in Canada. One easy way to find out what is cheaper and what isn’t, is to go online and visit a few Canadian E-tailers or even bricks and mortar stores and check out the prices of a few items you are interested in buying. Then proceed to similar American sites and look for the identical products to compare prices.

My favourite sites to do this with in the USA are Amazon.com and Walmart.com. Their inventory is so huge that they carry almost any mass produced product out there, so you’re almost sure to find what you’re looking for! They can also be great to buy from because Walmart.com has free shipping to any one of their own stores where you can pick up your order and Amazon.com has free shipping on almost any order over $25.

What Are Some Good Items To Buy?

Clothes – With all of the outlet malls in the states, brand names can be dirt cheap. Shopping on or close to Black Friday will guarantee that you get some amazing deals. Doing this can sometimes be even cheaper than shopping at second hand stores here in Canada! Catching a special at an American online clothing store can also yield fabulous results if you time your purchase with a sale, use an online coupon, and maybe even get some cash back.

Baby Stuff – We just recently had our first baby and we bought almost all of our baby stuff either from Amazon.com or Walmart.com, including the crib and the change table. The crib had a regular price of $360 at Sears (see it) here in Canada and was selling for $187, regular price, at Walmart.com (see it). That’s almost 50% off considering the dollar was at par. The same was true for almost all the other baby stuff we bought including a baby swing, rocker, breast pump, play yard, jumper, mobile, and so on.

Furniture – I don’t have a lot of experience buying furniture in the USA, other than a high end office chair, because it is large and hard to transport. However, much like baby furniture, you can really save a lot of money if you have a large truck, SUV, or minivan to move it with.

Electronics – Electronics are often quite competitively priced in Canada, especially computer parts and other geeky items. However, big ticket items like flat panel TVs and full computer systems can be significantly cheaper. You have to approach it on a case by case basis, but sometimes there can be big savings if you look hard enough.

Tires & Car Parts – There is a huge discrepancy in tire and car parts prices between the USA and Canada. I outfitted my Mazda 3 with 8 new tires (4 winter, 4 summer / all season) and 4 new wheels for much cheaper than I could have here in Canada. The highly rated all season tires that I bought from Tirerack.com were priced at $63 per tire, while most Canadian online and local tire shops were charging at least $120 for the same tire. After gas to the border, taxes, shipping, and all other costs considered, I still saved $500 or more over the cost of buying the identical or similar 12 items here in Canada.

Another example that didn’t go in my favour was just recently I needed to replace an oxygen sensor in our Subaru Legacy when the engine light came on. I made the rookie mistake of getting it replaced at the dealer without doing any research because I just wanted to get it dealt with quickly. I ended up paying $385 for the part alone and later found out I could buy an OEM version of the exact same part for $150 from AutoPartsWarehouse.com! Canadian parts suppliers also had it for about $260 with free overnight shipping. If I decided to go with a generic replacement part, I probably could have gotten it for as little as $50. Now that’s a lot of money wasted!

Food – While you are down picking up your other items it is always a good idea to visit a grocery store for some food. There are a lot of different items to buy in the States that we don’t have here and the prices on most items are usually significantly cheaper. You might as well stock up if you are making the trip anyway!

Gas – Most people already know this, but you should always fill up your tank whenever you go across the border. Gas is usually 20 to 30% cheaper there than it is here. Try to time it so your tank is close to empty when you go across to get maximum savings. Also, if you drive a little further past the gas stations that are right next to the border, you will usually find that the prices are even lower.

Finding A Place To Ship Your Stuff

The most important aspect of this strategy, other than grouping your purchases to maximize the efficiency of your trip, is to find a good place to ship your packages to. It is better to order your important items online and have them shipped because you don’t want to rely on the fact that a local store will have them in stock. For instance, many local Walmart stores don’t even carry the same items that they have on Walmart.com and even if they do it is often at a higher price. The USA Walmart we shop at actually didn’t carry practically any of the baby stuff we ordered from Walmart.com.

Deringer’s, a local business in Calais, Maine that we always ship our stuff to, charges about $3 per package shipped to them. They accept packages of almost any size and they didn’t even charge more for 4 large tires mounted on heavy rims. It’s always just $3. I found the place by Googling around with phrases like “shipping to Calais Maine border” and “package holding service Calais Maine”. There were actually almost no search results that came up but I did find an obscure forum post that made reference to a few places so I started calling around to get prices.

I eventually came to find out that there are at least 10 places that accept packages in the area, but Deringer’s was the closest to the border and, oddly, also the cheapest. So if your online searching doesn’t yield good results, make sure to hit the phone book or Google Maps and call up some of the local businesses in the area and see if they accept packages.

Another slightly more expensive option is to sign up at ShipToTheBorder.com and they will connect you with a business partner in your border town that accepts shipments for $5 or sometimes a little bit more for heavier packages.

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Comments

Jane
Jane's picture

"They can also be great to buy from because Walmart.com has free shipping to any one of their own stores where you can pick up your order and Amazon.com has free shipping on almost any order over $39."

I get free shipping from Amazon.com for most orders over %25. (shipped to a US address) Amazon.ca is $39.

September 27, 2010 @ 10:51 am
SavingMentor
SavingMentor's picture

Thanks for pointing that out Jane, you are indeed correct. I was thinking about Amazon.ca when I wrote that. I will update the article with the correct information.

September 27, 2010 @ 3:15 pm
Tyle
Tyle's picture

We use Kinek (kinek.com) for border shipping. We used to use the one at the Johnson True Value in Calais, however, I think there is a new Kinek location in Calais now. Price is about the same ($3 per package).

Also, name brand batteries (e.g. Duracell, Energizer) are about half-price in the states compared to Canada.

October 02, 2010 @ 4:29 pm
SavingMentor
SavingMentor's picture

Thanks for the tip on Kinek.com; it looks like another good option for finding places that accept shipments! I'll keep them in mind if I ever need to find more places to ship stuff to but for right now I am happy with Deringers.

I remember calling True Value as well back when I first started doing this and I think they wanted more money and they had weight restrictions so it got more expensive quickly for bigger packages. Do you know if the new Kinek location in Calais is $3 per package with no weight restrictions? Do you also know if they will hold your package for a lengthy period of time?

October 02, 2010 @ 10:08 pm
Tyle
Tyle's picture

Looks like my new Kinek location is actually Deringers (as True Value no longer uses the Kinek service). It specifies $5 as the fee, with no weight restrictions. I believe with True Value, it used to be $3 for up to 10 pounds, and $1 extra for every 10 pounds over that or something.

Also, it specifies that you have 30 days after being notified that your parcel is available for pickup, or it becomes the property of Deringers. (Used to be 90 days with True Value.)

Another nice feature with Kinek, is the automatic notification via email or TXT when your package arrives.

October 03, 2010 @ 3:01 pm
SavingMentor
SavingMentor's picture

Nice coincidence! I guess Deringers is also located in many border towns across the country as well so those people in central and western Canada can also do a directory search in their closest border town to see if Deringer's operates there.

If you can do without the tracking notification, you might try dealing with Deringer's directly instead of through Kinek to save yourself the $1.70 per package :)

October 04, 2010 @ 6:43 pm
Curious
Curious's picture

Are you saying that you have used the "Ship to store" on the US Wal-mart site from Canada and it has worked? I'm trying to find out if I can do that. I don't mind driving to the US to p/u if it's possible. Every time I look up something online it says not available in store. Very frustrating.

November 06, 2010 @ 11:44 pm
SavingMentor
SavingMentor's picture

Yes, I have used Site-to-Store at Wal-mart.com twice. Everything they have on Wal-mart.com should be available for Site-to-Store free shipping.

There is only one thing you need to know to make this work and that is changing your billing address on your credit card. Wal-mart won't accept credit cards with a Canadian billing address. So all you have to do is call your credit card provider (MBNA has no problem doing this) and tell them you want to temporarily change your billing address to a US address. Tell them you want it switched back the next day.

What do you use for your USA billing address? Just use whatever place you would normally send parcels to in the USA. I use Deringer's address. It also wouldn't hurt to log into your credit card's online site after your address should have been switched back to your home address to make sure they did everything properly.

When checking out on Wal-mart.com just put in your temporary USA address along with your credit card and the transaction should go through just fine. I usually keep my credit card customer service agent on the phone while I hit the checkout button just to make sure they made the change properly on their end because not all CSRs know how to do it properly. The change should be instantaneous, so if it doesn't work then they did something wrong.

November 07, 2010 @ 8:48 am
Steve Selby's picture

US BORDER PARCEL PICKUP SERVICE (SWANTON, VERMONT) Business Amrica Services has partnered with Kinek to give Montrealers another option when shopping online in the USA. Located in Swanton, Vermont , five minutes from the border, this KinekPoint is about one hour from Montreal. If you're looking for a place to have your US purchases shipped to for you to pickup during the week or on weekends, Business America Services is the place. Best of all, this service comes at a very reasonable price , a $7.00 flat rate per package fee. Register at www.kinek.com/BAS

January 12, 2011 @ 11:47 am
SavingMentor
SavingMentor's picture

Although the previous comment is obviously an advertisement from an employee of Kinek.com, I have decided to leave it in the comments because another person already recommended Kinek as a border shipping option for Canadians.

January 12, 2011 @ 11:58 am
Jane
Jane's picture

My sister and I have a mailbox at a UPS store in the U.S. It costs $51.00 for 3 months or $8.50 each per month. So for under $100. a year you can save a LOT of money shopping across the border. You can have 2 people per box. We've had this for a few years now and have sure save a lot of money buy having the box. We've even had televisions delivered to UPS.

March 19, 2011 @ 2:52 pm
SavingMentor
SavingMentor's picture

That's another fantastic idea Jane!

$100 a year is still a lot of $3 packages held on an as-needed basis - but for those extremely heavy US shoppers or those that don't have a cheap pay per use package holding service at their border that would work extremely well.

March 19, 2011 @ 5:22 pm
Jay's picture

Hi SavingMentor,

Steve Selby is actually the owner/operator of Business America Services and they are one of our KinekPoints, but does not directly work for Kinek. I however do work for Kinek and am happy that other users here on the forum enjoy the service. If there is anything I can do to answer anyone's questions about shipping to the border please feel free to leave a comment.

I apologize if I am imposing on a great forum!

PS - Ace Hardware is also a KinekPoint located in Calais, Maine and they accept items of any size and weight. They start their pricing at $3 per package.

Jay

April 27, 2011 @ 3:38 pm
d
d's picture
hello, ive ordered items in the past that came damaged from various websites. im thinking about ordering a digital camera from amazon.com that amazon.ca does not hold and i cant find it where i live. im wondering if you guys check parcels for people and also, if returns are made difficult for sending something to an address that is not my own. in case they will hold me liable for not sending it to my own adress. thank you
October 10, 2014 @ 9:29 pm
SavingMentor
SavingMentor's picture

Thanks for the additional information Jay!

April 27, 2011 @ 10:35 pm
schultzter's picture

I got hung-up on the requirement to have a US Address on my credit card to shop at Walmart.com. But I noticed they also take PayPal, would that be an alternative? I haven't followed through yet - there's still a bit of product research I have left to do, but what I'm looking for just isn't available in Canada so I'm really hoping to find a working solution. Kinek.com seems like a great idea - but I still need to pay for purchases. I'm not sure my credit card company will flip-flop my address so readily.

August 31, 2011 @ 11:54 am
Jay
Jay's picture

Hi schultzter,

Most credit cards will allow you to ship to another address besides the one attached to your credit card, but you are right, a few do require it on file. PayPal is another great option if you are not comfortable adding a 2nd address to your credit card. I've run into people who have changed their credit card just because of this shipping limitation that they had.

If you have any other questions about Kinek or any of our locations feel free to contact :)

August 31, 2011 @ 12:04 pm
SavingMentor
SavingMentor's picture

I'm not 100% sure that Paypal will work schultzer but I am pretty sure that it will. I just went through the checkout process at Walmart.com and went all the way to the final confirmation with Paypal and everything was going smoothly. So, unless after you click the final purchase button it rejects you because your registered Paypal address is Canada, it will work. I can't see them caring what your address on file is with Paypal so I think it will work.

Next time I need to buy something from Walmart.com, I think I will try the Paypal route to see how that works. It's less hassle than calling the credit card company to change my address.

September 05, 2011 @ 9:33 pm
Tiffany
Tiffany's picture

I've used Paypal with walmart.com for ship to store and it worked great.

November 22, 2011 @ 12:26 am
SavingMentor
SavingMentor's picture

Thanks for the confirmation Tiffany, that's good to know!

November 25, 2011 @ 8:26 pm
shrakal
shrakal's picture
I have a concern, even if we give the border agency address to collect,how to bring back the item to canada, do we need to deal with us customs office???
November 11, 2013 @ 2:45 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Yes, you have to go through customs on the way home. If you stay just for the day you will have to pay normal Canadian taxes for most items which isn't a big deal because you'd be paying that anyway. If you stay for 24 hours you get an exemption of $200 per person. If you stay for 48 hours or more that jumps to $800 per person.
November 25, 2013 @ 7:57 pm
Mike
Mike's picture
hi guys! I've been looking up kinekpoint. Is it legit? Some of the adresses they have listed as a ship to address doesnt match the real address by googling it... For example the one in buffalo.. storage central 291 ellicott st? Real address if you look it up on google would show 290 ellicott st. Has any one here use kinek.com?
November 19, 2013 @ 9:22 am
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
I haven't used Kinek's services myself, but I have heard good things about them and as far as I know they are completely legitimate. You could try giving them a call if you have questions.
November 25, 2013 @ 7:57 pm
Shawn
Shawn's picture
I use American Mail & Parcel, they are a great service and are located in Champlain, NY for all of us Montrealers. Here is there website americanparcels.com
September 22, 2014 @ 1:42 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture
Thanks for sharing Shawn.
September 23, 2014 @ 10:26 pm
Chris & Karen
Chris & Karen's picture
Awesome to do to save money. Keep in mind when purchasing in the US that could be one less job for your Canadian neighbor. Make a mistake and exchange or repair could be difficult. Weigh out the options.
October 09, 2014 @ 12:00 am
Abera
Abera's picture

I want to comment regarding shopping at amazon.com.
As you mentioned it, amazon.com has an inventory so huge that they carry mass produced but shipping to Canada is only limited for few items only.

This is very disappointing weak point I see from time to time. So please do not forget mentioning this problem too.
Thank you.

December 14, 2014 @ 9:28 pm
Stephen Weyman
Stephen Weyman's picture

Yes, that's exactly why it often makes sense to ship your order to the border and pick it up there. You save on shipping and border fee costs + you get access to their full inventory. You also can save on taxes if you happen to stay in the USA for long enough to get a tax exemption.

December 15, 2014 @ 1:17 pm
Gen
Gen 's picture

Which Wal-Mart in US would be the closest to Montreal?

December 21, 2014 @ 1:12 am
Angee
Angee's picture

Will Kinek reship to my address, and how much would that cost? I understand the answer will be based on weight etc., is it worth it? If I buy clothes from Dressbarn, how much would the reship cost?
What about American parcels?

March 30, 2016 @ 12:56 pm

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