The hidden costs of online shopping (and how to avoid them)
15 December 2021
Love online shopping? Adding to cart was a top pastime for many Australians even before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the resulting lockdowns have led to us spending more money online than ever before. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), total online sales averaged an annual rise of 67.1% from March to October 2020.
But even if you’re careful with your spending, you can still get stung with hidden costs. Here are two common hidden costs of online shopping to watch out for on your next round of retail therapy.
1. Delivery fees
Online retailers don’t have the overhead costs of bricks and mortar stores, meaning their prices can be cheaper. But the catch is that shipping fees, especially combined with return delivery, can quickly make online items more expensive than their in-store alternatives. To avoid this, choose retailers that offer free delivery and returns. If that’s not available, check where items are being sent from, as overseas and interstate shipping can be pricier.
2. Foreign transaction fees
Shopping virtually allows you to access goods in other countries that might not be available locally. If you’re spending more time shopping online you may have been hit with a foreign transaction fee on your bank statement and wondered what it is. Foreign transaction fees are common when shopping online. Normally charged as a percentage of the purchase price, they are levied when the seller you’re buying from banks outside of Australia. These sellers can be popular brands that may have an Australian website and a local presence, which can make it difficult to see when you may be charged this fee.
One way to avoid it entirely is to look for a bank with 0% foreign currency conversion fees on card purchases and pay attention to the fineprint. A bank may only waive this fee when you meet certain conditions like spending a minimum amount or having a set amount in their account, so it can pay to look for one that keeps things simple with no fees and no catches.
Be a savvy shopper
Buying online can be a fun and rewarding experience, with bargains to be had and choices galore. But it can also lead to overspending. Ensure you budget and monitor your online spend – and avoid those hidden costs such as shipping fees and foreign transaction fees. Being savvy when shopping for a bank account that works for you and when shopping online, can (literally) pay off!
Although shipping fees are sometimes unavoidable, saving on bank fees can be simple. Suncorp's Everyday Options, Carbon Insights and Everyday Essentials Accounts have 0% foreign currency conversion fees on Visa Debit card1 purchases with no minimum spend or balance condition. There are also no monthly account keeping fees with these accounts to support the savvy shoppers.
- How to budget with the 70:20:10 rule
- Bucketing your money
- The benefits of checking your bank account balance
The information presented in this article is accurate as of November 1, 2021 and is subject to change.
The information is intended to be of general nature only. We do not accept any legal responsibility for any loss incurred as a result of reliance upon it – please make your own enquiries.
Deposit products issued by Suncorp-Metway Ltd ABN 66 010 831 722 (“Suncorp Bank”). Terms and fees apply. Read the relevant Product Information Document and Terms and Conditions before making any decisions about whether to acquire a product. Any advice does not take into account your particular objectives, financial situations or needs, so you should consider whether it is appropriate for you before acting on it.
1 Visa Debit Card holders must be 16 years or older.