How to find the REAL bargains from overseas websites – and not get stung by massive hidden fees

You can find yourself in a world of pain when ­buying ­a bargain from an overseas website.

You may think you have tracked down a brilliant deal online, only to be hit by all kinds of nasty ­surprise ­charges – and left without ­protection if things go wrong.

So here’s what you need to know about those potential pitfalls when ordering anything from a website outside the UK.

Credit card fees

Paying for purchases by card in a foreign currency is classed as an overseas transaction, which often carries extra fees.

Banks and building societies add as much as 2.99% of the purchase price in transactions fees, with an ­additional £1 purchase charge each time.

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Consumer rights

Import tax

When you buy goods online from outside the EU for delivery to the UK, you’ll have to pay customs duty, if its more than £120 in value, and import VAT, if it is over £18.

That is on top of the ­price, ­including duties – although ­customs duty is waived if the amount of duty payable is under £7.

This often comes as a shock as the trader never gives you this ­information on their website.

Consumer rights

With the likes of the Consumer Rights Act and Consumer Contracts Regulations, the UK has some of the best consumer laws in the world providing ­extensive ­protection for consumers.

But if you shop outside the UK, these laws do not apply.

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Have you been tempted by an overseas bargain?

When something goes wrong

This is the time when you may well wish you had purchased from a local trader.

You won’t be covered by UK consumer laws – although some EU laws may apply, ­depending on the trader’s location – and it will be harder and more expensive to enforce your rights overseas.

Protect yourself

There are steps you can take to protect yourself:

  1. Check online to see if anyone has reviewed the site/trader or ­reported anything positive or negative

  2. Ask the trader to confirm if any import taxes will be payable and seek a reduction in the purchase price to account for this

  3. If the purchase is at least £100, use a credit card. This way you will be able to make a Section 75 claim against your card provider if ­something goes wrong

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