By Jayden Andrews. November 13, 2019
Most people love shopping online, and they are always looking for lower prices. But what many people may not know is that online prices may fluctuate depending on where you are searching from. It is part of the tricks that companies like hotels, airlines, rental car providers, and streaming services use to charge customers different prices.
If you are an avid online shopper, you may find some great bargains and save money by just playing with different locations. Did you know that a VPN does more than just protecting your online identity? In fact, the best way to outsmart online price discrimination is to use a VPN. It will steer you to attractive deals, while also protecting you from fraud and theft.
In this guide, we will show you how to maximize your savings anytime you go shopping online, including using a VPN to mask your IP address.
When it comes to online shopping, equity means nothing. Websites and services rarely treat all customers the same. Most e-commerce platforms use geo-based pricing or dynamic pricing to profit from different categories of customers.
In most cases, the prices differ across the countries, meaning that location plays a big role. Being at the right place at the right moment matters in online shopping. Some websites show a higher price for potential customers browsing from more affluent countries or even cities. Interestingly, some sites are notorious for charging users based on whether they are browsing from a PC or a Mac.
Without going into the details, here are the main ways in which websites use to identify your area:
Finding attractive flight deals is usually a challenge. Flight comparison websites or apps can help you pick a good deal, but as you know, prices fluctuate regularly. So, getting the best deal can be time-consuming.
Most people are not aware that comparison websites usually use your location to show you the prices. But you can use this same trick to your advantage. Hiding your identity usually works well with time-sensitive transactions, such as airfare.
Airlines, particularly, like using cookies to upcharge some users on flights they repeatedly check. So, you may want to be thorough in your initial search to avoid repeated searches. Make sure to check flight prices from a couple of VPN locations to find a cheaper option. But as a rule of thumb, search from low-income regions. More affluent areas and larger cities are known to charge more for airfare.
Besides flight expenses, accommodation is another significant travel expense. Just like flights, hotels can cost more than it should. True, comparison sites can help you secure a good deal, but you can save even more money if you use a VPN.
You see, most hotels offer different prices based on your country. Even the so-called comparison websites will still trace your location, then tailor the figures they show you. That is why booking a hotel in the UK and you are in the US will likely cost you more than booking the same hotel from Africa. In this case, hotel searching from a low-income region will help you get an attractive deal.
But that’s not the only criteria that hotels use to show you prices. Some of them may prefer to cater to local first. So, if you are searching for a hotel from a foreign nation, the hotel may show a slightly higher price than what it shows customers search from within the same country.
Cloud technology has changed how computing used to be. Today, many SaaS providers, such as Microsoft Office 365 and Adobe CC, will let you pay a subscription fee to access their services. Sadly, the price you pay is not the same across the board. Someone in India will pay significantly less when compared to a user in Europe.
Netflix subscribers in the US may have the most content, but they aren’t paying the least for them. Some customers have found out that if they subscribe to the service from abroad, they will pay 10% – 20% less than what they would have paid in the US. While Netflix isn’t fond of subscribers manipulating their service with VPNs, altering your location can help you subscribe to Netflix at a more affordable price. And the same is true for other content streaming platforms. You can purchase Apple Music 80% cheaper if you are in specific countries. For instance, Apple Music may cost customers in the UK over $13 per month, while customers in India will only shell out $1.75 per month for the same service, which is a significant margin.
Just like airlines and hotels, car rental companies charge customers differently based on their location and browsing history. The fluctuation in car rental prices is mainly due to location surcharges, insurance costs, local taxes, which usually vary from country to another. You are likely to spend more on car rental if you are browsing from the US than if you were in India or Africa.
If you are looking to save money when shopping online for flights and other services, your best bet is to surf anonymously using a VPN. As we mentioned above, many shopping and comparison sites display prices based on your area. With a VPN, you can experiment with different locations until you find the best deal.
We are not making any bold promises here. We only want to elaborate to you how you can save money when shopping online. There are times when you will shave a few dollars off a purchase, and there are moments when you will hit the jackpot with the help of a VPN. For example, you can save money close to $100 when purchasing a flight ticket from the US to Europe if you are browsing from a country like India.
Many times, you will save money if you are browsing from a low-income country. So, if you don’t want to bounce through several countries to look for the best deal, you can start your search by changing your IP to a less affluent country.
Alternatively, you can find a country with a discount. Sometimes, online platforms offer discounts to customers in a specific location. If that is the case, try connecting to a server in that country, then shop like a local customer.
There is no doubt that online shopping has several benefits, including comparing different sites, browsing multiple products, and setting up one-click checkout. But it also has its risks. One of them is exposing your credit card numbers to cybercriminals.
Thankfully, there are different ways to keep your personal information safe. You can choose to shop from HTTPS-only sites, vary your online passwords, or even set up a two-factor authentication. But the best of them all is using a VPN to encrypt your traffic and protect your browsing history from prying eyes.
A VPN changes your location by masking your IP address. In this case, a website will only see the IP address of the VPN server you connect to. The added benefit of using a VPN is that it secures your connection by encrypting your data.
As we mentioned earlier, websites can use your browsing history to show you different prices. Therefore, clearing your browsing data and cookies can help you reset the prices you see. Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will find the best deals since the site will still access your location. This trick might only work best if you pair it with a VPN.
Even if you are using a VPN, it is advisable to clear your cookies and browsing history before searching for deals. This action alone can help save you money because of the effect of repeated searches. Unless you are searching in private or incognito mode, the website can still find out your location even if you are using a VPN. So, you shouldn’t forget to clear your browsing data before connecting to a VPN.
If you have plenty of time and want to save money, it can’t hurt to do some digging or experimenting with different locations. Doing this will most likely help you find great deals on hotels, car rental, airfare, and subscription services, among other stuff. Before settling on a bargain, make sure you have hopped around a few countries and check prices.
Since most retailers or booking sites based their prices on your location and browsing history, having a VPN should be your top priority. While reputable VPNs will give you all the advantages, you should not forget that not all of them have the same capacity. So, you should invest in a service that will not only help you save money, but also safeguard your private data.