If you're like me and you love a bargain then you're probably wondering how to buy cheaper digital products & services online. In this article I'm going to take a look at a really simple way in which you can save yourself some cash and get the same product at a markdown price.
Now I'll be the first to say this doesn't work in all cases but it certainly does work in some and depending on the product or service you're buying you can often save some big amounts.
Ok, I'm sold, what's the deal?
The internet is a global marketplace with retailers all over the world. Retailers of digital services and products have long realised that they now sell to a global audience and although they have access to a world market there is one lingering issue.
Salaries and wages around the world are not standard and the cost of living in one country is never the same as living in another.
So while charging $50 for a digital product in one country might be acceptable, that could be a full months salary in another country.
Regional pricing is now widespread throughout the world with online retailers and it doesn't just concentrate on the ever so obvious wage gaps between first, second and third world countries – it often differs between developed countries.
Case study: Dreamstime
Dreamstime is a digital service selling stock photography for use on websites and other products.
In the United States the service costs $54 per month when taking an annual package giving a one-time yearly payment of $648 which is approximately £459.
In the United Kingdom the exact same service costs £48 per month when taking the same annual package giving a one-time yearly payment of £576 which in US dollars is $813.
That's an amazing price difference of £117 or $165 just for living in another country!
Don't forget you get exactly the same service from the same company.
Now some may argue that the UK price includes European sales tax known as VAT and the US does not, which may or may not be true. However, even if you added 20% on top of the US price for UK VAT then the total would still only be £550 leaving it £27 ($38) cheaper than the American counterpart.
I don't know about you but I'd rather have that £117 ($165) or even £27 ($38) in my pocket than not in it.
How do I access those cheaper deals?
Your internet connection has what is known as an IP Address assigned to it. Every internet connection has a unique IP Address and from this websites can determine your location.
This is how websites offer you regional pricing.
A service known as a VPN (Virtual Private Network) allows you to get an IP Address from another country temporarily and fool websites into thinking you're located somewhere else.
By using a VPN you can appear as if you're in another country and access websites such as Dreamstime to compare if the prices are cheaper elsewhere.
This method works great for digital services or products because you don't need anything delivered to you physically so it's less likely a website will reject you.
VPN services are available from a massive range of companies these days because their intended purpose is to protect your online privacy and if you've seen any of the news in the past few years then you'll know that online privacy is a big concern these days.
Below I've listed three of the best VPN companies who have a range of countries available, this allows you to get IP Addresses from plenty of different countries and connect to the same website to compare if the prices are any cheaper or not.
Just click on one of their names below. A good VPN service should cost around £4-7 ($5-10) per month but you'll probably save more than this in the long run.
What do I do next?
Once you've signed up to a VPN provider you should download their software for Windows, Mac, Android or iOS.
You should then connect to a different country, trying between the USA and European countries is a good start, but feel free to try all different countries to see if you can get a cheaper deal.
Don't forget to use InPrivate or Incognito mode on your web browser because some websites remember that you've visited previously and might still give you the local currency price.
Is it even legal?
VPN services are completely legal and although I'm no lawyer there is no law against altering your IP Address.
All websites should do additional checks and not base prices solely on IP Address because they are fallible and don't always correctly determine your physical location. Using an IP Address to determine your location is just plain lazy and if you're smart enough to play the game then why shouldn't you save?
But what about paying VAT?
If VAT is due on goods, for example in European countries then it is up to the company serving you the product to collect that VAT even if they're located in the United States or elsewhere outside the EU. If you avoid paying VAT to a company outside the EU by altering your IP Address then it's not technically your fault, it's on the company you purchase from.
Again, I'm not a lawyer.
Sometimes it just doesn't work
Although this is a tried and tested method and has been proven to work for everything from digital services to airfare and even car rental the truth of the matter is it is not always going to work.
Sometimes websites just won't be any cheaper regardless of where you're from. Other times websites will expect your payment method to match the country you appear to be from, ie; you need a US billing address or credit card to pay on the US site.
In the case of buying digital games from services like Steam, you can have your games revoked if you bought them from a cheaper countries store.
So while this does work in some cases it won't work in all so you should keep that in mind.
Aside from that, enjoy your savings!