With the festive season approaching, it’s good to start preparing early! But if you’re looking forward to Black Friday and Cyber Monday (America’s biggest, most extravagant shopping holidays where you’ll be guaranteed to find crazy deals and savings from a variety of brands and store), a huge downside are the expensive shipping fees between the US and Singapore.

By choosing the right forwarding service, you can save money shipping your items from the US to Singapore. Here’s a rundown of four popular forwarding services that can help you buy directly from the States.


But First, What Is A Forwarding Service?

Most Singaporeans use a forwarding service when they shop at US retailers who do not ship to Singapore.

If you are buying from a store that only accepts US credit cards as a payment method, forwarders offer a concierge service that can pay on your behalf. When buying from different websites, you can also save money on shipping by consolidating your purchases into one package.

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How A Forwarding Service Can Save You Money

Repacking is a common practice in which the forwarder repackages your item to reduce its volumetric weight – which also lowers shipping charges.

However, some items, such as fragile or gift-wrapped items, will not be repacked. If you buy multiple items over a period of time, take note that you can sharply reduce your freight costs by opting for consolidation.

Consolidation means asking your forwarder to hold your parcels, and shipping them together as one shipment. This avoids paying multiple base charges, which are imposed on the first 0.5kg of your shipment, and are several times more expensive than the subsequent weight portions of your package.

Another advantage of consolidation is that it allows you more time to shop, so you can make sure you get the best deals. Forwarders also offer optional insurance on your shipments, which covers (up to a cap) your items against damage or loss during shipment. Should this happen, you can recover some or all of the money you spent on your shopping.

*Before you go clicking furiously away at your favourite US retailers, be aware that purchases exceeding USD$2,500 in value requires a Shipper’s Export Declaration (SED) form. Check with your forwarder on how to submit it. Also, don’t forget about the 7% GST payable on your buys, which is applicable if the CIF (Cost of Shipping + Insurance + Freight) exceeds S$400 in value.

Read on to see the 4 best forwarding services to save money on US to SG shipping charges:


1. Ezbuy 

Formerly known as 65daigou, this service is commonly used as a third-party Taobao shopping and shipping agent. It also has the lowest shipping cost from the US to Singapore.

While the service works on a self-collection basis, you can opt for home delivery for a small fee. Ezbuy also has a Prime service, which gives unlimited shipping at S$2.99 per checkout. This service is available at S$9.90 for a 1-month trial, or S$99.90 for a year. It may be worth using this option if you shop online frequently.


2. VPost

An overseas forwarding services from Singapore Post, VPost lets Singaporeans access shops from the US, China, Taiwan, and Europe.

Although VPost charges a repacking fee, it will only repack your item if there’s a difference of 2 kg or more between the volumetric weight and dead weight of your parcel.

Don’t worry though, the S$6 fee is lower than the savings you’ll get from repacking. For now, VPost is offering it’s VPost4U concierge service for free, handy if your US merchant only accepts American credit cards.


3. Borderlinx

Borderlinx lets Singaporeans shop at online stores in the US, UK, and Europe. While they don’t disclose their rates, there’s a calculator on the website to help you estimate your charges.

Do note there are three levels of service for shipping from the US – Express, Standard and Economy – so you can pick the one most suited to your budget. One advantage Borderlinx offers is the lack of a time limit for holding your parcels, which is useful if you buy from the US infrequently.


4. Comgateway

The creme de la creme of all US forwarding services, Comgateway charges premium prices for speedy shipping and great service.

Comgateway offers a sales tax-free address, allowing you to save anywhere between 5.5% to 9.45% off your shopping. If you’re looking to spend less on shipping costs, there’s also a Standard service, which ships your package in 5-8 business days.

Because of its detailed tracking and speedy shipping, Comgateway is a good option for high-value items that need careful handling. If you’re looking for more affordable shipping for lower-value items, Ezbuy, VPost, and Borderlinx have you covered.


Tip: Use The Right Credit Cards

Use an online shopping credit card to make the most out of your spend or to get cashback savings.

Check out the Standard Chartered SingPost Platinum Visa Card, which gives you 7% cashback when you shop online. When you use this credit card to ship with VPost for the first time, you’ll get 30% discount on your shipping fees, and 20% off thereafter. You’ll also enjoy free insurance of up to USD$250 value.

Got a Citibank credit card? You get access to the Citi Globalshopper programme, which gives you 5% cashback all year round every time you ship with VPost or Borderlinx. Citi cardmembers also get 10% off shipping from the US at Borderlinx, and free concierge service.

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Text: Alevin Chan / Additional Reporting: Elizabeth Liew

This article first appeared on Singsaver, Singapore’s go-to personal finance comparison platform that guides consumers on the best money habits with its credit card comparison tool and allows real-time personal loans product comparison.