Duty-free shops at airports all advertise great bargains, but are they a good deal?
Here’s the first rule of thumb: for casual items, duty free is rarely a real value. Forget buying makeup, perfume and other high-priced impulse items duty free because they’re not really duty-free.
You’re better off going online or visiting discount stores. Online sites or a store’s sale prices can also easily beat the duty-free prices for electronics.
You have to watch out when buying items in bulk. Break down the prices by unit to see if it’s really a good deal.
For alcohol, you can still find a bargain when you buy hard-to-find wines and spirits from their countries of origin. Think vodka in Russia or wine in France.
Most duty-free operations have online catalogs that actually allow you to compare prices. Look for savings of at least 20 percent off the retail rate or the competitive online price.
For more bargain-hunting information, check out our shopping section.
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