Happy Wednesday loves! So you guys probably know by now, I like buying high-end products, especialllllly bags. But, I also love saving money. After all, that means more budget left for more shopping! And Europe is actually a shopper’s paradise because of the opportunity for saving money! I actually was able to buy an extra pair of shoes with the money I saved…
So how do you save money in Paris??
1) Do Your Conversions
Always always always check what the conversion from Euro to USD is. One, you don’t want to have sticker shock… the Euro is worth more than the US dollar, so the numbers are lower over there. 10 Euros is $12.30 USD at the moment (Edit Oct 2019: this conversion rate was April 2018, it’s actually just under $11 USD now meaning you’re saving even more!), it might not seem like much, but it adds up. Two, certain brands are simply cheaper in Europe. For example, a pair of Louis Vuitton sunnies I fell in love with retail for $700 in the US. In Paris however, they retail for 475€. 475€ is only $584.50 (in Oct 2019 it would be $520.51!)… that’s 16% (in Oct 2019 it’s actually 26% less!) less than the US price, and this is before the Tax Refund, which is another 10.8- 12%!!! I don’t know about you, but I will gladly take an extra $100 plus off of my purchase any day.
…And that’s not even including the US tax I save, because I likely wouldn’t be able to actually purchase the LV sunnies for $700 in the US, as there would be at least 6% sales tax added on in most states… so more like taking $160 off!
2) Take Advantage of the Tax Refund!
If you live outside of Europe, any purchase you make over 175€ is eligible for the “Détaxe”, or the tax refund. And certain places you can even shop tax-free (mostly airports). This means you get an extra 12% back (or 10.8% if you choose to get it back in cash versus back on your card). So that pair of LV sunnies? I got around $65 more back on them, making their final price about $520. That’s over 25% less than what I would pay buying them in the US.
To get your tax refund, you have to ask for the paperwork when you are checking out with your purchase (it has to be over 175€, but can be anywhere!) Then, for most stores, you have to hold on to that and take it with you to the airport or to a tax refund point in Paris, Lyon, or Nice. At the airport, there is a station specifically for tax refunds, where you have to get your papers stamped. If you are going to get cash, you can pick it up after you pass through security by showing the papers at a currency exchange desk. In Charles de Gaulle Airport, we went to TravelEx. If you choose to get the full 12% back on your card, you have to mail the papers back from the States. We chose to take the cash, since it was pretty fool-proof and guaranteed! (Also I’m super forgetful and bad at following up on things like this…whoops!)
3) Shop at Galleries Lafayette
This is actually a must-do in Paris if you love shopping in general!! For any budget really, but I must say that I wish I had shopped high end there! I had already spent most of my budget, but in individual boutiques, mostly along Avenue Montaigne. While I love getting a workout in walking all over to different boutiques, it is amazing how many brands Galleries Lafayette has sitting side by side! While I loved sipping champagne in the boutiques while browsing, I think next time I will head there first, if not for anything else other than to just get an idea of what all the brands are carrying at the moment, before doing rounds 2 and/or 3 to finally commit to my purchases.
But there is another reason to shop there. You can score an extra 10% off of many of the brands there! Sometimes hotels carry coupons in fliers they carry for Galleries Lafayette, and sometimes the brands themselves offer you discounts. I nearly bought a Valentino bag just because of how much I would have saved on it! (that’s a good reason to buy something, right!?? haha 😉 ) You can also pick up your tax refund right there at Galleries Lafayette! They have a whole area in the back with kiosks, and if you want cash, you can pick it up right then another. You just have to keep the paperwork, get it stamped at the airport, and place it in a mailbox there.
Edit Oct 2019: I actually haven’t had to mail any paperwork even for the credit refund the past two trips, so long as I make sure to scan all the paperwork at the airport!
And I actually have two more little tips, but these are actually just to avoid paying more than you need to for anything…
1, Make sure you always choose Euros when paying with a credit card. Your credit card company will usually give you a better exchange rate than the machine will.
2, Make sure your credit card isn’t charging you any fees for using it overseas. If it is, it might be better to get a new one for travel or pay cash.
3, Speaking of cash… watch where you get yours exchanged! Some places, especially the airport, charge exorbitant amounts for exchanging your money. Even for our tax refund we asked for Euros back, as we knew our bank in the US would give the best market rate and no added fees!
So that’s about it for my money-saving hacks! If you know of any that I missed, please let me know! I’m headed back to Paris in the fall and can always use all of the saving hacks I can get! Otherwise, I hope these are super helpful to any of you headed to Europe soon!
Also, I have an amazing giveaway below! I teamed up with some great girls to give you guys some goodies! Good luck!