Price discrimination is not a new concept. For example, you probably know that Netflix subscriptions cost the same for everybody, but the content differs for each country – you can’t access American Netflix if you’re from, say, Spain. You get less content for the same amount. That doesn’t sound right.

Moreover, websites often display prices based on your personal profile. If you’ve ever searched for flight tickets, you probably noticed that after some searches the price for the same route goes up. This is an old trick to urge you to make the purchase.

But how do websites know it’s you? Tools to build your online profile have been improving. Retailers either get data about you from the third parties or collect it themselves.

Websites track you by:

  • Your cookies. Cookies track and store your browsing information. Some cookies can be used to track your behavior across different sites. Basically, if you searched for something on a few various websites and they use the same advertising or tracking networks, your browsing history on them can be tracked and linked. On top of that, the so-called supercookies are used to collect a wide variety of information and store it even if the cookie was deleted.
  • IP address. It helps the websites detect your geo-location, and display prices purely based on that. Read here to know more about IP address and what it says about you.
  • WiFi. If you give your permission, websites can track your location using your WiFi.
  • Mobile tracking. Your mobile device (such as a phone or a tablet) with turned on GPS also help retailers determine your location.

So we decided to perform an experiment and see how can you save money using a VPN. We checked for prices on various websites while connected to different servers. And here’s our results.

Use case #1: car rentals

Just one click can help you save at least $64

Website: Enterprise.com

Location: Texas, US, Austin-Bergstrom airport (same departure/destination location)

Date: 3-10 December 2018

Car: Toyota RAV4 (or similar automatic)

We tested 3 different locations, and here’s what prices we got:

Ukraine: $416.73

London, UK: $352.85

LA, US: $407.39

Surprisingly, this time the price is higher when searching for options from a lower-income country. Usually, it’s the other way around.

How did this happen? As you can see from the screenshots, some of the extra features were at no additional charge when renting the car from the UK server. Just one click can help you save at least $64.

Get Surfshark for only $1.99/mo HERE!

Use case #2: flight tickets

All of the locations had different prices for the same tickets – up to $50

Service: Kayak.com

Route: Los Angeles, USA (Los Angeles International Airport) – London, UK (London Gatwick)

Date: 4-10 December 2018

Class: economy

Airline: Norwegian Air

We tested 5 different locations, and here’s what prices we got:

India: $372

Ukraine: $417

London, UK: $383

Los Angeles, USA: $408

Warsaw, Poland: $397

As you can see from the screenshots provided below, all of the locations had different prices for the same tickets – up to $50! As these dates were completely random, the differences may be even more significant for different routes.

Get Surfshark for only $1.99/mo HERE!

Use case #3: hotels

hotels

We noticed that the price for the same exact offer (when converted to dollars) was over $90 higher for those, looking for hotels

Service: Booking.com

Destination: Los Angeles, US

Dates: 10-14 December 2018

Offer: the same recommended hotel

We tested 5 different locations, and here’s what prices we got:

London, UK server: £508 ($653*)

Los Angeles, USA server: $560

*Currencies to dollars were converted using default Google currency converter.

This time we tested 2 server locations in London (UK) and in Los Angeles (USA). We noticed that the price for the same exact offer (when converted to dollars) was over $90 higher for those, looking for hotels!

Get Surfshark for only $1.99/mo HERE!

Use case #4 subscriptions

1 example

subscription_case_01

Pay more just because you live in a different country

Service: Apple music

Plans: Student, Individual, Family

We tested 3 different locations, and here’s what prices we got*:

Warsaw, Poland: zł9.99 ($2,63), zł19.99 ($5,27), zł29.99 ($7,90)

Germany: €4.99 ($5,64), €9.99 ($11,30), €14.99 ($16,95)

Los Angeles, USA: $4.99, $9.99, $14.99

*Currencies to dollars were converted using default Google currency converter.

2 example

The difference between 3 randomly tested servers is over $35

Service: Microsoft Office

Plan: Home (best value)

We tested 3 different locations, and here’s what prices we got*:

India: ₹4619 ($64.35*)

London, UK: £79.99 ($102.53*)

Los Angeles, USA: $99.99

*Currencies to dollars were converted using default Google currency converter.

Turns out, if you’re a British who needs Microsoft Office subscription, you will have to pay more than others for the same plan. The difference between 3 randomly tested servers is over $35.

3 example

subscription_cas_03

If you’re living in Vietnam, for the same offer you will pay 7 times more

Service: The Economist

Subscription: 12 weeks

We tested 4 different locations, and here’s what prices we got*:

India: ₹2900 ($40.42*)

London, UK: £12 ($15,39*)

Los Angeles, US: $12

Vietnam: $85

*Currencies to dollars were converted using default Google currency converter.

If you’re living in Vietnam, for the same offer you will pay 7 times more.

Our overview

As you can see, VPNs are no longer some super difficult software for the tech-savvy geeks. It’s an assistant for you which protects you and even helps you save money.

Why pay for the same service more just because of your geographical location, right?

But, before you go, a few extra tips from us to make sure you really get the best offers:

  • Change server location. If you’re a Surfshark client, you know it’s very easy – just select a country from the list.
  • Delete browsing history and cookies.
  • Turn on private or incognito mode (depends on your browser).
  • Remember, these are only a few examples. You may try switching servers while buying anything online. 
  • If your trip is not very time-sensitive, we suggest experimenting with dates. Just don’t forget to take the steps we gave you above.

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