Aliexpress for small items

All of you are likely already using it, but Aliexpress is great for small items (such as iPhone cases - I had a nice looking one delivered for 1.15CHF total cost) and extremely cheap. I have never been charged additional customs duty. Tip is to search for your item and then filter by ‘orders’ , see the best reviews and then you get the trustworthy sellers. Be careful with electrical items, there have been safety concerns reported in the press in the past. Hope this helps, enjoy


Ali’s pretty good for cheap generic stuff. Branded and expensive items however often can be counterfeit or knockoffs, you need to be very careful, plus warranty and returns promises are a joke, of course, at swiss return shipping costs and that you barely stand any chance to enforce them after ali’s buyer protection period is over

Swiss VAT for imports is normally waived so long as it’s under 5 Fr - so at a standard VAT rate of currently 8.0% (soon to be increased!) it’s tax free for up to 62.50 Fr of goods value. However postage counts towards taxable goods value and unless you insist, the chinese usually don’t declare it - bad idea for >20-30 Fr items. If there’s no declaration of postage, the customs will apply ripoff postage rates (China is zone 5) that can easily blow up your total to be over the tax free limit. Causing you to pay not only the VAT but also to get double ripped off by post’s admin costs. If actual postage was less than they assumed, you can contest it with the customs that you didn’t have to pay VAT and everything else in the first place - but the process is not free either and so you’ll end up getting ripped off then either way. So always ask the chinese to declare postage costs on expensive items! Customs duties are a separate thing in addition to VAT. There’s a registry per item type and country. If you have the misfortune of ordering and receiving something on the list, you can get shafted in this way too…

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Do you have a reference to the VAT rate increase? I searched around and actually found the opposite:

Ah I didn’t know that the increase is cancelled out by “Expiring IV supplementary financing 31.12.2017” and depending on referendum outcome it might even drop (but I think unlikely due to demographics). Good to know

You have to be careful with DHL deliveries as well. I got charged additional 29 CHF from them for their “efforts” in getting the good through the duty. This happened to me because I didn’t know that “price + mail < 62 CHF”, as @hedgehog mentioned.

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I love Aliexpress. Today they seem to be running a promotion where new users get a US$100 coupon to spend within 5 days. I am not eligible because I already have an account but, for the sake of others, does anybody know if this is for real?

You could buy a lot on of quality stuff on Aliexpress for $100. Just sort your search results by “Orders” and only buy items that have lots of good reviews.

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Can you spend it in different purchases? like 4dollars here, 10 there etc… ?

Just created an account, and if you read the small print this are the coupons you get:

  • $4 off for an order of $20 or more
  • $6 off for an order of $119 or more
  • $10 off for an order of $199 or more
  • $30 off for an order of $599 or more
  • $50 off for an order of $999 or more

So you have to order $1940 worth of products to get $100 off.


I knew there was a trick. No one gives free money.
I did read their “rules”. No offense to chinese here, but…well… That page is very chinese…

I hope chinese businessess will change and do the same trick japanese did a while ago. (and many other countries before them)

The fine print page:
There is probably a “finer print” page…

Free money you can get if buying on AliExpress using a dedicated link from TopCashback :wink:
Currently you get ~4,39% of each purchase.

TopCashBack is UK based but easy to withdraw the money, for example to your Revolut or TW account.
After signing up, search for Aliexpress and get there through your own link.

it’s my ref link, I might get 5 pounds if one day you actually start using TopCashback a lot

Other cashback you can get from TopCashback, that might be useful:

  • Audible
  • booking .com
  • skyscanner

I want to push this, because aliexpress does save me quite a bit of money for things that:

  • I don’t mind waiting for, for 1-2 months,
  • are not very technical to manufacture,
  • it wouldn’t be a big loss, if the quality wasn’t great,
  • and are maybe not even sold in switzerland.

For example, I wanted to buy a metal filter for my aeropress. Galaxus doesn’t have it in store and it costs 9CHF + 11CHF shipping in next best store (no idea how they come up with those shipping prices for stuff that can easily be sent in a letter).
Look it up on aliexpress, costs 3.15CHF including shipping.

Other eample, I wanted to buy a digital cooking thermometer.
Cheapest I could find for Switzerland was this one for 7CHF + 8CHF shipping.
But that thermometer from aliexpress looks kind of similar to this thermometer for 4.50CHF incl. shipping.
But wait, I don’t even want a folding one, so this one for 1.70CHF incl. shipping should also do the job.

[Side note: does anybody know, how they are able to ship their stuff for so cheap? Why is Die Post willing to forward these packages to me? Sending a simple card to my grandmother costs me more than it costs them to send a small package from China…]


This is a touchy topic with Die Post, who have been increasingly flooded with small parcels from China in the last years (exponential increase for a few years I’m sure, but must have slowed now).
Post in China is cheap & the price that China pays Swiss Post to deliver the parcel to you is peanuts. This is due to old global postal agreements, where especially developing countries were/are helped by this. I suppose Switzerland also pays only an equally small price to China for your letter to your Chinese penpal. Else no-one could in such countries could afford to send a letter internationally as it costs a day’s salary. As long as in-out is more or less balanced no problem. Problem is this post in-out is now massively out of balance with China, and also they not a purely developing nation any more. But I think such international agreements take a long time to adjust (unless the Donald gets started on it :wink:


I find it mind-blowing how many international organizations you didn’t even know existed, are based in Switzerland.


AliExpress coupons are always a ripoff. They always tell me I qualified for some super exclusive won’t last act now X$ off coupon. When it’s time to check out and actually pay, the coupons are nowhere to be found, ever. I’m not talking about specific seller’s discount like “buy 21382$ and get 2$ off” (barely exaggerating here, the purchase amount vs discount is always ridiculous) but generic aliexpress “coupons” that is advertised as X$ off your order. As a rule of thumb, I always ignore their bogus coupons because you can never actually use them.

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I would not only not spend any money on acquiring coupons. I haven’t even spend any time to bother and find about the coupons. Cause I’m lazy.

That said, I seem to have accumulated some from previous purchases and/or randomly clicking on free coupon offers. I made a “larger” order last week and tried to apply as many as I could towards that.

Using these coupons shaved off almost 12 CHF off of my 200$ order - for a discount of nearly 6%. Not bad for a few additional clicks.

I wouldn’t trust those sellers for something that costs so much. What did you buy, if I may ask?

I have never bought anything more expensive than 14chf there.

The Pro, Cons and Uncertainties I see are:

Pro: Some stuff you can’t get otherwise get.
Pro: Some stuff is so much cheaper that in expectation you’re better off buying on aliexpress, even with a higher chance of losses.

Con: You don’t have any real consumer protection. Returns are probably either impossible or really annoying and costly.
Con: There seems to be a much higher (but still low) chance of your order never arriving compared to ordering in europe or switzerland.

Uncertain: Not sure about how good Aliexpress is in returning your money, if you don’t recieve a package or the package isn’t as specified. Are you required to do a lot of stuff (send back package, fill out form, write emails back and forth) or is it quite straight forward?

Handheld action / video cam.

As for trusting sellers. I’ve actually had an issue on purchase of this very product. The shipment for my initial order had been “cancelled” in the tracking view. So I contacted the seller, who advised me to file a claim for refund…

You do have AliExpress’s.

For me, it has been pretty painless so far.

Once, I just received the wrong items. Tried to contact seller twice (through AliExpress’s chat messaging system), to no avail. Made screenshots and filed a claim for refund. Refund came in pretty swiftly.

For the 200$ order, the seller actually advised me to claim for refund (I think AliExpress holds these funds in “escrow” or similar). Again, screenshot of the tracking site (Shipment “cancelled”), and refund to my payment card arrived a couple of days later.

You can get 5% cashback (for non-electronic orders) and 1% cashback (electronics) on ali-express if you use

If you want to use my affiliate url ( )
or go directly to

Für jeden aktiven Nutzer schreiben wir dir CHF 5.– Bonus auf dein Cashback-Konto gut.
Deine Freunde erhalten von uns ebenfalls einen Startbonus von CHF 5.–.

More information:

Example from my last shopping tour: