If you're planning to cross the Canada-U.S. border this year, why not consider a little tactical cross-border shopping?
Buying certain products from either side of the border could actually save you money, as some items can be cheaper on one side than the other.
While the AI notes that, of course, all prices can vary depending on specific locations and it's always a good idea to compare prices yourself if there's something you really want to purchase, these tips could help save you money if you're already planning to cross the border to shop.
With that in mind, here's a look at some of the specific items that could cost less on either side of the Canada-U.S. border, from clothing brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour, to grocery products such as meat, dairy and bread.
The U.S. side
According to ChatGPT, shoppers are likely to find cheaper clothing and shoes on the American side of the border.
It says this is because there are lower sales taxes and lower production costs in the United States, and these savings are passed onto shoppers.
In particular, the AI says athletic wear can be found cheaper in the States, including brands like Nike, Adidas and Under Armour.
If you're looking to buy formal wear, like dress shoes or suits, then it might be worth checking out the American options first, as ChatGPT says you're more likely to find discounts on the U.S. side of the border. It also recommends looking during holiday sales events or at outlet malls if you want to find a particularly good deal.
The same goes for popular denim brands, such as Levi's, Wrangler, and Lee. It notes that many of these stores are headquartered in the U.S., which means their products can often be found at lower prices in American stores.
A 2022 study from HelloSafe suggests that the AI is to be trusted in this instance, as it found that "There's no better place to buy denim than the U.S."
The research agrees that jeans and footwear are usually cheaper in the United States than Canada, and this is likely to be down to factors such as lower sales tax rates, and a more competitive U.S. market.
If you're looking to splurge on some new tech, ChatGPT suggests the American side of the border could be your best bet.
It notes that electricals like smartphones, laptops and TV are often less expensive in the United States due to the country's larger market and increased competition between retailers.
Again, this is supported by HelloSafe's research, which also found that electronic devices can cost less in the States, particularly smaller devices and accessories such as GPS devices, memory cards, flash drives, video games and wearable tech.
A 2021 article from Tech2Sports also placed the U.S. among the cheapest countries to buy tech worldwide, while Canada didn't even get a mention in the top ten.
It will probably come as no surprise to those who regularly cross the Canada-U.S. border that gas is often cheaper on the American side, which is why many travelling Canadians choose to fill up before they head home.
Gas is so often less expensive in the States because of lower taxes and a larger domestic oil industry.
And, while it's said that the pre-tax cost of gas is actually pretty similar in both countries, it's the added tax that makes all the difference to the overall price at the pumps.
ChatGPT explains that American federal and state taxes on gas are usually lower than Canadian federal and provincial taxes.
Another factor that can influence the price is lower production costs is the fact that the U.S. is the world's largest producer of oil — which helps to reduce the cost of gasoline for customers.
Research by Crossbordershopping.ca even suggests that gasoline can be up to 25% cheaper in the U.S. than Canada, so keep that in mind if you're crossing the border via car!
Want to shave some money off your grocery bill? Then ChatGPT suggests shopping for some products in the U.S.
Namely, the AI recommends buying products such as cereal and snacks, soft drinks, eggs and some types of meat.
It explains that many popular cereal and snack brands are headquartered in the United States, which can result in lower prices for American consumers.
What's more, when it comes to soft drinks, eggs and meat, it notes that there are lower production costs in the U.S., as well as greater competition among suppliers.
Sylvain Charlebois, senior director of the Agri-Food Analytics Lab at Dalhousie University, told CBC in 2022 that Canadians can indeed save money by picking up groceries in the United States.
"The Americans have access to the cheapest food basket in the world by far. So it's not surprising to see lower prices for main staples like eggs, cheese, milk," he said. "Many of their products are cheaper."
He added that American coupon culture can help get costs even lower.
"You can actually save serious money using coupons in America. In fact, it's not rare to see someone walk away from the grocery stores without paying anything and even getting a credit because the coupons that they that the person had was of greater value than the actual price of the product."
The Canada side
Unsurprisingly, ChatGPT listed health care as one of the top services that are cheaper to access in Canada.
It notes that the Canadian health care system is "designed to provide access to necessary medical care for all residents, regardless of their ability to pay," while the U.S. alternative is primarily funded through private insurance and out-of-pocket payments.
What's more, the AI says that prescription drugs are typically cheaper in Canada due to government regulations that control the prices.
This is backed up by the research from HelloSafe, which also found medicine to be "way cheaper" in Canada than the States.
It notes that the difference is so significant, many Americans cross the border to purchase medicine.
"An EpiPen, for instance, is about a third of the cost in Canada," HelloSafe says.
In 2022, Canadian pharmacy company Canada Drugs Direct said that many Americans rely on medication to deal with chronic or degenerative health conditions, but often face "prohibitively expensive" costs to get access to what they need.
It said that many have turned to international online pharmacies, including Canada Drugs Direct.
There are several factors that help to explain why the cost of prescription medication is way cheaper in Canada than the U.S., and Canada Drugs Direct lists "fewer [...] 'middlemen' in the Canadian pharmaceutical chain who often mark up prices" among them.It also says that government price cap regulations and a pharma care industry less geared towards profit play a significant role.
When it comes to groceries, there are some products that ChatGPT suggests are likely to be cheaper in Canada.
Among them are bread and bakery products, seafood, some types of meat and maple syrup, to name a few.
Some of these suggestions are backed up by data from Numbeo – a global database of perceived consumer prices – which agrees that bread (fresh white bread, 500g), chicken (fillets, 1kg), beef (round, 1kg) are cheaper in Canada.
HelloSafe's 2022 report also suggests that things such as tourist attractions and hotels are often cheaper in Canada when compared to the States, although ChatGPT did not make this same suggestion.
It also listed new cars and mountain equipment as often being cheaper for American shoppers visiting their Canuck neighbours.
Of course, it's also worth keeping in mind that if you purchase any of these products in a different currency to the one you have in your bank account, you will have to factor in exchange rates.
And, by the time you've exchanged your currency or paid foreign transaction fees and paid any duty fees and taxes at the border, you may not have saved very much money at all — if any.
Also keep in mind that there are some restrictions on products you can take into Canada, so although you might be able to save some money, you may not be able to stock up!
Whatever you're buying, it's always worth double-checking the cost in both countries and making sure you won't actually end up losing out.
Happy shopping, travellers!
*This article has been updated since it was originally published in April 2023.