Is it safe to buy on AliExpress? Explained simply

Samuel Clennett
4 minute read

AliExpress is an online retailer based in China, but which sells to international customers including those based in Australia. If you’ve ever used the site before, you’ll know that it has a jaw-dropping number and variety of products – in short, it sells pretty much everything.

But is AliExpress safe to shop at? Here, we’ll take a closer look at security at AliExpress, including safe ways to pay. For example, pay with your Wise Platinum debit Mastercard and your payment will be secured by 3D Secure authentication¹.

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What is AliExpress?²

AliExpress is a consumer version of Alibaba, which is a wholesale marketplace mainly used by businesses and their suppliers. Alibaba is also a major global internet company.

While not as large as Amazon, there are similarities between AliExpress and the US online retail giant. Each online retailer sells a wide range of products in countless retail categories, from electronics and toys to fashion, furniture, beauty products and much more.

The key difference (apart from size) is that AliExpress is known for selling products at far cheaper prices than you’d find elsewhere. These super cheap prices are down to how products are sourced directly from Chinese manufacturers, where manufacturing and shipping costs are low.

But the bargain basement nature of the prices at AliExpress does inevitably create doubts for some consumers over whether it’s a legit and safe place to shop. So let’s look at that now.

Is AliExpress safe?

Shopping on AliExpress can be considered generally safe because it’s owned by Alibaba, an established, multi-national company. This doesn’t automatically make it a 100% safe place to shop, but it is reassuring to know that there is a credible, reputable company behind it.

AliExpress also has a number of Buyer Protection policies in place for its customers. It’s Basic Buyer Protection promises³:

  • Guaranteed refunds - if you don’t receive your products, or items are significantly different to how they’re described by the seller
  • Guaranteed on-time delivery – your items will be delivered by a set date or you’ll receive a refund
  • A dispute process⁴ – managed by the AliExpress customer service team
  • Secure payment methods – including 3D Secure⁵, a protocol which acts as an extra security layer for online credit and debit card payments.

You can also take a few basic precautions to protect yourself when shopping online at sites like AliExpress⁶. For example, check out the seller reviews before purchasing – just in case other customers have had a bad experience. You should also watch out for fake/bootleg products (if you’re after the real thing) and always make sure you’re buying from the real AliExpress site.

AliExpress dispute process to avoid getting scammed

If there is a problem with your order (i.e. it doesn’t arrive, is damaged or contains incorrect items), you can use the AliExpress dispute process to get it sorted. Simply follow these steps⁷:

  1. Contact AliExpress customer support and report the issue – the seller will be prompted to rectify the problem

  2. If this doesn’t produce the results you want or the seller isn’t willing to help, open a dispute with AliExpress

  3. Many claims are settled quickly, but if the seller doesn’t take action for your issue – AliExpress can escalate the dispute. If they resolve the dispute in your favour, AliExpress will return your money within 2 weeks.

A really important point to remember with AliExpress discounts is that you need to act quickly. You only have 15 days from the completion of your order to raise a dispute⁸, so make sure you check all products carefully the moment they arrive.

Raising disputes with AliExpress can result in a little back and forth with the seller. This may take time, so you’ll need to be patient before your problem can be resolved.

Some options for paying on AliExpress

Payment methods are another important security detail for online shoppers to check before heading to the virtual checkout.

At AliExpress, the only accepted payment method for customers in Australia is a debit or credit card⁹. This is the case whether using the AliExpress app, or shopping online. All major card providers are accepted though, including Visa, MasterCard, Maestro, Discover and American Express.

At the moment, only customers in certain countries (which unfortunately doesn’t include Australia) can pay via PayPal on AliExpress¹⁰.

The AliExpress website is a secure place to enter your card details. All info sent to and from the site is encrypted with HTTPS¹¹ – the industry-standard communications protocol.

And AliExpress uses 3D Secure¹², for additional protection when paying by card.

The excellent news for Wise customers is that you can use your Platinum debit Mastercard to shop up a storm on AliExpress. And you can do it with all the protection and security that comes with using a major debit/credit card provider like MasterCard.

Wise App

You should be able to pay in AUD, but if you do end up spending in other currencies, you’ll have the piece of mind that your payment will be auto-converted with the lowest possible fee¹³.

Once you open a multi-currency account with Wise, you can hold and switch between 50+ currencies¹⁴ and spend like a local anywhere in the world – even online.

So, is AliExpress safe to shop at? In short, yes – it’s a major online retailer with a number of Buyer Protection policies in place, plus secure ways to pay. But it never hurts to be a smart shopper. Make sure to check out seller feedback and reviews before you buy, and take basic security precautions whenever you’re shopping online.

Sources used:

  1. Wise - Multi-Currency Account
  2. What is Aliexpress
  3. Aliexpress - 1
  4. Aliexpress - 2
  5. Aliexpress - Help
  6. What is Aliexpress
  7. Is Aliexpress Safe
  8. Aliexpress - 2
  9. Aliexpress - 3
  10. Aliexpress - Help 1
  11. Aliexpress - Payment Methods
  12. Aliexpress - Help 2
  13. Wise - Multi-Currency Account
  14. Wise - Multi-Currency Account

Sources checked on 29-September 2020.

This publication is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to cover every aspect of the topics with which it deals. It is not intended to amount to advice on which you should rely. You must obtain professional or specialist advice before taking, or refraining from, any action on the basis of the content in this publication. The information in this publication does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from TransferWise Limited or its affiliates. Prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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