Save up to 40% on your Nintendo Switch games
My next trick to save money is targeting gamers or parents of kids who are gaming on the Nintendo Switch console. From the beginning Nintendo announced that the Switch would be region-free, so you can run any game from any country whenever it’s a physical copy (cartridge) or a digital download game. On top of that you can have multiple account on the same console with different country settings. So you could have an account registered in Switzerland and another registered in the US or Japan. The first obvious advantage is to get access to some games that are only available in certain regions, fans of obscure Japanese games will appreciate. But a side effect is that you could easily compare prices between regions. Don’t be a fool, we are not paying the same price for the same thing, but you might know that already if you went shopping at least once on the other side of the Swiss border or online on Amazon France/Germany. I will explain how in details below.
Now with the Switch you have to make a choice, would you prefer to buy physical cartridges of your games that you could resell and lend to friend and family or download your games from your living room without waiting for delivery, moving to the shop and having to carry all these cartridges around to play them as well as store all these boxes on your shelf. There are pro and cons for both but with the Switch I made my choice to only buy digital download games. The main reason was to no more accumulate all these games boxes and to be able to carry all games with the console as I was playing it mostly on train in the beginning (thanks two times 1:30 commuting per day, glad I don’t have to do it anymore). But I won’t let the one that choose to keep physical games on the side of the road, and anyway you might need to do a bit of both in any case.
Buying physical is fairly easy, you go to Interdiscount, Manor or Fnac, look on all the shelfs for the one you want, buy the game, open the box throw away all the plastic wrap, ignore the ads flyers, put the cartridges in the console, figure out you have already a game in it and put it in a pocket where you might loose it or damage it (ok ok I will stop selling you my all digital ideal) and start playing your game. But wait, how much did this cost you? One of the latest Nintendo main series game, like Kirby and the forgotten Land or the new Splatoon 3 is usually 69.90 CHF at Manor or Interdiscount. Big mistake!
First step, use a price comparison tool. My favorite one is Toppreise.ch. Here you could have found in 30sec that the game was 49.95 CHF at Microspot, already 20% cheaper and it’s delivered to your mailbox the next day for free, so don’t need to spend on gas, parking and one hour of your time roaming in the city with all the temptation to spend even more money on a sweet or this nice T-shirt that you don’t need. And even if you are willing to get it in the next hour to play it as soon as possible, you would have figured out that it would have been 10 CHF cheaper at Fust or Media Markt. And just if you are thinking that you support local shops, Microspot, Fust, Interdiscount are all belonging to Coop and Digitec, Galaxus, Brack, M-Electronic are from Migros. So unless you are really going to this last really local and independent shop in your city, you are not supporting anything worth it, just get the best price for your situation.
(Note: by the time I publish the article, the price for the Kirby game already went down to 39.90 CHF at Fust with free in store pick up or 48.40 CHF delivered. Prices are changing everyday if not several times per days! If you are not in a hurry, don’t hesitate to set an alert for a price change on Toppreise and when an article goes below a given price, you immediately get an email with the new price including shipping).
Alternatively you could order from Amazon France or Germany. Here, after entering a credit card number and avoiding all these “free trial Prime ads”, you would get it for 41.42 EUR shipping and taxes to Switzerland included, which is 40.65 CHF at current rate, assuming you use a card with low currency exchange and no extra fee and that you select to pay in EUR and not in CHF on the Amazon. If you don’t have a good card for abroad purchase, I recommend either Neon, Revolut or Wise see my other article for more details.
Now we have saved between 14% and 41% on our physical game, just by choosing the cheaper merchant, the longer your accept to way to get the game, the more you will save in the end.
Welcome on my side, the
dark digital side. It’s not the easiest to handle but once your get used to it, you might never coming back to all the hassle of buying physical. At first when you want to buy a digital version of a game, you would just open the eShop on your console, connect with your account that you registered by indicating that you are a good Swiss citizen with a lot of money on your bank account. And here, WTF, the game to download digitally is displayed at 77.90 CHF, more than 10% higher than the higher price found in the wild for the physical copy of it. The world is going crazy, why should I pay more to download a file that I must store on a memory card that I paid for while I can get for 47% cheaper the game on its own memory card, with a nice box, delivered to my mailbox in a few days. Ok the obvious advantage is that I will be able to play it without moving of my living room within the next few minutes (download can be quite slow sometimes). But is it worth the extra? Eluc, you are crazy I will never buy digital, I will order everything on Amazon and save money thanks!
Wait a second. Do you think I’m that crazy? As explained in the title you can go shopping anywhere in the world thanks for the region free console. In the introduction I explained that you could get as many accounts on your console, registered in various countries to get games only available in other regions or just to get the same games at the price of another country. But you don’t even need to create multiple account, all you have to do is to change the country of your main account. Anyway, once the game is in your account, it stays in it whatever the country is and even better, you can play any game you download with any account registered on your console even with other accounts on the same console. There is even the possibility, even if not easy, to share games from one account on 2 consoles, especially if your have multiple console in the family, of course you cannot run the same game at the same time on both console but that not the topic of this article.
Change your Nintendo account country right now
Most of the user will create their account, enter their country and never look back at it later. With the Nintendo Switch you have made 2 mistakes already. First you should not necessarily register your account in your home country, especially if it’s Switzerland, that have almost systematically the most expensive prices in all eShop. You should at least register your account in France or Germany, with the current Euro lower than 1 CHF, you already save quite a lot of money.
But that’s not enough for Eluc. The second mistake is to leave always the same country in your settings while you could change it as much as you want to hunt for the best price at each purchase. At the end you download the exact same digital file, that will run exactly the same on your console, with the same languages and everything. And it continues to work and even you can re-download them later even if you changed the country of your account in between. They are very few exceptions where the games is different per region but you will be warned (see below).
Find the best price in under a minute
Obviously if you have to change your country setting, reconnect your account (yes each time your change the country, you must reconnect your account in the eShop but it’s just the matter of scanning a QR code with your mobile, no big deal), check the price, note it in a spreadsheet and try another country. Luckily someone did the job for you. In the beginning it was some developer that post a Gdrive spreadsheet on Reddit where you can see in a huge table the list of all eShop games and their price in each country with the best price reported in USD highlighted. This little experiment evolve into a complete user friendly website where you can search for games and compare all prices in original currency or in your preferred currency. Please bookmark this link, you will need it before any digital download purchase on the Nintendo Switch.
Let’s search for our Kirby game. The website immediately shown Japan as the best price but it’s in Yen, how much worth 6500 Yen? Don’t worry, on the top right of the page you have a nice option to convert all into your currency. Select CHF and voilà! the game is 45.83 CHF at current exchange rate. That’s a whooping 41% discount from the Swiss price. Again you will download exactly the same file that is you had paid 77.90 CHF as a Swiss. Even better if you would like, you could change the country, pay the game and say “download later”, change back to Switzerland and download it as it’s already in your library. Along the year I have changed my account from Switzerland to Norway, South Africa, US, Mexico, Japan and Poland and what ever country I leave in my setting I could play all my games and even re-download them if I delete them or if I have to move my account to a new console. However there are a few tricks to know and be careful about.
The hitchhiker guide to eShop traveling
Before starting to mess up and trying everything you could to save every cents possible, you must consider the following:
- Not all country will accept your payment methods, however they often have gift card to add money BUT (see 2.)
- If you add money to your account with a gift card, you will NOT be able to change your country until your balance is back to zero. Which mean if you don’t have a valid method of payment for this country, you will most likely end up stuck in this country forever (Nintendo assistance might help you to empty the remining cents on your account to allow you to change but I would avoid to relay on that especially more than a couple of time on the same account).
- Some regions (like US) show a price without VAT. But the trick is to use a state that have zero tax on digital purchase like Delaware or Montana. Just look online for any postcode in one of these states and use it in your Nintendo profile when you select United States as country, they will ask for it anyway.
- The gold coin that you earn by purchasing games in the eShop will stay in the country where you got them. They are not lost, you can hold 100 gold coin in Switzerland, 20 in US and 30 in Poland, it’s just you have to switch back to the country were they are to use them, unlike the balance they are not blocking you to change the country and they stay as long as they are valid (I think 1 year, to be checked). Gold coin can be converted in discount for your next purchase, it represents 5% additional discount. So often it might be better to stick to a country where you have accumulated some gold coin even if it’s 2-3% more expensive than the lower price, as you get these 5% in gold coin valid on your next purchase.
- Games on eShop are very often on sales. But it might be only on sales in one main region (America, Europe, Asia). If you are not in a hurry to play a game that is already a few months old, you should better wait for the next sales period (every season or event is a good excuse for a sales, Chinese holiday, Spring, Easter, Summer, Autumn, Halloween, Black Friday and of course Christmas/NewYear season). You can track down the games you are willing to buy with another service DekuDeal, that allow you to set a price limit (in absolute or percentage) and will send you an email as soon as the game is on sales. Then go to eshop-price.com to check where it’s cheaper.
- Your subscription like the Nintendo Switch Online or your vouchers (you can get 2 vouchers valid for 2 main games that worth usually less than the full price of 2 games) will stay between the countries. Good news, you can even go shopping your online subscription where it’s the cheapest. See again on eshop-prices for this, a family online subscription valid for 5 accounts for 1 year will cost 26 CHF in South African eShop while it’s 49 CHF in Switzerland, 47% discount!
- You can sometimes buy a digital code for a game that can be redeem in a given region (just change your setting to the right region). Again on eshop-prices you will see them listed in the price list with a promo code to get 5% discount on top of it. Here it’s a bit more shady as you don’t buy directly from Nintendo but from a reseller, that’s a little risk but I did use these website many time without any issues. On top of that as it’s an affiliation from eshop-price, I assume that the creator of the service will get a little part of your purchase or something. Up to you to use it.
- Same as above, you could buy online gift cards (it’s just a code to enter in the eShop) for less than the face value of the card. Again on eshop-price you have the list of the best deal on gift cards sold on its partner Eneba. For example a gift card of 99 USD valid in the US eShop will cost you 72.85 CHF if you pay in EUR which would be 74.24 USD, already 25% discount on top of the US price that is usually well below the Swiss one. BUT you should only use gift card in a country where you have a valid payment method (see 2. and more details below).
- Some games are different per region. It’s extremely rare but it can happen, usually it’s a matter of language only. The website eshop-prices will warn you about it on the game page at the top of the price list. In this case please double check on the eShop page that the game have the language you are looking for before buying (most probably in Japan, you might have only Japanese and maybe English). So far I never bought a game that had this warning, most main Nintendo games will be exactly the same everywhere.
- Be careful if you buy digital download codes on some US retailer webshop. They might have systems in place to detect foreign cards, PayPal account and IP address and in some case your purchase might fail for no apparent reasons. I did bought a gift card for GameStop US once, in order to get a digital download code for Zelda as low as 35$, but I could never use my gift card to pay and spend weeks to finally be able to spend it on another games that I didn’t really want as the deal on Zelda was over for long. However I had more success buying on Walmart once. Try this at you own risk, if possible ask a friend in US to buy it for you with his card, address and computer.
- Maybe the most important one (kind of related to my experience in the previous point). Don’t spend hours to save 5 or even 10 CHF. You time might be worth much more than what you could save. Do apply the tricks I gave only if you think it’s easy for you and that it will not take you more than a few minutes.
One of the main trick of eShop traveling are the payment method. As we have seen you could always buy gift card of a different country but if you cannot spend up to the last cent in a region, you will be stuck in this county setting as you are not allowed to change unless your account balance is zero. If you want to add discount using discounted gift card, first make 100% sure that you can pay for a game in this country. Usually all Europe countries (which include Switzerland, UK and even South Africa, don’t ask why), will accept cards like Neon, Revolut, Wise. In addition if you start paying in foreign currency with your Amex Cashback, you will pay a lot of fees between the currency exchange rate and virtual fee that they add on top of it (usually you end up paying 2 to 5% more with such credit card, do never use them aboard or online to pay in other currency than CHF). So first, go to my article about the best prepaid credit card and get one. I would even directly recommend using Revolut if you could, they are not the best on every point but they offer one very practical function, the disposable virtual card. You can generate a new Mastercard number for each purchase, that you can use on the eShop and then as soon as it’s charged, it get destroyed and can never be charged again. No risk to get you card number charged by mistake by someone using the console after you (kid, wife,…), no risk to end up giving your main card number to a shady website and more change that your card will be accepted as it was never used in a different eShop country before. But in most cases nothing bad will happen and using your Neon card will be perfectly fine as well, up to you and the convenience vs security level you are willing to accept.
But for region like US, Japan or most country in South America, which have often the best prices, you cannot use your Revolut card as far as I tried. Here comes two more options. First is to create a special PayPal account per country, like one for US and one for Japan. You can forget about all prices from South America (I did manage to buy a game from Mexico once but couldn’t do it anymore later after I used my new PayPal account in US as well). Another excellent trick is to use Bitcoin and the service PaywithMoon. This service allow you to create a virtual US credit card of exactly the amount you need and pay for it in Bitcoin over the Lightning Network with very low to zero fee. Of course as the card created is only valid in US, it works for US account only.
What is the best digital download strategy at the end?
It can be a pain to always change your country settings in order to have always the absolute best price and it might save you just 1-2% more on top of 35-40% that will be compensated if you can spend some gold point by reusing the same region many time. So you should pick 2 or 3 country maximum, one where you are sure to be able to pay for the game to never end up with balance in your account. You could even have one account with a European country and one with either US or Japan so you never change the setting but just buy from one or the other. The only downside would be to have your game collection split in 2 accounts, which is also an advantage if you want later to use some of the games you bought on a different Switch (said you had to buy a second Switch for your kid when old enough to have his/her own console). Thanks to my favorite website, eshop-prices has a statistics page. Here you can see that in Europe your should mostly use Poland as a country. We also see that Switzerland is the absolute worst eShop to use, with almost every games that are the most expensive. I recommend when possible to use US as a second country, it’s not in the top 5 pricewise but it’s the country that have the largest number of games and it’s mostly much cheaper than average. And if you are willing to use some of these -25% gift cards sold on Eneba to save even more plus you pay with your gold coin to have discount, it will bring you most of the time the best price again. And beside that you can also take advantage of the digital download code sold on Eneba, especially for the Nintendo Online family subscription that you will need once a year if you play online or want to access NES and SNES games.
To sum up:
- I’m very lazy: set your account in Poland, pay with Revolut disposable virtual cards. Don’t touch your settings.
- I’m fine to stay with US eShop and keep it easy: set your account in US with a zip code in a state without tax. Use discounted gift cards that you pay in EUR with your Revolut disposable card and keep some balance in your account as you will not need to change it anyway.
- Combine both above by changing between Poland, US and maybe South Africa. Use discounted gift cards from Eneba + PayPal or Bitcoin via PaywithMoon virtual cards to buy in US without leaving any balance left, so you can always come back to another country when needed. Pay with Revolut for Poland and get advantage from the Nintendo fidelity program to get an additional 5% discount by spending gold coins earn from the previous purchase.
Of course you might have guess that I’m in the third category. As I’m not buying game every week, it’s not so much of a pain to do it and after one or two time you just get used to it. Of course if you agree to have both digital and physical games, you can combine the best digital download prices and physical game prices using all methods above.
I hope it will help you to save (a lot of) money on your next Switch game purchase or next time your kid ask for this new game for his/her Switch. But don’t forget that the absolute saving is not to buy. Please don’t start buying many games just because it’s cheap or on discount, if you don’t intend to really play it immediately or in the next couple of days, don’t buy it now and later if you really want to play it, look again for the best deal and play it as soon as you bought it. I have been here, it’s worthless. Better spend a bit more for the game your want to play, when you want to play it, enjoy it and when you really want to play another one, look for the best price for it or wait for the next sales.
You saved 30 CHF on your new game thanks to my article? Don’t hesitate to give it a little back in form of Bitcoin Satoshis from my donation page. You can also leave a thank you in the comment, it’s highly appreciated as well.
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