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Time to splash that strong pound?

Sterling is currrently at a 15-month high against the dollar, after the Bank of England's recent decision to gently hike interest rates. The mighty pound is, indeed, getting close to the two dollar mark. So there's never been a better time to get online and take advantage of pound-hungry yanks – to get more bang for your quid, if you like.

As I write, the rate of exchange stands at $1.88 to the pound, but it's recently been fluctuating around the 1.9 mark.

Shopping for kit has always been one motivation for people travelling to the US. But market forces and the internet mean that you can enjoy some of those benefits without shelling out for flights (trusting baggage handlers with your worldly possessions), listening to people turning every sentence into a question and eating huge portions of food.

There are, however, a couple of caveats. Firstly, you'll have to pay hefty import duties on anything over £145, so it's probably not worth shelling out online for an Xbox. And many e-commerce sites build up their profits by charging a fortune for transatlantic delivery. You could, of course, get things delivered to a stateside mate and then posted on, but by the time you've paid for the postage you may as well have nipped down to the high street.

Buying products without delivery costs - namely software - is a different matter altogether. Software is generally cheaper in the US anyway ('special relationship' notwithstanding, the Yanks have never forgiven us our colonial past), and especially so when the pound is strong against the dollar.

You may have to persist to avoid being redirected to UK sites (and UK prices), but if you are purchasing software online any time soon, see if you can't grab a bargain stateside. And to check what you're really paying, convert prices useing XE.com.

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