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Although Canadian retailers are starting to get in on the Black Friday game, there are definite benefits to travelling across the border to shop. And while you can save up to 50 per cent on items like clothing, alcohol, jewelry and appliances in the US on a normal day, add Black Friday sales to the mix, and the savings really start to add up. But of course, as with any unbelievable deal, there are some caveats. So before we dive into the best bargains to be had south of the border (scroll down to the gallery for the complete list), there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

Rule No. 1: Timing is everything

You’ll need to spend the night to really get your shop on (48 hours, to be exact). After that, you can spend up to $800 duty-free and bring back alcohol and cigarettes (with limitations), should you so desire. If you don’t feel like springing for a hotel room and adding to the cost of your trip, a visit between 24 and 48 hours means no duty-free booze or cigarettes and a $200 cap on your shopping spree.

Rule No. 2: Duty calls

Went overboard? Bargain-hunters beware: You’ll be hit with duty on those deals, so keep that in mind at the register. Rates vary depending on what you’ve purchased and don’t include sales tax (e.g. HST), which you’ll have to pay on each item as well. For short visits, duty-free shopping at the border is your best bet, but you’ll still have to pay the tax, and alcohol won’t be duty-free unless you’ve been out of the country for more than 48 hours.

Rule No. 3: Love it? Rate it

These days, the exchange rate isn’t all that great for Canadians; gone are the glory days where the Canadian dollar was pretty much at par with the greenback. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t still savings to be had (see gallery). Check the rate before you leave home and, better yet, download an app for quick calculations while you shop. Convert all your prospective purchases back into Canadian dollars before you check out to ensure that what looks like a deal really is a deal. (Don’t worry: The discounts listed in the gallery below take the current exchange rate into account.)

Rule No. 4: Cash is king

While paying with your credit card is convenient – especially when you aren’t sure how much you’ll be spending – you won’t know what exchange rate your credit card company will charge until your bill comes (the rate is determined after you make your purchases). Paying by cash means you won’t go over budget and you’ll know exactly how much you paid to exchange that money.

Got all that? Good. Bring on the bargains!