Is AliExpress Legit? Yes, and Here's Why You Should Shop There

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Pete Ottery
Updated 17 October 2021
Is AliExpress Legit? Yes, and Here's Why You Should Shop There
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Is AliExpress legit?

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AliExpress is 100% legitimate. The huge catalog of products, comprehensive buyer protection program, and low prices make it a bargain hunter's paradise. 

However, allow some extra time for shipping. Most products are shipped directly from China, so it can take anywhere between 1 & 1/2 to 9 weeks. Also, the site has many brands that you may not be familiar with, so it pays to do your research before purchasing.

Sections on this page
  1. Is AliExpress Legit?
  2. Is AliExpress Safe?
  3. Best Way to Shop on AliExpress
  4. Safest Ways to Pay on AliExpress
  5. How To Protect Yourself from Getting Scammed on AliExpress
  6. AliExpress Average Shipping Times
  7. Frequently Asked Questions

AliExpress is the 4th largest e-commerce and shopping website in the world behind Amazon, eBay, and Rakuten (Japan). That equates to over 444 million visitors per month. AliExpress is part of the Alibaba Group founded by Jack Ma in China, in 1999, and is made up of two main businesses, AliExpress.com and Alibaba.com. 

Is AliExpress Legit?

You bet. AliExpress is 100% legit. According to Similarweb, while it is nowhere near as dominant in the U.S. and Amazon and eBay, over 30 million Americans visit the site every month looking for a bargain. 

Alibaba Company Page for Shenzhen Yiye Technology Co. Ltd a manufacturer of phone cases
Alibaba Company Page

Why the Controversy?

If AliExpress offers a cheaper option for most products, how come Amazon and eBay are still the bigger online retail giants in the U.S.? There are a few reasons, namely:

  • Most (if not all) products are made in China, so you may be taking a gamble on quality. 
  • The brands may be less familiar so you will need to spend more time researching to find what you want.
  • All products are shipped from China, which can mean lengthy shipping times. Our research found the average for free shipping was 35.8 days.
  • Amazon has an enormous range of products plus a whole range of other services like devices, music, video streaming, and books.
  • Amazon has great tracking tools and customer service. With AliExpress it can be a little harder to track products as they are moving through international borders. If you need product-related help, you are often dealing directly with a seller in China. Depending on their English language skills, this can sometimes make it a little trickier. 

AliExpress has a lot of similarities to Wish.com, they both connect buyers and sellers on their platforms and many of the sellers on Wish are also based in Asia. The main difference is that AliExpress tends to have a larger number of products and they tend to be cheaper due to the lower commission rates they charge sellers.

Is AliExpress Safe?

The short answer is yes. AliExpress provides a Buyer Protection program for customers which offers a money-back guarantee if the product that you ordered is not delivered, or, is not as it was described on the website. Let's look at the program in a bit more detail and how it protects consumers. 

  • AliExpress Payment Protection: The seller only receives payment when the buyer confirms that goods were received in satisfactory condition. AliExpress holds the payment in escrow until this step is completed.
  • AliExpress Refund Protection: You get a full refund if you do not receive the products within the stated delivery time up to a maximum of 60 days.
  • AliExpress Guaranteed Genuine: Available on selected products the seller guarantees that the product is genuine. It is a way to try to crack down on counterfeit products on the platform. If a product with this guarantee is found to be counterfeit the seller has to provide compensation to the buyer of up to twice what was paid for the product, plus AliExpress also gives a full refund.  

Delivery protection does not apply if your order does not arrive due to your own fault or exceptional circumstances like customs clearance issues or natural disasters.

Order Issues: Steps to Take 

If there is an issue with the product here is an example of how buyer protection works:

  • First, never confirm the delivery of the order on your account until you have received it and checked you are happy with the product. Confirming an order triggers the payment of your money to the seller and the buyer protection is no longer valid.
  • Inspect the product carefully and take pictures of any defects.
  • In your order history, send the seller a message explaining the delivery issue or the problem with the item. Often sellers will either ship you a replacement if it has been lost or is defective or refund your money. 
  • If you can’t come to an agreement with the seller you can formally raise a claim with the seller, within 15 days of the package receipt date. 
  • If the seller does not return your money you can contact AliExpress from the order detail page and escalate the dispute. They will investigate the claim and will make a ruling in favor of the buyer or seller.

Only Complete Payments Using the AliExpress System

You are not protected by the Buyer Protection Program if you buy products direct from sellers outside of the AliExpress platform.

Free Returns

In addition to the buyer protection service, some sellers offer a Free Return Service. Look out for a “free return” icon on the product details page. This gives you 15 days to decide whether to want the item. You can return it no questions asked as long as the item is in the original condition (e.g., not damaged or washed).

You get one free return per order and all you need to do is print out a return label from the website and book a pickup. Free returns can be offered to customers shipping to the following countries:

  • United States (mainland)
  • Canada 
  • Australia 
  • United Kingdom
  • France
  • Spain
  • Germany
  • Russia 
  • South Korea 
  • Saudi Arabia
  • UAE
  • Italy 
  • Netherlands 
  • Poland 
  • Brazil
  • Israel

Best Way to Shop on AliExpress

AliExpress is very similar to shopping on eBay, Wish or Amazon.  You search right off the home page, select a product category, or browse top-ranking products or deals. 

The big difference to shopping on Amazon is that many of the brands are locally made in China so you may not be familiar with many of them. These products don't have to go through the rigorous testing and quality assurance that products in the U.S. might. It doesn't necessarily mean they are of inferior quality, in fact, many products sold in the U.S. are manufactured in the same factories. What it does mean is that you just need to do a little more research. 

AliExpress Search Results Page for iPhone 13 covers

Tips to Shopping Safely on AliExpress

  1. Sort the search results by Number of Orders. This shows you the number of people that have purchased that product. Stick with suppliers and products that have had a lot of orders.
  2. Check the Star Ratings and User Feedback on the product. Look at:
    • The number of reviews
    • How old the reviews are (the more history the better)
    • The buyers (if they are from the same country as you)
    • Feedback on the quality of the products
    • Shipping times
    • Responses from the seller (replying to customer feedback or complaints)
  3. Check the Supplier Rating at the top of the page or click on the store name to visit their page. Look for:
    • The number of reviews
    • The number of followers
    • Trust marks like "Top Brand" indicating it is a top-rated store
  4. Type the store or product name into an internet search to see if there are any other reviews of the products or the supplier outside of the AliExpress platform. Look for any red flags particularly with the quality of the product or negative feedback on the supplier.
  5. Check the Shipping Options and Estimated Delivery Date. The default shipping is the cheapest option which is normally free. Review other shipping options and you can see how much it costs and the estimated delivery date. Don't buy products from AliExpress that you need in a hurry as shipping can take a while.
  6. Check the Buyer Protection and Returns Policies for the item. You can see these right under the "Buy Now" and "Add to Cart" buttons. All products have the AliExpress 75-Day Buyer Protection but not all products offer Free Returns.
  7. Check and double-check the pictures of the product any specifications listed to make sure they fit your needs.
  8. Review the Buyer Questions & Answers. If you scroll down the product page below the customer reviews you can see a list of buyer questions and answers about the product. Look at the types of questions as well as the responses from the seller. If you are not 100% sure about anything you can post your own questions. It is a good test to see how responsive the seller is.
Most products ship from mainland China which means you should expect shipping times to be a bit longer. Our research showed the average estimated time for free shipping is 35.8 business days.

Safest Ways to Pay on AliExpress

There are a wide range of payment options available on AliExpress. These will differ based on the shipping address of the purchaser. As with any online shopping website you should choose the most secure and lowest risk payment method that you can. As long as you process the payment on the website the payment protection holds your money in escrow and the seller only receives it once you have confirmed that the goods have been received in the condition that you expected.

AliExpress Payment Options USA Lenovo headphones
AliExpress payment options in the U.S.

The most common payment methods are:

  • Credit card: Including Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express.
  • Prepaid and virtual cards: Secure and low-risk option.
  • Paypal: Available from some suppliers and is a low-risk way to pay. It is not available for all countries and some suppliers don't offer it because of the high fees.
  • Alipay: The Chinese version of PayPal, but bigger, with over a billion users. 
  • Google Pay: Recently added to AliExpress. Is just like a credit card and is a safe and secure way to pay.
  • Wire transfer or Western Union: (Option for U.S. customers only.) Minimum order of $20.01 is required. In most cases, you are charged a commission for international transfers.
    • Never send a wire transfer directly to a seller—it is like sending them cash. Do it through the platform and you will get the buyer protections.

How To Protect Yourself from Getting Scammed on AliExpress

AliExpress is an incredible service and opens up opportunities to buy cheap products direct from the manufacturers in China. Whilst they have done a good job protecting buyers, there are still some unreliable sellers, poor quality products, counterfeits, and language barriers to navigate. Follow these tips when using AliExpress to protect yourself and your money:

  • Only complete payments within the AliExpress site and stick to paying by credit card. As soon as you leave the platform none of the buyer protections apply and if the product is faulty you have very little chance of getting your money back.
  • Don't buy products that are advertised as big brands, for example, Apple, Samsung, Nike, Gucci, Rolex, Adidas, or Louis Vuitton. You are likely to end up with a cheap knock-off. 
  • Be cautious of extremely low prices. Review the prices from a range of sellers which will give you an idea of the rate you should pay. 
  • Always check the number and quality of reviews and the number of orders that have been placed for the product. Sellers with a good reputation and many satisfied customers are the ones that you want to buy from.
  • For branded products chose ones with the AliExpress Guarantee Genuine logo. 
  • Look for products that have the Free Return icon which gives you 15 days to return the product.
  • Ask the seller questions about the product before you purchase. It will also give you an indication of how responsive the seller is and how easy they might be to deal with if there is an issue down the track.

AliExpress Average Shipping Times

We analyzed the default shipping times from China to the U.S. for 18 of the top-selling products on AliExpress across a range of categories and found the following:

  • Average default shipping time quoted was 35.8 days. All of the examples were for free shipping with the exception of one product. 
  • Average fastest shipping time was 13.4 days (this was available on 15 of the 18 products.
  • Average cost for the fastest shipping was USD$43.32.
  • The fastest shipping time we found was 7 days for a hiking tent.
  • Unsurprisingly, free shipping had the widest range of shipping times ranging from 8 to 62 business days.
  • We did find one product, a leather band for an Apple Watch that could be shipped from within United States with an estimated delivery time of 4 - 13 days. The site has a "Ship from"  filter at the top of search results page, which you can set to United States, but it didn't seem to work.

Shipping options depend on the product and the seller. Some products and sellers only offer one shipping option while others might have a dozen. Shipping options listed on the site include:

  • Aliexpress Selection Standard
  • AliExpress Standard Shipping
  • Cainiao Standard SG Air
  • Cainiao Expedited Standard
  • Cainiao Standard for Special Goods
  • AliExpress Standard Shipping
  • EMS
  • FedEX IE
  • DHL
  • UPS Express Saver
  • FedExIP

Paying for expensive shipping means that you lose most of the saving benefits of shopping on AliExpress. It works best if you use the site for items that you don't need quickly and can wait a couple of months to receive.

AliExpress Shipping Options
AliExpress shipping options.

Shipping Times & Costs for Top Products on AliExpress

Product Category Standard Shipping Additional Cost Fastest Shipping Additional Cost
Metoo Edition Mechanical Keyboard Consumer Electronics 30 days Free

21 days  

$30.71 
VONTAR i8 Wireless Keyboard i8 for Android TV  Consumer Electronics 30 days Free 10 days  $16.84
Silicone Transparent Case on For iPhone 11 12 13 Pro Max Mini X XR 7 8 Plus SE 2020 Clear Back Cover Consumer Electronics 62 Days Free 31 days  $3.68
Original Liquid Case For iphone 11 12 13 Pro Max SE Silicone For iPhone XR XS MAX X 8 7 Plus covers Cases Consumer Electronics 63 days Free NA NA
Straight 13X4 Lace Front Human Hair Wigs HD Lace Frontal Human Hair Wigs Health & Beauty 8 days Free  NA NA
Solid Color Matte Super Long Coffin False Nail Ballet Press on Nails Tips Health & Beauty 60 days Free 21 days $19.00
Leather strap For Apple watch band 44mm 40mm 42mm 38mm 44 mm Accessories 4 - 13 days $3.79 *Ships from the US NA NA
Samsung Galaxy Watch 3 Huawei Watch GT 2e Adjustable Buckle Rope Bracelet Accessories 31 days Free 11 days $40.28
Winter Women Leggings Velvet Warm Pants High Waist Leggings Women's Clothing 11 days Free 9 days $28.86
Winter Leggings Knitting Velvet Casual Legging Women's Clothing 62 days Free 9 days $114.89
Romantic LED Starry Sky Night Light 5V USB Home Improvement 62 days Free 10 days $57.54
COB LED Headlamp Sensor Headlight with Built-in Battery Flashlight Home Improvement 31 days Free 8 days $28.97
Slippers Mens 2021 Summer New Casual Striped Beach Flip Flops Bags & Shoes 31 days Free 8 days $57.93
2021 Women's Shopper Shopping Bag Canvas Bags & Shoes 31 days  Free 11 days $22.19
Men's Windbreaker Jackets Waterproof Military Hooded Water Proof Wind Breaker Men's Clothing 31 days Free  23 days $16.18
Electronic Chip Hip Hop T Shirt Men  Men's Clothing 31 days Free 12 days $59.91
Naturehike Cloud Up Serie 123 Upgraded Camping Tent  Sports & Outdoor 31 days Free 7 days $96.31
Camping Rain Jacket Men Women Waterproof Sun Protection Clothing Sports & Outdoor 31 days Free 10 days $56.57
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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference Between Alibaba and AliExpress?

If you are a business person wanting to source large-scale, customizable manufacturing capabilities at a low cost, you want Alibaba. If you are a shopper that wants to buy low-priced products in small quantities direct from the supplier, AliExpress is for you.

How is AliExpress different from Amazon?

On the surface they look pretty similar, both have a huge catalog of products and both sell directly to consumers. The fundamental difference is that Amazon owns most of the inventory that they sell, so they are a re-seller. They manage large warehouses of inventory and they manage shipping directly to the customers.

AliExpress, on the other hand, is an online marketplace that does not own the inventory, nor do they manage the supply chain. Their platform is designed to help sellers and buyers connect and the products are really, really cheap.

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