Over the past 30 years, I’ve purchased and smoked more cigars than I can count. Although I prefer not to dwell on it, both from financial and health perspectives, the fact remains that it’s important to know where to get a good cigar these days. One thing is certain, you’re more likely to find a consistent quality and availability on the internet than at a run-of-the-mill brick and mortar store. Online, there’s far more variation in quality and brands sold, to the point where you really do need to know what you’re looking for and what a good cigar should look and feel like.
In stores, you can see and touch the product prior to purchase, and you can ask questions directly (though I’ve found that not many staff at non-specialty cigar shops actually know all that much about what they’re selling). But there’s also a higher probability of finding poorly humidified cigars, and flavored or infused cigars are stored in the same space as traditional sticks, thereby affecting their taste. There’s simply less care for products that don’t move if the location isn’t 100 percent dedicated to cigars.
Buying cigars online is as simple as purchasing just about anything else on the web, with the exception of needing to confirm your date of birth. When it comes to purchasing cigars online, it’s easy to get lost in the sheer array of internet shops both large and small. Not all of them are created equal, but there is more consistency in the set than brick-and-mortar shops. I’ve purchased from no fewer than 20 different online tobacconists in my lifetime and have rarely been disappointed.
Can You Have Cigars Shipped To Your House?
The short answer is yes (otherwise there wouldn’t be such a thriving online cigar marketplace). While shippers won’t send vaping products or cigarettes, cigars are fair game. There’s just one very important qualification: The shipper has to be licensed and authorized to ship tobacco products that have paid the applicable fees. That means if you’re searching for something in an online marketplace that’s direct from another cigar aficionado, the cigars can’t (legally) be shipped. On the receiving end, someone over the age of 21 has to accept the package and sign for it.
Different shippers also have different rules. While USPS and UPS allow limited shipping from licensed businesses to consumers, FedEx only ships between licensed distributors.
And as with many things in the United States, whether you can receive a cigar shipment varies state by state. The following states either have a complete ban on shipping all tobacco products to consumers or have specific rules regarding who can and cannot ship or receive cigars:
- New York
- South Dakota
7 Things To Look For When Buying Cigars Online
There are a few important factors to look out for when choosing a good online tobacconist.
- A comprehensive selection of handmade cigars from around the world, including Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Honduras, Mexico, Ecuador, the U.S.
- Low shipping costs or free shipping with a spending threshold. If you buy a full box that costs over a hundred bucks, you should not have to cover shipping.
- Properly humidified cigars. Over- or under-humidified cigars are a big no-no. Either can significantly impact the cigar smoking experience. Receiving them in excellent, ready-to-smoke condition, is paramount.
- Product quality guarantee: The ability to return cigars within at least 7-10 business days of receipt and even after smoking one cigar.
- Good User Experience: While we don’t expect a cigar website to win any Webby awards, it’s important to be able to find what you’re looking for. Having an easily accessible list of brands and submenus for specific cigars is vital. A good website will also provide a way to filter based on strength, price, region, etc.
- Quantity options: If you don’t want to commit to a full box of stogies, then a good cigar website should offer 3-packs, 5-packs, and samplers to try.
- User Reviews: It’s important to access user reviews, so you can get a good indication of real feedback from fellow cigar smokers.
The Best Places Buy Cigars Online
Famous Smoke Shop
Famous Smoke Shop checks most, if not all, of the important boxes when it comes to online cigar buying. Their prices are competitive, they have regularly advertised deals, and their selection of brands is excellent. Their product is always perfectly humidified and never damaged. Famous Smoke also regularly offers sales and free stuff (lighters, ashtrays, cigars, etc.) with certain purchases. Their cigar education section is a nice feature, but it needs more depth and breadth of coverage. The site could improve its user experience, but overall, finding the right cigar for you isn’t terribly difficult. There is no free shipping, but the options are affordable. Overall, it’s the vast selection, the excellent cigar condition, and the frequent deals that have us coming back for more.
Neptune Cigar has an excellent selection, some of the best quality product, free shipping for orders over $99, and the excellent option of ordering single sticks across a wide array of brands and sizes. We’ve ordered single sticks, and each one was flawless and perfectly humidified. Although their free shipping can be on the slow side since they use USPS, it’s a great option to have if you’re not in a rush to fill your humidor. We do love the ability to find cigars not just based on brand, size, region, and strength but also via their rare cigars and very useful and current staff picks sections. They also carry many microbrands that fall outside of the range of mainstream in case you want to expand your palate.
Gotham covers a lot of ground, aside from just a great cigar selection and quality product. Not only can you order straight from the extensive catalog, but you can also make an offer on some cigars in order to save. It’s kind of like a cigar auction that allows you to name your price (within reason, of course). Gotham also provides Groupon deals, a huge selection of samplers, monthly deals, and freebies. We do enjoy reading Gotham’s cigar blog that offers comprehensive reviews of new stogies that the cigar-smoking cognoscenti will find useful. While Gotham doesn’t offer free shipping, basic USPS shipping is very reasonable. They also don’t offer single stick purchases, and the user experience could use improvement, but the overall buying experience is solid.
Smoke Inn is about as simple and easy as a cigar site can get. There’s nothing fancy about it, but you can easily find what you’re looking for via the brand list. And you can even search based on per-stick prices if you’re on a budget. A good set of samplers, cigar accessories, and even an affordable Cigar of the Month Club, as well as a premium Cigar Connoisseur Club membership, are available on the website. The clubs provide cigar smokers with variety and opportunities to try brands they normally might not know of. Shipping prices are a very reasonable $7.00 per order.
Fox Cigar is one of the smaller guys in terms of selection, but they do carry the important brands we care about most such as Arturo Fuente, Montecristo, La Flor Dominicana, Padron, My Father, and Romeo y Julieta, just to name a few. The site is tremendously easy to navigate, making it quick to find what you’re looking for, even single-stick purchases. Their deals section has an excellent array of discounted offerings, and they also ship for free, no matter what the size of the order is, a big deal in the internet cigar space. You can also get expedited shipping for less than ten bucks.