If stacking coupons leave you overwhelmed, extreme couponing might not be for you. But that doesn’t mean you should miss out on the benefits of coupon savings altogether. After all, more people than not use coupons.
While some shoppers are too embarrassed to present coupons at the register, many others are racking up on savings. In fact, the most prodigious users of coupons—22%—are actually shoppers with six-figure incomes, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute.
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But now—thanks to technology such as load-to-card rewards, rebate apps, and various types of e-coupons—there are numerous ways shoppers can use their coupons without the fear of embarrassment to save money before or after the checkout lane.
One of the many incentives of using electronic coupons, or e-coupons, is their convenience and ease of use. Not to mention, for shoppers who’re shy to roll out their coupon at the register, e-coupons help remove the stigma of penny pinching frugality when it comes time to present them. Paper coupons are still big business, but easier, high-tech alternatives help shoppers save without all the clipping and organizing.
These new types of coupons and savings tools help you save in all the same ways you remember from traditional paper coupons and sales: discounts, free shipping offers, buy-one-get-one deals, first-time customer incentives and more. By using electronic coupons or coupon apps, shoppers are more likely to perceive you as a savvy insider than a deals-hungry discount digger. Here are several time and money-saving coupon apps that have made a difference for customers in retail.
Electronic coupons are digital coupons you store and show on your smartphone. Online printable coupons for stores such as Pier 1 Imports or Bed, Bath & Beyond are printed out, carried with you and presented at the register at time of purchase.
Coupon codes for online shopping
Get an instant discount when you plug in these alphanumeric codes to the discount or coupon field when placing your online order.
Store loyalty cards
Sign up for promotional programs advertised in your favorite stores or on their websites to receive your loyalty card. Show or scan your store card at the register to receive credit for your purchase or any special discounts or coupons. Too many loyalty cards? Digitize them on your smartphone with an app like Key Ring, which can also digitize your gift cards.
Card-linked offers are digital coupons or discounts loaded directly onto your store loyalty card, debit card or credit card. At checkout, the deals and savings are applied to your card.
Smartphone coupon apps
Smartphone coupon apps help you track down and manage digital and printable coupons. These apps all work differently, so before you start downloading be sure to research each one. Cellfire, for instance, lets you view all your saved coupons—including grocery coupons to your store loyalty card.
You can even receive e-mail notifications about existing offers before you walk into the store. With Grocery IQ, you can print out coupons or add coupons to your savings card as well. When you download the SavingStar app, you can select the offers you want and link them to your grocery or drugstore loyalty card. After checkout, or after you take a picture of your receipt, you receive your savings in your SavingStar account. Once you’ve earned $5, you can cash out to your bank or PayPal.
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Dedicated stores and retailer apps
Retail apps are not only great for customer retention, but their loyalty programs and coupons keep regular customers feeling loved. For example, Target’s wildly popular Cartwheel app is known for its best all-around savings tool. You choose up to 10 offers then at checkout, have the cashier scan the barcode on your Smartphone to receive the discounts. It’s one barcode, no matter how many offers, so you’re not going to be holding up the checkout lane.
Amazon subscriptions and coupons
Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save Coupons” page lets you see all available coupons and you can easily redeem one just by clicking on it, selecting “Subscribe Now” and setting a delivery quantity and frequency. The trick to earning the 15% discount on your entire order for Amazon’s subscription items is to make sure you’re receiving at least five subscription items on your monthly delivery day.
Since you can set subscription intervals from one to six months, be sure you have five items in each monthly delivery in order to earn the discount. Many Amazon products such as snacks, personal care items and household basics, come with coupon orders. Just “clip” the coupon to receive the discount at checkout. Amazon’s prices are super competitive and it’s a convenient way to hitch your bandwagon to the super retailer.
Rebate apps give you cash back based on what you actually buy at the store. Because rebate apps do their work once you’ve come home from the store, they might be one of the most discreet coupon and savings tools out there. Rebate apps like Ibotta , Checkout 51 and Snap by Groupon kick in before or after you shop. There’s absolutely no action required at the checkout—in fact, you can leave your smartphone at home. To use a rebate app, browse and add any offers you’re interested in before you go shopping. When you’re back home, take a picture of your receipt and upload it to the app to receive cash back for the items you purchased.
A word of advice if you’re using any type of electronic coupon or deal: Store employees aren’t always comfortable with e-coupon technology. Should you run into technical difficulties during checkout, be patient or give it another try the next time you shop rather than attempting to troubleshoot at the register. To find more electronic coupons and apps, try Coupons.com or TheKrazyCouponLady.com to get started. You can also find online coupons and discounts on sites such as CouponSherpa and RetailMeNot.