We all know what a coupon is—they have been around for decades. However, what’s different today is how you can get them.
While once passed out in stores, printed in newspapers, or sent to your physical mailbox, now you can find them online. Coupon sites provide easy access to coupons and other ways to save online.
10 ways to save on coupon sites
Let’s take a closer look at the different ways coupon sites can offer savings.
1. Manufacturer coupons
Manufacturer coupons come from the manufacturers of products, such as Tide or Herbal Essence. You can print the coupons and take them into stores that sell the products, get the discount online, or send the coupon to your smartphone to be scanned in-store.
Note, some coupons may say “Available at xyz store,” which is a recommendation of where you can find the product, but not an exclusive requirement. Unless the coupon has language such as “Only redeemable at xyz store,” you probably have a selection of stores where you can use it.
2. Store coupons
Store coupons are created by specific stores and can only be used in those stores (i.e., Target, Best Buy, Amazon, CVS, Costco, Wal-Mart, etc.).
You may be able to print them, use them online, or send them to your smartphone to be scanned.
Stores hold sales throughout the year which don’t require any coupons to get the deals. The challenge is to find out what is on sale, when, and where.
Coupon sites often share the latest deals available both online and offline.
4. Online codes
Virtual coupons for online shopping come in the form of codes. Online codes are a combination of numbers and letters (i.e. SN553).
Once you have a code, you’ll do your shopping on the site and enter it when you check out.
The savings are instant. Common online codes get you free shipping, a percentage off the total, or buy one get one free (BOGO).
5. Mail-in rebates
With mail-in rebates, you’ll pay at the time of purchase, send in some paperwork, and get the money back afterward. These may be offered online or offline.
6. Cashback offers
A growing number of coupon sites offer cashback. Users can earn it by clicking on a cashback promotion and spending the minimum required amount.
Once the company verifies that the purchase meets all of the requirements, the will send the cashback reward to an account.
It is similar to a mail-in rebate in that you get money back weeks after the purchase, but different in that you don’t have to mail anything in.
7. Limited-time deals
Limited-time deals offer a discount on a local event, product, or service. The deal is available for a specified period and is only valid if a certain number of people purchase it within the allotted time. One of the most well-known providers of this deal type is Groupon.
8. Price comparison tools
Some sites may offer you a browser add-on that will compare prices against a database of stores as you shop online. This lets you easily find out if you’re getting the best deal.
9. Loyalty programs
Several stores (like CVS or Walgreens) have loyalty programs of some sort which enable you to earn points. These programs often grant you access to exclusive discounts. Some coupon sites are compatible with loyalty programs and help you earn points over time.
10. Gift cards
Lastly, some sites offer discounts when you buy gift cards to certain stores. For example, you might get 4% off on a $200 gift card to a retail store.
Now you know the main ways coupon sites can help you save. Here’ s a look at some of the leading coupon sites and their offerings:
Next, let’s look at what features to look for in a coupon site.
Coupon site features
Aside from the ways to save on a coupon site, you should also consider which features are available. The following seven capabilities can help make it easier to coupon and save.
1) Mobile and desktop access
Some coupon sites are limited to the website while others also offer a mobile app. Mobile apps can be especially helpful for finding deals while on-the-go. Plus, they can enable you to pull up coupons on your smartphone while in-store.
2) Multiple filter options by category, location, etc.
Sorting through hundreds of offerings is no fun. So, most coupon sites categorize the coupons by brand, store, type, location, etc. Look for sites with filter options that suit your needs.
3) Store partners
Coupon sites often partner with merchants to offer their coupons. The more partners a site has, the more expansive their coupon offerings will be.
It’s not only important to have access to a wide range of coupons, but also that those coupons work. User reviews can help you find out if a deal is good or not before trying it yourself.
Alerts can be helpful to make sure you don’t miss the deals you want. Some sites will let you set up personalized notifications and alerts so you know as soon as an interesting deal is available.
6) Social sharing
Social sharing features allow you to share good deals that you find with others on the site. This creates more of a community feel.
Couponing is a world of its own and there is a lot to learn. Some coupon sites offer tips and tricks to help you save more. The knowledge may be in the form of blogs, guides, ebooks, checklists, or some other type of content. This can help you get more out of the experience.
When comparing coupon sites, be sure to compare the features each has to offer.
Common coupon fine print
Coupons can get confusing. To help you understand what exactly you are getting, here’s some common coupon language you should know:
- Do not double: Doubling is when a store gives you twice the face value of one coupon. When coupons read “do not double”, the manufacturer will not reimburse the store for a double discount, so they may not offer you the double value. However, some stores will still allow doubling and will absorb the second discount. Be sure to check store coupon policies.
- Coupon cannot be combined with any other coupon: This means you can not stack one coupon of the same type on top of another. For example, you may not be able to use two manufacturer coupons or two store coupons.
- Limit one coupon per purchase, per visit: This means only one coupon of the type can be used per visit when making a purchase at a store. For example, if you have a coupon that gives you $2 off a tube of toothpaste, you can only get one discount on one tube of toothpaste per visit to the store. This is in contrast to one coupon per purchase, which could allow you to buy multiple purchases of toothpaste during the same visit.
- Limit one coupon per person: Only one coupon can be used per person. If you want to use multiple, you will have to shop with some friends or family members.
- Limit one coupon per transaction: You can only use one coupon per transaction. You may be able to make multiple transactions to use multiple coupons.
- Limit one coupon per purchase: You can use one coupon per item purchased up to the limit. So if you have a coupon for a bottle of shampoo, you can’t use two coupons toward one bottle. However, you can buy two bottles and use two coupons, one per bottle.
- Not-to-exceed value: This means that you will only get a discount for the amount listed on the not-to-exceed notice. For example, let’s say you have a BOGO coupon that states the discount is not to exceed $2.50. If the product you want to buy costs $3.15, you would be responsible for the difference of $0.65 for the second item.
- Limit of x identical coupons per household per day: You and the members of your household can only use the stated amount of coupons per day.
Understanding the fine print on coupons can help save you time and frustration at checkout.
Frequently asked questions about couponing
How do I start couponing?
Entering the coupon world can be overwhelming. There are many sites and coupons from which to choose. It’s good to start with one store that you frequent. For many, their grocery store is a good entry point.
Set a goal for an amount you would like to save per month, like 10%. Then, choose a coupon site that features grocery discounts on items you buy.
Evelyn Woodhead, content director at The Krazy Coupon Lady, advises, “We like Coupons.com and PGeveryday.com (Procter & Gamble) for printable grocery coupons.” Many coupon sites show coupons from these pages.
Additionally, learn as much as you can about the store you target. Do they have rewards programs, savings cards, newsletters, email lists, weekly ads, etc.? Further, get a copy of their coupon policy and carefully read through it.
Next, implement an organization system like a file folder or binder with dividers. Keep the coupons separated by store, item type, or whatever works for you.
When picking coupons, identify your needs first and then find the coupons that will help. Otherwise, you can get overwhelmed with too many coupons.
Track how much you save using coupons. Once you hit your goal, set another one to save more. When you feel confident couponing at your first store, add a second one.
What does stack coupons mean?
Stacking coupons means that you use more than one coupon, discount, rebate, promotion, or sale when purchasing an item. For example, you use a coupon to buy an item that is already on sale.
Or, you use a coupon from a manufacturer along with a store coupon. You are stacking one deal on another to save more.
According to Woodhead, “You can use multiple coupon codes in a single transaction on sites like:
- Kohl’s (up to 4 codes)
- Banana Republic
- Old Navy (up to 5 codes)
- Target (unlimited codes)
- Amazon (unlimited codes)
- Michaels (unlimited codes)
- Newegg (unlimited codes)
- Sears (unlimited codes)
What should I know about using coupons to stockpile goods?
Coupon experts recommend you stock up on certain items when you can get them for at least 50% off. It should be items you will buy anyway, which won’t go bad before you use them.
Here are some examples: toilet paper, detergent, toothpaste, pasta, rice, canned foods, mouthwash, feminine hygiene products, shampoo, conditioner, dish soap, razors, and deodorant.
Can I photocopy a coupon?
By law, copying coupons is considered counterfeiting and can lead to prosecution. You can only print coupons from coupon sites. Most websites allow you to print two per computer, but be sure to check the rules.
Are there any red flags I should watch out for when couponing?
Woodhead says, “When you start following a coupon site, make sure the recommended coupons come from reliable sources like Coupons.com, Smartsource.com, RedPlum.com, or actual manufacturers.”
She adds, “Coupons that are forwarded to you via email, don’t have an expiration date, and are for high-dollar amounts (like $5+ off) are probably counterfeit. Never trust a coupon that comes with fees attached.”
Where is the best place to get coupons?
The best place to get coupons is no longer your local newspaper. Instead, coupon sites have taken the driver’s seat.
Many offer a variety of ways to save, from printable coupons and offer codes to cashback. However, each one has its own unique features and offerings.
To find the best one for your needs, compare leading coupon sites side-by-side. You’ll be saving in no time.