Couponing? Isn’t that for old ladies who have way too much time on their hands and more cats than they know what to do with? According to a recent study, consumers save $3.4 billion annually using coupons and promo codes. Still think this is a trick for your grandma’s generation?
Modern day couponing is fueled by cutting edge technologies and facilitated through the latest gadgets, for a state of the art experience that delivers a fast, easy, and convenient method for finding, using, and saving money with coupons.
Now that you’re sold on the idea, the only question is which coupon sites and apps are really going to save you money? Check out a few ways you can separate the small fries from the real McCoy so that you can find all the real deals and super savings you're looking for.
How the application works and what types of coupons are available is the first place to start ranking a site. Does the service offer printable coupons, scannable coupons, or linked? Are there discounts too, or only coupon codes? Groupon gives downloadable vouchers that are very convenient for instant shopping, and direct shipping makes this site a real winner. Meanwhile, a giant in the industry, RetailMeNot offers more than 500,00 bargains at any given time, along with gift cards, in-store, and online discounts, so you can find exactly the type of savings you prefer. As an aside, Coupon.com’s easy print format is a nice touch that not all other sites have thought of.
Range of Stores
Everyone has their go-to stores where they love to shop, and a platform that gives you discounts in these locations will be the big winner for you. Some couponing apps focus primarily on grocery stores savings, while others cover the spectrum from home appliances to furniture and apparel. Unless you’re planning on niche shopping, the best sites are the ones that will offer a wide range of stores to choose from. Of course, the big names in the industry like RetailMeNot, have a tremendous selection, working with more than 130,000 retailers for a well-rounded couponing experience. If you want to give some of the smaller (but no less useful) sites a try, check out coupon aggregators like Money Saving Mom or SlickDeals. These are apps that both collect coupons (and rate them) from other couponing sites and also have private arrangements with retailers like Target, Macy's, Amazon, and T-Mobile, so customers get the most for their money every time they shop.
How Good are the Deals?
This aspect is certainly a little skewed depending on the industry and the shopper. Some sites offer great deals, but if they’re not the right type of deal for you, you won’t find it very appealing. In general, look for an app with a strong and vocal community (more on that below) and significant savings. LivingSocial, which lets you save up to 90% off, is a good example of this type of mix.
Tools & Additional Features
Unless you want to do a lot of work on your own, the various tools and features that a couponing app gives you will really make the difference between something you should download and ones that you should just skip over. Good apps are feature-rich, and filled with both useful resources and tools to help make using the app easier. From list creators to grocery store card syncing, here are some cool tools to look out for.
RetailMeNot lets shoppers customize and save lists of favorite items so they can always see when they are on sale. Additionally, its algorithm is geo-centered, so you get local deals that are the most relevant to you. Speaking of lists, The Krazy Coupon Lady does this well, too. In addition to letting you set up your own personalized shopping lists, The Krazy Coupon Lady will sync those lists across devices so you can share with your spouse or keep tabs on your lists from various devices. The Krazy Coupon Lady is also an excellent source for frugal living. They provide tutorials, money-saving tips, and videos like the entertaining Ten Day Guide to Becoming a Coupon Master. The real clincher here is the YouTube channel that features all of these videos. Hip2Save is another app that does savings’ educational resources really well, with entire sections dedicated to recipes, couponing skills, and other savings tips.
Other sites like SlickDeals have perks like a dedicated Black Friday app (also a mobile app so that you can take your savings on the go) that focus exclusively on deals for that tremendous shopping day of the year.
We found Coupon.com’s grocery store card hookup particularly impressive. This feature allows you to link coupons you want to your grocery cards so that they are automatically subtracted from your total when you shop at that store. Coupon.com also has a useful Smart Savings calculator so you can actually see how much you are saving with your couponing and exclusive credit card deals.
Of course, couponing has become much more than clipping squares from a newspaper. Today, the industry revolves around social media and is also heavily influenced by these circles. The easier and more involved the community, the better an experience you are likely to have. Some apps like SlickDeals and Woot have large, active communities. What’s nice about that is the fact that the members are the ones reviewing the coupons, so you know you are getting actual deals. If an offer is subpar, expired, or invalid for some reason, you’ll hear about it through the helpful advisor community. SlickDeals even has a rating system for their coupons, and only the best make it to the homepage. Woot community members are extremely active, offering a lot of detail about products they bought and whether deals are worthwhile or not.
Alerts & Notifications
This is one of the modern conveniences that really separates traditional couponing from the contemporary version. No more pouring over pages of advertisements to find good deals. Today, you can simply set an alert and receive notifications when items you like go on sale. Technology really is a wonderful thing. An app with good alerts settings and notifications scores a lot of points. Something like SlickDeals will let users customize their alert categories, so the type of products you’re in the market for ping when on sale. LivingSocial will give members a general email with the hottest daily deals to look out for, and DealNews lets you set alerts for specified items.
Finally, you want your experience to be smooth and easy. After all, one of the primary reasons you're using a couponing app is to save time and headaches from going the more traditional route. We found SlickDeal’s site particularly easy to navigate, with a smart search bar and sections like popular posts and trending deals front and center in their clean setup. Coupon.com also offers zip code search for fast local deals. DealNews was also really easy to navigate, utilizing simple drop-down menus and good categorization. Hip2Save has deals always as the main focus on the homepage, and you can quickly browse deals by store, product type, favorites, and organized lists. Last but not least, the Money Saving Mom lets you sort coupons by retailer, item, or expiration.
Shopping in the 21st century just keeps getting better and better. So, take advantage of smart couponing apps, and save more now.