We've all seen that little empty coupon code box at the checkout of our favorite online stores. And most of us are tempted by it, because we all love to save money. Although one might think couponing is a recent shopping trend, the basic idea dates back to the 1890s in the United States. Retailers in the United States first began issuing trading stamps as a thank you to customers who paid in cash instead of buying on credit.
But how do you use online coupons best? What should you keep in mind? Let's first begin by debunking myths, and then review some helpful tips.
Myths About Coupons
Online Coupon Tips & Tricks
How to Spot Coupon Deals
The couponing terminology varies from one online shop to another. Some are referred to as "discount," "coupon" or "promo codes," while others are labeled as "voucher codes" or "shopping codes". They are quite easy to spot if you keep your eye open.
Some retailers provide their own codes via the company's newsletter or its social media page. If you want to make the most out of your shopping experience and have a variety of deals at hand, you can opt for one of the many coupon platforms. But be sure to check on Google to see what other customers have to say about their experience with the respective platform. Ideally you want to avoid signing up for shady deals and save loads of money during your next online shopping spree.
When to Opt for Coupons
The basic answer is: Always. Why waste money when you can save huge amounts by spending just ten seconds more to type in a promo code? Most of the time the extra effort spent searching for coupon deals pays off.
Especially around Black Friday or Christmas you can find great deals online. Coupons for electronics are under heavy demand from August till September, when school starts; flowers and gifts peak around Valentine's Day and Christmas is a great time for toys, gifts or travel coupons. Besides that there is no general rule on when it is best to use a coupon. If you see the coupon box while shopping, why not make use of it?
Both retailers and coupon platforms have to work with limitations when it comes to the time span of coupons. Sometimes, coupons are used as a marketing initiative to boost sales at a low time of the year. On other occasions, retailers want to increase their revenue during the highest-grossing weeks of the year - for example during Christmas or just before Valentine's Day. Whatever their motive, in order to achieve their marketing goals, they will offer coupons only for that limited time. So always make sure that you read the fine print in order to not miss the expiration date.
Exclusions and Restrictions
Trying to use your 80%-off coupon on the newest Louis Vuitton bag? Probably not going to happen. If online retailers feature high-end fashion items, limited quantities or even extra heavy items, they might not be eligible for coupon discounts. Most coupon sites and retailers are pretty good at briefing their customers about the restrictions, but in case the fine print was too fine, you will notice at checkout at the latest. Some websites may display a warning on select items, but just to be on the safe side, always double-check your cart before paying.
Compare and Save
As you would do in real-life shopping situations, we recommend comparing offers. While you most likely won't visit every store in town to compare the prices of socks or paper clips, you have almost no limitations when shopping online. If you know how to use Google in a smart and efficient way, you can save even more money. For example, while you might get your new tablet at 30% off with one coupon and pay $150 dollars extra in shipping costs, on the other hand, you might be better off with a 20% coupon that includes free shipping.
Now you are one step closer to mastering the usage of coupons, and what's great is it's quite easy to indulge in smart coupon usage. Clearly, the amount of money you are able to save will increase as you settle into this helpful habit. Enjoy!
Perhaps you've seen one of those television shows wherein a shopper uses an incredibly large amount of coupons to bring her grocery bill down to just a few dollars and cents at checkout. "If I can do it, anyone can do it!" this person exclaims, and we do want to believe her. Who wouldn't want to save money at the food store? However, the people who save the most money generally spend quite a bit of time gathering coupons, organizing them and strategizing their shopping trips. Getting the kind of savings by using coupons that you see on TV may not be possible right away (and you may not have quite as much time to invest in couponing), but using coupons will save you money. Start small and then build up as your schedule and desire permit. Use the following 10 tips as your guide to making coupons pay:
1. Pick a store. - Choose the food store that you most often shop at to focus your couponing skills on first. It can be too overwhelming for a novice couponer to keep track of all the sales at all the stores in their area and coordinate trips to all of them. Usually, stores also have a minimum purchase amount to obtain sale items.
2. Familiarize yourself with your store's coupon policy. - Every store has its own rules regarding coupons. Stay up-to-date on the store's rules and you avoid wasting your time planning purchases around coupons that your store will not honor.
3. Sign up for coupon websites. - Open a free email account just for this purpose. If you search "couponing," some of the top sites should come up. Join their mailing lists to receive free, printable coupons. Also join sites for products that you use regularly and know you'll be buying. These companies appreciate brand loyalty and regularly offer coupons for their products on these sites; diapers, cereal and laundry detergent are just a few that come to mind.
4. Have a simple system. - Most serious couponers have large, impressive-looking binders jam-packed with coupons in clear plastic sleeves--leave these systems for the future couponing you. Just starting out, all you really need is a small accordion file or plain envelopes (whichever you already have on hand will do). Don't make the mistake of spending your future coupon savings on today's coupon organization system.
5. Link your system to your store. - Use one file slot or one envelope for every aisle in your chosen store. File your coupons according to aisle and also write your shopping list by aisle. Keep one envelope or file slot open for the coupons you know ahead of time that you'll be using, but always bring all of your coupons with you every shopping trip.
6. Start clipping. - If you're already receiving coupons with your newspaper, start with those. Perhaps a friend, relative or neighbor has coupon inserts that they don't want or need. If you choose, you may want to start purchasing the Sunday paper for the coupon inserts. However, if you're just getting started, don't buy multiple copies of the paper for the inserts or coupons from a clipping service. If you do not make use of these extra coupons, then you've wasted money instead of saving it. The coupons you will have on hand just from the paper and from the web will be enough to get you started.
7. Stick to a schedule - Choose one day/evening a week to "work" on couponing, i.e., clipping coupons, printing coupons from websites, filing, checking your store's circular, etc. This ensures that you'll never miss a great deal.
8. Keep track of your time - Be sure to note exactly how much time you're spending on couponing and shopping and compare this time spent to the amount that you spent just on shopping alone. This gauge can help you decide if using a lot of coupons is worth your time and effort.
9. Keep track of your savings - This combined with tip no. 8 will help you to decide whether or not coupons pay for you. If you're really not saving that much money and spending more time than you'd like trying to, maybe couponing isn't for you.
10. Purge regularly - Nothing is more frustrating than having a great coupon (which will double!) matched to a great store sale item, only to find out at checkout that this great coupon has expired! Incorporate a check of expiration dates into the schedule that you have established to be sure that this never happens. Keeping coupons in order of oldest to newest (within their respective file) can also help.
Skilled shoppers are able to cut down on their expenses by using online coupons. Whether you are looking to save some money on household items, entertainment or hotel rooms, you can find a wide range of deals online, if you know how and where to search. A lot of people just like you manage to buy more brand name or fresh entry products from the same paycheck by using the available online coupons for travel, holiday gifts and many more.
Basically, Internet coupons come in four types. Printable Internet coupons look like regular coupons, but they are available online, can be printed anytime, and used at any retail shop. Number two and three, activated link coupons and product code coupons, can only be redeemed online. Lastly, click coupons that are offered by most groceries, are transferred to a customer's frequent shopping card via the Internet and they are credited in any participating grocery store every time you make a purchase.
Printable Internet coupons offer several advantages to every consumer. Unlike the regular ones that need to be searched through advertisements or newspapers, the Internet kind is accessible online and anytime. Also, they are more environmental friendly than the usual ones, since consumers print only what they like, instead of needlessly wasting pages of advertisements that they do not want.
Just like other new technologies, there are some downsides to using Internet coupons. Fraud, which is a possible concern for retailers, can lead to less productivity because of slower transactions and results to upset customers that are waiting in line. The Association of Coupon Professionals, or ACP, is doing their best to improve printable online coupons security strategies. In this regard, ACP has developed better controls over the quantity of coupons being printed, has found ways to detect copies and to keep Internet coupons from getting altered. To achieve this end, most online coupons require users to download the propriety printing programs intended to avoid fraud.
Product code coupons are applied during checkout, wherein an alphanumeric code is entered to give a discount to the item being purchased. This type usually offers a flat rate discount like 10%, and such items can be found by means of a search engine.
Code entry is not required when using Activated link coupons. These are automatically applied without the participation of users. Free shipping for qualified purchases is an example of activated link coupons. The discount is automatically applied to the invoice by connecting to the appropriate discount offer.
Lastly, click coupons are coupons used in groceries. They are applied to the frequent shopping card of a consumer and they are presented when checking out. Users go online to choose the coupons they like, then enter the card number of the grocery to electronically apply the Internet coupon discounts to the account. So, whenever users go shopping at a participating grocery, Internet coupons are automatically applied whenever the card is swiped.
The easiest way to get such items is to search for "coupon code," "online coupons" and "printable coupons" in your preferred search engine. Check the websites returned as results, making sure that they are legitimate before you print any coupon. Also verify if there are any conditions to use these items. Some sites will require you to sign up for a newsletter or become a member in order to get access to these deals. You can also use one of the many coupon search engines, as well as register for Internet-only deals from your chosen retailers.
Online coupons give more value to shopping, whether online or offline. Participating retailers hope that Internet coupons will enable more sales and encourage another way of mutual beneficial marketing by means of value-plus savings.