All About Couponing: eCoupon 101

by Marcy on August 19, 2009 · 8 comments

ecoupon101
Welcome to Day 3 of my All About Couponing series! So far I have shared information with you about Coupon Inserts and Printable Coupons. Today I am going to spend some time talking about eCouponsspecifically: what they are, how you can use them, where you can find them, pros and cons, and my stance on “stacking”.

What exactly is an eCoupon?

An eCoupon is just a fancy word for an electronic coupon. These coupons can be added to your loyal customer/shoppers card via the web using your PC or phone. In my experience, only a few of the stores I shop at offer these types of coupons currently, but if I had to guess, I would say that the popularity of these types of coupons is likely to grow in the future. They save both time and paper which are both big pluses in my book!

So how do eCoupons work?

In my opinion, eCoupons are incredibly easy to use. Once you have found an eCoupon service for a store where you shop, all that you have to do is register, add your shoppers card number to your account, and review the list of available coupons. You can then choose which coupons you would like to use and add them to your card. That’s it! When you go shopping, these coupons will automatically be redeemed at check out.

Where can I find eCoupons?

The first place to look for eCoupons is on a store website. Grocery chains are especially good about highlighting all of the ways you can save at their store, and will often include links to the eCoupon service(s) that they are using.

Here is a list of eCoupon services that I am currently aware of:

* Upromise – offers eCoupons at a variety of stores: CVS, Giant Eagle, Kroger, Buehlers, and Meijer for me (this varies based on where you live). The main difference between Upromise and other eCoupon services is that the product savings is deposited into your Upromise college savings account versus coming off of your total at check out. In addition, unlike other eCoupons, Upromise coupons can be used in conjunction with manufacturer’s coupons! Upromise eCoupons are updated monthly and you can find instructions for using them in my post here.

* Cellfire.com - offers savings on shopping, entertainment and restaurants via mobile web, PLUS grocery eCoupons for Kroger & Safeway stores. These coupons are updated bi-weekly.

* Shortcuts.com – offers eCoupons for Kroger family of stores. To request that a store near you be added, read more here.

You can click on the links above to register your store card and view coupons offered by those programs.

eCoupon Pros and Cons from my Perspective

Pros

* No clipping and/or lugging coupons to the store. Once you set up your account and register your card, these services are quick and easy to use.

* You can print a shopping list from each
an class=”blsp-spelling-error” id=”SPELLING_ERROR_30″>eCoupon
site letting you know what coupons you have loaded on to your card.

* Sometimes we see eCoupons for store brand products (Kroger in particular).

* If you have tried using eCoupons and have had issues, be sure to contact the eCoupon provider directly (rather than the store)…in my experience they are more than willing to help.

Cons

* You have to be extremely careful to purchase the *exact* item (size, brand etc…) specified on the e-coupon. For example, if you purchase a 6 oz. tube of Colgate Total and the e-coupon is only good for 4 ozs., the eCoupon won’t work.

* Once you have added an eCoupon to your card, you can’t remove it unless it expires or you use it.

* If you have added an eCoupon for the same product using two different services, there is no way to control which eCoupon is redeemed first. For example, if I add a $1.50/1 Huggies coupon on to my Kroger card using Cellfire.com and a $1/1 Huggies coupon on to my Kroger card using Shortcuts.com, I cannot choose which coupon is redeemed first. If I buy 2 packs of diapers in one transaction, both should be redeemed, however.

* These coupons are redeemed at face value – which means no doubling or tripling.

* There is typically a limit to how many coupons you can load on to your card (per service), and most coupons are only available for a one time download (per card #).

With all of that being said, I still think that eCoupons are a great and easy way to save!

My Stance on eCoupon and Manufacturer Coupon “Stacking”

When eCoupons first came on to the scene, it didn’t take long for consumers to realize that they could use the eCoupons loaded on to their shoppers cards in conjunction with the paper manufacturer coupons that they carried with them into the store (otherwise known as “stacking”). I used to promote this activity before I caught wind that manufacturers do not endorse (nor are happy) about this practice. That being said, as of today, the store cash registers are unable to prevent the usage of an eCoupon and a paper manufacturer coupon on one item.

So what is my stance on this issue? I do not promote the stacking of eCoupon and manufacturer coupons in my weekly sale/coupon match up posts. I feel it is up to you as the consumer to decide what you feel is fair or ethical. I will provide you with the information that I have, and it is up to you as to how you are going to use it. How’s that for attempting to avoid conflict? :-)

Do you have additional questions about eCoupons that I didn’t answer here? Do you know of any e-coupon services that I didn’t mention? Please feel free to email me or post a comment. Do you have a tip about eCoupons that I didn’t cover? Please feel free to share those as well!

Find the entire All About Couponing Series here:

* Coupon Insert 101
* Printable Coupon 101
* eCoupon 101
* Coupon Organization 101

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Leslie August 20, 2009 at 7:15 PM

Very good series! Thanks so much. I was very surprised when I saw all the talk recently about stacking ecoupons with manufacturer coupons being unethical, etc. I’m wondering why the company even puts out both options for the product if they are not exactly liking the “stacking” situation, LOL. It will be interesting to see how long this goes on.

2 Marcy August 20, 2009 at 7:23 PM

Leslie – I tend to agree with you. If they don’t want it to happen they need to prevent it. It has been going on for awhile now…it will be interesting to see when/if the issue gets resolved.

3 SHELLY August 21, 2009 at 11:31 PM

Thanks for your post! I am newer to e-coupons. I had seen where some blogs would say it was okay to “stack” and others where it said it was not okay. I was very confused as to whether or not it was acceptable/allowed/ethical…and wanted to make sure that it was before doing so because I do not want to be dishonest in my couponing. I called my store and was told that it is perfectly fine after asking several questions. Very interesting…seems that someone needs to figure something out!?

4 Karla November 13, 2009 at 1:31 AM

When I emailed Shortcuts to ask them about the coupons coming off of the store card. They said it was fine it was up to each stores policy. So I have felt just fine useing them together.

5 Paige November 26, 2009 at 5:37 AM

I just shopped at Safeway and not a single e-coupon redeemed from any of the three sites. Any ideas?

6 Marcy November 29, 2009 at 4:09 AM

Paige – your best bet is to contact the support group for each e-Coupon service so that they can check out your account(s) and credit your $.

7 April January 19, 2010 at 4:25 PM

Hi! Great, informative site. I was wondering. You say you “caught wind that manufacturers do not endorse (nor are happy)” about the ecoupon and paper coupon stacking. Where did you come by this information? I, too, have called my local Randall’s store and asked about stacking ecoupons and paper coupons, and they have said it is fine. So, how do we know which is the correct message?

Thank you!

8 Marcy January 19, 2010 at 8:37 PM

April – it is such a touchy subject. If your store is ok with it, then I say go for it. The main complaint I heard was from P&G, but they have discontinued their P&G eSaver program (that was available at Kroger), so it may be a non issue.

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