All About Extreme Couponing: e-coupon 101

by Marcy on November 19, 2008 · 0 comments

This is week 3 of my “All About Couponing” series. So far I have given you some info on Coupon Inserts and Printable Coupons. This week I am going to spend some time talking about e-coupons…what they are, how you can use them, where you can find them, and some pros and cons that I have discovered while using them. So here goes…e-coupon 101 from my experience as a couponing mama.

What exactly is an e-coupon?

An e-coupon is just a fancy word for an electronic coupon. These coupons can typically 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 e-coupons work?

In my opinion, e-coupons are incredibly easy to use. Once you have found an e-coupon service for the stores that you shop at, 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. And the best part? If you have a manufacturer’s coupon that matches up with your e-coupon, you can use both for extra savings. I’m not sure that this is something that will continue as technology advances, but for now, that’s how things work…and I’m not complaining!

Where can I find e-coupons?

***Note: I am sure that there are e-coupon services out there that I am not yet aware of. I’ll do my best to outline the services that I do know of below, but if you have more information to add, please share your knowledge in the comments.***

The first place to look for e-coupons 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 e-coupon services that they are using.

Two grocery chains who are using e-coupons that I am aware of are Kroger (and Kroger owned stores) and Giant Eagle.

You can sign up and view e-Coupons offered by Giant Eagle here. (Note: this list is often very limited).

Kroger offers several ways to save using e-Coupons via Shortcuts, P&G eSaver, and Cellfire. You can click on those links to register and view coupons offered by those programs.

If you are a fan of the Upromise program, Andrea has a great post up about taking advantage of Upromise e-Coupons here. While these coupons don’t take a dollar amount off of your products directly, they allow you to “deposit” money into your Upromise college savings account.

And if none of these services apply to where you shop, you can go here to see when Shortcuts will be available for use at your local stores.

Pros and Cons

There are a few pros and cons when it comes to using e-Coupons. A major pro (as I mentioned previously) is that they are easy to use. No clipping, and no hauling coupons to the store. On the downside, 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 e-coupon won’t work. Because you don’t have the actual paper coupon in front of you, it is a good idea to note the specifics of a product on your grocery list. Some e-coupon services also have lists that you can print from their site.

And while e-coupons can be combined with your manufacturer’s coupons for greater savings, you should note that e-coupons are redeemed at face value – they do not double like many of your manufacturer’s coupons do.

Finally, 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 e-coupons are a great and easy way to save! If you have tried using e-coupons and have had issues, be sure to check with the customer service desk at your store for assistance. You can also contact the e-coupon provider with any issues that may arise.

Do you have additional questions about e-coupons 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 (runs5k at yahoo) or post a comment. Do you have a tip about e-coupons that I didn’t share? Please feel free to share those as well!

Now that you have all of those coupons, how can you keep them all organized without going crazy? Up next week: Coupon Organization 101. Stay tuned!

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