If you’re still clipping coupons, stop! Couponing is yet another thing that can be done more easily online, and the Internet offers tons of different ways to be thrifty in today’s economy. New money-saving websites are popping up left and right, and savvy shoppers are still figuring out which ones offer the best deals. Discounted gift certificates, coupon codes, free shipping and cash back are just some of the ways you can use your computer or smartphone to save money every day. Here’s a look at some of the most popular coupon sites and how they work.
Groupon has become a household name and is definitely the most frequently used coupon site. It offers major discounts on a variety of services, ranging from a simple haircut to an extravagant vacation overseas. After making an account, you can set the search results to “local” to find restaurants and services in your area, or “all” to see bigger deals happening around the world. You can also narrow your search by category if you’re in the market for a something specific. The site has two main kinds of discounted offers: gift cards that can be used for anything, or specific services, like an oil change or pedicure. Each Groupon shows you the original price compared to the offer price and additional information about the advertised product or store. Every Groupon also has a limited number for sale and a set date it expires. It’s especially handy because you can print out your coupons at home, or use the app to present the coupon in person with your smartphone.
LivingSocial is the most similar to Groupon. It has fewer users, but often features more common establishments like Starbucks and Whole Foods. The “social” aspect of Living Social comes from their promise that if three of your Facebook friends or Twitter followers buy their deal through your posted link, you get that same deal for free. They have at least one new deal in each area every day, and you can subscribe to your location to receive notifications about new deals. Their coupons are often very family-oriented with practical household deals, making it more domestic than other coupon sites. They currently offer deals in the U.S., Europe and Australia.
Restaurant.com offers discounts and deals for tons of restaurants around the country. You can search by a specific restaurant chain, cuisine type or area. Once you find a deal you’re interested in, the site offers user reviews and an internal map to help you plan your visit. Like Groupon, you can print your certificate or use their app and avoid paper altogether. Restaurant.com isn’t as simple as Groupon or Living Social – they usually have more terms and conditions. For instance, you can buy a $15 gift card for $5, but the restaurant may require that you spend at least $20 to use your certificate. In addition, a lot of the participating restaurant don’t accept the coupons on weekends, or don’t include alcohol in the deal. While it’s important to read the rules for each deal, you still end up with big savings and an excuse to go somewhere new.
RetailMeNot has a huge catalog, with over 500,000 coupons from 50,000 different stores. They largely offer codes to use for discounted online shopping and free shipping, but there’s an assortment of printable coupons available for groceries, restaurants and retail as well. You can use their mobile app to receive alerts for brands and stores you like. They have tons of exclusive deals and promote deals that brands are hosting themselves. RetailMeNot is useful when you’re making an assortment of large retail purchases, especially around the holidays.
Savings.com gives you a percent or dollar amount off of a particular product or brand, similar to the physical coupons you find in newspapers and magazines. The difference is that Savings.com gives a code to use on internet purchases, so there’s never any coupon clipping or trips to the store. You can use the site to follow a website or brand to see when new deals are added; they’ll send you an email notification. You can search the site through specific categories or visit the “Top Deals” page for the most popular and successful new coupons. Users vote on whether the code was successful or not, and if it receives a lot of negative feedback, the code is removed. Savings.com can be overwhelming at first, but if you know what you’re shopping for, chances are they can help you get a better deal.
Ebates is unique in that it’s a “cash back” site. They’ve partnered with over 1600 stores, featuring deals and links to popular products. If you make a purchase through their link, they get a portion of the sale. In return, they give you a portion of their profits. Everybody wins! Stores offer different a percent of cash back, usually ranging from 2-12%. It’s especially helpful for big purchases or frequent shoppers. They transfer your money through PayPal or send a check in the mail. The only downfall is that you don’t receive immediate compensation. The initial amount is transferred to your Ebates account within 5 days, but you don’t have access to the money for up to six months to ensure that you don’t return the purchased items.
The Internet doesn’t have to be a big scary place where you splurge on big purchases. Online shopping can be a huge time and money saver if you know your way around these websites.
Do you use any of these sites? If so, tell us about your experiences with them in the comments below!