MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Features

February 5, 2013

Save money, no scissors required with e-coupons

— Dear Jill: I do not have a clue what you mean by “load-to-card e-coupons.” What card, where do you get the card and how do you load them? How do you load e-coupons via the Internet? I would appreciate it if you could explain in more detail in a future article, as I am sure I am not the only one that doesn't have a clue what this is all about. – Jean T.

I’d be happy to review the ins and outs of e-coupons. While I’ve discussed them in detail in previous columns, it never hurts to review and refresh.

E-coupons are simply electronic coupons. With regard to grocery e-coupons (which are the type we will discuss in this column), e-coupons are very similar to paper coupons. You can use e-coupons on the items you’re buying, just as you would use paper coupons. And, in some cases, you can use both an e-coupon and a paper coupon on the same item. Just as you can stack a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon together, you can also stack a paper coupon and an e-coupon together, as long as one is a store coupon and one is a manufacturer coupon.

Many major supermarkets and drugstores offer e-coupons – national chains including Kroger, Safeway and CVS/pharmacy among them. In most cases, you will load these e-coupons to your store’s loyalty card via the store’s website or a smartphone app. Simply enter your loyalty card number into the website or the app, then click on the coupons you wish to add to your account. Then, when you go shopping, the e-coupons will be activated and the discounts applied when your loyalty card is scanned at checkout.

So, where does one find e-coupons? A great place to start is your favorite store’s website. If your supermarket or pharmacy offers e-coupons, you may find information on how to load them to your phone via the store’s website. Smartphone users also will find countless e-coupon apps in the Apple App Store or via Google Play.

Some national e-coupon websites work with retailers around the country. Here’s a list:

Cellfire.com: Works with more than 25 chains around the country, including ShopRite, Giant Eagle, Shop & Save, Lowe’s Foods, Marsh, Safeway and Kroger.

ShortCuts.com: Works with 25 different chains nationally and provides both electronic and printable coupons.

PGeSaver.com: Offers a new set of e-coupons each month for 29 chains, including many Kroger and Safeway-owned chains.

SavingStar.com:  Offers e-coupons for more than 100 chains nationally, including many supermarkets as well as Rite Aid and CVS/pharmacy. SavingStar e-coupons work a bit differently than the aforementioned websites. With SavingStar, your e-coupon discounts are not applied immediately at the register. Instead, the money saved is deposited into your online SavingStar account, and you can deposit the money to your personal bank account.

If you shop at a store that isn’t listed on one of the above sites, it doesn’t mean your store doesn’t offer e-coupons. I live in Chicago, and two of our largest local chains, Jewel-Osco and Meijer, both offer their own e-coupons on their respective websites. It’s worth investigating to see if your store does as well.

As I mentioned earlier, if you wish to stack coupons, keep in mind that you can’t stack two manufacturer coupons together. An e-coupon that is offered by the manufacturer is still a manufacturer coupon, and you can’t use another paper manufacturer coupon in conjunction with it on the same item. Depending on your store’s policy, if you present a paper manufacturer coupon and already have an e-coupon loaded for the same item, you typically will be allowed to use one discount or the other, but not both.

If you use e-coupons, remember that it will be your responsibility to keep track of their expiration dates. E-coupons do expire, just as paper coupons do. If you’ve loaded e-coupons that you haven’t redeemed, the coupons will disappear from your card. You can view or print a list of the e-coupons that are loaded onto your account via the store’s website.

Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about Super-Couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.

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