MY TOP 5 COUPON APPS (AND/OR
If you’re like me, you’ve seen all of recent hubbub about EXTREME COUPONING!! and thought to yourself, “Wow, that would be so cool. Maybe I should try that! *thirty seconds later* Nah, it looks like a ton of work. And work is the worst.”
The best I ever did at “extreme” couponing was spending about 4 hours one week printing coupons and doing ad match-ups, which yielded me a savings of about $100 at Kroger. And don’t get me wrong – it felt great! I was incredibly amped with how well I had done. But it had taken a lot of time, I didn’t get anything for free (mainly because I’m not interested in buying 30 boxes of Cheerios or 25 bottles of laundry detergent), AND I probably wound up purchasing things I wouldn’t have if I hadn’t been focusing on my savings bottom-line.
So, the solution? Finding apps that making couponing and saving money MUCH easier and most importantly – FASTER! Over the weekend I sat down and tried to decide which apps were my favourites, and this is the list I came up with!
- Cartwheel – I freaking LOVE Cartwheel! Target really knows how to pull me in, I’ll tell ya. Cartwheel is easily my favourite of the bunch, and it’s also the app I’ve saved the most money with. Cartwheel is Target’s…bargain app, for lack of a better description. They add new discounts on any thing from dog food to vacuum cleaners every Tuesday, and you can sign up for an e-mail newsletter if you like to be reminded when the new offers are out.
Cartwheel is super easy to search on – you can filter offers by department, and then sort them by how recent they are, how big the discount is or how soon they will be expiring. The only bummer is that you start with a small number of slots that you can save offers to, I think around 10. The more money you save, the more often you use Cartwheel, and the more often you’re at Target in general, the faster you will unlock more slots for additional offers. I’m up to 27 slots, and I think I’ll get my 28th once my savings hops up to $100! I am at Target so much it’s scary. I use Cartwheel on at least one item every time I go to Target, which is between 1-3 times a week. I love that you don’t have to plan ahead with Cartwheel either. Impromptu trip to Target – search for an offer on whatever you randomly snagged before you check-out and boom! Savings! It’s so quick and easy!
- Ibotta – Ibotta is a clear choice for #2, in my opinion. It’s a lot like Cartwheel, but you can use it at several different stores, and your savings comes in the form of a rebate (as opposed to Cartwheel’s instant savings). Ibotta lets you get rebates on items you purchase from specific stores just by scanning the barcodes of all the products you purchased that were on your Ibotta shopping list, and then adding a photo of your receipt (or just the QR code on said receipt). For stores that have loyalty cards like Homeland and Kroger, you don’t even have to mess with the picture nonsense, you just link up your loyalty card and your Ibotta account.
Some of the stores that work with Ibotta are Walmart, Target, CVS, Walgreens, Homeland, Costco, Crest, Dillons, Food Lion, Fry’s, Giant Eagle, H-E-B, Kroger, Meijer, Publix, Ralph’s, Sprouts and Whole Foods – literally to just name a few. You can select the store you plan on shopping at, and then unlock any offers you think you might like to redeem. Some offers can be unlocked by answering a quick multiple choice question or just “reading” a pop-up recipe, but some offers require that you “watch” a video. I put watch in ” ” because I just mute my phone and unlock offers while I watch TV.
Offers on Ibotta are sorted by department, but you can also use their search feature if you need to quickly look for something in particular. Some offers have a brand requirement, but others work for any brand, like “Frozen Pizza.” Once you have saved $20 using Ibotta you can withdraw your money to your PayPal account or trade in for a gift card! So far I’ve saved $31 with Ibotta, but I’ve slacked way off as of late. I think I could be closer to $50 if I tried a little harder.
- Saving Star – Saving Star is VERY similar to Ibotta, but not identical, and it is on a smaller scale. Also, whereas with Ibotta you usually only have to buy one item (sometimes 2-3) to earn your rebate, a lot of Saving Star offers require you spend a certain dollar amount on products from a specific brand or manufacturer. You don’t have to spend all of the money at once, but I would definitely have to go out of my way to buy $12 worth of Ken’s Salad Dressings by June 1st.
Saving Star works with loyalty card stores and card-less stores, just like Ibotta does, and you can cash your money out to PayPal or grab a gift card, much like with Ibotta. I’ve only saved/earned $5 using Saving Star, but I put it higher on my Top 5 list, because it keeps my eyes from wandering (see Coupon Sherpa below = DANGER ZONE) and makes me stay focused on grocery store related savings. Some of the stores that work with Saving Star are Homeland, Dollar General, OfficeMax, Staples, Target, Walmart, Walgreens, Albertsons, Food Lion, Giant Eagle, Publix, Stater Bros, Dillons, Food 4 Less and many, many more.
- Coupon Sherpa – Coupon Sherpa is great because it rounds up both in-store and online coupons. It also has a much wider scope, and finds coupons from restaurants, clothing stores, auto stores, furniture stores, etc. You can look for coupons by store name or see which stores are nearby.
Unfortunately, with Coupon Sherpa I have to watch myself as I try to save money. Because of the wide variety of coupons and sales that Coupon Sherpa shows you, I find myself looking at websites I have no business being on (I’m looking at you J.Crew and DSW), just because I saw there was an awesome coupon available. I don’t need that new pair of shoes, but if they’re half off, and I’ve just found a coupon for an additional 25% off…I might wake-up the next morning to a shipping notification I never knew was coming.
- Retale – Retale is similar to Coupon Sherpa, but with one major additional feature – it lets you look at weekly ads from tons of different stores! This feature can be both a blessing and a curse. Again, I do better when I can focus on coupons for the things I have to buy, instead of seeing all the sweet, sweet bargains I could score (sounds a lot like how someone talks about meth, no?) if I bought some of the things that I simply want.
Retale lets you sort offers by newness and popularity, as well as buy near…ness. You can sort by department or search for something specific. You can also set favourite stores, which is useful in making sure I only see the things I need to see. Retale also offers a Store Finder feature that will pull up on a map all of the stores that are near you that Retale has ads or coupons for.
So, there you have it! Those are my Top 5 coupon (and bargain-hunting) apps! There are a ton of choices out there, so hopefully this helps you whittle down your candidates.
Have you used any of these apps before? What did you think of them? And am I the only one with wandering-bargain eyes? I surely hope not! I need some struggling soul sisters to commiserate with!