Redeeming Coupons

Grocery Coupons

Most grocery coupons fall into two categories, online coupons and cut-out coupons. Online coupons are found online at coupon sites and grocery store sites, downloaded (if necessary) and printed at home. They are then used just like cut-out coupons. To redeem the discount, the coupons are then taken to the grocery store and presented at check out. The cashier either scans a bar code or enters a code on the coupon in order to apply the discount to your balance. Read the restrictions on the bottom or back of the coupon.

There are also online grocery coupons that are meant to be used when ordering groceries online that will be delivered to your home. Vons.com is an example of a grocery store that provides this type of coupon. There is a step in the checkout process on their site that asks if you have a coupon code. By looking around online, you’ll find a plethora of codes for free shipping, discounts for the order, or discounts for specific products.

Online Coupons

Redeeming an online coupon can be as easy as clicking on a link that offers a discount on an item at a store. The ad may say, “Save 25% On All Shoes at Piperlime.com,” in which case you simply click the coupon to be taken to the website making the offer or to the exact page where the item is located. The discount may be applied automatically when you add the item to your online shopping cart or you may need to enter the name of the coupon or the coupon code in order to qualify for the offer.

Online Coupon Codes

Agent Shopper, your mission, if you choose to accept it, will be to use this code to unlock unfathomable savings at our online store.

Coupon codes and promo codes (promotional codes) are letter and number combinations that unlock savings. Coupons that include a letter and number code on them will often require that you enter the code when you add the featured item to your online shopping cart or at checkout. Follow any other instructions required to receive the offer. The code will be a random combination of letters and numbers or a brief explanation of the offer, such as ABC123, FEB08SALE, SAVINGSDOTCOM or SAVE50. Type the code where prompted, click “Apply Coupon/Code/Offer” if necessary, and you’re on your way to savings.

Nice work, Agent S.

Printable Coupons

Do you like to shop in a retail store instead of on the Internet? You can still save big with cut-out or printable coupons. Download and print the coupons that are in-store eligible, and then take them to the store to redeem the offer. Be sure that the printed-at-home coupon is clear and legible, and any bar code or coupon code can be easily read and entered by the cashier. Read the instructions and restrictions of every offer carefully before printing a coupon for use because the offer may be available only online and not at retail stores. Macy’s and H&R Block are two examples of merchants that offer printable coupons.

Gift Certificates

Gift certificates and gift cards can be used online and in most cases just like a credit or debit card. The value may be written or printed on the card or you may have to check the balance online or over the phone with the issuing store/company. Activate the gift card (if necessary) and enter the account number or code at checkout once you are done shopping. If the cost of the product or service you are ordering is greater than what the gift certificate or gift card is worth, the remaining balance will need to be paid by another method. When the value of the gift certificate exceeds the price of the item(s) you’re purchasing, the seller will either give you the difference in cash, as store credit, or as the remaining balance of the gift.

Here’s a little trick I use with gift cards and certificates to keep track of the remaining balance. Use a permanent marker or pen to write the remaining balance on the back of the card/certificate. That way, if a few weeks or months go by between uses you will know approximately what the gift is still worth.

Gift cards and certificates can have expiration dates, fees and restrictions. Read the instructions carefully to maximize the value. Don’t forget to send a thank you note to the person who gave it to you!

Rebates

Read the fine print and do the paperwork to take advantage of these special offers. The most important thing to remember when applying for a rebate is to follow the instructions of the offer. To make things easier, some stores will allow you to apply for the rebate at checkout using an online form. Others require that you download and fill out a form. You will need to provide information such as your name, address, phone number, date, where you bought the item, a UPC or proof of purchase code, a serial number, a model number and maybe more. The seller or manufacturer may require that you mail or submit the form online in order to qualify for rebate offers. Sometimes, as is the case with manufacturer’s rebates, who you bought the product from may not be the same company that will issue the rebate. Expect to wait four to six weeks for your rebate check or certificate to arrive in the mail.

Cash Back

Cash back offers are just that…cash or value back when you buy a participating product or service or shop at an online store. Cash back is similar to a rebate – buy this and we’ll send you a refund check for X amount. Read the details of the offer and make sure you will be getting what is promised. Some online retailers allow you to accumulate a percentage of your spending as cash back or store credit. You can then use the value of the cash back for online or store purchases, or a check for the cash back balance may be sent directly to you.

Cash back can be a stand-alone offer, in which case you pay full price for a product and then receive a refund of a specified amount. Or the offer can be combined with discounts, sales, etc.

Now, go collect your cash!

Reward Points

We call them reward points, loyalty points, frequent flyer programs, cash back rewards, incentive programs, online shopping rewards, loyalty marketing and many more names. In Australia they call them FlyBuys, mate!

Reward point programs are a way to do more with your money. Retailers offering this sort of program are making a trade with you – buy this product or service, and the store/company will give you reward points that can be accumulated and redeemed at a later time for other items such as gift cards, merchandise, flights and other rewards.

A frequent flyer program is a great example of how reward points work. As you purchase tickets to fly on a particular airline, you accumulate miles or points according to the distance of the flight (miles) or the cost (points). Once you have traveled enough and have the miles or reward points for a free ticket, you can redeem the reward for a free ticket, an upgrade, or something else (free drinks, food, vouchers for the airline’s club room at the airport, etc).

< Understanding CouponsBuyer Beware >