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Couponing 101: The Basics
Couponing 101: The Basics
What is a coupon?
Coupons are a discount on a particular item offered by either a manufacturer or a store. Coupons are different than a standard sale or price reduction because the consumer must actively do SOMETHING (whether it is trade a physical coupon, add a virtual coupon to a store loyalty card, or enter an online discount code) to get the discount.
1. Paper coupons
Paper coupons, or traditional coupons, are simply pieces of paper that you give to a seller for a discount. The most common are found in the inserts in the Sunday paper, but they can also be seen on products (either as a peel-off sticker or as a part of the packaging that must be cut out), on tear pads in the store, and in many cases will be sent directly from the manufacturer or advertising company.
2. Internet printable coupons
Internet printable coupons have revolutionized couponing, but also created new barriers and problems. Internet printable coupons are coupons that you print yourself from a computer. Due to an incredible amount of abuse and fraud, some stores do not accept internet printables at all, though most are beginning to. Most internet printable coupon sites require you to download a small program onto your computer. This program is designed to limit your printing to the number of coupons allowed by the manufacturer. As long as the site you are utilizing is reputable, these programs are safe.
3. Store Loyalty Cards
Store loyalty cards are offered everywhere, it seems. You give the store your name and address, and in return you get a card that gives you discounts on your purchases, coupons or discounts printed at the register to be used on a future purchase, an even occassionally receive coupons mailed directly to your home. With some stores, you also have the option of loading Digital or store loyalty coupons onto your card.
4. Digital or store loyalty coupons
Digital or store loyalty coupons generally require you to visit a particular website, enter your store loyalty card number, and choose which coupons to add to your card. These discounts just sit there until either you use them or they expire. There is NO obligation to use these once they are loaded, though some stores limit the number of coupons you can load onto your loyalty card at one time. As they are loaded directly onto the store loyalty card, they can not be used anywhere else, though in most cases they work like a sales price and you CAN use a paper coupon along with them.
5. Online coupon codes
If you've shopped online, you've probably seen a box somewhere during the checkout process that asks if you have any discount codes. This is simply a short code, almost like a password, that gives you some sort of discount or benefit. There are several sites online that post known discount codes in a searchable format (www.retailmenot.com and www.naughtycodes.com are two).