In 2022, 91% of Americans used at least one coupon, and some 177.9 million people redeemed digital coupons. Meanwhile 99.5% of all coupons issued last year expired unused.
According to a survey by Deloitte, 72% of consumers expect higher prices this year, and they’re compensating by planning for fewer gifts and cutting back on non-gift holiday spending.
The same survey estimates about 66% of consumers plan to take advantage of promotional days and Black Friday sales, but with elevated prices seemingly here to stay, shoppers can use all the savings help they can get.
According to CapitalOne, Americans are on the hunt for a bargain this holiday season, and using coupons plays into that mindset.
To help combat rising costs, many consumers are turning to their smartphones. While no solid numbers for coupon apps in use are available, according to Statista, nearly 60% of American consumers used online coupons in 2023. With numerous coupon apps available for download, saving money through couponing is easier than ever.
Time is money, so why not save some of both? I tried five coupon apps that can help savvy shoppers save money on food and retail purchases, how they work, and the three I’m keeping.
GoCashBack.com offers cash back on purchases from an extensive list of retailers. I spotted favorites like eBay, Yeti, and Sephora and various options from high-end (Harrod’s US, Saks Fifth Avenue) to big-box (Walmart, Costco).
Shopping through the GoCashBack app is easy. I selected a retailer from their list and was taken to the landing page for the retailer to shop normally. The app explains that my cash back will appear in my GoCashBack account within 2-7 days.
Users can request a cash back payment through PayPal, check, gift card, or HeliPay once they have earned at least $10 in available cash back. However, buried in the fine print, I found that cash back can take 120 days or more to move from “pending” to “available.” Because of this, I’m deleting the app.
Discount apps tied to a specific retailer or brand can be useless for shoppers with limited store options in their area. Checkout 51’s deals, on the other hand, can be redeemed at any store, though they do have certain shop-specific grocery offers.
Available deals are listed on the app, which are limited and are renewed each Thursday. Shoppers can add the deals they want to shop for, head to the store, and upload a picture of their receipt to the app for cash back. Cash back is also available at certain gas stations and on purchases through apps like Uber Eats and Postmates.
This app is easy to use, but the mid-week deals are lackluster. There were fewer than five items each in the major categories I shop for, such as meats, frozen items, and dairy. I also noticed that all the cash back deals were for name-brand items that already cost more than their generic equivalent. For that reason, I’m not keeping the app.
To receive rewards, shoppers must scroll through the offers on the app and add the ones they plan to purchase. Ibotta had many more available offers than Checkout 51, and it also had a small number of “any item” offers available, which will work for any brand of the item in question, including generics.
Shoppers can redeem their offers by scanning a receipt after purchase, but I loved that you can also link store loyalty accounts so that cash back is delivered automatically.
To withdraw your cashback rewards to your bank or PayPal account, you must reach a minimum of $20. You may also exchange your cash back for gift cards.
The many available offers and the convenience of linking a store card for automatic rebates made Ibotta my favorite rebate app, and it’s one I’ll keep.
The Target Circle app is store-specific, so I checked it out to determine whether or not it was worth the real estate on my phone.
If you’re a Target shopper, having this app is a no-brainer. While you can use it for online shopping and placing pickup orders, the app also houses Target’s coupon and discount offers. Unlike many other coupon apps I explored, this app gives a direct discount at the register rather than cash back later.
The app’s search bar made it easy to find discounts on products I purchased. It even has a scanner option to check for deals on each item before placing it in my cart. I’ll definitely keep this coupon app.
When I opened the ShopKick app, the first thing that caught my eye was the variety of ways to earn “kicks” — this app’s rewards points.
ShopKick awards kicks for walk-ins — yes, just entering the store — and scanning the barcode of items in the store, even if you’re not purchasing them. Kicks can also be earned by buying certain items and uploading the receipt or by linking the store’s loyalty card.
I found the kicks system less straightforward than other apps’ cashback earnings systems. It took a little digging to find that 250 kicks equal $1. The lowest payouts start at 500 kicks ($2), and the payout must be in the form of certain gift cards.
While I find this app’s rewards points system a bit confusing, and I’d prefer to be paid out in cash through PayPal or a bank account, I appreciate that making a purchase isn’t the only way to earn rewards in this app, so I’ll keep it.
As inflation continues to squeeze wallets everywhere, saving a few dollars here and there can add up. While some cashback apps are too time-consuming for a relatively small payout or keep your cash in limbo for months on end, others can be a valuable addition to your savings arsenal.