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Can Your Smartphone Really Make you a Smarter Couponer?

There are plenty of smartphone apps available that promise to make using coupons for your shopping faster and easier. But do they really live up to that promise? Using my Iphone 4 in my home town of Omaha, NE, I set out to find out just that.

Here is the skinny on the different types of coupon apps I found:

Location Based Couponing Services

  • The idea: These offer you coupons based on where you are physically located. Examples are: www.yowza.com , www.GeoQpons.com, and www.thecouponsapp.com.
  • The verdict: Taking into account I don’t live in the biggest city in the country, I was sorely unimpressed by the offerings on these apps. They offered one or two discounts for places that were totally obscure and basically useless to me. It’s not so often I will be walking around, look at my phone and randomly decide that buying a guitar sounds like a good way to spend the afternoon. Maybe in a bigger city or as they become more popular, I’ll try again. Right now, it’s not worth my time or space on my phone.

Store Loyalty Cards Apps

  • The idea: Stores have had rewards cards for ages. Now they are moving them into a new direction. You can now use a website or a phone app (Like Kroger’s new app) to load your card with coupons which are applied automatically when you hand over the card at checkout. In some cases, you don’t even have to carry the actual card; you can present your phone to the cashier instead. Some stores, like Target, don’t have a physical card at all but will text scannable store coupons to your phone for you.
  • The verdict: While these have their issues (like only being able to use them once as opposed to being able to print two copies), they are certainly handy. I might find myself without my coupon binder once in a while; but being caught without my phone is reason for panic! So I will always have that mobile coupon with me when I need it. As far as loading coupons onto my physical card, I imagine I will still be more likely to do it via a pc and website just because it’s faster. But it’s good to have the option to do it on the phone if I forget until the last minute on the way to the grocery store.

Printable Coupon Lists

  • The idea: Generally these are just phone app versions of existing websites that list printable coupons such as afullcup.com, couponclipper.com and ladysavings.com.
  • The verdict: I love to print coupons as much as the next person, but even I, a self-proclaimed phone geek, don’t have my phone set up to print right now. Yes, there are wireless printers that phones can print directly to, but unfortunately they are a little pricey (starting at about $99 for a Canon 5320), so for me it is not worth the cost right now. If I did not have readily available access to a printer from my pc, I would absolutely be purchasing a wireless printer to print coupons from my phone. But for now, while I occasionally browse these apps when bored, when I get home, I find I rarely use them.

Coupon Databases

  • The idea: I was most excited for these physical coupon trackers like www.ladysavings.com and www.couponmate.com. These are either a database of all the known coupons available, your own personal collection, or both. So if you are looking for Crest coupons, you can search Crest and it will either tell you that there were coupons available in last month’s SS or you have two in your personal collection.
  • The verdict: When I started couponing, my plan was not to clip coupons but to keep the inserts intact and use an app like this to see where to go when I needed a coupon. Unfortunately, I was let down again. I could not find one app that did both your personal collection and known coupons. This meant looking in two places for each coupon I needed. Nope, sorry, not going to happen. I also found, at least in my area, the values of so many of my coupons were different than what was listed in the general coupon database, so I still had to go find my physical coupon to see what I had. My next thought was to go ahead and clip coupons but enter them all into my personal database so I could easily know what I have. Great plan! But I barely have the time to cut them all out, let alone manually enter each one into a database. I would LOVE to see someone design an app that uses the built in camera scanner to check coupons in and out of a database. I think I would really use and love that one… but sadly… I can’t find anything like that yet.

The Final Verdict: Non-Coupon specific apps proved the most useful.

What I do use is a great syncing program that syncs files to both my work and home pc. With it I can create a spreadsheet of my planned purchases on a full keyboard when it’s convenient to me.  It then becomes available on my phone when I get to the store. (I use www.sugarsync.com.) I also use the web browser to check my favorite couponing website (such as www.krazycouponlady.com, of course!) to see their suggested matchups and good buys while I am in the stores.

I keep searching and as quickly as mobile apps are changing, I’m sure someone will invent a really great couponing app someday. But for now, with the exception of store loyalty card apps, I shall keep couponing the old fashioned way–with a big old beautiful pink binder!

This has been a guest post by Sarah from Omaha, NE
Find out more about the KCL Contributor Network!

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15 thoughts on “Can Your Smartphone Really Make you a Smarter Couponer?”

  1. Nikki Gibson says:

    I highly recommend the Grocery Tracker. about 9 months ago? before they added all the couponing stuff to it I had emailed the developer and told them my thoughts on it. they actually listened!! they told me that there were a couple of other couponers and asked for any and all suggestions. and guess what now they have a coupon database where you can enter in your coupons. i’m sure there are easier ways of accomplishing this so if anyone has ideas tell these guys! it would be nice if they put some kind of help/manual up because some of the stuff is a little confusing but I think once you get the hang of it it will be a piece of cake! I stopped couponing for about 6 months and I am starting over fresh with my coupon binder so this should be a nice addition.

    Definitely has the potential to be a couponers best friend and the fact that the developer actually listens to its users.. even better!

  2. l l says:

    We got a printer on black friday was about 50 dollars and it lets you print wirelessly and from your phone. However, most coupons require you download something to get the coupon. So I find the feature a bit useless right now.

  3. Lisa Wood says:

    So just picked up the wireless Eprint from bestbuy for 49bucks on blackfriday and love it for my computers but as far as printing from your phone? I have an android phone and had my husband set it up for me. Your computer has to have an email that you send the things to it to print. Well I sent a coupon to be printed and my printer gave me a peice of paper saying i sent a computer to be printed instead of the coupon itself >.<. So if anyone knows how to make this work please let me know!

  4. Just had to share a great deal I got on my Iphone 4S!!!!!!
    If anyone is moving & has AT&T be sure to when you move your service you go online and sign up for your AT&T rewards card you can get for bundling your services at your new address. We got 100.00 visa rewards card & it was time for an upgrade so we used that plus $220.00 from sale of my bberry torch which ended up with us making about $50.00 in the end on getting my Iphone 4S :) So excited about my saving on this one :) I would have never thought about even trying to find a deal like this before learning about this site and educating myself .
    It’s amazing the deals you can find by actually trying to!

  5. Stephanie Petersen says:

    Interesting article! Also loved it because I’m an Omaha-native myself.

    I recently started couponing and have been refining my organization strategy. I keep an Excel workbook with various tabs – one for restaurants, printed/clipped coupons, planned trips, and some history on deals. There is one tab where I copy/paste in each week’s insert list (instead of clipping all of them). If I clip it, it turns up in my “printed coupons” tab and goes into a special holder.

    It’s a work in progress.. but I’m interested in the “building the best couponing app” idea! I’m going to school for IT innovation and am building a couple mobile apps before I graduate in May.

    Maybe a couponing one could come next?? It’d be great to get some discussion going around what would be most useful! A management style app would be very doable.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone have any great apps they like? I’ve tried Grocery IQ, Bakodo, Target, Smart Aisles, ShopSavvy, Red Laser and Google Shopper. None of them really seem to do anything useful or reliable.
    1. I would love an app that would scan a barcode and tell you the cheapest place to buy it in your area that includes all the major stores not just Walmart & Target.
    2. I want an app that lets you scan a bar code and it tells you what coupons are available for that product or a similar product.
    Any ideas?

  7. Jaclyn Stephens says:

    I just got a smart phone and I do not have a wireless printer as well. I was wondering if I can print 2 coupons from my home computer and 2 coupons from my smart phone? If so, I will be kicking myself for not trying to get a wireless printer at WalMart on black friday.

    • Anonymous says:

      I am already kicking myself for not getting that printer. We got the 19 dollar one, but why didnt I think about the wireless one for printing extra with the phone??!! Ugh, SOOO mad at myself

  8. I used My pantry 2, I think it cost .99 cents. It keeps track of what I have in stock and when things expire. Also shopping lists.

  9. Lynne Higbee says:

    I’ve been on the elusive quest for an app to organize my coupons, too, and so far, in three years, haven’t found anything that really meets my needs. But…

    Just found an app this afternoon for my iPhone, called Prep & Pantry, that will allow me to scan the UPC barcode of items in my pantry and list what I have, what I want, make a shopping list, as well as scan an item when I use it and have it deleted from my tally. I was looking at it for keeping track of pantry inventory, but I’m wondering if it might be tasked to use as a coupon tracker as well – it will scan the barcode and look up in an online database, but you can also just scan the barcode and tell the app what it is, so it wouldn’t necessarily have to be a food item that you scan. PLUS it tracks expiration dates and you can sort by expiration date, or list item, or tag topic, etc. There is a free Lite version available in the App Store – I’m testing it for my pantry stuff, but I’ll try some coupons, too, and see if it might work.

    • Anonymous says:

      Interesting…keep us posted, please.

    • Nicole Crutchfield says:

      There is a similar app available on the Andriod market. It is called Grocery Tracker and it allow the ability to scan your pantry. It also has the potion to enter the last price you paid and the date for your items.