Shoptimist: Savings site puts money back in your bank account
By Rebecca Holland
Couponing can get confusing. Each store has a different policy when it comes to using paper and digital coupons. Most stores don’t let shoppers combine their digital coupons with paper coupons on a single product, but there’s a trick to get around that rule. SavingStar (www.savingstar.com) is a digital coupon service that can literally put money back in your bank account, and it won’t affect how you choose to use other coupons on a shopping trip.
How it works:
SavingStar was launched in 2011 and has since grown to almost 5 million members. Users create an account and register grocery or drugstore loyalty cards with the site. Locally, Kroger, Food Lion and CVS cards can be registered.
Once your cards are uploaded, you can scroll through the digital coupons on the site or app (available for iPhone and Android). If you see something useful, click “I Want This!” and the coupon will be uploaded to all registered cards.
When you go shopping, these coupons won’t be deducted from your bill. Instead, the site will recognize when purchases are made and transfer the value of the coupon(s) into an account on the website. Depending on where you shop, the savings will be transferred between two and 22 days. Once you’ve saved at least $5 the money can be transferred directly into a bank account or PayPal account, or can be added to an Amazon gift card.
Types of coupons
A few different kinds of coupons are available on the site. Some are basic coupons offering cents or dollars off a particular product. Other coupons offer dollars off a minimum purchase of a particular brand. For example, currently you can save $5 when you spend $20 on Dole products.
Some coupons can only be used once and some can be used multiple times — the rules are noted in the description when you upload coupons. New coupons are generally added on Thursdays but new savings can pop up at any time.
The site recently introduced the Healthy Offer of the Week and Friday Freebies. The Healthy Offer is released every Tuesday and features savings on fruits and vegetables. This week you can save 20 percent on bananas. Each Friday a new product is introduced for Friday Freebies. If you upload this coupon you’ll get 100 percent back upon purchasing the product. Some previous Friday Freebies have included Barilla pasta, Starkist tuna, Bush’s Baked Beans and Arm & Hammer Baking Soda. This week’s offer is for Jiffy Corn Muffin Mix.
SavingStar also features a Cashback Mall. When you shop online at participating retailers, such as Lands’ End, Groupon or Macy’s, you can earn a percentage back from select purchases. This money goes into the same account as your coupon savings. Earn your money back by accessing the retailer’s site through SavingStar and clicking the “Shop Now” link or by using one of the coupon codes provided by SavingStar. The percentages vary by retailer.
I’ve used this site with success. A wide variety of product coupons are available and they change often, so it’s important to keep checking back. One of SavingStar’s best attributes is that it won’t interfere with coupon usage in the grocery store or drugstore. If you have a SavingStar coupon and a Kroger or Food Lion digital coupon for the same product uploaded to your store loyalty card, your SavingStar account will be credited and you’ll get the grocer’s digital coupon savings at the register.
You can also use old-fashioned paper coupons and still get credit for SavingStar coupons. With the app and the option to email or print your uploaded coupon list, it’s easy to keep track of your savings, too.
Have you tried SavingStar? If so, share you experience in the comments.