I love a deal. Probably way more than the average person. Nowadays, technology plays such a big part in the way we shop, so I thought I’d share some of my tricks, because who doesn’t love free money?? I dedicate this post to my friend, Jeff, who holds court as King of The Deals. He has introduced me to most of these ways to save.
Disclaimer: It is NOT a deal if you buy things you don’t need. I 100% approve of stocking up on things when they are cheap (96 rolls of toilet paper from Amazon Prime Day, I am looking at you), but don’t buy perishables unless you are sure you’ll use them up without waste.
American Express offers: Check this regularly! Luckily, the King of Deals sends me a note when good offers pop up. Sometimes Petco pops up, sometimes Whole Foods. Tip: if the offer for groceries is more than you’d spend in 1 transaction, you can always purchase a store giftcard to hit the threshold. Check the fine print for the offer, but that has generally been the case. That way, you don’t spend $$$ on things you wouldn’t ordinarily buy, just to hit a threshold for a deal.
Ebates: Maximize your deals by using click through offers! Just search the Ebates website for a retailer you plan to shop at, and click through that link to access the retailer. That will automatically get you cash back. It doesn’t get much easier than that.
Here is an example of really maximizing a deal: Click through Ebates to get 4% cash back when shopping on Petco.com. Use your American Express card with the linked offer for $15 statement credit on a $50 purchase. That brings your $50 purchase down to $33.60. Sign up for Petco Pals and get $5 reward for every $100 you spend over time. They also send you coupons for your pet’s birthday, along with various other coupons throughout the year. Watch the savings pile up!
Mr. Rebates: Same as Ebates, but sometimes offers a better % cash back. For example, Petco is 5% cash back right now. I check both before placing an order.
Ibotta: You’ll need to do a little work to earn cash here. This app offers digital coupons and offers in the form of cash back. You must search through the database of offers to find those relevant to you. Or, you could scan the UPC code for each purchase and see if there is an offer. That would take forever, though! After using the app for a few months, I have a handle on what types of products are offered and what are not. Not only do they offer cash back on groceries, they offer it on Uber ($1 per ride, plus $5 after you complete 3 rides right now), Groupon, and even some categories on Amazon. Once you sign up, you’ll get a $10 welcome bonus, too! I started in February and have already earned $118 cash back.
TIP: Search the word ‘any’ and see what deals are offered at any store, or on any brand. For example, any avocados, any bananas, any snack bar. There are also ‘any receipt’ offers that you can add to your account. They are usually 25 cents for scanning the receipt from any grocery store with any products listed. You can also use Ibotta for online shopping at selected retailers, like Jet.com and Boxed.com, which often have $15 off $50 or $25 off $75 deals through American Express Offers.
Drop: This new app allows you to choose 5 retailers from a short list to earn points at. It tries to get fancy by using points rather than dollars. So, you have to do a little math here, but it’s worth it. You link your credit card to the app, carefully choose your 5 stores since you cannot change them, and voila, points accrue passively! Since your credit cards are linked, it automatically records purchases at those 5 stores, and records points. I chose Uber, Lyft, Target, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods. The points range from 10-15 points per dollar, which is 1-1.5%. Not much, but it will add up to get you a giftcard at places like Amazon, Starbucks, etc. When you sign up, there’s a wait list which makes it sound so exclusive, but it only took a week to get ‘approved’. They also offer periodic one-time offers that will get you more points, like ‘spend $35 at Whole Foods, get 1000 points’, or spend any amount at Lululemon, get 2500 points’. Another kind of odd feature is a game that allows you to accrue points. I guess if you have some time to kill, you can squeeze in a quick game and earn pennies…
Tip: Maximize your money by using the Ibotta app to access Uber, and use the credit card linked to your Drop account to pay. You’ll get the $1 Uber credit in Ibotta, get closer to the $5 Uber credit through Ibotta, and then get .015 cents back per dollar spent on the ride. Let’s do the math. Say you take 3 rides that cost $10 each. You pay $30 upfront, and get $8.45 back through the apps. Not bad! After having the app for a month and a half, I have earned over $30 in Amazon giftcards just by grocery shopping, Ubering, adding the one-time offers, and playing that silly game.
Honey: This extension searches for the best deals on the internet. So, when you are about to check out through an online retailer, this will check for any available coupon codes and automatically test them for you. So much easier than copying, pasting, testing, and failing with codes you find floating around on the internet. Who has time for that??
MyPoints: They send out emails with a link at the bottom that says ‘click through and earn 5 points’, and if you have more time, you can complete surveys in exchange for more points. Those points go toward your balance that can be cashed out for gift cards. It takes much longer to accumulate points here, but when I had a boring desk job I was able to get a lot of surveys done 😉
Hotels.com: I travel for work and have found Hotels.com to be the best system for rewards. Not every place I go to has a hotel within the same rewards family, so it didn’t make sense to join a loyalty program with a specific hotel. Hotels.com has a better program where you get a free night after staying 10. The value of the free night is the $ average of the previous 10 stays. It is available on virtually every hotel, which really opens up possibilities rather than being constrained to one hotel chain. We were able to use my rewards for a nice hotel in Myanmar, so when I say they list hotels anywhere, I really mean anywhere! The link gets you $50 off your first booking of $200 or more, too!
TIP: Use Ebates or Mr. Rebates to get cash back on the hotel purchase. Ibotta offers a cash back option, too, so check them all out and decide which is the best since rates vary.
Discover: If you have a Discover credit card, keep track of the 5% cashback bonus on rotating categories. It may be too much effort for some, but spending on the credit card with the best % cash back on a particular category adds up.
Target Cartwheel: Check the app for coupons. You must add the offer to your account, then scan your Cartwheel barcode at the register. You can also scan a UPC code to see if there’s an offer available on that type of product. For example, last week they had 50% off La Colombe canned coffee, compounded with $1 off through Ibotta, which equaled 39 cents for a coffee that is usually $2.79. Factor in the Drop app, and you’re getting 1% cash back on top of that.
Whole Foods: Their app has digital coupons, and sometimes the sale items couple with the coupons to get you an even better deal! You probably already know this, but if it is ‘3 for $6’, you don’t need to buy 3 to get the sale price. I double checked when strawberries were on super sale with a coupon, because 3 tubs of strawberries is a bit much, even for smoothie season. It’s not a deal if you let food go to waste. You can also pair up the Whole Foods sales/coupons with Ibotta deals. Plus, you’ll get cash back through Drop when you pay with your linked credit cards. 10 points per dollar, or 1% cash back.
Belly: This app manages the rewards programs for participating restaurants. Scan the QR code at the register to get points. I frequent South Block, an overpriced but delicious smoothie and acai bowl spot, and the rewards really make a difference here. They also periodically send coupons for $2 or $3 off on top of the rewards system.
FuelRewards: Get 5 cents off every gallon of Shell gas. Sometimes the discount goes up, but you always get 5 cents off. Right now, mine is at 15 cents a gallon. Use your phone # at the pump to collect your discount.
What deal sites or tricks do you have? I’d love to know!