Last Updated Apr 18, 2011 4:07 PM EDT
Meet SavingStar, a new coupon website that's launching this week. What's so special about this service versus sites like Coupons.com or SmartSource? In a nutshell, it eliminates most of the hassles (including the need to clip or print and then carry paper coupons) that I now associate with trying to save 50 cents on a package of paper towels.
Here's how it works: Every month SavingStar lists a host of coupons on its website for popular food items and other products you typically find at a supermarket or drug store. (The service will eventually offer weekly and daily specials too.) All you have to do to redeem these discounts is log onto the site, make sure your local stores participate in the national network and then register your grocery and pharmacy loyalty cards. (The good news is that you only have to do this once. The bad news is that Walmart and Target are not currently participating.)
Now we get to the part where SavingStar shines. Once you're registered with the site, all you have to do is look through the monthly coupons and click on the discounts you want. The offers are then transferred to all of your loyalty cards. You then go to a participating store, purchase the items you selected and the savings are automatically applied at the register. It's really that easy.
If you have a smartphone, the service is even more convenient. You can download an app for your iPhone or Android device and then peruse the list of coupons and click on the offers you want while you're in the supermarket. Again, the savings are applied at checkout.
There's one catch that some folks may not like. You don't initially see the discounts at the cash register. The money you save is first transferred to a SavingStar account and you then decide how you want to redeem the cash. Your options include having the money transferred directly into your own bank account, your PayPal account, issued as an Amazon egift card or given to the environmental charity American Forests.
I'll admit that this last part isn't ideal. I would rather just pay less for my groceries upfront. But I certainly don't consider this small inconvenience a deal killer. I'll still give the service a try and just opt to have the money deposited into my bank account. As far as I'm concerned, this digital experience is quite compelling and I'm curious to see if the site converts me into a regular coupon addict.
Do you struggle to use coupons?
Stacey Bradford is the author of The Wall Street Journal Financial Guidebook for New Parents.
Groceries in Transit image courtesy of Flickr, CC 2.0.
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