Originally Published: February 28, 2012 10 p.m.
Last week, we reviewed manufacturer and store coupons. This week, I will answer more frequently asked questions from coupon beginners.
These readers want to know where to find coupons online without frustration, registration or spam.
I am trying to find coupons online, but it's so frustrating! When I go to the website, I am re-directed to another site, and then another and I never get the coupons I want. I spend hours trying to acquire coupons online, but I usually come away with none, even after I sign up or complete a questionnaire. Please tell me what I am doing wrong. What can I do to get coupons?-Cynthia T.
My question for you is where do I find all of these wonderful coupons on the Internet? I have gone to dozens of websites in search of great deals, but all I end up with are 200 spam emails a day. Can you please point me in the right direction?
Dear Cynthia and Susan,
When you look for coupons online, the worst thing to do is type the word "coupon" into a search engine. It's a common mistake, but one that adds unnecessary stress to coupon shopping. As both of you found, a search engine will turn up thousands of sites offering free coupons. Unfortunately, most of these sites are spam traps designed to get your email address and personal information. You never get the coupons, but guess what you do get? Lots of spam in your inbox. Each form you fill out adds your name to another email list. Once this happens, it's tough to stop the spam.
Again - it's worth repeating - do not open a search engine, type "coupons" and hope that you end up on a reputable site. When you search for coupons, stick to sites that you know are legitimate. I print most of my coupons from one of four major websites. Click on the coupons you want and hit print. That's it!
My four favorite websites for printable coupons:
Coupons.com claims to be the largest printable coupon site on the web. Many major manufacturers offer coupons here, and they typically add new ones to the site on Thursdays and Sundays.
SmartSource and RedPlum are the names on two of the coupon inserts that come in many newspapers every week. Their websites, SmartSource.com and RedPlum.com, offer different coupons from the ones in the inserts, so it's worth checking out for additional printable offers.
CouponNetwork.com is Catalina Marketing's source for online coupons, with constantly updated offers from big-name food brands.
I like these four sites because they are free to use and none of them require users to register. Some of them will ask that you install a plug-in to track how many times you print a coupon and to generate the coupon's barcode. But you won't need to install a browser toolbar or submit your email address to print out coupons.
These aren't the only websites for printable coupons. Many stores and manufacturers also offer printable coupons on their websites. But I've found that several big-name brands (such as Pillsbury, Kellogg's and Betty Crocker) do require registration to print out their coupons. If you still want their coupons, I'd recommend setting up a second email account solely for these registrations. That way any newsletters or updates that the companies wish to send you post-registration will go to your coupon-only inbox.
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.