PC Pointcast

Home / News / Contact

Get the News

Digital Couponing, A Modern Way to Save Money on a Century-Old Tradition

by Sasha Estrella-Jones
July 2022

This article will teach you how to save and stretch your money by looking at three different methods of digital couponing, via apps for Target, Shopkicks and Ibotta.

During a time when so many of us feel uncertain and anxious about the future of the United States, oftentimes drained by the constant feed of depressing news, there is one thing that will always remain true: the desire to save money! With the price of everything going up, except your salary, if you haven’t jumped on the digital couponing bandwagon, now is the time.

Couponing in the U.S. has been around for over 130 years! In the late 1880’s, Coca-Cola was not yet the household name it is today; but rather simply an idea by Atlanta based pharmacist, Dr. John S. Pemberton. As Dr. Pemberton sought out investors to finance his company, he crossed paths with Atlanta businessman Asa Candler.

In 1887, Candler suggested giving away coupons for a free glass of Coca-Cola as a means to boost interest in the product, and subsequently increase sales. While many of his time thought the idea of giving away a product for free was foolish, it turns out Candler’s move was financially lucrative, as the coupon helped introduce Coca-Cola to millions, many of whom became loyal customers. While Asa Candler is given credit for creating the first coupon ever, couponing has evolved a long way, since its beginning in the 19th century.

The inventions of both the computer and cellphone allowed for couponing to move out of magazines, newspapers and supermarket circulars and onto screens. Digital couponing has changed the game by allowing couponing to be more convenient and arguably more accessible to a larger audience.


In 2010, Target became the first national retailer to make coupons directly available on customers’ phones. Though, public knowledge for over a decade, so many loyal Target shoppers are still not taking advantage of this couponing opportunity. If you shop at Target and are not using the Target app, do not make one more purchase in-store or online without downloading and using the app.

Once you download the app, you have to sign up to be a Target Circle member to start digital couponing. If the app is not available to you, you can also do this via your web browser. Once you are a Target Circle member, you automatically earn 1% savings every time you shop at Target, no strings attached.

‘In-stores it’ means using your unique barcode the app generates for you at checkout and ‘online it’ means making sure you’re signed in and checkout through your account.

Where the real money saving is at are the weekly Target Circle Offers. In the Target Circle Offers section you can see both manufacturer coupons and special Target only discounts for products and brands. If you rather not search through the entire list, which can be time consuming, you can also search for a specific product and Target will let you know if there are any coupons that work for said item.

Your only task is clicking “+ Save Offer” to ensure the coupon, whether via the manufacturer or Target, gets attached to your account, so you can use it. Think of it as clipping or cutting out coupons, but instead of using a scissor you just tap a button.

The savings really add up, especially if a product is eligible for both a coupon or promotional sale and is included in that week's special Target Circle Offers. The app calculates your year to date savings for you, breaking your savings up into 3 categories: Promotions (sale and coupons), Target Circle Offers and Target Circle Earnings. This year alone, I have saved a total of $137.85 and counting, with $86.68 worth of savings coming from couponing!

Though not couponing, another great way to save money at Target is through their price match policy. Somewhat of a hidden secret, Target will price match with over 25 of its competitors which includes Walmart, Amazon, Walgreens and CVS. What is great about Target’s price matching policy is that it is valid for up to 14 days after you have made a purchase. If you buy toilet paper from Target on a Monday, but come Friday the same exact brand is now on sale for cheaper at Walgreens all you need to do is show the Walgreens advertisement to Target and they’ll refund your money!

What I do before every Target run is search up what I am buying at Target’s competitors and see who has it for cheapest. That enables me to price match directly at Target the first time I make a purchase, versus having to come back to Target after seeing an item for less somewhere else.

Sometimes Target staff are not aware of the company’s price matching policy, but do not be discouraged. If in-store you are being refused the ability to price match an item, but are eligible based on the policy, go ahead and call Target Guest Services directly . Target Guest Services will usually issue you an electronic gift card that is the equivalent of what your price match difference should have been.

Shopkicks and Ibotta

Being a Target Circle member is not the only way to save money via digital couponing. In fact, there are dozens of couponing apps, so many that one may easily feel overwhelmed and be unsure about where to start. If you are new to the world of couponing or are just getting your feet wet couponing digitally, Shopkick and Ibotta are two great apps to begin with. Newbie couponer, Hadeel Mishal, started couponing in November of 2021 and has since saved over $200 using both apps! Mishal explained that the apps work differently and some may have a preference for one form of cashout over another, though she likes to use them both to maximize her savings.

On Shopkick you can start making money just by walking into a store, yes you read that correctly. The way it works is that once you download the Shopkick app, you earn “kicks” by scanning items in store, uploading your receipts after you shop and walking into specific stores. The app uses your location to let you know what “kicks” are available by you. You then select the retailer you’d like to receive a gift card from i.e. Starbucks, Home Depot, Target, Marshalls and Ulta Beauty (just to name a few).

After you’ve attained a specified number of “kicks”, you can cash out those kicks for an electronic gift card from your chosen retailer. Since the beginning of Mishal’s couponing journey, she has earned over 15,500 kicks, allowing her to cashout on $50 worth of electronic gift cards. She has also used the app to submit receipts for special rebate offers that have allowed her to try and get items for free!

If getting free gift cards does not entice you, getting money directly deposited into your bank account might spark your interest. If so, then Ibotta is the app for you. Ibotta works differently than Shopkicks, because instead of earning points you earn cash. Ibotta lets you submit your receipts from a specific retailer, i.e. Whole Foods and Walgreens, which show proof of purchase for specific items for which Ibotta will give you credit.

With each receipt you submit, you accumulate cash earnings. The caveat is that you cannot cash out your money, which has to be attached to a PayPal account, until you have reached $20. While the delayed gratification may be a turn off for some, Mishal likes to think of it as having little “pockets of savings” that she can use when she needs some extra cash.

In under 8 months, Mishal has earned a whopping $165.61 in cash through couponing with Ibotta! Her advice to beginning couponers is to start small and pick 1 to 2 apps that you know you’ll use, so you can gain your footing in the digital couponing world. There are also digital couponing communities and influencers who you can find and follow on TikTik and Instagram, which was how Mishal first began to learn about this new era of digital couponing.

Couponing has come a long way in its 135 year history. If you have yet to explore the world of digital couponing, let it be the universal sign to start. Couponing, for many, has become a way of life enabling folks to stretch their paychecks to the max. And while no, we should not have to depend on couponing to make ends meet, and yes, we should all have livable wages, while we fight for and create that world, let's save money in the meantime!

Your working and middle class dollars deserve to stay in your pockets and couponing is one way to make that happen. Happy savings!

If this article has helped you learn about new ways to coupon or inspired you to start your couponing journey, please let us here at Pointcast know. We would love to hear your feedback.