When you’re in college, finding every way possible to save money can be annoying, but necessary. Some people open up savings accounts, buy cheaper items, or even get multiple jobs in order to start saving.
What you might not realize is that there is an easy way to save by shopping the places you already frequent. A penny saved is a penny earned, and if you do a lot of shopping, you can save a lot of pennies through these apps, cards and websites, no coupon clipping required.
Fry’s V.I.P Card
The upside: The V.I.P card lets you have discounted prices and deals in the store. Many other supermarkets have their own card equivalent, but if you shop the right way, Fry’s can be cheaper (and less of a hassle) than going to Walmart. The greatest thing is that you can use it to save on gas. For every $100 you spend you will get $0.10 off at Fry’s, Circle K, or Shell gas stations, up to $1 off. If there are two things we need to be cheap in college, it’s gas and food.
The downside: While this is a great rewards card, mega-savings only happen when you buy the items that are on sale. If you don’t want those items, you won’t be saving much. However, the more you shop, the more the store will send you coupons that cater to your shopping habits. This is another reason you need to use the card consistently.
Starbucks Rewards Card
The upside: Caffeine is the key to getting things done during the semester. With the card, you have the opportunity to reach three different levels: welcome, green and gold. Once you reach gold level, every 12 stars gets you a free food or drink purchase. On top of that (here’s the best part), you get free coffee and tea refills during the same visit.
The downside: If you’re not going to constantly drink at Starbucks, you might not need this one. To maintain gold level, you need to collect at least 30 stars within a year. If you don’t, all that work might have been for nothing. Also, the free reward you receive expires eventually, so you can’t pile them up. This is definitely for the dedicated Starbucks lover.
Target’s REDcard and Cartwheel
The upside: From school supplies to shampoo and everything in between, there is nothing you can’t buy from Target. You have two options: The Target debit or credit card. If you don’t want to deal with credit, opt for the debit card. The debit card works through your bank and works exactly like your normal debit card. REDcard members get free shipping online, 30 extra days to return items and five percent off every purchase, online and in-store. Also, Target has a mobile app called Cartwheel where you can choose coupons from any category for even more savings. All you have to do is scan your mobile barcode at the register!
The downside: It doesn’t take long to realize how small five percent actually is. In actuality you’ll only be saving a couple dollars each transaction unless you are purchasing a big item. Another disadvantage is how the card works with your bank account. The card is accepted automatically at the register, so the charge won’t show up on your actual bank account for a few days. If you don’t remember that you made a purchase at Target, you might spend money you don’t have.
The upside: This one is awesome for students (or those who still have a student email!). This is another one that is completely online, no card needed. UNiDAYS works with schools and retailers to bring students all around the world student discounts from a variety of retail stores online. All that is needed is a student email to verify that you can get the discounts and you’re all set. UNiDAYS works with big name brands like Urban Outfitters, Toms, ModCloth and tons more.
The downside: Honestly, there really isn’t a reason how this site can be a bad thing. It’s completely free and all it does is provide you with good deals. If anything, the private policy mentions that it will use your information to occasionally “to let you know about other products and services which we offer,” which sounds like you might get some unwanted emails at times. Other than that, your biggest problem might be that they don’t have coupons for a specific store that you like.
The upside: Not every savings membership is a physical card. Ebates is a free cash back website that offers you hundreds of coupons to over 1,800 of you favorite stores where you can save anywhere from 3 to 8 percent on purchases. Ebates says there are “no points to redeem, no forms to mail in, and no fees.” Four times a year, they share the commission they get from the stores and sends it back to members in the form a “Big Fat Check”!
The downside: Similar to the Target card, the percentage you can save is quite small. Though, they are still savings. Additionally, you don’t see your savings right away since they are sent quarterly in the form of a check. There is also a minimum balance required to receive your check. So if your balance is lower than $5, they will carry the money over until the next check. Is it easier to just shop through the actual stores?
The upside: Groupon caters to every demographic by offering tons of deals whether you want to try out a yoga membership for a month at a discounted price or take that dream vacation you’ve been waiting for. This place is the platform for offering you discounts on just about anything. You can save a lot of money from purchasing a Groupon you want to try out and they make purchasing easy online or with their app.
The downside: A lot of Groupon’s daily deals eventually run out. For most, using a Groupon for a certain place is a one-time thing. You tried out the yoga place, liked it, but the full-priced membership may be way too expensive for you to continue. Groupon’s deals don’t necessarily bring back repeat customers for the same deal, unless they are buying an item of some kind and not an event or a membership. Sometimes the deals are also very specific and have restrictions on them like “Limit 8 per person” or “New students only”.