Mobile shopping apps bring couponing into digital age

I rarely see coupons for commodities such as milk and fresh produce. Whenever I have, they’re usually printed on the back of a cash register receipt, thanks to tracking of my purchases through a loyalty program.

Now, discounts on these items, as well as other grocery, health and beauty items, are available without the benefit of a sale or a traditional coupon, thanks to mobile shopping apps.

There is even an app that backs up a store’s paper coupons. That’s good for folks like me who’ll forget the Bed Bath & Beyond coupon on the very day I make a special trip to shop there.

Today, I take a look at Checkout 51, Ibotta and SnipSnap, which are all free and available on iOS and Android systems.


— SnipSnap works with store coupons only; no manufacturer coupons. Grocery stores are excluded.

— Its use involves taking photos of the coupons through the app’s snap button. The app reads the barcode and creates a digital version, which can be presented for redemption at the register.

— Alerts are sent when entering a store in which you have a coupon.

— Alerts are sent when coupons are about to expire.

— Unless restricted, coupons can be shared with other users.

The rundown: Useful if you either don’t like handling coupons in-hand or are forgetful. The reminder alert is super practical. The sharing feature is a time-saver; just piggyback your friends’ coupons. Beware that you easily could end up with more digital coupons than those annoying paper ones that stack up. This app needs to start including manufacturer coupons.