Coupons & Loyalty Cards: Do They Really Save You Money?

Monday, April 28, 2014
When it comes to using coupons to save money, I’ve always been a bit of a skeptic. My mum always used to tell me – ‘if something sounds too good to be true, it usually is’. But, then I went to the movies with my current partner.


When she paid, it cost us twenty dollars. When I paid, it cost us thirty-six dollars. See, my partner is a member of a loyalty club. It doesn’t cost her any money – but she gets all her tickets for ten dollars. As you would expect, I decided to rethink my position on using coupons to save money.

After a bit of research, I’ve discovered a couple of interesting facts. Primarily; coupons are used to make you spend more money; not less. It may sound counter-intuitive but, in the past five years, American department stores Macy’s and JC Penney have both tried to do away with using coupons and discounts – and both have ended up suffering massive losses as a result. JC Penney actually fired their CEO over it.

See, psychologically, we actually enjoy using coupons to save money. If you give us a $10 item, we’re more likely to buy it if you tell us it was marked down from $50 – because we think we’re saving money. As a result, we tend to spend more when we’re using coupons. Companies like JC Penney rely on it.

So, is the idea of using coupons to save money a myth? Well, yes and no. I’d be silly to keep buying expensive movie tickets. But, what’s the difference? How do you avoid being exploited?

Well, my reasoning is ‘Would I buy that product if it wasn’t a bargain?’ For example, if I’ve already decided to go to the movies, I will spend money. If I don’t use a coupon, it will cost nearly twice as much. In that instance, it makes sense to use a coupon. Conversely, if I’ve been given a 2-for-1 coupon, I might like to think twice before I rush out and take advantage of the deal.

I might be getting a ticket for free. Or, I might be buying a movie ticket I might never have bought at all. Really, it just comes down to whether you really want to spend your money. If you do, use it. If you don’t, throw the coupon away.