Saving Money with Groupon
At Travel on Point(s), we are all about saving money on top of earning points and miles. I have written about several apps and sites that earn you cash back like DOSH or Ibotta, and apps that earn you points that you can turn into gift cards like Fetch. Another app and website that can help you save money is Groupon. I use Groupon to save money on travel, dining out and activities. Groupon also stacks with several portals to help you save even more!
What is Groupon
Groupon is an American e-commerce marketplace connecting subscribers with local merchants by offering activities, travel, goods, and services in 15 countries. Based in Chicago, Groupon was launched there in November 2008, launching soon after in Boston, New York City and Toronto. By October 2010, Groupon was available in 150 cities in North America and 100 cities in Europe, Asia and South America, and had 35 million registered users. By the end of March 2015, Groupon served more than 500 cities worldwide, nearly 48.1 million active customers and featured more than 425,000 active deals globally in 48 countries. In layman's terms, it is a discount buying site.
Groupon is also available through many shopping portals. A shopping portal is simply a site you click through to get to your desired site, earning you extra points, miles, or cash back. Clicking through a shopping portal first such as Rakuten can save you additional money. I always recommend checking the website cashback monitor to compare the payouts from various portals and to decide which portal you would prefer. Keep in mind, Rakuten has an easy to use app that is great for on the go shopping to link to Groupon for stacks.
How to Use Groupon
Sign up for an account and begin shopping for activities or discounts. Groupon deals will vary by what is available in your location, although it can be used while you are traveling as well. Personally, I use Groupon the most for airport parking and dining out.
Types of Groupon Deals
Groupon offers has several different types of deals. While it may take you some time to get used to it, it is important you know the difference and what credit card to use.
Typically, you are simply purchasing a certificate that you will present at the business participating in the deal. Many of these deals can also be redeemed via mobile device, so check the terms and conditions. Groupon does a good job of outlining the terms and conditions for each deal. I will show you below how I have been able to go outside the box on some of those.
For these general certificate Groupon deal offers, I recommend using your best everyday spend earning card. I use my Chase Freedom Unlimited as it earns 1.5 Ultimate Rewards per dollar. Using my American Express Blue Business Preferred would earn 2x on Membership Rewards. Then, if I am presenting a certificate at a restaurant, I can use my best dining card for the remainder of the bill.
There are also deals known as Groupon + deals which are cash back deals when you use your card at certain restaurants with your linked card. Since these deals are for dining, you simply enroll in the deal and use your best dining card. I have my Chase Sapphire Reserve linked, which earns me 3 Ultimate Rewards per dollar. Using your American Express Gold card would be another good option, earning 4 Membership Rewards per dollar.
I recently used this Groupon + deal in Las Vegas to save some cash. Groupon credits your credit card similar to an American Express offer might. That means I earn points for the total purchase and then get credited back the 25%, in this case that was $18.96 back on my bill which was $75.86. If I return and use the deal again, I will earn 10% cash back on the second use. Each offer has different terms but 10% on subsequent visits seems to be consistent in the deals I have used.
Finally, Groupon does offer some travel deals. This is similar to booking through a third party sites such as Expedia or Travelzoo where you can book hotels or travel packages. I personally have not purchased any of these deals, as I prefer to book direct to take advantages of hotel loyalty benefits. In addition, as we have seen during 2020, booking direct helps get refund in case of travel issues or restrictions.
These may be some unknown things about Groupon to help you maximize offers and deals. First, you can self refer with Groupon and create multiple accounts. Keep in mind, there is always a risk in doing this, but I have not had anything clawed back yet, but tread lightly none the less. This not only earns you Groupon Bucks for each referral, it sets you up to maximize deals, since some deals have a maximum amount.
My favorite airport parking only allows two deals to be purchased per account. Therefore, since I have multiple accounts (as I mentioned above), I will purchase deals with each account I have. Another little known fact is that some businesses will accept a Groupon at any location, regardless of which location's deal you purchased. For example, I can purchase airport parking with Masterpark for Lot A, but use it at Lot B. I stumbled upon this when Lot A was full once, and so I asked about it at Lot B. I verified this still works last week by calling and making up a story about purchasing a Groupon for the wrong lot. This means I can buy two per account for each lot with a Groupon deal available.
Enrolling Chase cards
You can enroll a Chase card to earn Groupon Bucks at a 5% earn rate. This means for every $100 spent on Groupon you earn $5 in Groupon Bucks to spend. Groupon Bucks can be redeemed on Groupon purchases.
Groupon also has a Groupon Select program which is $4.99 per month. I tried it when they were offering incentives to try it ($5 Starbucks card and first month free). This program offers you a larger discount on some purchases. Initially it was great because it worked on my airport parking, but then they changed the terms and it stopped working on that. Since it was the main item I was purchasing, I cancelled the subscription.
Do not forget the stacking possibilities by using shopping portals. I use them as much as possible. I am already saving with a Groupon, but if I go through a portal like Rakuten, I can earn additional savings or miles. Groupon can run 6% on average depending on type of deal you are purchasing. It may seem small, but the savings add up quickly. Plus you can earn Amex Membership Rewards via Rakuten, if you prefer. I recently was in line paying for airport parking when I heard someone paying $75 when I paid $32.99 for the same number of days!
Groupon is another great savings site for you to use. I like to refer to it as another tool on your belt. A quick check before going out to eat or on a trip can help you save big. Don't forget to download the app, too, for easy savings while you travel. You can then put those savings to use for other things, like I do. For example, my restaurant savings paid for over half of my airport parking for my trip. I am all about saving money and this is another great way to do it.