Get the Most from Your Online Coupons

Use these tips to get the most from your Groupon, or other daily-deal site

Credit: Flickr/groupon

Buyer beware: Daily deals can be more costly than you expect

Groupon, Wagjag,, Wonton: the number of daily-deal sites is multiplying so fast it’s hard to keep up

And if you’re not careful, the deals you buy can turn out to be way more expensive than you expected. Here are some tips for the best use of your online coupons.

How to Bag the Deal

  • If deal emails clog your inbox, visit a daily-deal consolidator instead. It’ll list almost (but not all) daily deals so you can pick and choose which site to visit instead of reviewing individual emails.
  • Don’t assume deals are only for big cities. Wagjag, for example, offers deals not just in Vancouver but also in Abbotsford, Kelowna and Victoria.
  • A few weeks before visiting another city, sign up for one or more of their daily deal sites. Discounts there could cut costs on, say, taking your hosts out for dinner or visiting tourist attractions.

Once You’ve Got Your Coupon

  • At hair salons and skin-care places, book your appointment the minute you get the deal. Alternatively, wait a month for the initial hubbub to die down.
  • Tell the salon if you plan to come back if you like the service. They may work harder for potential regulars than for folks only coming for the one-time discount.
  • Keep extra costs in mind. A 50% off restaurant coupon doesn’t include tax or tip, (and like Groupon says, you should tip on the face value of the coupon, not what you paid — it’s only fair). Also, it’s usually an awkward amount for a single visit, meaning you have to spend more or go back. Figure on 35% extra.  
  • Remember that not everyone knows how deal sites work. If you use a coupon for dinner with a friend, they may assume the deal was free and you’ll split the remaining bill. That means you paid the cost of the coupon on top of going Dutch.