For many couponers, using a computer to print coupons has become second nature. Click, print and you’re on your way to savings, right? Almost … most coupon printing sites will ask you to install a software plugin to your browser. This plugin is easy to install. It simply prompts the user to agree to its installation and once it’s installed, you can print coupons with a single click. I love having access to a multitude of coupons each week from which to pick and choose offers.
However, some of my readers are hesitant to install a coupon-printing plugin in their browsers. Are their concerns unfounded?
In one of your columns, you mentioned that printable and electronic coupons are available. However, I recently went to a couple of manufacturer websites hoping to print some coupons for their products, but both sites wanted me to download and install their own proprietary printer software to do so. I am not keen on cluttering my computer with additional software just to print a coupon, especially since I am aware that proprietary software can be spyware, meaning in this case that they keep track of your printing. I believe these manufacturers are doing this to prevent you from abusing their generosity by printing dozens or hundreds of coupons, but is there another way besides their software to obtain online coupons?
Is there any harm in installing the coupon print plugin to print coupons? I know I’m way behind the curve on these but I just don’t know if there are any risks.
Most sites that offer printable coupons will require users to install a printing plugin. This is a small web browser add-on that serves several purposes. First, it enables bar codes to print clearly in a format that can be read and scanned at the checkout. Second, it limits the number of coupons you can print. Most printable coupons are limited to two prints, and once you’ve printed the same coupon twice, the software plugin prevents you from printing more of that particular coupon.
Why might someone not want to install the browser plugin? If you have privacy concerns about the browser software keeping track of whether or not you have printed a particular coupon, you may wish to opt out – but you’ll also be unable to print coupons from sites that require the plugin. I personally have no concerns about installing browser plugins to print coupons. I’ve been using Coupons.com (a site that requires the plugin) for close to ten years now without issues.
Is there another way to use printable coupons without installing a browser plugin? Yes. Some coupon sites, like SmartSource.com, utilize Java technology to “push” the coupon to the browser without having to install a plugin. Coupons.com also offers a smartphone/tablet app to print coupons. You will have to install the app on your device to print, but it’s an option if you’re absolutely opposed to installing the plugin in a traditional computer web browser.
If your store offers load-to-card electronic coupons, you may also find that many of the same printable coupon offers and values out there are also available in load-to-card form. One caveat: Most load-to-card offers are valid for one use only, so instead of printing two identical offers, you’ll only be able to load and receive the discount on one.
Smart Living Tip:
If you enjoy using electronic coupons, whether they’re the printable or load-to-card variety, it’s worth checking your favorite sites several times each week to browse all available coupons. Manufacturers and retailers often offer new coupons throughout the week, and by checking often, you’ll have a better chance to take advantage of the offers you’re interested in before they reach their limits. Each offer has a limited number of prints or loads, and once they’re gone (as the cliché goes) they’re gone.