Dear Jill: I use a couple different cash-back apps where you scan your receipt and get money put back in an account. You always used to be able to scan the same receipt and use it on multiple apps. I recently bought some cereal that was featured for two different rebates in two different apps. I was surprised when I got a message back from one app saying I had already redeemed this particular receipt for the cereal offer! How did they know, and is this going to become more common?” — Taylor K.
Dear Taylor: Indeed, the days of redeeming the same, single receipt across multiple rebate apps appear to be numbered. Two popular cash-back apps, Checkout 51 and SavingStar, have begun to work together to thwart rebates being redeemed on the same items with the same receipt. What this means for you is that if you try to redeem the same receipt for the same item or items in both apps, one of your rebates will be denied.
From the manufacturers’ standpoint, the brands don’t want to pay two rebates on the same, single item that was purchased. If you read the fine print in these apps, they state your rebates may be denied if you combine them with another app offer or manufacturer coupon. This brings us to another reader’s related question:
Dear Jill: I use a cash-back rebate app pretty often but recently found out I am not getting credit for my receipts on a lot of things because I used coupons to buy them. This never used to be a problem before. How do they know I used coupons? My grocery store receipt doesn’t even show the coupon by the product when it is scanned. They are just shown in a big list at the bottom of the receipt. — Bryan P.
Dear Bryan: For the same reasons noted above, some rebate app offers have begun prohibiting stacking a rebate app with a manufacturer coupon: Both offers are reimbursed by the same company, and the brands do not want to pay out both for the coupon and for the rebate.
Consumers often use the term “stacking” to refer to legitimately pairing two different discounts together on the same item. If I buy a tube of toothpaste at the drugstore, and the store offers a 50-cent-off store coupon, I may “stack” a $1 manufacturer coupon with the store coupon and enjoy a $1.50 discount on that same, single tube of toothpaste.
However, when I first began working in the industry side of couponing versus the consumer side, I found it interesting that many people within the coupon industry use the term “stacking” to refer to consumers receiving two manufacturer-reimbursed discounts on the same, single item – something the industry is against and actively works to prohibit.
It’s a bit of a disconnect, because when consumers pair a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon together, they’re legitimately stacking offers in a way that’s in accordance to a store’s coupon policy. This kind of stacking is both permissible and allowed. However, for a long time, consumers have been allowed to stack manufacturer coupons with rebate apps, and this kind of stacking is something the industry largely remained quiet about until recently. Certainly, the brands knew it was happening, but it was something to which they seemed to turn a blind eye.
Of course, when you don’t prohibit consumers from doing something, it’s often seen as giving permission, and coupon and rebate app stacking began to flourish.
As the apps have grown in popularity, it’s not surprising brands are beginning to crack down on those who are utilizing two brand-reimbursed discounts on the same item — and working together with multiple apps to prevent cross-app redemption.
When you’re putting future deals together, I recommend determining which discount would benefit you more. If one coupon or app offers a deeper discount than another, use the one with the best savings for you, because it’s unlikely you will continue to receive both when pairing rebate apps and coupons.