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Trade Your Email Address for Discounts? Is It Worth It? We Tested 120 Brands For You

Trade Your Email Address for Discounts? Is It Worth It?  We Tested 120 Brands For You

Most big-name brands (and many smaller brands) offer some form of discount for their products—whether that’s in the form of rewards points and loyalty programs, digital coupons, paper coupons, discount codes, free products, trading “free” samples for product reviews, or something else.  Experts tell customers to simply contact their favorite brands to get in on these deals, but will you really receive discounts simply for contacting the companies?  We’ve tracked 120 restaurants, retailers, and manufacturer brands for over a year to answer those questions.

What Will I Get For Giving a Company My Email Address?

You’ve seen the pop-up messages when you visit a company’s website or navigate away from the site—the pop-up asking for your email address.  Some are vague, some are specific (Dick’s Sporting Goods gives 10% Off for your email address and $20 off a $100 purchase when you enroll in Dick’s text alerts), and as you spend half a second thinking about whether your already stuffed email spam box needs even more extra emails, text messages, phone calls, and the possibility that your info will be sold to their partners who will also inundate you with more emails, texts, and phone calls, you probably are wondering, “Will this be worth it?” Is it?

 Read a few “experts’” blogs, and you may believe all you have to do is give away your email address and you’ll be sent awesome money-saving coupons each month from all of your favorite brands.

Sadly, it’s not true.   We experimented with 120 brands.   We dedicated a seldom-used email account to the experiment so it wouldn’t clog our usual inboxes and to make it easier to track the incoming offers.  Out of 120 brands, almost all replied with a no-coupon email, letting us know we had successfully enrolled in their email program.  

Only 46 sent an immediate offer within the first 24-48 hours, most with an expiration date only 7-30 days away, all single-use only, and some with your name on it: (Spot a link?  Click on the brand’s name to see what else we learned about the brand in this experiment.) 

  • Applebee’s ($5 off a $25+ purchase)
  • Arby’s (FREE small curly fries and FREE small soft drink when you pay full price for a signature sandwich)
  • Auntie Anne’s (FREE pretzel with a $1+ purchase)
  • Bob Evans (15% off next visit)
  • Burger King (5 assorted coupons)
  • Checkers (FREE Classic Mother Cruncher Sandwich when you spend $5)
  • Chili’s Grill & Bar (FREE chips and salsa OR FREE beverage)
  • Chipotle (FREE guacamole, queso blanco, or salsa with chips after 1st purchase)
  • Cinnabon (FREE 4 BonBites for completing the survey—the coupon was emailed about 48 hours later)
  • Culver’s (BOGO FREE Value Basket)
  • Denny’s (20% off next visit)
  • Domino’s Pizza (20% off next visit)
  • DSW (Designer Shoe Warehouse) ($10 off coupon)
  • Dunkin Donuts (200 points, which is a FREE drink when you buy any menu item)
  • Firehouse Subs (FREE large drink with purchase a sub)
  • Genghis Grill (FREE appetizer or dessert)
  • Golden Corral (FREE beverage with purchase of adult buffet)
  • Harbor Freight Tools (20% off next visit)
  • Hardee’s (FREE small drink and small fries with purchase of regular price Thickburger)
  • Home Depot ($5 off $50 purchase)                                                   
  • IHOP (International House of Pancakes) (FREE full stack of any pancakes)
  • Joann Fabric and Craft (20% off next visit)
  • Krispy Kreme (FREE donut)
  • Lively ($10 off 1st online order)
  • Macaroni Grill ($5 off next visit)
  • Macy’s (25% off next visit)
  • Miller’s Ale House (FREE Zingers when you spend $20)
  • Moe’s Southwest Grill (FREE queso with 1st online order)
  • Office Depot (30% off next visit)
  • Old Navy/ Gap/ Banana Republic (20% off next visit)
  • Outback Steakhouse (50% off 4th visit)
  • Panera (FREE pastry or sweet)
  • PDQ (People Dedicated to Quality) (FREE 3 tenders)
  • Pretzelmaker ($3 off after 1st online order)
  • Qdoba (FREE chips and queso with purchase of entrée)
  • Ruby Tuesday (FREE appetizer with purchase of entrée)
  • Silk ($1 off coupon)
  • Spirit Halloween (20% off 1 item, online only)
  • Steak ‘N Shake (FREE original double n’ cheese steakburger ‘n fries with $1 purchase)
  • Tasty Rewards (Frito-Lay) (Let me pick 4 coupons, each roughly $1 when buy 2)
  • TJ Maxx (FREE shipping)
  • Tropical Smoothie (FREE delivery)
  • Village Inn (20% off next visit)
  • Walgreens ($10 off $45 online order; and 50% off photo order)
  • Wayback Burgers (FREE Classic Burger after 1st online order through app)
  • Zales ($50 off $300+ purchase)


Can I Find Companies’ Coupons on Their Websites?

While some companies do post printable coupons on their websites, most do not make them available without some form of registration.  Many retailers (Walgreens, Publix, Winn-Dixie, etc.) have members sign in to digitally “clip” coupons into their accounts for future use.  Even though the coupons are site-specific (meaning the Walgreens digital coupon on L’Oreal shampoo cannot be used at Publix), shoppers frequently spot similar coupons for different retailers because these are actually manufacturer coupons loaded onto the retailers’ sites.  

That said, there are manufacturers who post additional, printable coupons on their own sites.  For example, Frito-Lay’s TastyTreats.com site allows registered visitors to select a few coupons to print.  If you like a brand, explore every part of their site—provide your email address, search for printable coupons, register for the app or membership program, etc.  


How to Get Free Stuff From a Company?

While only 46 of the 120 brands we tested sent an immediate offer, only 9 of those were freebies, meaning 100% free items, no strings attached, absolutely no purchase necessary:  Chili’s Grill & Bar, Cinnabon (we did have to complete a short profile), Enfamil, Genghis Grill, IHOP, Krispy Kreme, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Panera, and PDQ.

You can click each brand’s name to see what they gave us for free and what other coupons and offers they sent over the course of one year.  

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