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5 Tips to Find the Best Online Shopping Discounts Using Coupon Codes

By Jacqueline Curtis

online shoppingI’ll admit that I’m not much a of a couponer. In fact, the only time I’ll ever hand over a coupon in a brick-and-mortar store is if it’s significant, such as $20 off a $40 purchase. But other than that, I’m not interested in taking the time to clip coupons. While I definitely don’t fault those who do so, the idea of clipping, organizing, and shopping with an envelope stuffed with coupons completely intimidates me.

Shopping with coupons online is a different story, however. Online coupons are simple to find, really easy to use, and you don’t get the evil eye from a cashier when you try to use one. It’s perfect for someone like me who does a ton of online shopping. In fact, it’s pretty rare that I buy anything online without first finding a coupon.

Shopping With Coupon Codes

Though coupon codes can save you money, you need to be smart about how you use them. Before you grab that code and plug it into the online checkout, make sure that it’s a code really worth using. In some cases, spending more to save a couple bucks isn’t a great investment at all.

Here are five more tips to use when shopping online with coupon codes:

1. Get the Terms
Some coupon codes can shave a couple bucks off of your bottom line, but only if you spend a certain amount. When this happens, it’s worthwhile to do the math. Compare how much you’ll spend without the coupon code versus the final price that you’ll spend with the coupon code. If you’ll end up spending more with the code because of limits and restrictions, it probably isn’t worth it.

Make sure that you know exactly what you’re spending so you can make the right decision. Sometimes, you can justify spending more because you’ll score more stuff – but it’s a moot point if it’s not in your budget or is something you wouldn’t have purchased otherwise.

2. Compare Deals
Whenever searching for coupon codes, you’ll find that many sites, such as RetailMeNot, offer a couple different options for coupon codes. However, the biggest percentage discount isn’t automatically the best bet. Sometimes, taking a free shipping code beats getting 15% off your purchase, depending on how much you’re spending. Calculate the various options until you find the one that gives you the best discount for the items currently in your virtual shopping cart – this way, you’ll always get the best deal.

3. Check the Locations
Some coupon codes are strictly for online use. But other codes also work in stores as a printable coupon, or even on the screen of your smartphone. If you find a great deal with a coupon code, see where it applies. If you can get the deal in-store, you’ll save on shipping costs while still nabbing the discount for the lowest price possible. If you can’t tell whether a coupon code is online only, make a quick call to your nearest store and ask. Sometimes, it’s totally up to the manager to decide whether you can use a web code in-store.

online shopping

4. Check for Stacking
The vast majority of coupon codes can only be used one at a time, to prevent customers from abusing the offer. But some coupon codes don’t work with gift cards, so you could end up in a pickle during checkout if you’re using one. If the site you’re buying from only has one area to enter promotional codes and gift cards, you must figure out which will give you the deepest discount. Of course, a ton of stores allow you to use your gift card with a coupon code, which is one of the best ways to get what you need on the cheap.

5. Share the Deal
When you’ve scored a great deal using a coupon code, check the terms to see whether the code can be used more than once. If so, offer the coupon code to friends or family members by posting the code on your blog, on online forums, or even on Facebook. Since not all coupon codes are total winners, it’s nice to pass along one that is really worth a shopper’s time.

Final Word

Looking for a coupon code should be a constant step in online shopping. Why pay more than you have to? But since there are a ton of different deals available, it’s important to do your homework and choose the deal that gives you the best discount, without encouraging you to spend more. It’s like going on a quick treasure hunt before you spend – how much could you save?

Have you had much luck with coupon codes?

Jacqueline Curtis
Jacqueline Curtis is an experienced style expert, and she focuses on getting high fashion on a tight budget. She writes for several online publications, including her own fashion blog, How Not to Dress Like a Mom, and specializes in fashion, finance, health and fitness, and parenting. Jae grew up in Toronto, Canada, but now resides in Utah with her husband, two kids, and prized shoe collection.

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  • John S @ Frugal Rules

    We do almost all of our shopping online, with the exception of grocery shopping. Comparing deals is a big one as you want to make sure you’re saving as much as you can. I love the free shipping coupons, but it does not make sense to use it if I can find a certain % off deal that’ll save more.

  • http://twitter.com/HassleFreeSaver HassleFreeSavings

    I rarely shop online without using a coupon code. Your points about calculating the cost of your desired purchased with and without the coupon or free shipping codes are good ones. Often we assume a couple code will get us the best deal but really, they’re intended to get people to buy more! I’m not a coupon clipper either, but I have gotten into the routine of using mobile coupons. The app I use is Coupon Sherpa and it’s pretty easy to find discounts while waiting in line. The only issue I’ve had so far is getting them to load if the connection isn’t great inside the store. Great post!

  • Melissa B.

    I love shopping online and coupon codes just make it better.

  • Ajay Dumasiya

    Thanks for providing useful information on using discount coupon while shopping online.

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