Understanding Coupons

Coupon Ease of Use

Using coupons and promo codes online could not be easier. Merchants want you to keep shopping with them, so they’re not going to make the process of using a coupon super taxing. Here are a few things that might be helpful to know before you start your career as a coupon code hunter/user.

Identifying the Right Coupons

Finding the right deal takes a little bit of effort, but it’s certainly worth it in the end. If a merchant has a code for free shipping and another code for 40% off your order, you’ll obviously want to take advantage of the 40% off offer. However, if a merchant has a free shipping code for appliances and a $25 off your order code, you’ll want to go with the free shipping because the shipping on your appliance will no doubt cost more than $25. Just do a little mental math, and you’ll choose the right offer for your needs.

Don’t Always Use the First Coupon

Before you enter a coupon code and hit submit, however, take a moment or two to check back with Savings.com or whichever other site to see if there is a better deal available. Many merchants will release multiple coupon codes that are valid at the same time. One may be for $10 off a single item in your order, while another may be 30% off your entire purchase. It’s worth the extra time to look around to see if there’s something better available to you.

Stacking Coupons

Every once in a while, you’ll find a merchant that allows you to “stack” coupon codes. This means that you’re allowed to use more than one code at a time, which enables you to get a higher discount. Sierra Trading Post is one merchant that comes to mind that offers the option to stack coupons. For example, you can use a free shipping code on top of a 20% off code to save the maximum amount on your purchase. Do your research into whether or not the site your buying from allows stacking, and if so…begin the hunt for their codes.

Multiple Uses

Some merchants allow you to use one promo code over and over again on different checkout sessions. Vons.com allows this. They’ll often have a limit of three or five uses, but you can save a significant amount of money over those three or five visits. Other sites allow you to use the coupon repeatedly until the coupon code is no longer valid. Target frequently has sitewide savings codes that you can use until they expire. Often they’ll be good for up to three months.

Understanding Restrictions

Coupon codes sometimes come with restrictions. One type of restriction is a minimum order amount. You’ll find codes from merchants that say something like “$100 Savings on Orders of $500 or More” or “20% Discount on Laptops Valued at $700 or More.” Merchants don’t make it terribly difficult to reach the minimum amount though. Another type of restriction is an expiration date. Some promotional codes can have specific expiration dates while others are ongoing deals. On Savings.com, the expiration date will be posted in the text of the coupon or under the title of the coupon. A final example of a common restriction is when a merchant only allows a code to be used a certain number of times. Dell is known for using this type of restriction. They’ll say something like, “Limit 1000 Uses.” At Savings.com, we do our best to include information like this in the text of the coupon on our site or in the restrictions section. In any case, the promotion code will not work when you enter it during checkout at Dell.com if it has already been used the maximum number of times. These are a few of the main types of restrictions you’ll run into when using coupon codes while shopping online. Over time, you’ll become familiar with all the different restrictions, and using coupon codes will become second nature to you when you’re shopping online.

Entering Coupon Codes at Checkout

Using a coupon that you find from Savings.com, another website, a store flier or a radio station could not be easier. Most online merchants give you the opportunity to add a promo or coupon code during the early stages of the checkout process. Merchants decide at which stage they want their customers to enter their coupon codes, so you’ll find that it differs from site to site. The process is nearly always the same though…enter the coupon code, hit submit, and your savings will be calculated for you on that same screen or on the next one. It’s as easy as that!

Verifying Coupon Activation at Checkout

Different sites have different ways of validating their coupons codes and showing the validation on the screen. Some will show the discount listed with things like tax and shipping. Others will add it like another item onto your order summary. And still others won’t show any indication that you’ve used a coupon at all. The only way to tell that a discount has been applied is to see if your total is lower than it was before you hit submit when you entered the coupon. It all depends on the merchant, but like I said earlier about recognizing restrictions, over time, learning to see coupon validation will become like second nature once you’ve been shopping online for a while.

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