Coupon Codes 101: How to Use Online Promo Codes

By Linsey Knerl      

Saving money is in fashion, but holding out on the latest styles in favor of a spending freeze, isn't. If you have a little wiggle room in your budget, use coupon codes and special promotional offers to plump up your buying power. You'll feel fabulous knowing you scored that look for less!

Getting The Codes
Whether you snag that code from an in-store flyer, an e-mail from the store, or through your favorite savings site (save.com, of course), you can be sure that any amount off your total will come in handy. The best way to use a code is through the link that's usually provided (especially if it is a valuable one-time offer or a promotion designed to be used specifically by you.) If you can, copy and paste the code into a separate program (Notepad or Word) before heading over to the shopping site. This ensures you get it right the first time. Here on Save.com we’ve got coupon codes displayed on most of our pages, to the left of each article: fashion codes on the fashion page, beauty codes on the beauty page, and so forth. Plus our Online Deals page features a whole clearinghouse of codes picked just for Save.com readers.

Understanding the Terms
You've got your code, and you're ready to shop, right? There are a few things that may keep you from getting the deal you had in mind, and they usually come in the form of exclusions. These can include terms of the promotional code that keep you from using it on certain types of purchases. Many retailers keep you from using the code on clearance merchandise, certain high-end brand lines, or outlet and overstock items. While there are still some codes that are valid on anything, be sure to check the fine print for the skinny on your savings.

Can You Combine?
Some online retailers allow you to "stack" or combine coupon codes. While not all codes are stack-able (you might not be able to use a 10 percent off with a 15 percent off code, for example), you can sometimes enter multiple codes into the checkout page for maximum savings. The better deals will let you use a "free shipping" code, a percentage off, and a free gift with purchase. (Now that's great news!)