How do I get a coupon code?

Getting a coupon code can help you save money on your online and in-store purchases. Coupon codes provide discounts on items and can be found through various sources. Here is a comprehensive guide on how to find and use coupon codes to maximize your savings.

What are coupon codes?

Coupon codes, also known as promo codes or discount codes, are a sequence of numbers or letters that when entered provide a discount on your purchase. For online stores, coupon codes are entered into a designated field during checkout to redeem the savings. For in-store purchases, coupon codes are shown or scanned at the register to apply the discount.

Coupon codes can give percentage discounts like 15% off or dollar amounts off like $10 off a $50 purchase. Some coupon codes are for free shipping. The discount the code provides will be specified on the website or promotion it’s found on.

Where can I find coupon codes?

There are many sources for finding current and valid coupon codes to use. Here are some of the most common places to look:

  • The retailer’s website – Most retailers have a section on their website dedicated to promotions and will list any active coupon codes that can be used.
  • Deal websites – Websites like RetailMeNot and DealCatcher aggregate active coupons codes and sales for thousands of retailers. You can search for a specific store to see available codes.
  • Coupon blogs and communities – Blogs like Lozo list coupon codes for retailers along with how to best utilize them. Deal sharing communities like Slickdeals have forums where users share coupon finds.
  • Weekly ads and catalogs – Department store catalogs and weekly sales circulars found in newspapers often have coupon codes listed inside.
  • Email newsletters – Signing up for a retailer’s email newsletter is a great way to receive periodic coupon codes right to your inbox.
  • Social media – Following your favorite retailers on social media can provide access to coupon codes they post and share.
  • Browser extensions – Coupon browser extensions like Honey scan websites for any coupon codes available and apply them at checkout for you.

Tips for finding the best coupon codes

All coupon codes are not made equal. Here are some tips to find the best coupon codes that will maximize your savings:

  • Search directly on the retailer’s website – Retailers want you to use their codes so will make them readily available and easy to find right on their site.
  • Look for stackable coupon codes – Some retailers allow you to combine multiple coupon codes for bigger savings.
  • Use active coupon code aggregators – Using an active code site like RetailMeNot ensures the codes have been verified recently.
  • Search by your order total – On cashback and coupon sites you can search for codes by your order subtotal amount to see your potential savings.
  • Look for free shipping codes – Getting free shipping provides additional savings you can stack with a regular discount code.
  • Join loyalty and rewards programs – Signing up for store loyalty programs gives you access to exclusive member-only promo codes.
  • Look for first-time customer codes – Retailers often offer special coupon codes for first purchases for new customers.

How to use a coupon code correctly

To make sure you are taking full advantage of a coupon code and get the discount, you need to use it properly. Here are some tips for using coupon codes correctly:

  • Read the fine print – Understand any restrictions, exclusions or expiration dates before trying to use a code.
  • Enter it in the right field – For online shopping, make sure you enter the code in the coupon code field at checkout, not the gift card or account number fields.
  • Check that it applied – Verify the discount was taken on your total before completing checkout.
  • Use only active codes – Check the code is still within the valid date period before using an old code you have.
  • Avoid using multiple codes – Unless specifically allowed, using more than one code often won’t work and may invalidate both codes.
  • Maximize your savings – Make sure your cart qualifies for any minimum purchase amounts before using a code.

Tips for maximizing savings with coupon codes

To get the biggest savings possible using coupon codes, keep these tips in mind:

  • Sign up for email and text alerts – Get notified immediately when new coupon codes are released.
  • Shop on coupon and promo code holidays – Retailers offer extra discounts on holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
  • Combine with discounted gift cards – Using a discounted gift card on a site like Raise with a coupon code equals more savings.
  • Buy in bulk with codes – Look for codes without restrictions on order size and get extra savings on bulk purchases.
  • Shop cashback websites – Cashback websites give a percentage of your purchase amount back in addition to using coupon codes.
  • Comparison shop with codes – Price compare across retailers using active coupon codes to find the best deal.
  • Don’t forget to use codes at checkout – Browser extensions like Honey apply codes last minute if you forget.

Can I use a coupon code on any site?

Most major retailers and ecommerce sites use coupon codes but there are some exceptions. Here are the types of sites that typically don’t accept traditional alphanumeric coupon codes:

  • EBay – Sellers on eBay have their own coupon policies and rarely accept general site-wide codes.
  • Amazon – Amazon offers occasionalcodes that give discounts on the entire order but most deals are product or category specific discounts.
  • Home improvement stores – Home Depot, Lowe’s and other home improvement stores offer individual product promotions rather than general coupon codes.
  • Small specialty retailers – Boutiques and small specialty stores typically don’t have coupon code programs but may offer occasional seasonal codes.

There are some ways to save at sites without codes in their regular checkout flow:

  • Look for on-site banners with sale pricing – Rather than codes, discounts are applied automatically at checkout.
  • Shop cashback portals – Online portals give back a percentage of purchases made through their links.
  • Find coupon codes for specific items – Some major retailers have codes that work for individual products.
  • Negotiate with customer service – Reaching out to customer service to ask for a discount or match a competitor’s pricing.

Are coupon codes case sensitive?

The majority of online retailers have coupon code fields that are not case sensitive. That means that a code will work whether entered in lowercase, uppercase or mixed case. However, there are some stores where codes must be entered with the exact mix of uppercase and lowercase letters to work.

If a code is not working as expected, recheck the source where you found it and make sure you are entering it exactly as shown. Here are some tips for coupon code case sensitivity:

  • Try all lowercase – Most codes work fine in all lowercase letters.
  • Check for mixed case – Some codes require the exact mix of uppercase and lowercase letters to validate.
  • Test all uppercase – Trying the code in all caps could reveal if uppercase letters are required.
  • Copy and paste the code – Pasting the code from the source ensures the case format is exactly right.

Can I use expired coupon codes?

Retailers have expiration dates on their coupon codes, usually ranging anywhere from a few days to a few months. Once a coupon code expires, it is no longer valid to use and entering it will not provide the discount. Stores regularly update their systems to remove expired codes.

If you try to use an expired coupon code, you will typically see a message that the code is invalid or no longer applicable. There usually is no way around an expired code unless the retailer chooses to honor it anyway. Your best option is to search for a new valid code to use instead.

A few ways to make sure your code is still active:

  • Check the expiration date before using it
  • Only use codes found on reputable coupon sites showing the latest codes
  • Review updated posts on deal forums before using old codes
  • Add the code during checkout to immediately see if it works

Can I use coupon codes on mobile purchases?

One of the great conveniences of coupon codes is that they can be used seamlessly across platforms. The vast majority of ecommerce retailers allow you to enter a coupon code on mobile purchases including in their mobile apps or mobile-optimized sites.

Here are some tips for ensuring coupon code use on mobile:

  • Browse mobile deal sites for codes – RetailMeNot and others work great on mobile.
  • Enter the code in the checkout flow – Look for the promo or coupon code field during checkout.
  • Checkout on the mobile site – Make sure you’re on the retailer’s actual mobile site rather than the app if codes aren’t accepted in the app.
  • Use a mobile coupon app – Apps like Coupon Sherpa make finding and using active codes easy on mobile.

Being able to use coupon codes on any device makes saving on the go even easier. You can stand in store browsing for coupon codes on your phone and use them instantly.

Can I use a coupon code in store?

Retailers want customers to take advantage of coupon codes online and in stores. The vast majority of major national retailers accept coupon codes in their brick-and-mortar locations.

Here is how to use a coupon code in store:

  • Find an active in store coupon code – Search or google for codes.
  • Show your code at checkout – Show your code on your phone or have the cashier enter it.
  • Verify it works – Have the cashier verify the code took before completing checkout.
  • Stack savings – Combine with percent-off coupons for maximum discounts.

Using an online coupon code in store is just as easy as using it online. You get access to all the great coupon codes while still enjoying the in store shopping experience.

Are coupon codes the same across retailers?

There is no universal format or conventions when it comes to online coupon codes. Retailers create their own unique coupon code programs and policies. Here is how coupon codes vary across different retailers:

Retailer Code Format Code Length Case Sensitivity
Amazon Alphanumeric 5-10 characters Not case sensitive
Target Alphanumeric 8-10 characters Case sensitive
Walmart Alphanumeric 10 characters Not case sensitive
Best Buy Alphanumeric 6-10 characters Not case sensitive

Given the variability, your best bet is to carefully follow the specific instructions provided with each coupon code you want to use.

Code format

The format of coupon codes can be:

  • Alphanumeric – Uppercase and lowercase letters and numbers
  • Numeric – Only numbers
  • Alphabetic – Only uppercase or lowercase letters

Code length

Typical coupon code lengths include:

  • 5-10 characters – Most common online coupon code length
  • 4-6 characters – Short code lengths sometimes used
  • 11-15 characters – Less frequently used longer codes

Case sensitivity

Whether a code is case sensitive depends on the retailer. You’ll need to try the code as shown and test different case formats if it doesn’t work.

How do I choose which coupon code to use?

When searching for coupon codes you often find multiple codes available from different sources. Here are some tips for evaluating available codes to choose the best one to use:

  • Look for the newest codes – Retailers add new codes frequently so newer ones tend to work best.
  • Check code restrictions – Make sure the code works on your purchase items and order total.
  • Compare discount amounts – Calculate potential savings to find the code with the best discount.
  • Read validity dates – Codes within the valid timeframe will have the highest success.
  • Verify site validity – Check that your retail site is listed as supported.
  • Evaluate code popularity – Number of uses and votes can signify reliable codes.

Taking a few minutes to assess the available codes will ensure you pick the right code to maximize your savings on each order.


Using coupon codes saves shoppers time and money. Following this guide will teach you how to systematically find, evaluate and use working codes to get the best discounts. Codes are available across most online and in-store retailers if you know where to look.

Some key takeaways include:

  • Actively search for codes on coupon sites, forums, email lists and directly on retailer sites.
  • Read code fine print for usage restrictions before using a code.
  • Apply codes properly by entering them in the right field and verifying they work.
  • Maximize savings by combining codes with other discounts and shopping on code holidays.

Using this knowledge and some simple tips, you can easily integrate coupon codes into your everyday shopping and save big.