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Online Shopping Guide
In the current economy, shoppers have found that there are many ways to hold on to their hard-earned cash when making purchases. One of today’s most popular methods of saving money is by shopping online, using promo codes. This article details the history of promo codes, as well as where and how to use them.

What is a promo code?

A promo code, or “promotional code,” is a series of letters and numbers that are associated with a consumer discount, often for marketing purposes. For example, many online stores, or e-tailers, give their frequent customers a code such as “GN84B” to receive free shipping or a 15% discount. Depending on the company, multiple codes may be used on a single online order.

There are three distinct types of promo codes:

  1. Public. Discount codes that are available for anyone to use. These codes may be posted on an e-tailer’s website home page for everyone to see.
  2. Private. Personalized codes that are targeted to specific shoppers. When a company offers private coupons, they will send multiple coupon codes to different users.
  3. Restricted. These promo codes are limited to only one user.

Types of coupons

There are several types of coupons available for shoppers to use. Discount coupons offer a certain dollar or percentage amount off of a purchase. Free shipping coupons allow customers to make orders online without the added cost of shipping the item to their home or office. Promotional codes like those available at come in the form of a string of letters and numbers, which can be entered in a special field on a site’s checkout page. Grocery coupons are widely available through direct mail and at the entrance of a grocery store, attracting customers with offers of discounts on popular foods. Additionally, many companies send out printable coupons via email. These coupons make it easy for shoppers to print the coupons using their home printer and bring them into a brick and mortar store for redemption. Paper coupons may come in the mail, and are intended to be used either online or in a retail store. Gift certificates are available for purchase from many businesses so that shoppers may buy a certain dollar amount and give the certificates as gifts. Rebate coupons allow customers to purchase an item and then mail or email their promotion to a manufacturer to get money back.

Some coupons or promo codes that you find on may be stackable, meaning that shoppers can use multiple codes to receive several benefits, such as free shipping on top of a percentage off their purchase.

Additionally, promo codes determine a shopper’s eligibility for a discount. When a user enters a promotional code in an online store’s checkout page, the site looks up the corresponding discount. If all of the required conditions of the discount are met (for example, the purchase amount is over $100), the discount is accepted and applied to the order.

Origins of promo codes

Printed coupons first emerged near the beginning of the 20th century, spurred by the soft drink and breakfast cereal industries. The use of paper coupons continued to grow throughout the 1900s through the Great Depression. In the 1940s, big chain grocery stores began pushing the use of coupons in order to attract potential shoppers away from smaller local markets.

The invention of the Internet changed the face of discount marketing forever. The first companies to make the online jump experimented with downloadable coupons that shoppers could print at home and take into a brick and mortar store for discounts. The growth of printed coupons came to a plateau in the early 1990s, as businesses began using online codes.

As e-commerce has grown, many businesses have adapted to the online environment by creating new ways to market toward their shoppers. Brick and mortar stores used to rely on paper coupons for discounts, but many of those stores have found that in order to stay competitive, they must utilize online tools to reach their customers.

With multiple discount options, paper coupons aren’t as convenient as they used to be. Instead, businesses use secret words or codes that shoppers can type into the checkout form. Marketers also use these codes to conduct research on shoppers, providing different codes to different groups of consumers in order to determine the response rates of their target markets.

The e-commerce industry has also learned to embrace the growing smartphone market. Some e-tailers will send promotional codes directly to shoppers’ mobile phones. Typically, these “mobile codes” are issued by retailers or manufacturers and intended to push current sales promotions. Mobile codes work in the same way as other promotional codes, as they can be exchanged for a discount or rebate when the shopper buys products or services. Depending on the offer, these codes can be used in a brick and mortar store or online.

The value of promo codes

Promo codes are an excellent way for shoppers to save on today’s valuable commodities. As more and more businesses embrace e-commerce, it is easy to appreciate the convenience of shopping from home. Those who shop online avoid long lines and crowds at brick and mortar stores, while enjoying benefits such as discounted prices, free items, buy one get one free, free shipping, and discounted shipping. These deals often are not available when shopping at brick and mortar stores.

How to find promo codes

Finding promo codes is simple, as there are various resources available for those looking to save on purchases. Many companies use direct mail to send promo codes to previous customers; keep a look out for special offers from businesses you have shopped from before. Newspapers and magazines are also a great resource for finding promotions between the articles. Listen to radio commercials as well; as one of the cheapest forms of advertising, many businesses use radio to spread the word of current promotions. Television is always a great source for finding promo codes, so make sure to pay attention to commercials from your favorite stores. Lastly, conduct an online search for promo codes. Websites like offer up-to-date information for anyone who loves shopping with promo codes.

How to use promo codes

Using this guide, shoppers can save money by using a search engine to find discount codes and promotions. Promo codes are simple and easy to use, as most online stores offer a blank field in the checkout page where discounts can be added.

Finding and using promotional codes is simple:

  1. Locate the item you wish to buy and go to your preferred search engine
  2. Enter “[website promo code]” into the search box, replacing [website] with the name of the online store where you found the item
  3. Look through the results to find a promo code website. is one example of a site that features the most current promo codes for people who love shopping online
  4. Browse the website to find a current promo code
  5. When you are ready to buy, type your code in the “promo code” field in the checkout page. In some cases, the code may have expired. If this happens, simply return to the search results and select another result

Take Grace, for example. Grace lives and works in New York, but her family lives in Chicago. When it came close to time for Grace to fly home for the holidays, she started browsing the Internet for flights. After choosing her airline, she went to Google and searched for a “promotional code”. One of her results was She clicked on the link and found hundreds of promo codes for several airlines, as well as her favorite stores. A result popped up for a current promotion with her airline. Grace entered the promo code on the airline’s checkout screen, which saved her 20% on the cost of her travel. Happy with the result with, she used the money she saved to buy a gift for her grandmother.

Make sure to bookmark your favorite promo code websites like so that you can go back to them when you are ready to make future purchases. The best times to take advantage of promo codes are around holidays, as these are the times that most businesses want to drive more traffic to their products. During tax season, many businesses will offer discounts or other offers for those looking to spend their refunds. Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are great times to find deals at online flower delivery services or find significant savings on jewelry. Father’s Day is also a great time to look for promo codes to use on products for men. Fall is a huge season of savings, because many e-tailers offer special deals for holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. Shoppers can also find promo codes for the Back to School season, saving money on clothing and school or office supplies. Labor Day is also a big shopping holiday, so look for businesses offering promo codes to use during Labor Day weekend.

Simply searching for “promo code” or “promotional code” reveals a large number of sites dedicated to maximizing shoppers’ savings with discounts. Sites such as also offer information about when popular stores make regular markdowns or run seasonal/holiday sales. Websites like were created to help users save money, and are frequently updated with new information about store promotions.

Those wishing to make an online purchase can find a promotional code with virtually any company, allowing shoppers to save more of their hard-earned cash. While consumers may have to try out a few different codes before finding a current one, a site like will keep track of these codes to make sure shoppers are successful.