How does the coupons work




Locating Manufacturer Coupons

To keep things simple, we decided to focus on paper coupons, rather than the digital coupon segment the kind you might use on your smartphone. Though digital coupons are on the rise, they still are a small share of the market. According to the coupon processing firm Inmar, 2. Morgan said the manufacturer also pays the retailer a handling fee to pay the postage to mail the coupons in. At a store, a cashier scans the barcode of the coupon presented, along with the barcode of the product purchased. Morgan said the barcode contains a lot of important information.

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Getting Started Using Coupons

Paul, Minnesota, all the paper coupons collected in a given day are tallied up by Theresa Walker, the bookkeeper. She repeats the process a few times. A company called Inmar is one such clearinghouse. And Mounts said Inmar helps protect the manufacturers against fraud by tracking which coupons are authorized, among other things. According to Inmar, the whole redemption process generally takes four to six weeks from the time the consumer redeems the coupon until the retailer is reimbursed by the manufacturer. But for Marketplace to continue to grow, we need additional investment from those who care most about what we do: superfans like you.

When you contribute directly to Marketplace , you become a partner in that mission: someone who understands that when we all get smarter, everybody wins.


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Skip to content. While it's a simple concept — find a code, add an item to your cart, apply the code, and check out — many stores feature complicated checkout systems that can frustrate even seasoned shoppers. Stores vary widely in how they handle promo codes in the checkout process. The best stores are up-front and clear about their codes. They apply the codes right away in the shopping cart, prominently display your discount, and may even provide the exact details of the coupon once you apply it.

If your particular purchase isn't eligible for the discount, some stores will help you find something that is eligible by noting the parameters. Many, but not all, stores will at least display a message explaining if your purchase is invalid or ineligible. However, many retailers aren't as forthcoming; some stores will have you jump through a few hoops before you find out if the coupon will work for your order. You may have to go through the checkout process and enter all of your information, even your credit card number, before you can see if the coupon is valid. There are also cases where the store will appear to accept a coupon, but will show absolutely no information and no discount, like a coupon black hole.

Exclusions Even if a code appears to be general and apply to anything offered on the site, there will typically be at least a few exclusions. Unless specifically stated, coupons won't discount store gift cards or certain brands that are excluded because of manufacturer restrictions.

Some coupons will exclude entire categories, such as sale and clearance items, or items with special pricing, such as "Deal of the Day" items. Free shipping coupons may exclude oversized or heavy items. At a few stores, exclusions can be so substantial that it's almost hard to find an item that the code does apply to.

Restrictions If the store you are shopping at has a Marketplace, or other sellers listed on their site, coupons may not apply to these items. In most cases, coupons will only apply to items the store sells directly. A code will also not work if it has already expired.

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Stores can discontinue codes before the expiration date they provide, or there may not be an exact expiration given, meaning the offer can end at any time. Getting More Details If you see the coupon listed on the store's website, check for a "details" link with fine print that can provide insight into what items are eligible for the discount and what items aren't.

These links can be found in a variety of places — on the homepage, on product pages, or in the cart after the code is applied — and it can save a lot of time to review this information to verify if your purchase is eligible before going through the checkout process. Alternatively, try Googling the coupon to find any restrictions. Be sure that you are typing or pasting the coupon code correctly. Most codes are in caps, and some are case-sensitive, so the code might not work if you enter it in lowercase. If you copy-and-paste the code, be sure there are no blank spaces before or after that could prompt an error message.

And if the code is email-specific, you will need access to that email account. Many coupons have a minimum purchase. This means you have to spend a certain amount on eligible items before you can get the discount. The minimum only applies to the actual cost of the items in your order after any instant discounts and does not include extra costs like tax or shipping, when applicable. Again, you can sometimes get clues from the code itself. You can also try checking the store's website for details or doing an Internet search for the store name and the code to see if you can find more information on the requirements.

Once you've mastered these trouble-shooting skills, then you're ready to move on to Advanced Couponing, in which we teach you how to find coupons on your own. By now, you're probably feeling pretty clever. You've mastered the basics, and you can easily right your wrongs along the way.

Now, you're ready to take it to the next level: sniffing out discounts on the Internet. Now that we've covered a few coupon basics, you might be wondering where you can find coupon codes. Some stores will list codes right on their website, which is very convenient, but it may not be the best discount available for your particular order. There are also many cases where coupon codes for a store exist, but aren't listed on the store's website at all.

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This is where a little coupon research comes in handy. Coupons are easiest to find if you have already decided which store you want to purchase from. If you visit the Coupon Center here at DealNews, you can use the "Find a Store" search box on the right side of the page to type in the store name. You can also use the main search box at the very top of the page. This will take you to the store page, where you can find both coupons and deals for that particular store.

You can also do a general Internet search. We find that it typically suffices to enter the store name and the term "coupons" in Google or your preferred search engine ex. This should bring up a wide variety of sources for finding coupons for that store. Perhaps you don't know what store you want to purchase from, but you know the item you want to buy. If you are set on a particular model of TV, for instance, you can search the model number on DealNews to see if any deals are listed for it.

Using the model number is a quick way to pinpoint the exact item you are looking for.

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If you don't see a current deal, you may have to take it a step further and find out which stores are selling the item that you want. Use a search engine like Google to type in the model number, or a combination of brand and model number, to find stores that sell the item.

Determine which of the stores you would feel comfortable purchasing from and, from there, you can use the search by store technique to find out if any coupons are available. There are some stores that rarely or never offer coupon codes, so you may not find anything when you search.

But, there are still a few other ways to find a discount. Certain stores will send you a coupon right away if you sign up for their emails. Some of the coupons sent to email subscribers may be one-time use codes, which means the code is generated to be unique to that subscriber and can only be used once. At other times, clicking through a link in the store's email is the only way to get the discount.

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As such, you generally won't see these offers listed on coupon and deal sites. You can also check all of the store's social media pages. Liking or following a store on social media outlets like Facebook or Twitter may notify you of a coupon. Even if you don't have an account at one of these sites, you may still be able to view the store's page to see a coupon listed exclusively there.

How to Use the Coupons.com App: A Step-by-Step Guide

You might even contact the store to ask if they have any coupons available. If you have never ordered from the store before, you are in a particularly good position to do this, as stores are more likely to have discounts to attract new customers. In any case, it doesn't hurt to try. In the absence of any coupons, you might find that one store's price without a coupon is better than another store's price with one.

That TV you've had your eye on may come out at a better price at a store like Walmart or Best Buy without a code, especially considering whether free shipping is offered. You'll want to calculate all of the actual costs involved before making a decision on where to purchase.

Intermediate Couponing

Were you the Hermione Granger of your classroom growing up? Excellent, because now it's time for extra credit that will make you outshine your fellow deal-hunters. It's one thing to find a coupon code on your own, but it's quite another to weigh the pros and cons of a variety of stores and discounts in the quest for the ultimate best price. Once you have located coupon codes for a store or a few stores, you may discover that there are a variety of different types of codes available. There may be offers for a certain percentage off, a fixed dollar amount off, or free shipping, and each might have different minimum purchase requirements.

Since many stores only allow one coupon code to be applied for each order, you'll want to figure out which coupon is ideal for your particular purchase.

One of the biggest considerations is whether you will be charged shipping. There's nothing like a hefty shipping charge to downgrade an otherwise great deal. Unless you know you're getting free shipping, you'll want to figure out how much shipping will cost you and compare that to the discount another available code would provide, to see which is greater.

Of course, coupons that give both a discount and free shipping are even better.

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