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The Difference Between Promo Codes and Coupons

Updated on February 21, 2012
Using promo codes is a bit like coupon clipping - but without the paper!
Using promo codes is a bit like coupon clipping - but without the paper! | Source

If you're starting to understand the concept of using coupons to save money, then you've probably come across some of the terminology on the Internet for applying discounts and achieving savings for online purchases.

Most commonly, coupons on the Internet are referred to as “online coupons” or “promo codes” (which stands for promotional codes). While promo codes essentially achieve the same goal as coupons, that is to offer savings into the end consumer, there are some differences to look out for.

The most obvious difference between promo codes and coupons is that promo codes are used to make purchases on the Internet, while coupons are physical pieces of paper that must be taken to a physical store. 

Promo codes are usually a combination of letters and numbers that are entered in a special text box before submitting payments for a product on service online. Most often, you would find the promo code box at the checkout stage. Once the promo code has been entered, the merchant’s website automatically checks its validity and updates the cost of your transaction. If the promo code is valid against your purchase, you should immediately notice that your total purchase price has dropped. Success!

In some circumstances, and this varies from merchants to merchant, you may be given an opportunity to apply more than one promo code against your order, so for example you might be fortunate enough to apply promo codes that are valid for both a percentage off, plus free shipping. 

This is all a bit different to using traditional paper coupons. For the most part, coupons are used to save money to save money on grocery and general household items. It is uncommon to find paper coupons that can be applied towards bigger ticket items such as clothing, jewelry, electronics etc. This is where online coupons become so valuable, because savings can be applied to much more expensive items.

While clipping and organizing paper coupons is a great deal of fun (and very rewarding), I must say that I enjoy the simplicity of using promo codes for purchases on the Internet. It's especially easier of course if you know where to look for them.

 A common Google search made by consumers looking to achieve discounts on their online purchases is “promo codes 2012”. This search will usually return a good mix of websites offering deals and discounts from well-known online merchants.

One of my favorite websites for finding great deals is CouponSnapshot. They have teamed up with over 16,000 merchants to bring massive online savings and discounts. The process is easy; simply search for the company you wish to buy from, and then select “Use This Deal” when you find one that you like. You will be given a promo code to use at the checkout, or sometimes taken directly to the merchant’s website with the deal already applied. If that’s the case, all you have to do is shop and checkout.

 Unlike coupon clipping, there is no need to worry about whether the coupon will be valid in your country, or if it has passed its expiry date. Internet technology takes care of all that for you, returning only the most up-to-date and useful coupon codes.

So, even though promo codes and coupons have their differences, each type serves one common goal, and that is to save us money. I’ll be continuing to use a combination of both promo codes and coupons to save money on all my future purchases.


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    • Ashley Chiken profile image

      Ashley 7 months ago from New York, NY

      Thanks for sharing such informative article

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      I'm glad to find out about promo codes.

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 6 years ago from United States

      Great...good luck Cloverleaf and yes, pls let me know.

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      Hi Ruchira, funny you should mention that actually, I registered my domain name yesterday and will be launching my website soon! I'll keep you posted (I'm very excited :)

      Hi acaetnna, yes, in fact you could check out

    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 6 years ago from Guildford

      This all sounds great - will check it out. Thank you for sharing. I guess there is a similar thing in the UK?!

    • Ruchira profile image

      Ruchira 6 years ago from United States sure are an expert in this :)

      You remind me of Susie's coupons :)

      ever thought of starting your own site?

      voted up as useful

    • Cloverleaf profile image

      Cloverleaf 6 years ago from Calgary, AB, Canada

      It's my pleasure, Joyce! There are so many bargains out there :)

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 6 years ago from Southern Nevada

      You are such a hardworking lady helping us all to buy things cheaper and I thank you. Voted up, useful and interesting, Joyce.