Save $29 in Minutes

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I came across an article recently about how to save money and shop on-line more effectively by taking advantage of freely available merchant discount codes. These codes can be entered at the checkout page of most on-line retailer web sites and can result in some real savings ($29 on average) with minimal effort. Well, I put this to the test over the weekend when I bought a digital camera. It was a regular single click Sony model which I bought for around $200 from an on-line retailer I found through Amazon.com. Using a 15% merchant discount code I was able to get $30 off the price – not bad for a few minutes of effort.

So how I did I find the relevant merchant discount code? There are various sites like, Currentcodes.com, RetailMeNot.com and CoolSavings.com but all I did was a Google search for “Sony Cameras on-line discount merchant codes 2008″ and I got a whole list of codes. I picked the one that gave me the best deal and used it successfully when paying for the camera. Obviously you would substitute “Sony Camera” with whatever product you are looking for and the more specific you are (e.g. include a model number if you know it) the more accurate your search results. Adding the date will ensure more recent and unexpired coupon codes. Instead of the word “code” you could also use the word “coupon” as these are basically the same thing.

If you don’t find anything you only wasted a few minutes, but the potential savings make the time to do this search well worth the effort. What’s good about this simple saving strategy is that you can probably find a code/coupon for virtually any product or merchant that sells online. The sites that aggregate all these discount codes don’t charge users because they can support themselves in a variety of ways, ranging from selling ads to sharing revenue with companies whose codes appear on the site. So if you see one trying to charge you money, move on.

Here are four points from the “experts” worth remembering when you next shop on-line:

•Never go to on-line checkout without first visiting a coupon-code website — or several — to see if there’s a deal to be had.
•Do price comparisons of the product you’re buying even if the deal already sounds good. Without a discount, it might not be the best price out there. Shopzilla and Froogle are among the best price-comparison sites.
•Factor in whether free shipping or a discount is more valuable before choosing one promotion over another if you’re allowed only one such discount.
•Try to “stack coupons” — that is, bundle several codes together for more savings. Many online stores allow this, so it’s always worth trying.

All the points are valid and useful, but I found that “stack coupons” rarely worked. Most only accepted a single coupon code and so pick the one that gets you the best saving. For example a $20 off coupon is only better than a 20% off coupon, if the price is less than $201.

The full article from USA today can be found here.

Photo courtesy PPDIGITAL
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