The Smartest Way To Shop Online

The Smartest Way To Shop Online

From buying clothes to books to even groceries, 66% of Americans shop online. Because of that, many pop-up companies have evolved to help customers find the best discounts for every occasion. So, you should never shop online again without looking for a promo code!

Search for your item the way you normally would, and then open a new browser window right before you hit the check out. Open up a promo code search site and spend a minute or two looking for a code for your online retail store. Although we've found that some of them don't work all the time, we meet with success more than half the time--and we think that two minutes of work is well worth major savings (think 30% off your whole order, free shipping deals, and more).

We've weighed the pros and cons of the top promo code websites to let you know which one is best. Here are the winners:

1st Place: RetailMeNot.

Our top pick, this site features codes for over 50,000 stores, and it will even send you an email when new codes are posted for your favorites. The offerings include stores like Barnes & Noble, Urban Outfitters, and even Pizza Hut. The site also has an extensive section for grocery coupons.

The Good: You don’t have to waste your time sifting through dead promo codes, since this site lists out expiration dates and—most importantly—user success rates for each code. Granted, not every code works 100% of the time, but at least you can go for the ones with 90% rates and avoid the unreliable ones.

The Bad: The site isn’t as well-organized and easy to browse as competitor Coupon Cabin.

The Savings*: We found a coupon for 20% off at Calvin Klein, 20% off at the Gap, and $10 off a bra at Victoria’s Secret.

2nd Place: Coupon Cabin.

This site provides a comprehensive list of coupon codes across all sectors, from women’s clothing to books to home improvement products.

The Good: The site is better organized than RetailMeNot. We appreciate being able to easily search by category (like “Books & Magazines” or “Women’s Apparel”). No fuss.

The Bad: Coupon Cabin has lots of different promo codes, but we don’t appreciate it when sites tell us something is special when it’s really not; we found an “exclusive” coupon for Home Depot that we also saw on Retail Me Not.**

The Savings*: Coupons included 50% off at New York & Company, 25% off and free shipping at Macy’s, and 15% off at Express.

3rd Place: CouponChief.

This website seems to be less fashion-oriented than the other two. We weren’t thrilled with its offerings for lifestyle brands, but we think that it could be a good resource if you’re looking for products like furniture or iPhone ware.

The Good: We mostly like this site because it’s a way to make money. If you upload a coupon, you’ll earn back 2% of the sales that result from it. We might not shop here as often as the other two sites, but we definitely come here whenever we learn of a deal.

The Bad: The coupons here are different from those on RetailMeNot, which is a good thing. But we find that we often just don’t like them as much, which is a bad thing.

The Savings: Savings codes included those for brands like Sony and Microsoft.

Experience has taught us that many of the coupon codes don’t work all the time, but a quick search takes only a minute and can save as much as hundreds of dollars—if you know where to look. Time is money, and we like this effort-to-outcome exchange rate.

*Savings as of this writing.

**Editor's Note: After publication, we were contacted by a representative from Coupon Cabin, who wished to comment on our point about exclusive offers. According to Coupon Cabin, "Unfortunately, this is something we struggle with Retailmenot about – we are constantly sending them cease and desist letters because they post our exclusive content to their site. While we definitely are open to feedback and don’t purport to be perfect – this 'bad' item isn’t entirely accurate or our fault."

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