How to Apply a Promo Code When Shopping Online

About the Author


The best community for finding and sharing deals.

How to Apply a Promo Code When Shopping Online

Simply put, a promo code is the online equivalent to a traditional coupon. Sometimes they are referred to as coupon codes or online coupons, but regardless what they are called, their function is the same – to provide a discount to the buyer during checkout at an e-commerce store.

Prior to the advent of the promo code a decade ago, there was no real way for online retailers to offer shoppers a coupon-style discount. Promo codes quickly took off in popularity and gave stores a new way to market to their customers and differentiate themselves from an increasingly competitive marketplace.

With online shopping now commonplace, the promo code has become as ubiquitous as the printed coupon, but despite its prevalence there is still a lot of confusion about how to use promo codes.

Below is a basic guide to help clarify the promo code process:

Step 1: Find the Promo Code

If the customer hasn’t been given the promo code already via an email or advertisement, then they will need to do a web search (example: Starbucks promo codes). We recommend searching first because we take significant care in providing the best possible results. Unfortunately there are other promo code sites don’t meet the same quality standards.

Step 2: Begin shopping.


Step 3: Carefully Scan the Cart (or bag) Page

Almost all e-commerce sites operate in the same fashion – except when it comes to promo codes. Customers “add to cart” or “add to bag” the items they want to purchase and then are presented a page to review all the items they have selected for purchase. Some e-commerce sites put the promo code box on this page, so make sure to carefully look for it before hitting the “checkout” button. If the promo code box is on this page, then paste the code in and hit apply. The discount should show up immediately. If it’s not, then proceed to Step 4.

Step 4: Carefully Scan Every Checkout Page

Most sites that don’t have a promo code box on the cart page have one somewhere in the checkout process. Some have it as part of the first page where it directs the shopper to sign in (or sign up for an account), while some might even sneak it in where the customer will fill out their shipping information. There are even a few online stores that don’t let customers enter the promo code until after they’ve put in their billing information. Shoppers must review every page carefully until they find the promo code box.

Step 5: Carefully Review the Order

Customers should not take their promo codes for granted and assume they worked and provided them the stated discount. It is important for customers to always review their order and verify that the promo code discount was applied. There are many reasons a promo code might not have worked, but once the purchase is made, it is unlikely that a store will go back and retro-actively apply the discount later.

 Promo codes come in many different forms.

Other Points to Remember

  • Occasionally, stores will automatically apply a promo code. In this case, the customer can either proceed with the provided discount or replace the auto-generated promo code with their own.

  • Stores sometimes have the same box for both promo code and gift card redemption, so if a shopper can’t find a box for promo codes they can try entering the code in the gift card box.

  • Promo code boxes can appear anywhere on any page. Some stores have them near the header at the very top of the page and some have them hidden near the footer and everywhere in between. Most of the biggest stores do have them in the middle of the page near the price, however.

  • Some stores hide the promo code box and provide a link (oftentimes in small text) that the customer must click before the promo code box suddenly appears.

  • A few e-commerce sites require the customer to type the promo code into the box, instead of letting the customer copy and paste the promo code into the box.

Get each week's best deals from Dealspotr in your inbox

This guide was published on May 13, 2015, and last modified on May 13, 2015.

Enjoy this guide? Spread good knowledge.