Coupons today are nothing like they were 10 years ago. Back then, you found a coupon in some sort of published media (usually a newspaper), cut it out, and brought it to the store in order to redeem it. Now, however, coupons can do a lot more. With the internet came a altogether new way of getting and even using coupons. There’s the printable coupon, the coupon code, and “offers”, all of which use the internet to spread coupons around the nation.
Printable coupons are very similar to standard coupons, except where you find them. You don’t find them in a newspaper, magazine, or the back of your receipt; you find them by going online to the appropriate website, selecting a coupon, and printing them at home through with(p) your personal computer! In the past, this had been impossible largely due to the difficulty in finding a way to limit the number of coupons that are put out there, since most companies prefer to do such a thing. Well, now there are files with built-in “print only once” commands, as well as options for limiting how many times a particular computer can even access the coupon online in order to print it. Of course, other companies choose simply to put a disclaimer on the coupon itself, saying things such as “only one per household”. Some people dismiss it, but enough people listen that it can be cost effective just to put the line on the coupon. But, the point is, you still have to take the coupon to a physical store in order to redeem it.
Coupon codes are somewhat the opposite of a printable coupon. They are usually found online, but they can be found in printed media as well. However, they can only be redeemed online. A coupon code is usually a series of letters and/or numbers, sometimes in random orders, such as “A1GHU7T”, and sometimes in a specified order with an obvious meaning to them, such as “B1G1HALF”, which would seem to suggest that it is for a “buy one, get the second one half off” coupon. Once you have a coupon code, you redeem it through online stores. You choose the appropriate item to go with the coupon, add it to your cart, and start the checkout process. At some point during the checkout process, the exact point of which varies from site to site, there will be a little box labeled “coupon code” or something similar. Type the coupon code into that spot and click the “submit” button (or, again, something similar). Voila! The coupon code has been redeemed! Then you just finish the checkout process and pay for your order.
Offers vary wildly. It’s usually based on the completion of some sort of prerequisite action. For example, this coupon for a free dog leash and 20 free prints is redeemed by signing up for a HP Snapfish account and uploading a pic. There’s no code and nothing to print, but it still seems very much like a coupon, so that’s why it’s here. This style of deal isn’t exclusive to the internet, but it does seem to happen more and more often there.
By being aware of all the different coupon types available to you, you should be able to find better coupons and better deals. So, get out there and shop smart!