How to find online promo codes (the expert's guide)

Advanced strategies for finding working coupon codes for online retailers.
Updated November 30, 2020

Who doesn't love free money?

Well, coupon codes are basically that - free money. When shopping online, just by entering that secret combination of letters (like "SAVE20" or "WELCOME50") during checkout, you can instantly slash your total purchase price by 20%, 30% or even more.

No wonder promo codes have become so popular with shoppers.

However - finding a working discount code can be a challenge. Depending on the store, often it is very difficult to locate a coupon code that actually works.

This guide is written for those shoppers who are maybe a bit obsessed about finding that working discount code. If you're willing to spend a few extra minutes hunting for that magical code, bookmark this guide now. We've written the most comprehensive guide to finding working coupon codes, and detailed strategies you won't find anywhere else.

At SimplyCodes, our mission is to help shoppers like you find working discount codes, especially for hard-to-find stores. We wrote this guide to share our expertise in this area and to help educate you on this little-discussed topic.

Basic strategies for finding coupon codes

If you're new to finding coupon codes, here are the most basic and tried-and-true methods for finding discount codes.

Google search

The most basic way to find discount codes is to run a quick Google search. For example, if you're looking for a coupon code for Pizza Hut, simply go to google.com and search "pizza hut promo code." You'll see a listing of websites that may offer promo codes for Pizza Hut. Open the first one and try to find a working code. If that fails, try the next website, and so on.

This is the most common way to find coupon codes for a specific store. It can work in many instances, but sometimes you'll come up short with no codes working. The main downside with this method is the time that it takes to try out a bunch of coupon codes, many of which may be expired or simply not work.

Coupon toolbars & extensions

When it comes to finding coupon codes during checkout, many shoppers prefer the convenience of a browser extension. These are plug-ins that you can install on your browser like Chrome or Safari that assist you with finding promo codes while you're shopping online. Extensions like these (examples are Honey and SimplyCodes) will pop up a window while you're shopping on say Pizza Hut's website, and will automatically try to find a working coupon code for you.

To use a coupon extension, just head to the extension store or gallery for your browser (e.g. the Chrome store, the Firefox Add-ons store, or select Safari Extensions from the Safari menu) and search for "coupons" and you'll see the options.

Coupon websites

For the slightly more motivated coupon searcher, you can go one step further and bookmark a few of the most popular and reliable coupon websites and search for codes there. While there are many coupon websites online, stick with the most trusted brands since they tend to have more coupon codes for more stores, and do a better job of filtering out expired codes.

The most reliable coupon websites include:

  • RetailMeNot
  • Offers.com
  • Slickdeals

No coupon website is perfect, and you'll see varying discount codes listed across websites. You'll also run across expired codes or codes that don't work for specific items you're trying to purchase. Given that many codes expire quickly and many have detailed restrictions, finding a working code can take some work.

On-store strategies for finding discount codes

A little-known strategy for finding working discount codes is to search right there on the retailer's website. Many times, the coupon code you're seeking is right there under your nose. Use these techniques to zero in on where these offer codes can be found right on each store's website. 

Store's own coupon page

Many people don't realize that retailers often maintain their own coupon page, right there on their website. Sometimes this page is simply hard to find or buried, so you may need to scour their site header or footer at the bottom of the page for a link that says something like:

  • Coupons
  • Promotions
  • Special offers

Here's an example for Sears, you can find their Deals and Coupons pages in their site header:

how to find promo codes

Other times, the store may actually advertise a promo code on their main homepage, but we may miss these because they often resemble advertisements. Scan the merchant's homepage for any mention of discount codes or coupons and you can often find one.

Newsletter signup

You can often get a working discount code at many stores simply by signing up for their newsletter. Many retailers want to incentivize shoppers to sign up for their newsletter, so they offer a discount code as a reward. These codes are typically personalized for you and have a long string of numbers like "WELCOME-AXS2883" and will unlock a discount on a single purchase (after that it can no longer be used).

To try to obtain a newsletter signup promo code, simply find the newsletter signup box on the retailer's website (you can usually find it in the site's footer at the bottom of the page), and enter your email address. Here's an example newsletter signup box on Revolve.com:

how to find promo codes

After you signup, check your email to see if they've sent you your code.

Live chat

Another advanced technique for obtaining coupon codes is by chatting with a customer service agent on the retailer's site. You often see a "live chat" link or even a popup chat window that appears on many e-commerce sites.

how to find promo codes

Sometimes just by asking an agent whether they have any discount codes available today, they'll give you one. Retailers these days don't want to lose customers once they've arrived on their website, so they'll offer discount codes as a way to motivate a shopper who's on the fence to complete their purchase. You can use this to your advantage while shopping online.

Abandon your shopping cart

This strategy may sound odd, but it sometimes works. To retailers, losing a potential buyer even after they've loaded up their shopping cart with items is their worst nightmare. So some stores have developed strategies to reel these "cart abandon-ing" shoppers back in with discount codes.

To try this strategy out, simply shop as you normally would at the retailer's website and add items to your shopping cart. Go through the checkout flow and then register with the website (this way they have your email address). Then, close your browser window, effectively abandoning your cart. Wait a day or so to see if the store emails you, asking you to complete your purchase. Is there a coupon code included in that email? Success if so!

Using social media to find coupon codes

Brands utilize social media to promote products and offers, and with the right strategies you can sometimes find a working code by search social media.

Slickdeals

Slickdeals is a very popular forum where people share and discuss deals. There are thousands of deals and coupon codes listed in Slickdeals, however the downside is that it's organized as a forum — split into messy discussion threads, and finding a specific deal can be hard to impossible.

Luckily, you can use Google search operators as shortcuts to navigate Slickdeals more efficiently. For example, you can search Google with "site:slickdeals.net nike promo code" to try to locate any recent threads about Nike's coupon codes listed on Slickdeals.

Reddit

Many people don't know this, but Reddit can be a great source for promo codes. Reddit is so big with so many topics that you can often find people discussing coupon codes for specific stores.

Just like with Slickdeals, you can use some handy Google search operators to find promo codes for specific stores. Here's an example for Nike coupon codes:  "site:reddit.com nike coupon code"

Twitter

Twitter can be a resource for discount codes in certain cases. Some brands actively use Twitter to promote offers, and will tweet discount codes directly on the platform. Other times you can find influencers or publishers who tweet discount codes or referral codes on Twitter.

To search for discount codes on Twitter, simply go to twitter.com then use the search bar to search for the retailer's coupon codes. Here's an example for Grubhub:

how to find promo codes

Your best bet is to use the "Latest" search tab to find the most recently posted tweets.

YouTube

Depending on which retailer you're trying to find discount codes for, YouTube can be a useful tool for locating codes. Just search youtube.com for "brandname promo code" and filter through the results. Many times brands will post videos which contain offer codes, and YouTubers also often receive referral codes from brands which they post along with their videos. Here's an example YouTube search for Sephora coupon codes:how to find promo codesYou'll probably want to focus on videos that were posted within the past few weeks to maximize your chances of finding a working discount code.

Advanced strategies for finding working coupon codes using SimplyCodes

SimplyCodes is the expert's tool for finding coupon codes. With over 5 million coupon codes in our database, we're laser-focused on making sure we have the most working discount codes for any retailer vs. our competitors. We also offer advanced tools that help you find a working discount codes, especially in those cases where other tools may fail you.

SimplyCodes coupon extension

When using other toolbars, we were frustrated that many times they didn't work - no discounts found. In fact, in many of those cases, if we spent a little more time researching (using the code-finding techniques mentioned in this article), we actually could find a working discount code.

The fact is, many coupon toolbars work for a limited number of stores, often stores that the toolbar company partners with. SimplyCodes lists codes for every retailer in the US, even small ones and startups - and every day we're adding hundreds of new stores to make sure that anytime you're shopping, we have a code available.

In fact, right nowSimplyCodes has working discount codes for over 40,000 merchants, which is far greater than any competing extension.

To give it a try, simply install it to your favorite browser. SimplyCodes will notify you when you're shopping online whenever there's an available code.

Recently expired coupon codes

On SimplyCodes, we provide you with a complete list of all promo codes for any given store, including recently expired codes. Why do we show you this? Because sometimes these codes can still work. Many times, a coupon code may have passed its expiration date, but due to an inconsistency or even a glitch, the code can still unlock a discount on the merchant's site.

For any US brand, you can find a complete list of their recently expired codes here on SimplyCodes. Here's an example for Target's codes:

how to find promo codes

To find this list for any retailer, just search for any brand's name on SimplyCodes and navigate to the store's page. Then scroll towards the bottom, and you'll find a complete list of that store's recently expired promo codes. You can even see screenshots showing the latest shopper attempts to use each code. This can help you see where to enter the discount code and verify on which dates the codes last worked.

Common coupon phrases

Did you know that the coupon phrase "WELCOME10" is the most commonly used coupon code across retailers in the US? The code "WELCOME10" has been used by over 6,500 brands to unlock discounts of 10% or more.

Nearing Mother's Day, did you know that the coupon phrase "MOM" is the #1 most common coupon code that works? Nearly 1,000 brands use this code for discounts during the Mother's Day shopping season.

Knowing the most common coupon words like these is an expert strategy that can help you locate a working promo code in those rare cases that none can be found. Luckily, we've created a database of over 1 million common coupon codes that you can browse next time you need to find a working code.

Even better, here on SimplyCodes we also curate the most common coupon phrases specific for each retailer. Want to know which coupon phrases Macy's uses most often? You can find an updated list here on SimplyCodes, just navigate to Macy's coupon page and scroll down until you see this:

how to find promo codes

We provide a real-time updated list of common promo code words used by all brands, just search the brand's name here on SimplyCodes to find their list.

One-time-use discount codes

If you search your inbox, you can usually find a bunch of one-time-use discount codes sent to you from various retailers. Brands send these coupon codes out to customers and subscribers to incentivize you to come back to shop on their website. More often than not though, these valuable discount codes simply sit in your inbox or spambox unused.

On SimplyCodes, our members can share their unused single-use coupon codes and earn points for doing so. As a result, we've amassed millions of one-time-use codes for thousands of US retailers, all of which you can use when you need.

To find single-use codes for any brands, just find their page here on SimplyCodes. Scroll down until you see their one-time-use code section, like this example for Adidas:
how to find promo codes

Just click to copy a code and enter it during checkout. Sometimes you'll need to try a few codes, since another member may have already used a specific code (and they only work once). Our system tries its best to remove used codes, but you may need to copy and paste a few to find one that works.