Thanks to shows like "Extreme Couponing", the quest for savings has sent bargain-hunters online. While great deals are an important goal to have, some newbies just don't know where to look. It's tough to know whether a deal is actually good, and bargain-hunting is a definite learning process. Overcome the learning curve with this crash-course introduction to the six most common types of online coupons. (How much is too much? Don't miss 5 Signs Your Coupon Habit Has Gone Too Far.)

Save Or Make Money With Your Old Clothes
5 Items You Should Never Buy New
Look Stylish Without Overspending

1. Printable Coupons
These types coupons are available online and are redeemable at local stores. They work just like deals from a coupon book, newspaper or magazine. You find them, print them, and keep them with you when you go to the store. You do not need to print them in color, and you can't use them online. Sometimes, you need to install specific software to print these. To avoid viruses, you should only download coupons from a reputable source. If a deal sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Usually, chain restaurant websites are great sources for printable coupons. (Learn more in 6 Easy Ways To Save At Restaurants.)

2. Dollar-Off Coupons
These types of deals let you take a fixed amount off your online purchase. Usually, they come in increments of $5, and increase as you spend more. Usually, these types of deals are available for online purchases only, so you will need a coupon code when you check out. Sometimes, these deals are stackable, so it's worth a try if you find a couple from different sources.

3. Percent-Off Deals
These types of coupons are much like dollar-off coupons in that you can use them to reduce your bill. They are different in that percent-off deals vary proportionally with the amount of money that you're spending - when you spend more, you save more. Sometimes, percent-off deals require that you spend a minimum amount. Unlike dollar-off coupons, percent-off deals become more valuable the more you spend.

4. Free Shipping
Using a code, these types of coupons will waive the shipping fee that you would otherwise pay. In general, shipping costs can vary between $5 and $10. However, even if you get free shipping you will often have to pay shipping to return an item. Even when there are no other deals available, free shipping offers are valuable and can add up over time. It's even better if you can find a free shipping deal with free return shipping.

5. Group Buying Deals
You might have seen deals from places like LivingSocial or Groupon. These types of deals are known are group-buying offers. The premise is simple: the company negotiates a deal with a local business. If enough people buy the deal within a certain time frame, you will receive the deal at the price that you committed to paying. Usually, group-buying deals expire after a few days, so you need to act quickly if you're interested. One key disadvantage is that you can't return the deal that you buy. (Don't get caught - check out Protect Yourself From Group Buying Scams.)

6. Georeferenced Mobile Deals
Technology is evolving so that companies can pinpoint your location. Especially if you have a smartphone, you may want to consider subscribing to a deals service, especially for your favorite restaurant chains. Basically, you will receive a free alert when you're in the vicinity of a place with a deal. This type of service is especially helpful when you're visiting a new area. If you use this type of coupon service, you should be careful to avoid additional fees (like texting or media fees).

The Bottom Line
Even though online couponing comes with a learning curve, the savings potential is high. Learn the basics of couponing so that you can get creative with your savings strategy and evolve beyond the basic coupon book.

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    Blue Apron Review: Is It Worth It?

    Read about one of the top meal-kit delivery services in the United States, and learn more about what it offers and how much it costs.
  2. Investing News

    3 Amazon Business Segments to Watch in 2016

    We'll look at three divisions of Amazon that are likely to perform well in 2016.
  3. Budgeting

    Bespoke Post Review: Is It Worth It?

    Find out if Bespoke Post, the fast-growing, e-commerce subscription service for men's lifestyle and grooming products, is worth all of the hype in this review.
  4. Stock Analysis

    3 Predictions for Amazon in 2016 (AMZN)

    Learn the top three predictions for Amazon in 2016 as the company comes off an exceptional year in terms of revenue and expands into new markets.
  5. Stock Analysis

    5 Reasons Alibaba's Earnings Disappointed in 2015 (BABA)

    Look at the reasons why Alibaba's earnings disappointed in 2015, including weak economic growth, the soft renminbi and allegations of counterfeit products.
  6. Investing

    Seven Sustainable Retail Dividends

    Seven retailers which pat sustainable dividends when examining both the companies' payout ratios and free cash flows.
  7. Budgeting

    Craft Coffee Review: Is It Worth It?

    Learn more about one of the first and most flexible specialty-grade coffee subscription services on the market, a perfect fit for any coffee lover.
  8. Stock Analysis

    Etsy: How It's Fared Since Its 2015 IPO (ETSY)

    Discover why Etsy had one of the worst IPOs of 2015, and how you would have fared as an investor had you invested in Etsy shortly after the IPO.
  9. Retirement

    Harry's Review: Is It Worth It?

    Find out if Harry's, the fast-growing, online purveyor of low-cost razor blades and shaving kits, is worth all of the hype in this review.
  10. Budgeting

    Manpacks Review: Is It Worth It?

    Find out if Manpacks, the fast-growing e-commerce subscription service for men's grooming products and underwear, is worth all the hype in this review.
  1. Does QVC charge sales tax?

    QVC, an American TV network, is registered with states to collect sales or use tax on taxable items. QVC is also required ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Does Walmart take international credit cards?

    Foreign visitors to Walmart locations in the United States can use their credit cards issued by banks outside of the U.S. ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. Is QVC publicly traded? (QVCA, QVCB)

    QVC, Inc., is a wholly owned subsidiary of Liberty Interactive Corporation. It is attributed to the QVC Group tracking stock, ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Who do hedge funds lend money to?

    Many traditional lenders and banks are failing to provide loans. In their absence, hedge funds have begun to fill the gap. ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How can I invest in electronic retailing (e-tailing)? (AMZN, W)

    Electronic retail is one of the fastest growing segments of the economy. Every year, more people are choosing to purchase ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What countries represent the largest portion of the global retail sector?

    The United States and China are the world's largest and second-largest retail markets, respectively, by total retail sales. ... Read Full Answer >>
Hot Definitions
  1. Inverted Yield Curve

    An interest rate environment in which long-term debt instruments have a lower yield than short-term debt instruments of the ...
  2. Socially Responsible Investment - SRI

    An investment that is considered socially responsible because of the nature of the business the company conducts. Common ...
  3. Presidential Election Cycle (Theory)

    A theory developed by Yale Hirsch that states that U.S. stock markets are weakest in the year following the election of a ...
  4. Super Bowl Indicator

    An indicator based on the belief that a Super Bowl win for a team from the old AFL (AFC division) foretells a decline in ...
  5. Flight To Quality

    The action of investors moving their capital away from riskier investments to the safest possible investment vehicles. This ...
Trading Center