You’re paying for something online-a shirt, suit, or scarf-and notice a place to key in a code for a discount. But what are these secret codes, and where can you find them?
They’re at retailme not.com, and it takes almost no time or effort to search-alphabetically or by category or store (there are over 15,000 stores listed). The site offers codes for home products, sporting goods, luggage, food, and even Halloween costumes.
We found codes to get $10 off a $100 order at homedepot.com, 15 percent off purchases at the sporting-goods store modells.com, and $20 off a two-night stay booked through hotels.com. Before you pay for an item you want on a site, check retailmenot.com first to see if there’s a code. The discount codes work for online sales only, but the site has a thriving printable coupons section.
Codes come and go, often timed to the season. Some offers have fine print that excludes certain brands. Also check out currentcodes.com (stores are listed alphabetically), keycode.com (for the latest offers, sign up for RSS feeds), and rather-be-shopping.com (the site updates coupon codes daily).
At fatwallet.com, you buy and it pays you back-no joke. This site gets a commission for steering you to participating retailers, and it shares a portion of that commission with you in the form of cash back.
Recent rebates included 2.5 percent from toolking.com, 5 percent from fabric.com, and 7 percent from gardeners.com. To get your rebate, sign on to FatWallet, go to its Cash Back & Coupons page, then select a store. Click on the store’s link and complete your purchase in the window that opens.
The downside: Cash back, yes. Miracles, no. The site doesn’t take your rebate off at check-out. It’s a rebate, so it can take three weeks to post the cash in your FatWallet account and up to 120 days for FatWallet to cough up the dough via check or PayPal. Still, it is free money.
Dealcatcher.com is a good resource for coupons, rebates, and Sunday newspaper circulars listing weekly deals. The printable coupons don’t require special software (some sites do). A recent check found a coupon for $10 off a $60 purchase at the athletic shoe store finishline.com and a printable coupon for 25 percent off a pair of jeans at Gap. You can also compare prices here. We searched for the 1.7-ounce bottle of Vera Wang’s Princess fragrance and found the lowest price ($43.95) through DealCatcher, versus $55 at sephora.com and nordstrom.com. The Canon PowerShot SD790 IS ten-megapixel digital camera was $299.99 at bestbuy.com. But DealCatcher found it at dell.com for $243 (including free shipping).
If you’re short on time and want to do a quick price comparison, use “shopping bots” like pricegrabber.com. It won’t catch every deal-it can miss low prices on some less technologically advanced sites-but it does give a good overview. Check several different ones (shopping.com, mysimon.com, shopping.yahoo.com), and remember to sort by price.
At PriceGrabber, search by products, retailers, individual sellers, prices, or ratings. You’ll find just about everything here-sporting goods, auto parts, furniture, musical instruments, toys, video games, and electronics. The site’s bottom-line-price tool shows how much your product will cost at the various sites with the shipping included. Even if you don’t end up buying something online, you’ll know what’s a bargain. For one popular GPS system, we saw prices from 41 sellers ranging from $348.85 (yes!) to $749.95 (are you kidding?).