Common Reasons Promo Codes Don’t Work

Common Reasons Promo Codes Don't Work | Money Savvy Living


Promo codes are a great and easy way to save money. Unfortunately, they have a reputation for being a little temperamental and can cause frustration when they don’t work and you don’t know why.

There are a lot of reasons why a promo code might not work, and it can be difficult to figure out the reason for each exact code, but here are some common explanations:


Code is Expired

This is probably the most common reason a code won’t work. No matter where you find the promo code, it always comes with an expiration date. If you’re trying to use the code after the expiration date, it likely won’t work. That’s not to say that it definitely won’t work, as some expired codes can still be applied, so it can be worth a shot to try it and see it the discount is applied.

Minimum Purchase Requirement Not Met

Many coupon codes come with certain minimum purchase requirements, such as getting 20% off your purchase if you spend $50 or more. Minimum requirements are typically included in the main text of the code, but that isn’t always the case. Customer service representatives aren’t likely to let you use the code without meeting the requirements, so add more items to your cart or find another code that will work.

Code Only Good for First-Time Customers

In an effort to attract new customers, many sites like Gilt City offer valuable coupon codes to customers making their first purchase. If you try to use this coupon code on a subsequent purchase or if you already have an account, it likely won’t work.

Product or Category is Excluded

Many stores, such as Nordstrom, include a huge list of excluded items with their promo codes. This can be deceptive in some places, because promo codes labeled “storewide” might not actually apply to the entire store. The lesson here is to carefully read the fine print before making a purchase—customer service representatives are very unlikely to let you use the code on an excluded item.

Another Promo Code Was Already Applied

Some stores occasionally apply a promo code automatically when you log into your account. Most of the time you can use a different promo code if you wish, but sometimes it takes a little tinkering to get the new code to work. In these cases, customer service representatives are usually very helpful and can help get the desired code to your account.

Store No Longer Accepts Promo Codes

Promo codes are typically at the discretion of store management, so when a store or website is bought out by a new company, the promo code policies could change and make your codes unusable. There isn’t really a good situation to this problem, as it seems to be a natural side effect of when a company is bought. However, customer service representatives can be helpful and may be able to add the code manually.

Shopper Must Be Signed In to Redeem Promo Code

In some cases, you can only redeem a promo code if you have created an account at the store or site. Almost every online retailer lets customers create a free account very quickly, so this issue can be solved with little effort.

Code Not Available in All Areas

This is a common issue with free shipping codes in particular. Smaller local and regional stores often don’t have the ability or power to ship items to certain areas of the country or internationally, so their “free shipping” codes really only apply to a certain radius. Sometimes stores try to drum up more business in a certain region so they release codes that are only good for that region and don’t work if you live somewhere else.

Store is Having Technical Difficulties

You might automatically think this is the reason for a bad code, but it is actually a rare occurrence. That’s not to say that it doesn’t happen on occasion. If the site is experiencing technical glitches, customer service representatives should be very willing to fix the issue and perhaps even throw in an extra discount for the inconvenience.


This article is a guest post by Jason Feller, from  To read more from him or check out more frugal shopping and couponing ideas, you can connect with Dealspotr on Twitter and Facebook.

4 Smartphone Apps That Will Save You Money

4 Smartphone Apps that will Save You Money



If you love coupons, but hate having to search online for them and print them out, or rifle through the newspaper looking for them, there are four apps that you should definitely start using. I know that even if I have taken the time to clip coupons, I almost never have them handy when I need them. That is why I love these apps so much. No need to clip coupons—or keep track of them!  So before your next trip to the grocery store, out to eat, or to the mall, take a look at these apps and keep a bit more of your heard-earned money in your pocket.


Retail Me Not

retailmenot-logoRetail Me Not is a comprehensive app that offers current coupons for retailers ranging from beauty, to clothing, to automotive, to electronics, to food, to travel, and much more. You can sort by in-store or online coupons, even narrowing your search down to local retailers (locations services must be turned on your smartphone for this feature). Once you select a coupon, you are either given an online code to enter or a bar code for an in-store clerk to scan.


Checkout 51

checkout51logo_colourThis is a unique app for grocery coupons. Savings are updated weekly and you don’t even need to remember to show the cashier your smartphone to scan a bar code. This one is different in that all you have to do is take a picture of your grocery receipt with your smartphone, check the boxes for the offers that you are taking advantage of, and you are done.  Keep in mind, you won’t receive any actual money back from the coupons until your savings account balance reaches $20.

*I would suggest hanging on to your receipt until you receive the email that Checkout 51 has accepted it—photos must be clear and must include the entire receipt, so you may need to retake a picture if it doesn’t clearly show all items.



Target-Cartwheel-AppIf you are a Target shopper, you definitely need the Cartwheel app. Savings are updated often and you must go into the app and select the offers that you would like—be aware that you are limited to selecting only 10 offers at a time though. At the checkout, you simply show the cashier the bar code on your Cartwheel app and it will take off the coupon amount for any offers you have selected. You can also increase your savings by using a Target credit or debit card and save additional 5% on your entire purchase.


Snip Snap

snip snap logoSnip Snap also offers coupons for several types of retailers (much like Retail Me Not). This ranges from bar codes to scanned current print coupons. There is a rating for each offer as to how well it worked for other Snip Snap users. Honestly, I have never had any trouble using even the scanned coupons on here, but there is some feedback that certain retailers won’t accept the coupon in certain formats on here. If you don’t have another coupon though, it is worth a shot to save a little extra money though, right?

Money savvy grocery shopping: Stick to your list

money savvy shopping

Grocery shopping is something that we all do. Such a basic task, it wouldn’t seem that much explanation is necessary, or even possible. However, there are two types of grocery shoppers: the Impluse Buyer and the Money Savvy Shopper.

The Impulse Buyer has no list, they buy whatever they see that looks good, has no coupons, has not looked at any weekly advertisements for sales, and has done no menu planning ahead of time. This type of shopper will walk out of the grocery store, with possibly hundreds of dollars of groceries, and get home and feel like they have nothing with which to make a meal. Don’t be this kind of shopper… and if this describes you, take heart, there are grocery shopping strategies that you can implement to save you lots of $$$ at the checkout.

Become a Money Savvy Shopper. This type of grocery shopper has a detailed list, buying ingredients to create planned meals. They have looked through weekly ads to know which stores to shop in that week and which items are on sale.

Get organized for weekly grocery shopping... and save money

Get organized for weekly grocery shopping… and save money

Some money savvy shopping strategies include:

Make a list— and stick to this list. Don’t buy a bunch of items that are not on your list. You will over-spend each visit you make to the grocery store when you stray from your list. I found a great shopping list on pinterest which plans out meals for a week and the corresponding grocery list. You might want to try something similar to this to kick-start organized grocery shopping.

Look at weekly store advertisements— Some things really don’t matter when you buy them, but some grocery items, such as meat, can be very expensive if they are not an advertised special. So when steak or roast are on sale, stock up. Buy a few extra to put in the freezer so that next time you want to cook a roast, you don’t overspend because they aren’t on sale that week.

Use coupons— clip only the coupons of products that you use (sounds obvious, right? But “saving” money on an item that you don’t normally use is actually costing you money!)… and then make sure you use them. File them in a wallet size expandable file by expiration date so that it is easy to see when they need to be used by.