This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2011, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Before ordering anything online, you may want to check out a few websites first.

These sites, which compile discount coupon codes, can help you pay less and even help save on shipping costs, or avoid them altogether. Coupon codes are letter and/or number combinations entered at checkout.

One of the most popular sites is RetailMeNot.com. Simply log on and input the name of the retail website.

Planning to order a book from Barnes & Noble? RetailMeNot.com lists two coupon codes, one for 10 percent off your entire order and another worth 15 percent off one item. The bookseller also is offering free shipping on orders of $25 or more.

Coupon codes with the greatest likelihood of working are listed as "verified"; those that aren't list the percentage of site users who have been successful.

Sometimes the site lists so many coupon codes for a particular retailer that you'll need to spend time figuring out which code — or combination of codes — will save you the most. In some cases, retailers will allow you to use multiple coupon codes on the same order, such as a percentage discount on one item and a free shipping offer.

Even when a retailer such as Coldwater Creek allows shoppers to use only one coupon code per order, the savings can be substantial. For example, RetailMeNot.com may list a code worth 30 percent off, plus free shipping that is good through Saturday. Without the code, a $59.95 pullover would run a total of $74.01, including $9.95 shipping and $4.11 in tax. But with the coupon code, the same pullover is $44.83, reflecting a $17.99 discount, free shipping and reduced tax of $2.87.

Another useful site is CouponCabin.com. It has a listing of codes "guaranteed to work" and those that are exclusive to the site. There's also a nifty "Best of the Best" listing that reflects some of the deepest discounts offered by individual retailers. You'll find all of these features under the "Coupon" tab.

Not sure whether you want to order online or go to a store instead? CouponSherpa.com has listings of coupon codes, as well as printable coupons that can be used in brick-and-mortar locations. This can help you compare the available savings.

Another site, freeshipping.org, is devoted to reducing and avoiding shipping charges. Some offers have strings attached — such as a $25 order minimum — while others have no minimum.

If you do a lot of online shopping, you also may want to consider using a portal such as ShopAtHome.com. Here you'll earn commissions for referring shoppers to Web-based retailers.

A shopper logs on to ShopAtHome.com, types in the name of the retailer at the top of the page and clicks on the link provided. The user is then redirected to the retailer's site and could earn a rebate on the purchase. It's not a big amount, but as with many money-saving moves, the savings can add up over time.

Lesley Mitchell writes One Cheap Chick in daily blog form at blogs.sltrib.com/cheap —

Best websites for coupon codes

RetailMeNot.com

CouponCabin.com

PromotionalCodes.com

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