Remember to use internet coupon codes!

I am inordinately proud of myself.

We’re in San Diego for a few days (hi Cloud!).

We needed to rent a car, and we wanted to do three big local attractions:  Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, and Legoland.

First I went to Priceline and saw that of the car rental companies near the airport, Enterprise was the cheapest at $11/day + fees.  Alamo was the next cheapest at $15/day + fees.  National was the most expensive at $42 + fees.  National had perfect reviews in Yelp, Enterprise’s were a bit scary, and Alamo’s were pretty good (the negative reviews weren’t scary).   Then I went to Alamo’s site.  They said $11 paying online and $12 reserving but not paying online.

Then I thought… maybe there are some discount codes.  So I googled Alamo discount codes.  I found one for a free upgrade, but when I clicked that the $11 paying online choice disappeared making the “free” upgrade not really free.  However, that page led me to a page with other discounts for Alamo, including a 3 day weekend 15% off discount.  Which I took!  In the end, I got it down to under $70 including fees and taxes– a savings of something like $40 off what I’d initially seen for Alamo.

Spurred on by this success, I went to the pages for Sea World, the zoo, and legoland.  Their discounts kind of sucked.  So I googled discount Sea World.  That took me to the San Diego Go page.  Which seemed too good to be true, but the about.com page said it wasn’t!

So I played with that and built an itinerary.  Then I saw that one of their pre-built itineraries was 26% off four specific attractions, including my three, and even with the fourth it was cheaper than 15% off 3.  So I got that and saved $84 off buying at the door.  How awesome was that?

So, as a reminder, discount codes aren’t just for free shipping!

(Also:  you don’t need to sign up for tempting emails to get the codes– usually a google search will do the trick.)

16 Responses to “Remember to use internet coupon codes!”

  1. NoTrustFund Says:

    Oh wow, $84. I am religious about searching for coupon codes for online retail shopping, and shocked that I can usually find a code for almost anything. Clearly I need to start looking in more areas of my life.

    Speaking of which, we recently rejoined amazon prime, this time as a paying member rather than the free amazon mom membership we had for awhile. I’m realizing they do not always show you the cheapest option first, or even second. Which really annoys me.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I’ve found that the amazon prime offers are always either first, or sorted into their own section, so you can always find the cheap ones. Love it! Of course, my partner paid for it, not me. But I love it still.

  2. plantingourpennies Says:

    @NoTrustFund – hotels.com has recently gotten into trouble for showing more expensive hotels to people who are searching from IP addresses in more affluent areas.

    As for not using emails – I don’t use that as a hard and fast rule. I maintain a separate e-marketing email address that I use for said items. Multiple retailers regularly send email discount codes, and then when I need something I look there first. If the code isn’t looking great, I’ll google around too – but often the most recent email code is better (or more reliable as the internet codes I find from random googling are often expired).

  3. Leah Says:

    That’s a good reminder even for home-town (or close to it) stuff. When I lived in Seattle, I never thought to look for details. During college, I led a trip to Seattle for the weekend, and we bought several discount tickets from the chamber of commerce (city passes and the like). I was totally blown away by how much cheaper I could have visited places had I made the decision to do a “staycation” weekend and do multiple sites in just a few days.

    RE: car rental, interesting that enterprise had bad reviews. I’ve used them all over the place, and it’s always gone well for me. I do get great discounts with them due to my membership in the teacher’s union, but I’ll have to check for online coupon codes and see if I can do any better.

    What do you do re: insurance for rental cars? I never take it (my own insurance covers it), but I always worry about the “loss of use” fees if one does get in an accident. My credit card will ostensibly cover that, but it’s always that little nagging worry in the back of my head.

  4. Cloud Says:

    @NoTrustFund- in my experience (as an Amazon Prime member for over a year now), they are actually showing me the cheapest overall option first. I noticed the fact that it looked like I was getting the more expensive option, until I clicked through and added in the shipping costs. I haven’t extensively researched this, though, so there may be exceptions.

    I can vouch for the San Diego Go pass. Lots of visitors use it. Locals tend to be members at one attraction, and then look for “Buy one, come back sometime later in the year for free” deals on one other. Or anyway, that’s what the locals in my little circle do.

  5. Comradde PhysioProffe Says:

    What was the value of your time that you spent chasing all that stuff down?

  6. oilandgarlic Says:

    I think it’s pretty quick to google for discounts. You can spend a lot of time of course, but even if you do a quick pass, you can usually find some savings.

  7. First Gen American Says:

    I love doing that stuff too. Especially for vacations, because it’s a way to look forward to your trip by scouring all the options and building a fun vacation in your head. Some would argue it’s not worth the time spent but for me it’s more about the thrill of the hunt. Rental car list prices are always high. If you work for a big company, they will also usually extend an employee discount to your company’s preferred carrier. I got two coupon codes right off of my employer’s travel website.

    Legoland is awesome. I’d love to go back now that the kids are older.

    I am digging amazon prime too, mainly for the movie watching, but I like the delivery too. I don’t think I benefit much from the prime shipping. They seem to mark up the prime items in many cases to offset the shipping costs. I feel like it was easier to get a good deal on shipping at amazon before prime however I still like it for the other benefits it brings.

  8. MutantSupermodel Says:

    “They named it San Diego, which of course in German means a whale’s vagina”

  9. Adam Hagerman Says:

    My wife and I search for coupons every time we shop online. Between all of the free shipping codes and $5 off coupons, I am guessing that we have saved hundreds over the years. Just the other day, I subscribed to Angie’s List and found a $10 off coupon. Easy savings!

  10. Callie Says:

    Hey all-I’m a bit late to this thread, but with my Christmas travels, I found Costco’s travel website to have excellent rates for rental cars. We had a weeklong rental for about $116. Check out Costco if you already have a membership. It’s definitely worth a quick search!

  11. Carnival of Personal Finance #396 | Adam Hagerman, AFC® – Financial Coach Says:

    […] from Nicole and Maggie: Grumpy Rumblings of the Half-Tenured presents Remember to use internet coupon codes!, and says, “Nicole and Maggie remind you that coupon codes are available for all sorts of […]


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