It's easy to get more bang for your buck when shopping online. Sales tax does not apply to many purchases, and shipping is often free with a certain minimum purchase. On top of that, you can get cash back through Ebates or Fatwallet or earn frequent flyer miles for your purchases. Finally, if you're willing to spend ten extra minutes looking before finalizing your purchase, you can often find a coupon code that will save you a few extra bucks. To save you much of the time and hassle that I've spent prowling for codes, here are my thoughts on which coupon code sites are worth your time and which ones are not.
Retailmenot is my favorite site because if there is a coupon code to be had, I will almost always find it there. The site relies on users to submit codes they've received. The site's interface is user-friendly, their coupon codes frequently work, you can leave and read comments about whether and how a coupon worked, and you can remove from your screen coupon codes that you tried but didn't work. Users can rate whether a coupon worked for them or not, which gives you a good idea of whether you should bother to try it in the first place. Some stores, like Old Navy, have requested that Retailmenot not post coupon codes submitted by users. When you see a notice like this, it generally means that you'll have a hard time tracking down coupon codes for that store anywhere on the web, which can save you some time and frustration.
Dealcatcher is another favorite site of mine for their ease-of-use. However, they only seem to have coupon codes that are officially sanctioned by companies and widely available to the general public. This site seems to be more for letting users know about sales. This doesn't help me, because if a store I want to shop at is having a sale, I probably already know about it.
CouponCabin likes to brag that they have been featured all over the press, from NBC to USA Today. This is supposed to give the site credibility, but I've never found it useful. It is one of many sites that wants you to click on their links to "activate" savings. The truth is that these savings are often available to anyone, outlined on that retailer's website, and do not require any supposed activation. The "coupon" company is likely just collecting affiliate revenue from people who click on the links because they don't know any better. That's not a business model I want to support.
The Bargainist is most similar to Dealcatcher. It also has an attractive layout, but their offers usually aren't very up-to-date and aren't very plentiful compared to what you can find on Retailmenot. Still, the Bargainist is a valid site with a clean design and may be useful for some people. (To me, this seems like a site geared towards shopaholics. That's probably just my interpretation, but I can't think of any other reason why one individual user would want to see coupons for everything from cutting boards to camcorders on the same page unless they wanted to be tempted to impulse shop. I don't like Amazon's Goldbox deals for the same reason.)
Slickdeals.net and other bulletin board coupon sites seem to be worthless for finding coupon codes. Whenever I come across a link to one of these sites through Google, I end up on a page with a coupon code from 2004. Not helpful.
CouponAlbum is basically the same site as Coupon Cabin and has an equally stupid name. Albums are for photos.
Dealtaker is basically the same as Coupon Cabin and Coupon Album, but with a more annoying user interface. Don't waste your time.
MyCoupons is similar to Retailmenot, but it doesn't seem to have as many codes and the interface looks more cluttered.
As you can see, there are really only a couple of coupon code sites worth visiting, despite what you might think from simply googling "(insert store name here) coupon code." If you happen to find a useful code somewhere besides Retailmenot or MyCoupons, consider yourself lucky (and let me know about it!).
Screenshot by Torley
Ebates, Fatwallet, Citi Dividend Mall, and Airline Merchant Networks