Promotional / Coupon Codes

Advertising is Google’s main business. Like any other retailer selling a product or service, Google hosts promotions too. Every once in a while, Google gives out promotional codes (also known as coupons or vouchers). These promo codes offer credit to an advertiser’s account.

What kind of promo codes does Google offer?

We’ve seen many. There was a time when Google handed out promo codes like flyers on the street. These offers usually look like this:

  • Spend £25, get £50
  • Get up to £120 credit, based on your ad spend during 31 days

All offers will require you to meet certain criteria before credit shows up in your account. All you have to do is enter the coupon code and wait for your campaigns to rack up costs. Once you fulfil the promotion’s requirements, Google will credit your account within 5 days.


Quick Tip

Each promo code can only be applied to one account. In other words, you cannot share promo codes with anyone else, or enter them into another AdWords account.

Where can I find promo codes?

For starters, you can’t just ring Google up and ask for one. However, Google and its partners are good at giving them out. They put their targeting technology and extensive stats to good use when hunting down the perfect candidates for these promo codes.

Most of the time, promo codes are only offered to new advertisers. Each account typically receives only one offer though, sadly. I guess Google knows how great they are. Once you’ve tried its powerful ad engine, you won’t turn back.

If you search for “free AdWords promo codes” on Google, you’d typically come across many sites offering free promo codes. I’m not vouching for these sites, but they aren’t illegitimate. These sites are affiliates who receive a small commission if you sign up to AdWords using their link. There will also be tens, if not hundreds of codes, to sift through on the Internet. You’ll have to sit and identify for the most current ones. It is much easier to wait for Google or its partners to offer you one. Almost all new advertisers receive an offer anyway!

You might stumble upon invalid coupon codes, either from Google or from any of the online affiliate sites. This could be because:

  • The coupon has already been redeemed by another account. Remember, no sharing!
  • The code has already expired.
  • The code is only valid for specific accounts, such as personal accounts only or for a specific geographic region.
  • Your account is too old. Most promo codes can only work if your account is less than 14 days old. Check the terms and conditions to verify.
  • If you’ve just redeemed another code recently, your account may not be eligible for a code. You’ll need to wait for a certain amount of time before you can use another promo code.
  • If your account is already accruing costs for another code, you cannot apply another code at the same time.

Quick Tip

Make sure you check the code expiration date when you receive the offer. You don’t want to miss out on the promotional period before using it! You should also skim the terms and conditions.

Screenshot of welcome message with promo code from AdWords
It’s common to receive promo codes in your Welcome email. Don’t trash that email before reading it!

How do I redeem a promo code?

  1. As usual, sign in to your AdWords account.
  2. Click the gear icon and go to “Billing”.
  3. Click “Manage promotional codes”.
  4. Click the red button that says “+ Promotional code”.
  5. Paste your code and click “Enter”. Make sure that you include any capital letters and dashes.
  6. Check your email for the confirmation. You’ll get this email within 24 hours.
Screenshot showing how to apply promo code in AdWords

How do I receive the credit from my promo code?

You’ll have to meet the spend requirements before receiving any credit. For example, if your offer says you need to spend £25 within 30 days, you need to accrue at least £25 worth of clicks before the credit will appear in your account. This must be a new advertising spend. If you’ve already spent £25 before applying the code, it does not count towards your requirement. So, just let your ads run.

Once you’ve earned sufficient credit, the promised amount will appear in your account in the next five days. They’ll also send you an email to let you know, and send you a notification in your account. This credit is also for future advertising spend only. You cannot choose to cover any costs already incurred with this credit.

You can track the progress of your promotional codes from the same promotional code management page. This page is updated every few hours and it’ll let you know if you’ve earned the credit or if you need to spend some more!

Screenshot of the history tab of the AdWords promotional code

Promotional codes are applied differently, based on your payment settings:

  • If you’re using automatic payments, all you need to do is to enter the code and start advertising.
  • If you’re using manual payments, you’ll need to enter the code and then make a manual payment as required by the offer. For example, if the offer requires you to spend £25 within 30 days, you’ll need to make a manual payment of at least £25 and spend the amount entirely within 30 days. I’d make a manual payment slightly more than the minimum requirement. This will cover any VAT charges and ensure that the minimum spend is totally used up. I don’t want to end up with a 20p balance on my promo code requirement, only because my average cost per click is 50p!

If you’re on monthly invoicing, enter the code after your account has been set up for invoicing. The credit will be automatically added to your account after the requirements are met.

Quick Tip

  • Promotional credit cannot be refunded. If you cancel your account before spending the entire credit, you cannot withdraw the remaining balance as cash.
  • Do not change your payment method when a promo code is active. For example, don’t swap from automatic payment to monthly invoicing. If you do so, your promotional code will be invalidated and any unused credit will be lost