In order to save big with coupons, you need to understand the general rules pertaining to coupons and exactly what information is contained on that piece of paper.
TYPES OF COUPONS
There are two types of coupons: manufacturer’s coupons and store coupons. You can tell the difference by looking in the box to the left of the expiration date.
- Are released by the manufacturer.
- Can be used at any store that accepts manufacturer’s coupons unless the coupon specifically states “Use at ___ store ONLY.” The store will be reimbursed by the manufacturer even if the coupon states “Use at Safeway” or “Available at Walmart.” That is just a marketing ploy — Safeway and Walmart paid the manufacturer to include that verbiage on the coupon. This applies also to Catalina coupons. “Redeem at Fred Meyer” is a just a suggestion. Catalina coupons can be redeemed at any store that accepts manufacturer’s coupons and the store will be reimbursed by the manufacturer. The issue will be if a particular chooses to accept these coupons, which they may not.
- Are funded by the manufacturer. When you redeem a Glade manufacturer’s coupon at Target, for example, Glade will reimburse Target for the amount you saved. Target IS NOT losing out on that amount, the manufacturer is.
- Are tender, meaning it is a form of payment, just like cash.
- Are released by a particular store or chain of stores and can only be redeemed at said store.
- Can be used along with a manufacturer’s coupon (more on this later).
- Are funded by the store, not a particular manufacturer. When you redeem a $10/$50 Safeway store coupon, Safeway takes the $10 hit.
GENERAL COUPON RULES
You can only use one manufacturer’s coupon on each item. Think of a manufacturer’s coupon as a sticky note. Each product can only have one note attached to it. You cannot double up manufacturer’s coupons. Likewise, each coupon must “stick” to an item. A “$1/1 coupon” sticks to 1 item. A “$1/2 coupon” sticks to 2 items. A “$.60/3” coupon sticks to 3 items.
Let’s say you purchase 4 boxes of Kellogg’s cereal. You may use a $1/1 Kellogg’s coupon and a $1/3 Kellogg’s coupon. No more.
Please note that a “peelie” coupon (a manufacturer’s coupon attached to an item in the store) is a manufacturer’s coupon and cannot be used in conjunction with, say, a Sunday insert manufacturer’s coupon.
This rule does not apply to store coupons. You can use a manufacturer’s coupon and a store coupon on one item (this is called stacking).
You may use a manufacturer’s coupon only once. Once you redeem the coupon, the store keeps it and sends it to the manufacturer for reimbursement. You cannot use the coupon again on another transaction.
You cannot photocopy a manufacturer’s coupon, INCLUDING internet printable coupons. Each internet printable coupon, unless it is a PDF coupon, has a unique barcode. If you use a photocopied coupon, the store may not be reimbursed and you are stealing the money you did not pay. Copying coupons is illegal and beyond shady.
You must abide by the wording on the coupon, not necessarily the picture. Manufacturers usually picture the newest or most expensive product in the line to “encourage” you to buy that item. Read the coupon and ignore the picture — oftentimes the coupon will state “Save $1 on ANY package/variety/size.”
You can usually use a manufacturer’s coupon on a sale or clearance item, even if the coupon will make the item free. The only exception I’ve run encountered is when a grocery store hand-tags their clearance and the cashier punches in the clearance price under “general merchandise” and does not scan the item. In this case, the coupon will not go through since the corresponding item was not scanned.
You can use multiple manufacturer’s coupons in one transaction. As long as the number of items matches the number of manufacturer’s coupons and you’ve followed the rules above, you can use more than one coupon in each transaction, including duplicates. If you purchase 3 Colgate toothbrushes, you can use 3 Colgate toothbrush coupons.
Cashiers, and some couponers, get hung up on the “one coupon per item purchased” or “one coupon per purchase” wording on most manufacturer’s coupons. “Purchase” refers to item — you can only use one coupon per item. If the coupon states “one coupon per customer” or “one coupon per transaction,” then you can only use one of that particular coupon per transaction.
Read more from The Ultimate Guide to Couponing in the Northwest here.
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