Important Facts You Should Know Before Using Coupons


With the new shows such as Extreme Couponing,  there are a lot of new coupon users out there.  With so many people trying to save an “extreme” amount of money,  sometimes you could, inadvertently,  use a coupon incorrectly.  Using them incorrectly may, in time,  cause stores to adjust their policies.  So, I wanted to take a moment to address some important facts.

1. Do Not Copy – This is a very big NO-NO.  You can not copy coupons.  This is actually against the law and is considered fraud.  In most cases, you can print 2 per computer.  If you need more, see if friends or family members can print for you as well.

2. Unique Codes: A lot of people email me telling me that their store would not accept their coupons because the UPC codes were the same on their like coupons.  If you are using more then one  “like” coupon, your UPC codes WILL all be the same.  They are coded to work for each product and dollar amount.  However, there are numbers on the coupons that will change with each one printed.  This is how they insure that they are not getting ones that are copied..  Here is where you can find those numbers on your coupons: Coupons: There is a small barcode located under the expiration date.  There is a different number for each one printed.
Smart Source Coupons: On the left side there is a pin number.  There is a different pin number for each coupon printed. Update: Some of the Smart Source coupons may have the pin number located around the perimeter.

3. Fraudulent Coupons: If you received a coupon from a friend in your email or spotted one online and you are not sure if it’s legitimate, you can head over to Cents-off. They have a list of coupons that have been reported as fraudulent.  If you have received a fraudulent coupon, DO NOT use it.

4. Use The Coupon How It Is Intended: Be sure to only use the coupon how it was intended to be used.  If the coupon is for $1/1 off Maxwell House International Delight Coffee, don’t try to use it on Maxwell House Regular Coffee.  If it states “any Maxwell House Coffee” then you are free to use it on any of the Maxwell House products.

Also, pay attention to the size restrictions on the coupon.  If there are no size restrictions or it states “on any”, you can use it for any size in that product including trial or travel size.

5. One Per Purchase: A lot of consumers and cashiers think that this means you may only use 1 coupon per shopping trip.  What this actually means, is that you can use one coupon per item purchased.  So, if you were buying 4 Cheerios, you can use 4 $1/1 Cheerios Coupons.

Occasionally you will see coupons that are 1 per transaction.  In that case, you will only be able to use 1  even if you purchased more then one of those items in your transaction.  There really are not too many of these coupons around.

Some coupons, like P&G coupons, allow you to only use 4 “like” coupons per transaction.

6. The Value of The Coupon:  Another thing to pay close attention to is the value of the coupon.  If it states $1/1, you can use it to take $1.00 off 1 product.  If it states $1/2, you can use it to take $1 off 2 products.  So, for the $1/2 coupon you can only use one  for 2 products.

If you use your coupons exactly how they were intended to be used and if you have a better knowledge of them, it should make for a better shopping experience for you and the store.  If you are not sure how or when you can use a coupon, please ask.  I am always happy to answer any of your questions.

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  • Mich Rose

    thank you for your help this has helped me a great deal

  • Wendy

    Does anyone know what the rules are on ecoupons from shoprite? For manufacturers coupons it says is up to 4 offers. If I get 4 items for the ecoupon will the discount be deducted from only one or all 4?

    • Denise Uzunis

      The ecoupon will only be applied once and can only be used once, hth!

    • mark

      coupon only deducts one time one item

  • Shirley Grossman

    When i try to print a coupon it tells me I have to download coupon printer. I click download and then it tells me I already have coupon printer and do I want to replace it. If I say yes I still can’t print the voupons. Help.

  • aimee

    Can I use more then 1 manufacture coupon on one item. & could I use 1manufacture coupon with more then one store coupon?

    • Loretta Dugan

      general rule of thumb is one coupon per item purchased. you can usually use a store coupon + a manufacturer coupon on 1 item (store coupon policy permitting)

  • Denise Uzunis

    No, that is simply a suggestion of where to use it, it is a regular Manufacturer’s coupon and can be used anywhere!

  • Jmw

    When it say save 1.00 when u buy Any 2 what does that mean

    • guest12384729

      It means you have to buy 2 of the item to save the dollar, so it’s really
      .50 off per item in savings. If you try to use it with 1 item the coupon will not be valid

    • marcymouse10

      you have to buy two products same item

      • MisterBill

        No. It means you have to buy 2 of the items that the coupon applies to. They do not have to be the same item. It could be different flavors/varieties so long as the coupon applies to both items.

  • Billy g

    If my store is having a 10 for $10 sale can I use 10 coupons ? 1 for each item of the same thing ? Or can I use 10 manufactures coupon AND 10 store coupons ?

    • Sunil

      Best answer is it depends on your store. You can usually find the coupon policy for your store by searching the store name + coupon policy. You can also find lots of coupon policies here on this site by clicking “Find My Store” tab above, choose your store and then click the “coupon policy” tab if it’s there.

      Some stores limit the # of coupons you can use in a transaction. Some limit the # of internet coupons you can use. Some don’t accept internet coupons. Some coupons limit themselves by saying something like “1, 2 or 4 per transaction” in the fine print. Some stores say something like “only 4 identical coupons per transaction.” Most stores will let you combine a store coupon and manufacture coupon.

      I know this probably wasn’t the straightforward answer you were looking for, but individual store policies vary, so the answer really is it depends.

    • mary

      even though it is billed as 10 for $10, you may be able to just buy one item at $1. those type of sales are not usually “must buy 10”.

  • celia herring

    I notice that in your suggested deal ideas that (ex. buy $15.00 get $5 ecb) when you total up you are hitting the amount before coupons used, but I was told that the total had to be after you add any coupons. So my total before coupons is $15.57 but after I apply coupons it is 11.78 I will not get my ecb because it did not total $15.00 after coupons. Which is correct for the CVS coupon policy?

    • Michelle T.

      Nothing is specified in the policy about this. However, in my experience with CVS, whether or not you use coupons does not affect the amount spent on products. Think of your coupons as cash, a form of payment. Most likely, something you purchased was not included in the promotion. Check the bottom of the receipt and it will tell you how much you bought for this deal, you can go back and buy something else included, use a coupon for it, and get your ECB. Part of your total could have also been tax, which doesn’t count, and you need to buy at least 98% of the required amount for the ECB to be triggered.

    • MisterBill

      As you have found, many (actually most) employees are wrong (actually clueless) about stuff like that. The worst is at ShopRite where they will routinely tell you that the spend amount has to be after Price Plus and some even say after coupons, when in reality, in almost all cases it is BEFORE Price Plus discounts and definitely before coupons.

      Fortunately with CVS, you can split your purchases as you described across multiple transactions, so if you were to not get the ECB on the first order (and I’m fairly sure you would), you can buy whatever you need on a subsequent order to get up to $15. Then when you get the ECB on the first order, you can show it to the cashier and point out that they were incorrect.

  • Cecilia

    if i have a coupon stating $2 off a certain product and another coupon for the same product can i use both coupons?

    • Selma

      Not if they are both manufacturer coupons, no. Some stores allow you to stack a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon, but you would have to check with your stores to confirm that. (ShopRite, Stop&Shop, and CVS all allow you to do this). HTH!

    • Rocky

      Not if they are both manufacturer’s coupons. You can only use one per item purchased. If, however, one is a Manu coupon and one is a store coupon, most stores will allow you to stack them (use them both for one product purchased). Also, some stores allow you to use digital coupons, that you clip/load from their sites, onto your loyalty cards, along with a paper Manu coupon (Shoprite, Stop&Shop), but, other stores, don’t (Acme).

  • Marcella

    I went to shoprite today and I had a 50/1 any Colgate toothpaste product. I grabbed a Colgate toothpaste that was on sale for .99. The coupon beeped so the manager came over and told me that I couldn’t use the coupon because the toothpaste I grabbed didn’t match the picture on the coupon. Is this true??? Only restriction was that it had to be bigger than 3oz, mine was 6oz. I’m thinking he was wrong.

    • Rocky

      Yes, he was wrong. It’s the wording on a coupon that must be adhered to. There is no way they can put photos of every product that meets the criteria on a coupon. You met that criteria by getting ‘any over 3 ounces’. The coupon probably beeped because the doubled value, $1 was slightly over the price of the product, $0.99, and, therefore required an approval.

      • MisterBill

        That’s not why it beeped. The register system automatically maxes out the doubling in cases where it would exceed the price of the item (if it beeped for the doubled amount exceeding the price a LOT of coupons would beep). The coupon would have beeped if the base value of the coupon exceeded the price, but that was not the case. The coupon likely beeped because it was miscoded and SR’s system did not consider it valid for that specific product, when it should have been. Someone else reported a similar problem.

        • Rocky

          Not all doubled coupons automatically round down, though, most do. I consider that a type of mis-coding problem, also, and, have had it happen to me. But, yes, this Colgate coupon/product might have its own inherent problems that caused it to beep.

          • MisterBill

            In cases where a coupon fully doubles over the price of the item, I believe it’s because it did not correctly attach to the item, in which case it would not know not to fully double. So the issue would still have been incorrect coding, not the price being less than the doubled coupon value.

            Some coupons that are coded to work on any item will fully double as well. But they won’t beep (except at self-scan at S&S). There may be other cases where they fully double above the price of the item. But they still wouldn’t beep unless there was a problem with the coding.

    • Isabel

      Thanks. Makes much more sense now

  • Isabel

    If i have limit one per purchase but limit 4 like coupons do i have to buy 4 same products or can they be different products ?

    • Rocky

      It depends on what the coupon is for. If, for example, it says $0.50/1 Any Tropicana, you can buy any 4 Tropicana flavors or versions and use 4 of those same coupons. If, though, the coupon says $0.50/1 Tropicana Zinc + VitaminE, you will have to buy 4 of that same version to use 4 of those same coupons.

      • Isabel

        I had read on google thag like okay lets say its for gain. .50 off but you can use 4 like coupons. That you could buy the gain and some gum or any other 3 items because theyre purchases and that i could still use the 4 coupons. Thats a lie then?

        • Rocky

          Yes, sorry, that’s a lie. The coupon must only be used to purchase the product it is intended for, which, in your example, would be the Gain.

          • Isabel

            But wait one more question. What if its the same price take off like .50 but different barcode numbers. Is it still the same or can you use both for that one thing?

            • Michelle T.

              If you are buying one Gain, you can only use one Gain coupon, just use the best one you have that would apply to the item you are buying. The limit 4 like coupon wording is about allowing you to buy 4 bottles of Gain and use 4 coupons. They are not allowing you to buy 10 bottles at one time. This avoids shelf clearing.

            • Rocky

              No, even if you have two manufacturer’s Gain coupons with different barcodes, they both can’t be used on one bottle. Sorry, Isabel. Sounds, though, like you can really use some correct training in using coupons properly, so, I suggest you stick with this site and start with the reading material in the Beginner’s section. Whatever you are looking up on Google is confusing you and is also misleading, and, you don’t really want to use coupons improperly, when you get to the register!

            • Selma

              The ONLY time you are allowed to use more than one coupon on an item is if you have a STORE coupon that matches that item. Let’s say you have the Gain, it’s $4.99. You go to CVS and use your .50 off manufacturer coupon, plus you have a $1.00 off any Gain laundry product from the kiosk machine, this would make the price of your detergent $3.49.

              At many grocery stores you are also able to pair store coupons with manufacturer coupons, as well as sometimes digital coupons – these are coupons added directly to your store loyalty card.

              Never ever use more than one manufacturer coupon per item, even if one coupon is .50 off one and your other is $1/2. This is what the “one per purchase” means, meaning only ONE manufacturer coupon per one item. As Michelle mentioned, limit of 4 per transaction/household/etc. is just there so that you cannot use more than 4 of that coupon per transaction so that you do not shelf clear.

              I agree with Rocky, please read around on all of the Beginner pages on this website, it really helped me when I was starting out. Knowing proper coupon usage AND your store(s) policies is extremely important, a lot of cashiers and managers very much scrutinize the use of coupons and you do not want to be doing something wrong, especially if it’s your first time. Not sure how someone can say you can use a Gain coupon on any other item than what it’s intended for, that would be fraud and you can face legal penalties for something such as that. Hope this helps!

        • Rocky

          Forgot to mention that the ‘one per purchase’ means you can only use one coupon for each purchase of that particular product. So, you couldn’t, for example, use two of those coupons on one Gain.

  • Chelsea

    If a coupon says .45 off any (6 count or higher) excludes trial/travel size. Does that mean it has to be used on a 6 count or can it be used on a 3 count package?

    • Rocky

      It must be a 6 count, or larger than 6 count package.

  • G. Culver

    I printed some coupons, but I changed the number for copy to 2. Does that mean that I can only use one of the coupons printed since the bar code under the expiration is the same? How do I print more than one coupon for the same product?

    • Michelle T.

      Right, never change the number of prints. That will print the coupons with the same number, same as copying coupons. That’s not allowed. You can back out after it prints, and it normally will allow you to print a second coupon with a new ID number. Also printing from another device for more prints with new numbers.