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

  • 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).