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.com 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. UPC Codes: Honestly, the only numbers we, as couponers, need to understand in the barcode is the 1st number.
The first number (#1 above) of the UPC bar code will either be a “5″ or a “9″. If it starts with the number 5 then it will automatically double (if your store doubles). It will double even if it states, “Do Not Double“. If it starts with the number 9, then it will not double at all.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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.
7. 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.