Common Grocery Coupon Policies


The following are common coupon policies and terms that you will likely come across if you start to use coupons. Understanding these terms can help quite a bit in getting the most out of the coupons you have.

No Doubles: Your coupons will be accepted at face value only.

Double Coupons: The stores will “double” the face value of the coupon. This means that you will receive a discount equal to TWICE the face value of the coupon; it will usually come up on your register receipt as two coupons (one manufacturer, and a separate line for “doubled coupon”). There is usually a limit to the amount of the coupon (double up to 50 cents – equal to a $1 savings; or double up to $1 – equal to a $2 savings). The store is not reimbursed beyond the face value, but it benefits by the additional incentive for you to do all of your purchasing at that store. Some stores will limit the number of coupons you can double at one time.

Triple Coupons: Triple coupons were a popular incentive in the early 90’s. Now they are more generally an incentive found as coupons to be clipped from their advertisement. There is usually a limit to the number of coupons that can be tripled (4-6), and the amount that can be tripled (usually 50 cents). The newspaper coupon MUST accompany the coupon to be tripled. In spite of these rules, this is a great incentive: if the store triples a 50 cent coupon, you receive a savings of $1.50! Since these “low value” coupons are generally for low cost items, triple coupons often equate to FREE items.

Coupon Stacking: Some stores will allow you to ‘stack’ their store coupons (Target, Rite-Aide, etc.) with your manufacturer coupons for even greater savings! These store coupons can come from email, snail mail, store ads, flyers and the stores’ monthly magazines, etc. A word of caution, however. Store coupons, in general, should be viewed as a simple “sale price”, where the store coupon limits the number that can be purchased at that price. Again, coupons are generated to benefit the store, and in this case, the store coupon benefits them by enforcing the limit on the number you can purchase at the price.

Store Rebates: Many stores now offer one-step rebates, where all of your “store coupons” and “rebates” are tracked through the loyalty card, and a single check is issued back to you as a rebate. You can apply coupons to the items as you purchase them, essentially “stacking” the deals. Don’t be deceived, though. The rebate check is wonderful, but only if you have already purchased the item at a lower price. If it’s not at a discount before the rebate and coupon, it might not be a “real deal”.

Competitor Coupons: Certain stores will accept competitor's coupons. It doesn’t hurt to ask, but it’s no longer common and should not be expected.

Expired Coupons: A few stores – primarily in the Midwest – accept coupons that have already expired. The rules vary tremendously; make sure you are clear on the stores policies before planning to use an expired coupon. You can also give expired coupons new life by sending them to military bases overseas.

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12 Responses to Common Grocery Coupon Policies

  1. Sophia Gismondi says:

    Hello, first of all this is the first time I have visited your website and I absolutely love it. You’ve addressed so many questions I’ve had and even though I’ve been cutting coupons for years there were still so many lessons, tricks and questions to be learned and answered! In reference to “expired coupons” do you happen to know if there are any grocery chains in the state of Florida that accept them? I seem to have soooo many that it hurts to throw them away! However, if there isn’t the idea of sending them off and giving them new life to military bases overseas is a wonderful idea! I never knew. Well again Thanks for all the info, now if I can just apply some of the lessons learned and get a bit more organized so I can get the every now and then thought out of my head “just throw them out its not worth the trouble and clutter”!! Thanks again.

  2. admin says:

    I don’t know of any in Florida…grocery stores that do this usually do so for competitive reasons in their area and it is not common. You can also send the expired coupons to coupon quiz and they will add them to the ones they send out each month (so not overseas postage charges)

  3. Annitia says:

    Can grocery stores limit the number of coupons you can use?

  4. admin says:

    Yes. They do not have to take coupons at all if they don’t want to and they can limit as well if they desire. The best way to know is to ask for manager for the grocery store’s coupon policy so you know exactly what it is.

  5. MElissa Jacobs says:

    How do these people on TV like the special Oprah did get their groceries for almost free? Do they use more than one coupon per item? How do they do it?

  6. sharon says:

    Do you suggest cutting out the coupons in weekend flyers and sort in some file system or do you leave them in the flyers and date the flyers. It has been very confusion to me to find the coupons when needed.

  7. flash says:

    This is a great question!

    I think everyone has a different system. I prefer to cut them out. If I have multiple copies of a coupon, I’ll use paper clips or staple them together so I don’t have individual coupons to sort through. I prefer to organize them into categories so they are basically ready to go when I shop. But I know many people who prefer to leave them in the flyers and just clip as needed. I just find that very difficult to manage, both in finding the coupons and then in cutting them out on the spot.

    The main idea is to find a system that works well for you.

  8. Erin says:

    Hey – I came here via Boingboing linking to your $1 a day challenge. What a great read that was, I got through the whole month (and following ones) in one evening, and have become fired up to start couponing! I especially liked how you took all the extra windfall of your game and used it to help others, something I also plan to begin once I get into the couponing swing.

    One question: one big way you get through the challenge, particularly in the early days, is by employing ‘money makers’, that is, deals that end by giving you back money that you then put towards other things. I haven’t seen an entry listed yet that details the way you figure out money-making strategies and how, specifically, you stack various deals to make that happen. It seems like something a lot of stores would introduce policies to keep it from happening. If you could address this it would be a huge help towards me being able to institute my own $1 a day lifestyle!

  9. jeffrey says:

    Money makers are available when all the stars align correctly. If you have a coupon for $2 off 1 and the price for the item is $1.50, the store will only allow $1.50 to be taken off and you get it for free. Money makers come when you can stack discounts – item is priced for $1.49 but there is a special where you get $1 off each item if you buy 5. If you have a $1 off 1 coupon, in this case it would work and the full $1 coupon will be taken off (because when the cashier looks at the price of he single item, it says $1.49). But since you bought 5 and got the instant rebate of $5 making the transaction a $0.51 money maker. Money makers are almost only available when there are multiple discounts that overlap come into play.

  10. Nathan says:

    I am having some trouble understanding your math.

    “item is priced for $1.49 but there is a special where you get $1 off each item if you buy 5.”

    1.49 x 5 items = 7.45
    7.45 – 5 dollars = 2.45

    “If you have a $1 off 1 coupon, in this case it would work and the full $1 coupon will be taken off”

    2.45 – 1.00 = 1.45

    “since you bought 5 and got the instant rebate of $5 making the transaction a $0.51 money maker.”

    you spend $1.45.
    where does a profit of 51 cents come from?

  11. jeffrey says:

    @Nathan

    You have 5 $1.00 off 1 coupons that you use one each item you use. The $0.51 moneymaker is for each item:

    “item is priced for $1.49 but there is a special where you get $1 off each item if you buy 5.”

    1.49 x 5 items = 7.45
    7.45 – 5 dollars = 2.45

    “Use five (5) $1 off 1 coupons”

    2.45 – 5.00 = $2.55 moneymaker

  12. Nathan says:

    @Jeffrey
    Ok, that makes sense… if you have 5 $1.00 coupons.

    That raises my next question: how do you get multiples of the same coupon? Get multiple newspapers?