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.