Learn the Coupon Policies for the Stores You Shop Most
All stores differ when it comes to coupon policies, and these policies can even vary within a chain. Knowing the policy prior to shopping – even prior to creating your list – will help save you money.
Visit the stores you frequent most, head to the customer service desk, and ask for a copy of their coupon policy. You might also find coupon policies online. Compare the stores you shop to see what they offer in terms of savings.
In particular, look at these several areas when perusing the policies.
How Many Coupons Per Item
Most stores accept one manufacture and one store coupon per item, but check to be certain. You may shop at a store that does not allow competitor’s coupons or that will not allow stacking (using one manufacturer, one store coupon). Know this before setting up your shopping trip so you understand how much savings you are really getting per item.
Some stores offer double coupon savings on a daily basis; others run special dates and times for doubling coupons, while still others won’t offer double coupon values at all. Knowing which store gives the most on a coupon will save you money.
For instance, let’s say you are able to shop two different grocery store chains in town. One doubles, one does not. If both stores offer the same deal – a box of pasta for $1.00 – and you have a fifty-cent off coupon to use, use that at the store that doubles and you get the pasta for free. Otherwise, you pay fifty-cents.
Is this a huge deal for just one product? Maybe not. But add that up for ten products and the savings matters.
What Do They Double To?
Find out if the store doubles coupons and then determine the value to which they will double. In the town I’m located, Publix offers double coupons up to fifty cents. So, I can double a fifty-cent coupon to one dollar, but if I have a seventy-five cents off coupon, it will not double. The other store I shop never doubles; therefore, I tend to purchase mostly meats at the second store, where I see the greatest savings on these products when they are on sale, and I save coupon shopping for Publix.
Competitor’s coupons are coupons that come from a different store. I’ve written before that when you use a competitor’s coupon the store actually loses that money, so use these carefully. In some cases, due to extreme couponing and customers going into a store with multiple competitor’s coupons for each transaction, some stores are changing policies and no longer accept, or limit, the number of competitor’s coupons per trip.
If you shop with a competitor’s coupon, understand the store’s policy. Most stores will accept coupons from a competitor – ie: Publix will accept a Winn Dixie coupon – but only if that competitor is located within a certain distance of the store. Some stores accept coupons from drugstores and department stores as well. For instance, some of our Publix stores will accept a Target coupon if the Target offers food, while others will accept a CVS coupon if one is located nearby.
Know Your Limit
Check the store’s policy to determine limits to using coupons. Some stores allow you to purchase only a set number of the same items using coupons for those items. Others only allow you to use a certain number of coupons total on a purchase, which can mean breaking the trip into two checkouts. Know this before getting to the counter to save yourself, and the cashier, aggravation and frustration.
Get it for Free – Or Not
If you have a "get one free" item, make sure the store will allow you to get that item free if you don’t purchase anything else. Some will, some will not. For instance, it is Target’s policy that you make another purchase and not just get the free item during the transaction.
Money Back? Doubtful!
Most stores will not allow you to "get money back" in the end. This means you can’t total out an order with a negative balance. However, some stores will allow you to "go negative" if, at the end, you have a positive balance.
Know Policy Store to Store
A policy may change from state to state. Florida has a different coupon policy than Georgia, for instance. Be sure to check out the policy at the store you frequent most to avoid running into a problem when you get there.