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September 24th, 2014
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How to Read Coupons and Understand them

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So many struggle with understanding coupons so today we are talking about how to read coupons. After you go through this quick lesson you should understand every coupon you come in contact with easily.

We are continuing out Couponing 101 series where we will learn everything you need to know about couponing. If you haven’t yet, make sure you read about the best places to find coupons.


Understand the “One Coupon Per…” Rule.

One Coupon Per Purchase:
This is probably the most common found and most confusing. This simply means that you can use one coupon for each item you purchase. So, if you have a 3 coupons for cereal, you can purchase 3 boxes and use all 3 coupons in one transaction.

One Coupon Per Transaction:
This means that you can only use one coupon each time you make a purchase. So, if you have 3 cereal coupons, you would have to make 3 separate transactions in order to use all of those coupons.

One Coupon Per Visit:
This is pretty uncommon. However, you will find a similar statement on Homeland coupons.  If your coupon states this, then you can only use one coupon each time you walk into the store. If you have 3 cereal coupons – you can only use one coupon every time you go to the store and would need to leave and re-enter the store to use more than one on the same day. On these coupons, I would suggest just going on different days.

One Coupon Per Customer:
Some coupons limit usage to one per customer.  This means exactly what it says. Each customer is limited to using the coupon only once.  You can leave and return and use another, just not within the same transaction or visit. This is very similar to the “one per visit”.

how to read coupons

Let’s look at the coupon above. If you notice the circled part is says “one coupon per purchase” and “limit of 4 like coupons per household per day”.

What we know is that this coupon is for a toothbrush. If we have 4 coupons, we can buy 4 toothbrushes and use those coupon in one trip in one day. If we have more, then we would have to go back another day.


BOGO Coupons:

Buy One Get One Free:

When you buy the specified item as listed on the coupon, you can get the other item listed for free. It is that simple.

The one catch is that the manufacturer normally puts a limit on your free item. For example, if it says “not to exceed $6.99”, and the price of the item that should be free is $$7.50, you will be responsible for the difference of $0.51.


Pictures are Deceiving… 

When you look at the coupon, you should completely disregard the photo you see printed on it.  It is for reference only. Why?  The wording identifies what product(s) the coupon can be used on. Manufacturers are smart. They will put a photo of the most expensive item in that product line, in hopes you will use it only for that item.  However, if the coupon says you can use it on ANY toothpaste in that brand, then you can use it on the one on sale, not just the one in the picture.

pay attention to words - how to read coupons

Take a look at the picture above it says “any paper mate inkjoy product 2 ct or higher” however they have the bigger packs in the picture. Since the coupon says you can use it on the 2 ct, you will save more money by buying the smaller packages.

Expiration dates:

 how to read coupons - expiration dates

Almost all coupons include expiration dates on them.  The coupon can be redeemed through midnight on the date the coupon expires.  Cashiers will carefully review your coupons to ensure that they are not expired. Expiration dates are on coupons to help the manufacturers tell which offers are working and which are not.  By only allowing their coupons to be redeemed for a select period of time, the manufacturers can decided whether to offer that same coupon again or if they need to try something else.


Store Coupon or Manufacturer Coupon?

Most coupons are manufacturer coupons, which means you can use them anywhere and at any store. However, there are some store coupons that you can use at the specific store. Here are a few tips to notice the difference.

store coupon - how to read coupons

They state it. Most store coupons will say “store coupon” on the coupon just like a manufacturer coupon will say “manufacturer coupon” on it. See the coupon above. We know this is a store coupon

Remit to address.  If it is a manufacturer’s coupon, it will include a remit to address in the fine print.  Store coupons will not have this on their coupons, because they do not need to send the coupon off for reimbursement.


Redeemable at…. Is that a store coupon?

Do not be confused with logos, or wording that says “redeemable at” or “available at” on a coupon. It it says manufacturer coupon, it still can be used anywhere.

how to read coupons

Available at. – This coupon does not indicate where you need to redeem your coupon (like the picture above).  This is basically an advertisement for the store -  letting you know where you can find the product.  However, you can use these coupons anywhere.

Redeemable at.This wording means that you can redeem the coupon at that store.  The coupon may state this, but it does not mean that is the only store where you can redeem it.  For instance, it may say “Redeemable at Target” but you can still use it at Walmart.  They are still manufacturer coupon and can be used at any store.

Redeemable only at.  – If the coupon has the word “only” listed, then that is the only store where you can redeem it. For example, if it states “Redeemable only at Walmart,” then you can not use it Target or any other store.

 

Knowing how to read coupons, and understand the language on your coupons, is key to being able to use them to your advantage – -as well as in the correct way. Once you are comfortable with understanding coupons, you will be able to maximize your savings. Make sure you check out more couponing tips on our Couponing 101 page.

Do you have any other questions on how to read coupons?



 

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