Karen Hellier

Freelance Writer, Coupon Lady, eBay Entrepreneur: Helping You Save Money and Work From Home

What is a Coupon and How Does it Work?

What is a coupon and how does it work? Coupons can save money for those willing to use them.

 

What is a Coupon?

A coupon is “a portion of a certificate, ticket, label, advertisement, or the like, set off from the main body by dotted lines or the like to emphasize its separability, entitling the holder to something, as a gift or discount…” according to Dictionary dot com. So there you have it. But what does that mean exactly? Coupons are usually printed on a piece of paper or cardboard and often have to be cut out and handed to the cashier at a store for a discount off of that particular product. Using coupons saves money for consumers and are accepted at most grocery stores, pharmacies and various retail stores. Coupons are also accepted at many restaurants. Coupons are very widely accepted in the United States, but not as much in other countries.

Coupons are usually printed on a piece of paper (see above) or cardboard and often have to be cut out and handed to the cashier at a store for a discount off of that particular product. Using coupons saves money for consumers and are accepted at most grocery stores, pharmacies and various retail stores. Coupons are also accepted at many restaurants. Coupons are very widely accepted in the United States, but not as much in other countries.

Coupons have also become digital now. Coupons from the internet can be downloaded and printed on your copier, cut out and brought to your store to be redeemed. There are also coupons online that can be downloaded to your phone and scanned at the store.

How Do Coupons Work?

When a consumer visits a store and intends to use a coupon, they must first pick up the item they intend to use the coupon on, and bring it to the cashier. The cashier will ring up the item, then scan the coupon, which has a UPC code (bar code) on it, and the register will take the amount of the coupon off the consumer’s total bill.

Glitches

As with many good things in life, there are some glitches that come along with using coupons. Some are good glitches, and some are not so good! I am a positive person, so I will start with the positive glitches first.

  1. Some Stores Double Coupons: In many stores, only the face value of a coupon will be deducted from a consumer’s bill. That means if a coupon has a face value of 50 cents off printed on the front, the cash register will only deduct 50 cents off the consumer’s bill. But due to the competition between grocery stores, many grocery stores offer to double coupons up to a certain amount. Here are some examples:

Connecticut:

Stop and Shop, Shop Rite and Big Y in Norwich, CT all double coupons with a face value of up to 99 cents. So a 50 cent coupon is worth $1.00, a 75 cent coupon is worth $1.50, but a $1.00 coupon is still only worth $1.00.

Georgia

Ingles and Publix in Canton, Georgia double coupons with a face value of up to and including 50 cents. So a 25 cent coupon is worth 50 cents, a 50 cent coupon is worth $1.00, but a 75 cent coupon is only worth 75 cents and a $1.00 coupon is worth $1.00. Kroger grocery stores in Georgia do not double coupons at all, but just accept them and take off the amount printed on the coupon.

Pharmacies such as CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid do not double the value of a coupon. Only the face value of a coupon is deducted from a consumer’s bill. This is also true of department stores like Walmart and Target.

2) Fine Print: There is a lot of fine print on the bottom of coupons. Consumers must pay attention to this fine print so that they can save the most amount of money, and not run into any problems at the register. The fine print usually includes wording about limiting how many coupons can be used in one order. Often there is a limit of four similar coupons in one order. This is so that the store does not run out of products for other consumers.

3) Expiration Dates: There is also an expiration date on coupons, and that is definitely small but something to which a consumer must pay attention. The majority of stores will not accept expired coupons.

What is a coupon? These manufacturer's coupons need to be cut out of traditional coupon flyers before being redeemed at the store.

These manufacturer’s coupons need to be cut out of traditional coupon flyers before being redeemed at the store.

Manufacturer’s Coupons vs. Store Coupons

Manufacturer’s coupons are available to consumers through coupon flyers in Sunday newspapers, on the internet, and directly from the company itself. There are two major coupon companies that print coupons: RedPlum and Smartsource. These coupons can be used in any grocery store or pharmacy, and some department stores. Only two coupons from online sources can be printed from a single computer. Coupons printed from the internet are not accepted at all stores due to coupon fraud years ago.

Store coupons are provided to the consumer through particular stores and have the name of the store on them.They can be mailed to consumers through the US Postal Service, inserted into newspapers, or found in the weekly store flyer. To use the store coupon, the consumer must go to that particular store, buy the product on the coupon, and present it with the product to the cashier to receive money off. Many stores will allow both a store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon to be used at the same time, allowing the consumer to save money two different times. In coupon circles, this is called a “double play” because you can double your savings. While stores will not allow a consumer to use two manufacturer’s coupons on the same item (most coupons prohibit that, and it is included in the small print) or two store coupons to be used on the same item, using a store coupon and manufacturer’s coupon at the same time on one item is usually allowed.

What is a coupon? This store coupon can only be redeemed at a Walgreen's store.

This store coupon for Dramamine on the bottom of the page needs to be cut out and can only be redeemed at a Walgreen’s store.

Back in the late 1990’s grocery stores often used triple coupons to entice consumers to their store. One coupon, up to a face value of 99 cents, could be tripled. This often resulted in consumers leaving the store with free items and was a great way for people to stock up and save money.

If any of you reading this have had experience with a double play, or using triple coupons, I would love for you to leave a comment below. And if you have any questions about using coupons, please leave them in the comment section, and I will be happy to answer them.

 

 

 

 

 

3 Comments

  1. Chris

    Hi Karen, we still use paper coupons and digital coupons downloaded from websites occasionally, but most of the time we use smartphone apps from Target and other stores. We just scan the phone screen at checkout, and all the coupons get deducted automatically. No scissors required =)

    Reply
  2. Md Somir Ali

    Nice article.Really Helpful

    Reply
    1. KHellier (Post author)

      Thank you, Md Somir Alu. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      Reply

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