Learn How to Stack Coupons and Save Bundles on Groceries

Extreme Couponers Get Free or Nearly Free Food by Stacking Coupons

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Getty / Miodrag Gajic Premiu

Stacking coupons is a simple coupon strategy that helps shoppers maximize their savings on their purchases at supermarkets, drugstores and retail stores. Defined, "stacking" coupons means more than one coupon is redeemed on a single item. However, not every type of coupon is stackable and not every store allows shoppers to stack coupons.

The Different Types of Coupons Explained

When couponers first begin stacking coupons, they sometimes confuse the types of coupons with the different ways coupons are distributed.

To make it easier, remember that there are only two types of coupons - manufacturer coupons and store coupons. There are several different ways the two types of coupons are distributed.

What are Manufacturer Coupons?

Manufacturers produce and distribute the products that go into the stores. To promote certain products, manufacturers sometimes distribute coupons. All manufacturer coupons display the words "Manufacturer Coupon" across the top of coupons.  The terms of use on manufacturer coupons specify that only one manufacturer coupon can be used for one purchased item.

What are Store Coupons?

Many stores will allow shoppers to stack (redeem) one store coupon and one manufacturer coupon on the purchase of one item. But how can shoppers tell that their coupon is a store coupon? 

Store coupons are exclusive to the issuing store unless a store accepts competitor's coupons. The name of the store that distributed the coupon or the words "Store Coupon" are usually displayed on the top-front of the coupon.

And store coupons sometimes have terms that allow shoppers to buy more than one item with the coupon. The limits (example: limit 3 ) can be found printed on the coupons.

Manufacturer Coupons With Store Names Displayed

Here is when things get a little challenging, even for seasoned couponers. Sometimes a manufacturer's coupon will display a specific store name or logo.

Mostly this is a form of advertising and it is done as a way to encourage shoppers that want to use the coupon to go to the advertised store. Unless otherwise noted on the coupon (redeem only at *store name*), it is still considered a manufacturer coupon and can be used at other stores.

Note: Some, but not all stores, accept a manufacturer coupon with another store's name displayed. Here is an example of this type of coupon.

Now for the Good Part - How to Stack Coupons

To stack coupons efficiently and to avoid spending unnecessary time in the store, it is always a good idea, while still at home, to make a shopping list and then match the items with coupons.

You will want to check your coupon binder for coupons that you have already collected. The goal is to find a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon for the items on your list.

If you need additional store coupons, go your grocery store's website coupon page.

If you need other manufacturer coupons, visit the "Best Websites With Printable Grocery Coupons" article to find additional coupons. It is also helpful to do an online search for the name of the item, followed by the word "coupon." There are also several websites with coupon databases that you can search through to locate store and manufacturer coupons.

Check the terms of the coupons you plan to redeem. If the coupon requires that you buy three items, adjust your list accordingly.

Once you have finished matching coupons, separate the store coupons from the manufacturer coupons. Separating the coupons in advance will help when it comes time to check out. You are now ready to go shopping. Remember to stick closely to your shopping list.

Presenting Coupons to the Cashier

Coupons tend to stick together. To prevent this from happening, you can stack your coupons by placing a newspaper or magazine coupon between an online printable coupon and repeat.

When you are redeeming store and manufacturer coupons only, most couponers present all of the store coupons first, followed by the manufacturer coupons. In some situations, particularly when loyalty programs are involved, doing it this way will increase savings.

Example of Savings When Using One Coupon:
Campbell's Soup Cream Of Chicken, 10.5 oz, $1.25
Redeem - Manufacturer Coupon for $0.75 cents off two cans.
Final Cost - $1.75 for two cans or $0.88 cents each.

Example of Savings When Stacking Coupons:
Campbell's Soup Cream Of Chicken, 10.5 oz, $1.25
Redeem - Manufacturer Coupon for  $0.75 cents off two cans.
Redeem - Store Coupon for $1.00 off two cans.
Final Cost - $0.75 cents for two cans or $0.38 cents each.

Stacking Coupons - Level Two

After you are comfortable matching store and manufacturer coupons on the items listed on your grocery list, try advancing to the next level. It is very easy to do and has the potential to improve your grocery savings significantly.

The goal of this step is to buy items that are on sale and stack each one with store and manufacturer coupons. Here are the steps to take:

  • Browse the Sunday and weekday grocery store inserts for sales on food and grocery items.
  • Match up the manufacturer coupons with the store coupons on the sale items that you will use.
  • Search the internet for coupons that you need.
  • When possible, shop at the store on the day that they offer to double coupons to maximize your savings.

Example of Level Two Coupon Stacking:
Campbell's Soup Cream Of Chicken, 10.5 oz, on sale $0.88 cents  (Reg. Price $1.25)

Redeem - Manufacturer Coupon for  $0.75 cents off two cans.
Redeem - Store Coupons for $1.00 off two cans.
Final Cost - $0.01 (one penny) for two cans!

Triple Coupon Stacking

Triple coupon stacking works the same way, by combining store and manufacturer coupons, but this time you will add to your savings by including the cashback application called iBotta.

iBotta is a cash rebate app that is user-friendly and easy to learn. It is designed to encourage shoppers to try various products by offering cash rebates in return. It does not matter if you purchase the item using coupons. You will still get the same cash rebate.

For example, if iBotta has a rebate for $0.75 off two cans of Campbell's soup and you redeemed the manufacturer and store coupon and paid a penny, you could still submit the purchase to iBotta and earn a rebate of $0.75 cents. The final cost? Nothing! You will make $0.74 cents plus two cans of soup.

The savings adds up quickly when you use this kind of strategy on a regular basis.

Stacking Discounts at Department Stores

Stacking coupons do not just help you save at the supermarket. Department stores often run extra discounts if you shop on specific days. This is when shopping the final clearance racks can really pay off. Save even more by paying for purchases with the in-house credit cards, which often include additional savings.

Shopping Malls and Outlet Malls

Regional shopping malls and outlet malls have frequent buyer clubs that give members bounce-back dollars every time they spend money at a store in the mall. Malls also offer coupon books with money-saving coupons for select stores. When you sign up for the clubs, you get announcements on special shopping days when you will receive additional savings.

By coordinating your shopping trip with the special shopping days, the coupons from the coupon books and utilizing your bounce-back dollars that you have earned from previous purchases, you can really save.

Remember to check the disclaimers in sale advertisements and on coupons. Many times stores will not compound discounts. You may have to put off your shopping trip until you find the right combination that gives you the best return on your money. Good bargain shoppers are patient shoppers and know how to wait for the best bargains.