Understanding the Different Types of Grocery Coupons

Not All Coupons Are the Same

Woman Grocery Shopping
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Understanding the different types of coupons and how stores normally redeem each type can be confusing to beginner couponers. The following information will provide you with easy-to-understand descriptions of the different kinds of coupons, where to find them and the different redemption policies most often used at grocery stores.

All grocery and drugstore coupons fall under one of two major categories- Manufacturer Coupons or Store Coupons.

Both are distributed to shoppers different ways including as printable online coupons, eCoupons, mobile coupons and the traditional paper coupons.

Manufacturer Coupons

Manufacturer coupons are distributed by the companies that make the products. They are treated similarly to cash at any store that accepts coupons.

What Do Store Manufacturer Coupons Look Like?

Manufacturer's coupons come in all sizes and designs, but there are certain elements in the design that most have for marketing and control purposes. This includes:

  • The words "Manufacturer Coupon" will usually be on the top of the coupon.
  • Usage terms describing how the coupon can be used, including any limits and expiration dates.
  • An address to where the stores should send the coupons for redemption.
  • One or two barcode images with a series of numbers.

Note: The coupon industry is in the process of changing the type of coding that appears on manufacturer coupons. Coupons used to have a barcode with numbers written under it that began with the number 5 or 9. The newly designed manufacturer coupons may have two barcodes and up to 74 numbers that can include expiration dates, coupon identifiers, and other numeric data.

Finding Manufacturer Coupons

Manufacturer coupons can be found in a variety of places including in the Sunday newspaper inserts, magazines, direct-mailers, inside product packaging, inside of stores and from Catalina coupon dispensers.

Another good source for manufacturer coupons is online sites that offer printable coupons.

These sites work with the national manufacturers to help control and distribute the coupons. Also, many manufacturers have websites and social media pages where coupons are sometimes distributed.

Store Coupons

Store coupons are distributed by the stores and redemption is usually limited to the store that has issued the coupon.

For example, if you have an Albertson's store coupon, it can only be redeemed at Albertsons. The exception to this is in stores that have a coupon policy that will accept competitor's coupons.

Stores distribute their own coupons as a way to promote products for a short span of time. This is often seen over holiday weekends, weekly promotions, on special purchases such as seasonal produce and with promotions that are coordinated with national campaigns.

Store coupons are also used as loss leaders. Loss leaders are products that stores sell at drastically reduced prices to entice customers into the store. It is the hope that once the customers have entered the store they will purchase other items along with the loss leader.

What Do Store Coupons Look Like?

  • Most store coupons will either have "Store Coupon" or the name of the store printed on the top of the coupon.
  • You will also see store coupons with specific requirements that must be met in order to activate the coupon. For example, the terms on a store coupon may require that your total purchase is over a certain dollar amount before the coupon can be deducted.

    Finding Store Coupons

    Store coupons are distributed in the Sunday newspaper or mid-week through direct mail. Small neighborhood stores often put coupons in subdivision newsletters. You can also find national store coupons online at the stores' websites and at printable coupon and eCoupon sites.

    At drugstores like Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid, you can find coupons online and inside of the stores in the form of pamphlets or hanging around the end-caps of store displays.

    At many CVS stores there is a coupon dispenser that prints store coupons.

    Walgreens has a monthly coupon book filled with store coupons that you can pick up at the front of the store.

    Also, many grocery stores now have websites where the weekly advertisement can be viewed and coupons printed directly off the ads. Facebook is also another good resource for printable store coupons.

    Manufacturer Coupons With Store Names Advertised

    Probably up to this point you were doing okay with understanding how to identify manufacturer coupons and store coupons. But then comes along the coupon designed to confuse us all -- the one that is actually a manufacturer's coupon, but uses the space on the coupon to sell advertising to a specific store.

    Does this mean that you cannot use the coupon at other stores? No, not necessarily. Unless the words, "Redeem Only at (Store Name)" or "Good Only at (Store Name)" is printed on the coupon, you should be able to use it just like any other manufacturer coupon.

    Why is It Important to Know the Type of Coupons?

    You may be wondering why you need to know if you have a manufacturer or a store coupon. They all redeem, right? Well, yes, but you will learn as you begin using coupons that depending on the type of coupons that you have will determine how the coupon can be redeemed.

    For example, stores usually do not allow customers to use more than one store coupon on one item. However, many stores will allow customers to use a manufacturer's coupon and a store coupon together on one item. This is one example of the coupon strategy called stacking coupons.

    For example, say that you have a manufacturer's coupon for $1 off Campbell's soup. You are shopping at Target, and you have two store coupons (Target printed on top) for the same soup - both for $1 off. You only want to buy one can of soup. Target will not allow you to use both your store coupons on one can of soup, but you can use the manufacturer's coupon and the Target store coupon together on one can.

    Using this kind of strategy is how couponers can maximize their savings on many grocery items that they buy.

    Coupons and Store Promotions

    Retail stores do not always allow store coupons to be redeemed on items that are advertised in the weekly circulars. For example, the store may be running a buy-one-get-one-free weekly discount on soups. If you happen to have a store coupon for the same soup, many stores will not accept it, but, if you have a manufacturer's coupon for the same soup, they will accept it.

    Bottom Line

    Deciphering the different types of coupons will become a lot easier the more you use coupons and once you get more involved in using coupon strategies to save money at the grocery store.

    More:Top 10 Most Popular Grocery Store Coupons Tips