Thursday, May 19, 2011

Coupon Boot Camp - Lesson 7: Learning Coupon Policies

Store's coupons policies vary from chain to chain and even from store to store within the same chain. To find out the store's coupon policy, first go to their website. Some stores have their coupon policy listed somewhere on their main site. If not, you can get contact information for the store's corporate office from their website, contact them and request a copy. You can also try asking at the store itself, though many stores do not have copies of their coupon policy for customers available in the store.

Unfortunately even after you've reviewed the store's official policy, you may find that your local store has a "policy" of it's own. Some stores make up their own undocumented rules. I've had this problem at Walmart more than once, which is why I now keep a copy of Walmart's Coupon Policy in my coupon binder. If a cashier or manager tries to tell me I can't do what I'm trying to do with my coupons, I can pull out Walmart's official coupon policy and politely show them that they are wrong. :) 

When you are learning a store's coupon policy you should be asking the following:

Does the store double coupons? 

If so, is there a limit to the number of coupons they will double? 

Do they full double their coupons? In other words, does a .75 cent coupon become $1.50 coupon? Or do they double up to a certain dollar amount. Shop Rite, for instance, will double coupon's up to $1.00. So a .75 cent coupon doubled would become $1.00 coupon.

Are coupons doubled every day? Or only certain days? Do you need to use your rewards card for that store in order for coupons to be doubled?

Do they accept internet printable coupons?

Is there a limit to the number of coupons they will accept per transaction? Or a limit to the number of like coupons they will accept?

Are you allowed to use two coupons on buy 1 get 1 free store sales?

Can you combine store issued coupons with manufacturer's coupons?

It's important to know and understand the coupon policies of the stores your couponing at. You'll feel like a stooge if you're trying to use coupons in a way that goes against their policy. It's also important so that you're not given false information by a cashier or manager. Knowing and understanding the coupon policy of the store you're shopping at will make your shopping trip easier for both you and the store.

Last week in Lesson 6, we learned about combining sale prices with coupons for maximum savings. One thing I failed to mention is that there are times when you can combine a store issued coupon with a manufacturer's coupon for even greater savings. Here's an example of this: Let's say CVS has a certain brand of sunscreen on sale for $6.00 each. If you have a CVS coupon for $4.00 off when you buy 2 and (2) manufacturer's coupons for $2.00 off any 1, you could use all (3) coupons (both the CVS issued and the manufacturer's coupons) and get both bottles of sunscreen for $4.00 or $2 each.

It's also important to look at the coupon you're using itself to see what, if any, stipulations apply. Some coupons are for a specific sized item, "Valid for 16 oz. size only" or "Valid on jumbo packs or larger". Make sure you're buying the specified size. Some coupons read "Do Not Double" which means the value of the coupon is the value of the coupon regardless of the store's doubling policy. Be sure to check the expiration date on your coupon too. I've been embarrassed more than once accidentally trying to use an expired coupon.

Speaking of expired coupons, members of the US Military and their families who are stationed overseas can use expired coupons for up to 6 months after the expiration date at commissaries. You can mail your expired coupons to Support Our Troops 
P.O. Box 70
Daytona Beach, FL 32115-0070
Go here for more information on Troopons.

Tomorrow I'll be answering some of the questions I've been receiving regarding coupons and couponing. If you've got a question, send it my way and I'll try to include it. 

We're just about done with Coupon Boot Camp. Next week Lessons 9 & 10 will be posted on Thursday and Friday and that will conclude the basics of couponing. After that I'll be highlighting different stores each week, explaining their policies and sharing deals with you that you can then go to that store that week and take advantage of. Remember to keep collecting those coupons!

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