Learn To Coupon | Understanding Buy One, Get One Free Coupons

Learn To Coupon

Welcome to Learn to Coupon... in 30 days. For the next 30 days (week days),  I will be posting a couponing how to.  Each day we will build on the prior days information. The goal of this series is to teach you the basics of couponing. Where to start, what coupons to use, how to use your coupons and more.This series will focus on realistic strategies for couponing.  There will be some depth to the posts, so you will need to spend the time reading the posts in the entirety. Since each post will build on the day before, I suggest you read them chronologically.

If you have not read the previous days post, you can read them here.

One of the most confusing coupons is the Buy One, Get One Free Coupon.  A buy one, get one free or BOGO coupon, offers a consumer a free product when they purchase another product.  A BOGO Coupon can be very straight forward,  you purchase a product and you get a product free.   This transaction would simply be buy one item and get the product on specified on the coupon.

The questions about BOGO coupons usually come into play when combining with other coupons and sales.

There are few things to be aware of when using BOGO Coupons with other coupons or sales:

:: Stores may have policies that overrule the general couponing rules. Be sure to know your coupon policy first.

:: Stores may have specific policies regarding BOGO coupons. See your stores policy for specifics.

:: You may encounter an uneducated manager or cashier who is insistent on the rules of BOGO coupons. Unfortunately, while it is totally stinks, there is often little we can do about it.

There are two ways a BOGO coupon barcode look:

You will notice the coupon on the left is coded 01 in the value code.  The second coupon is coded 14 in the value code. These Buy One, Get One Free Coupons are from the same insert and same manufacturer.

The value code 14 indicates that the coupon attaches to both coupons. So with the coupon on the right, you would not be able to use a dollar or cents off coupon.  With the coupon on the left, the 01 indicates that it is a free product coupon and will only attach to one item. You may be able to use a dollar or cents off coupon with this coupon.

Note: I do not know why manufacturers chose or how they chose what coupons to code this way.   

Update 7/2011:  Coupons are no longer coded this way. BOGO coupons are now coded to attach to TWO items in all scenarios – making using another coupon with a BOGO a no go.

Here is a scenario for the coupon on the left.  You are required to purchase the Febreze Flameless Device. Since the coupon is coded 01 (free item), you can use another coupon on the Flameless Device to lower the cost of the item.

Buy (1) Febreze Flameless Device
Buy (1) Febreze Flameless Refill
use BOGO Coupon (attaches to Refill)
use $1.00/1 Febreze Flameless Device  (attaches to Flameless Device)

Here is your scenario for the coupon on the right. You are required to purchase Swiffer Wet Mopping Refill.  Since the coupon is coded 14 (buy One, get one free) the coupon will attach to both coupons. You may not use another coupon to lower the cost of your purchased item.  (The register will say item not found)

Buy (2) Swiffer WetMop Refill
use BOGO Coupon (attaches to both coupons)

Using two BOGO coupons together should never be allowed. For example:

Buy (2) Febreeze Flameless Device
use (2) BOGO Coupons

I have had people tell me that this has worked at the register. Remember, coupons scanning or coupons being pushed thru do not mean that the coupons are being used ethically or as the manufacturer intended.

Another question is can you use a Buy One, Get One Free Coupon with a Buy One, Get One Free Sale?

Technically, the answer is yes. However, many stores outline their rules in the coupon policy. If your store allows BOGO Coupons with a BOGO sale, you will get 2 items for free. Recently, Rite Aid ended their policy that allowed BOGO with a BOGO sale.

Overall, you should follow your stores guidelines regarding using BOGO coupons. Some stores specifically outline usage of BOGO Coupons with BOGO sales. Other stores, will never allow a coupon on a free item. If you are unsure of your stores BOGO coupon policy, don’t be afraid to ask.

If your store doesn’t have a concrete policy, YMMV at the register. It certainly doesn’t hurt to ask.

This post may contain affiliate links. Read my disclosure policy here
  • Jessica

    I’m confused about B1G1 plus manufacturers coupons… If a store is running a B1G1 and you have a coupon for $1 off (2) can you use them together? Your free item is still considered a purchase isn’t it?

  • kim

    if walgreens has a buy one get one 50% off sale and i have a buy one get one free coupon what would i actually pay for? example: febreeze was buy 1 get 1 50% off at $3.49. thanks for the help!

  • jojo

    When using a BOGO free coupon: and the total value of the coupon is more then the free item will the store use the remainder value of the coupon towards the item your purchasing?

  • Lisa

    Ok, I have a question as I’m new to this also. I have a $2 off hair color, and a buy one hair color, get a shampoo for free, (I have two of each of these), I also have a $3 off 2 shampoos. Can I use these all together purchasing 2 hair colors and 2 shampoos? Or would I have to purchase 4 shampoos?

  • trish

    My question is if I have a buy one get free coupon for a specific shaver (lets say venus shaver) can I use a 2 dollar off coupon of the first shaver and still get the other for free?

  • sharhonda

    I would like to know if I have a bogo coupon and the store has the items as 3 for $10.00 how would that go about?

    • Melissa Foster

      If cereal is 5 for 10 and you have coupons for $2 off of 3, how much will it cost me for 10 boxes of cereal and many coupons do I use.

      • Debbie

        2 Scenarios:

        Buy 10 boxes for $20, use 3 coupons deducting $6 making your out of pocket $14

        Or assuming you do not need to purchase in multiples of 5

        Purchase 12 boxes for $24, use 4 coupons deducting $8 making your out of pocked $16

  • Thanks for the article, I am relatively new to coupons and your post is educational!! :)
    I also love your site! Keep it up!

  • jodi

    I have a B1G1 free question. In the Rite Aid paper they have a b1g1 free ad running for Oragel products. It says that if you spend $10 dollars on these products they will give you $5 dollars back. Would they add the two products together even though the item is free or would i have to buy an extra product to get to $10 dollars to get the $5 dollars back? New to couponing and a little confusing. Thanks

  • TL Kirchhoff

    Ok bogofree cpn question, @ Walgreens pple are using bogof cpns on axe shower gel and not paying a penny for them. they are “purchasing” over 50 bottles so how are they doing all this for FREE???? using a bogo cpn for every bottle and getting them all free?? I think this is fraud am I wrong?

    • Sarina

      I would say its not fair to others that they are tragically obsessive about purchasing an item that’s free but honestly the stores are reimbursed back for the product. I have yet to receive free but I come rather close :)

  • new2this

    i have probably a dumb question. if i have a coupon for save $2 on 5 GM cereals and a save $1 on 3 GM cereals, can i use both on a total of 5 cereals or would i need to buy 8?

    • Shannon

      you would need to buy 8.

    • Anonymous

      I have used them on 5

  • New Couponer

    Hello, I have a BOGO related question…I have 4 coupons for Chef Boyardee Pasta. I have 2 $1 off 5 coupons, and 2 B4G1 Free coupons. Is there any way I’d be able to use all 4 coupons on 10 cans of pasta, or would I have to buy more than 10 to use all 4 coupons?


    • Shannon

      You would need to buy 6 to use $1.00 off and a buy 4, get 1 free.

      Here is how it would look:

      Buy (6)
      use B4G1 Free
      use $1.00/5

  • College Student

    I have a question regarding B1g1 coupons. Recently target sent a flyer to the house with their store coupons ( I believe their college student oriented), anyway, at the bottom it says limit one manufactuer and one target coupon per item. So the specific Manufactuer coupon is Buy one get one free Oral B cross actiom toohbrush. While the target coupon is one dollar off with the purchase of two oral care items. Does this mean that I can use both? even though technically my second item is free to begin with? Thanks for your help

  • new2coupon

    Hello, new to couponing, just had a quick question. CVS has a deal this week on their Shick shaver kits B1G1 free, @ $9.00 total for the two kits, I have two coupons @ $4.00 off per coupon, so that would bring it to only $1.00 for both shaver kits, my question is can i use two coupons for this to get this great deal?

    sorry for the long spiel, thanks for any help!

    • new2coupon

      nevermind i was able to use both coupons, except they were b1b1 free @ $10.00 – $8.00 in coupons i paid $2.60 (after 6% sales tax) for two shave kits that retailed @ $20.00, great deal all around, thanks coupons!

  • regina

    I’m a newbie I want to thank you for clearing this up for me. I was thinking about this just the other day. I guess I got lucky and had coded 01 for the Gillette and Old Spice for CVS. Cause I was able to use my cents off :) But I did worry about it at the register. Best shopping trip I ever had. Saved $40 Woot, Woot!

  • Robyn

    Question.. what if the store has an advertised BOGO sale. Can you use 2 coupons for that ?

    • Shannon

      Depends on your store policy Robyn.

    • Shannon

      It depends on store policy. Some do not allow it on the free items.

  • Donna

    Ok, here’s my scenario….

    The store has a BOGO 1/2 off sale. I have a BOGOF coupon AND a $1/2 coupon, all for the same product. How can I work these?

    • Donna

      Couldn’t use the $1/2 coupon with the BOGOF coupon. I ended up buying 2 items for 1/2 the price of one. It was at Walgreens. They have a BOG2nd 1/2 off Old Spice Bodywash/Deodorant and I have a buy a deodorant and get bodywash free coupon(s). I threw in a $2 RR that was expiring today and paid $1.61 for both.

    • Shannon

      You cannot use these two coupons together. You can use $X off 1 but never X off 2.. There BOGO coupon attaches to one, so you only have one item left over.

  • Lexi

    Thank you so much for this series! I was always a “normal” coupon user, but never to the extent that you are teaching about…this has been so helpful for my family! Not to jump the gun or anything, but somewhere in your series, do you plan on going into detail on drugstore couponing for the specific stores (ie. CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens)? I am not a drugstore shopper so I never catch those deals and it’s really impressive how you’re always talking about free items from there…

    Thanks!! :-D

    • Shannon

      Yep. some how I think it may end up being more than 30 days :)

  • Danielle

    I am new to the couponing community so I just want to understand. As far as the BOGO coupons, depending on the code at the bottom, you can either use a cent/dollars off coupon or not? For example I have a coupon for BOGO Gillette deodorant and I have a $1.00 off 1 Gillette deodorant. The BOGO coupon value code has a 14 therefore I would not be able to use the $1.00 off coupon, correct? Thank you for sharing, I’m learning something new everyday! :)

    • Shannon

      You got it Danielle! Yeah!

      • Danielle

        YAY!! Thank you sooooo much. I think I’m getting it, slowly :)

  • Nicole

    This is not very related to BOGO coupons but I was wondering if the coupons in RP and SS newspaper inserts match the coupons listed on their websites? Also, if they do match than is there a possibility of the coupons matching an insert from several weeks/months prior being listed on the website now?

    • Shannon

      No 90% of the coupons are different.

  • diane

    Not really a BOGO coupon question, but…. if a store has a BOGO sale, can I use cents off coupons on both items? Thanks for the series, this is great info!

    • Shannon


      Yes, but it depends on the store. Some stores will not allow you to use a coupon on a free item.

  • Mark

    I have a question about B1G1 as it applies to the new Rite Aid Coupon policy. According to their website- A customer can use one “cents off” coupon in conjunction with the item they are purchasing on a Buy One Get One Free promotion (or with a Buy One Get One Free coupon), although the value of the cents off coupon cannot exceed the selling price of the item.

    Does this mean you can use a “cents off” coupon in conjunction with a B1G1 free coupon even if the coupon is coded with 14. Does the policy override how the coupon is coded?

    • Shannon


      This is a great question. For example, last week the degree coupons were coded 14. They will not scan and will come up as Item not found at rite aid. Rite Aids policy also says that the coupon must scan. So in this case, the coupon wouldn’t scan and many Rite Aids would not push it through. There are some Rite Aid’s that would.

      • Mark

        Thanks for the information. I will try it at Rite Aid next week and let you know.
        Could you please delete my double post. I posted twice when I didn’t see the original last night.

        • Shannon

          Sure Mark :)

    • Maria

      can i use 2WYB coupons on 2 items or would i have to get 4 of the same item for it to work?

  • April

    Thanks so much for doing this. Even though I’ve been using coupons for some time, I’m still learning something new from your series. This is such a great series for those that are new to coupons!

    Thanks again!

  • Harry Martin

    I never knew there was a coding difference! I learned something new, but I always trust you to figure that out for me, so I need not worry my pretty little head.