Learn to Coupon | The Anatomy of A Coupon


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.

If you are looking to learn how to buy 100 bottles of mustard or sports drink for $1.00, this is not the series for you. 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.

Day #1 – The Anatomy of A Manufacturer Coupon

Before you can be a successful couponer, you must understand what a coupon is and how it works. Today’s post will exam a coupon and what each part of a coupon means. Even if you already know what a coupon is, this is a great refresher on terminology.

There are two types of coupons that you will come across: Manufacturer and Store Coupons.  Today we will focus on Manufacturer Coupons. You may only ever use 1 manufacturer coupon per item.

There are common elements you will find on every manufacturer coupon:

Manufacturer Coupon

The first clue that you are looking at a manufacturer coupon is that it will say manufacturer coupon on it. However, this does not always mean it is a true manufacturer coupon. Sometimes store coupons will say manufacturer coupon, even though they can only be redeemed at one particular store. So how are you to know for sure?  Once you have found the “manufacturer coupon” verbiage on the coupon you will want to look for the barcode.


A manufacturer coupon that can be used at multiple stores will always have a scannable barcode. The barcode starts with a 5 or a 9. If you have a coupon that starts with another number or doesn’t have a scannable barcode , chances are you are holding a store coupon.

The barcode tells the computer what you are required to purchase to redeem the coupon. From time to time, some registers may beep when the barcodes are scanned. A register beeping or not beeping is not necessarily the sign of a valid or invalid coupon. These barcodes can sometimes be miscoded or a product can be miscoded in store computers.  This can cause the register to beep.  This does not occur on regular basis, but it can happen.

Expiration Date

This date is show prominently on an a coupon. This date is the final day you can use this coupon. If a coupon is valid until 12/31, you may use this coupon up until the end of 12/31.

Item Image

The item image ultimately really has nothing to do with the coupon.  If it is for a new product, it may help you find what you are looking for. However, most coupons will only include one item of many that is included in the coupon terms. Don’t be fooled into buying the only the product you see on the coupon. Be sure to read the terms in full.

Redemption Value and Terms

This tells you what the value of the coupon is when you meet the terms of the purchase.   The terms also tells you how many items and sizes you must purchase. This area also may exclude types, sizes or colors. For example, this particular coupon requires you to purchase 1 Kraft Dressing that is 14 oz or larger. When you purchase 1 Kraft Dressing that is 14oz or larger, you will save .50 cents on your purchase.

Consumer Terms

These are various terms included by the manufacturer. Not all coupons will have consumer terms. Common Consumer Terms:

:: One coupon per transaction – this means you may use one like coupon per transaction. This does not mean you may not use other coupons for other products in a transaction.

:: One coupon per person – this means you may use one like coupon once per person.

::One coupon per purchase – this is NOT to be confused with one coupon per transaction. This means one coupon per ITEM purchased. If you purchase 3 like items, you may use 3 coupons.

:: One coupon valid for item indicated – this just means you have to meet the terms of the coupon to earn the redemption value.

Retailer Terms & Remit To

Another good indication that a coupon is a manufacturer coupon is the retailer terms and remit to. This information tells the retailer where to send the coupon for reimbursement. In addition, it will give any other specific information the retailer might need.

Other items you may find on a coupon:

:: Cash Value: 1/100 – basically this just tells you that a coupon isn’t worth any cash money.

:: Do Not Double – This is stating that the manufacturer will not pay double the coupon amount. (more to come on this topic later)

:: Coupon may not be copied – It is NEVER ok to copy a coupon. Ever.

:: Product Available At – This is telling you were you can buy the product and does not mean that you can only redeem at that store.

:: Reedemable Only At – This coupon can only be redeemed at this particular store.

:: Redeem At: This is suggesting where you can redeem it, if it is still a manufacturer coupon, you may be able to redeem it at another store. You will need to check with your store to determine if the coupon is permitted in their policy. Also, this may be at a manager discretion, especially if the coupon has another stores logo.

:: You Pay Sales Tax – This means if your state charges sales tax, you will still have to pay it per your states laws.

:: Excludes Travel/Trial Size – Coupon Not valid on Travel/Trial  Size Items

:: Other Use Constitutes Fraud – Using this coupon on products or outside of the terms of the coupon constitutes fraud

:: A Specific Store Logo: Sometimes stores will “sponsor” a coupon – these coupons are still manufacturer coupons and can be redeemed anywhere. (unless they have redeem only at)

So to quickly recap –

There are two main types of coupons – manufacturers and store coupons. To quickly determine if your coupon is a manufacturer or store coupon look for a barcode starting with 5 or 9, a redemption address and the words manufacturer coupon.

Questions? Leave them in the comments. Be sure to check back tomorrow night for Day 2 of Learn to Coupon... In 30 days. You can bookmark the series here.

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