Types of Coupons
1. Manufacturer’s Coupon
A coupon provided by the product manufacturer. These coupons are available in many formats. The shopper redeems them at the store, and the store gets reimbursed by the manufacturer for the face value of the coupon plus a handling fee (usually around $0.08 per coupon). Manufacturer's coupons may be used at any store that accepts coupons.
2. Store Coupon
This is a coupon provided by a particular store, and good only at that store (though some stores accept the store coupons from other stores in an attempt to get your business). Sometimes, the store receives an incentive from the manufacturer for providing these coupons, but it is more like a store sale price than a traditional coupon. MOST stores allow consumers to use one manufacturer’s coupon and one store coupon per item, maximizing your savings. A store coupon will either state on it 'store coupon' OR will say under the terms and conditions 'coupon may only be redeemed at X store'.
3. Tear pads
Tear pads are little notepad like stacks of coupons, commonly found on displays, shelves, or cooler doors. (I have a lot of luck finding tear pads at convenience stores, especially for single bottled drinks). These are usually manufacturer’s coupons, and can be used anywhere that accepts coupons (not just at the store where they are found).
Blinkies are manufacturer’s coupons that are dispensed from little machines in store. The machines usually have a little blinking light (children seem to LOVE these machines, so your little ones may notice them before you do). These coupons usually have short expiration dates (expire within a few weeks of being made available), but are almost always manufacturer’s coupons that can be used anywhere (not just in the store where they are found).
5. Credit Card Company Coupons
This coupon is available through your credit card company, usually via an internet printable, but sometimes as either an online shopping code or as a credit on your statement. Usually, it is store specific (save 10% on your purchase at Payless, for example) and you almost always have to use your credit card for the purchase. Contact your card issuer for more info on finding this type of coupon.
6. $x off of $xx coupons
This type of coupon is becoming more popular, and is frequently an internet printable. The coupon states that you can save X amount if you SPEND X amount. ($5 off of $25 is very common). The total spent is after sales prices, but before tax and coupons. These coupons are almost always store specific. In general, if you are using this type of coupon you should give it to the cashier BEFORE any other coupons, as they sometimes do not work correctly if scanned last. These are especially helpful for items that rarely go on sale or have coupons and when combined with free item coupons (see Couponing 300: Leveraging Coupons to Maximize Savings for more info).
7. Free Item Coupons
These coupons are for free items. There is usually, but not always, a maximum amount printed on the coupon, and there are frequently restrictions on size and type of product. (For more information on how to obtain this type of coupon, see Couponing 200. For more information on how to leverage these coupons for the best savings, see Couponing 300).
8. Double/Triple Coupons
This is a store based program and rules vary from store to store. In general, the store doubles or triples any coupon you use up to a certain dollar amount (many grocery chains double coupons every day up to $0.50, making a $0.50 coupon worth $1).
9. Rebates (also called TMF or Try Me Free)
A rebate is a refund for a purchase you have already made. You must do something to redeem this rebate, usually fill out a form and send in a receipt and UPC from the product, though some manufacturers and stores are making rebates easier (Rite Aid and some office supply stores have incredibly simple, online rebate programs). Many products are beginning to offer TMF rebates for new products. There are usually coupons available for the same products, so you can often make money trying something new!! (See Couponing 300 for more details).
10. Buy X get Y coupons
These coupons can be a bit tricky. Rather than a set amount off of an item or items, the coupon gives you a discount only if you purchase another item. The usage of these coupons can vary depending on the wording of the coupon, a particular store's policies, or even the cashier or manager’s interpretation of the wording. (See future classes for more detailed information and examples).
11. Store Loyalty Cards
Store Loyalty Cards often work like a coupon—you won’t get the discount unless you have a card and the cashier scans it or otherwise enters the information. There are some concerns about privacy with these cards. I personally suggest only sharing as much information as you are comfortable with. Most stores do not require any form of identification to get a store loyalty card, so you may choose how much information to share. Keep in mind, though, that some stores send additional coupons through the mail to customers who have store loyalty cards. If you are interested in these, then you should make sure your correct address is on file. Store loyalty cards sometimes have the added benefit of allowing you to add digital coupons to your card. These discounts are in addition to any other coupons or discounts you may receive in store, so they can add up to HUGE savings. Be sure to check your store’s website for all the details and benefits to using a store loyalty card.
Catalinas are coupons that are triggered by some aspect of your purchase and print on register tape, usually from a separate machine than the one your receipt comes from. In my area, these coupons are unreliable (it is rare that the machine even have tape in them, and the cashiers are not trained on any aspect of utilizing this type of coupon). In some areas, though, catalinas are an excellent way to reduce your shopping totals.
13. Wine tags
Wine tags are coupons found hanging around the necks of wine bottles. They sometimes require you to purchase wine to use them, and sometimes do not (you will see this abbreviated as NWPN—no wine purchase necessary—on some couponing boards and forums). Sometimes these are instant coupons (give them to the cashier at the register) and sometimes they are mail in rebates. Read the wine tag carefully for details.