How to Read a Coupon

Posted on Tuesday, August 13th, 2013 at 7:00 am
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Fake Coupon Clippings with Paper ClipDo you know what information to look for on a coupon? It is a skill that should be taught in school (but rarely is). It seems like it should be so simple, and yet, many people don’t understand what they should be focusing on when they read a coupon. Here is a quick “how to” that will save you some embarrassment at the register!

What is the value?
Look for a dollar sign. Most coupons are the type that will save you a specific amount of money when you buy a certain product. “Save $1.00 when you buy a box of Cheerios”. Or, the coupon could be for a percentage off the price of something. “Save 20% off your entire purchase.”

Is the coupon expired?
Look for an expiration date. Most coupons will have one (but some manufacturers coupons might not). If that date has already passed, it means that the coupon has expired. You cannot use a coupon that has expired. Your expired coupons can help the troops (and it is easy to send it to them).

Look at the picture.
You found a coupon for a brand that you are unfamiliar with. It helps to look at the photo that is on the coupon. It is a lot easier to find that product if you have a good “hint” about what it looks like. Some coupons are for a combination of products (and you must buy one of each type). Other coupons can be used on many products (such as the ones in the photo).

Read the fine print.
Many people skip this step. It can lead to some embarrassment at the cash register when the cashier announces that you can’t use that coupon like that. Here are key phrases to look for:

* While supplies last
* Offer not valid at (specific locations or in certain states)
* Limited to one item per customer
* Limited to one coupon per customer
* Offer cannot be combined with other offers
* Cannot be doubled
* Must print out entire email in order to use this coupon
* Coupon can only be used on (these specific brands/sizes of products)
* Excludes trial/travel sizes
* Buy one, get one free

Does the coupon have a bar code?
Many stores are refusing to accept coupons that lack a bar code. Some stores won’t allow you to use a coupon if the bar code will not easily ring up at the cash register.

Is it a store coupon?
If you are holding a coupon from Target, and standing inside a Walmart, you probably won’t be able to use that coupon. Some stores will accept competitors coupons, though. Check the store’s coupon policy to find out.

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