How to read Coupons? What does all that information mean that is written on coupons?

reading small printAre you confused when reading coupons?

There is always the stage of learning to coupon that involves understanding the mumbo jumbo on a coupon and what it all means.  I hope I can shed some light and teach you all how to become pros at reading so you can inform cashiers and friends with the correct information.

To learn more about “COUPON LINGO“, I strongly encourage you to read this + PLUS there is a print out for you to keep close to the computer for understanding your new coupon language

Coupons have various components:

1) Company who distributed coupons mail back address: Canadian coupons that are redeemable in Canada have a CANADIAN ADDRESS written clearly in the RETAILER information section.  This is the address where the coupons will be sent back for reimbursement from the store where you used the coupons.  If the address stated for redemption is for Del Rio Texas or any other U.S. State, the retailer will NOT get their money back and you are not permitted to use these coupons in Canada as stated on the coupon.

2) One per person/customer/transaction versus One per purchase/item.  This seems to always cause the largest degree of grief with couponers and cashiers.

One per person/customer/transaction means you can only use one coupon on the one product and that is all you can use for your entire bill or order.  Typically this statement is on coupons for medications or really awesome printable offers that come out on Facebook (ex. $1 off Lean Cuisine, $4 off Aveeno – see picture below).   If you have someone who is shopping with you, they can get you another item and use their own coupon.  Some stores allow you to take your items out to your car and return in for a second transaction so you can get another, ask what your stores permit before trying.

One per purchase/item means you can use one coupon on one item and you can get as many items as you have coupons.  For example, if I wanted 5 tubes of toothpaste and I had 5 coupons, and my coupon said one per purchase, I can have 1 coupon on top of each tube of toothpaste and put all these items in the same order without having to separate the transactions.  One per purchase can be loosely defined to a cashier as “yes, one coupon …… per item, so I have 5 coupons, on 5 items, one coupon sitting on each purchase/item”.  Using the example of the difference between one per transaction and one per purchase following this example helps too to help them see there is two different ways coupons are printed

3) Expiry Date self explanatory, all coupons will have an expiry on it, varying from 1 week from date received to as far as into the next years.  Most coupons mailed out from companies as “thank you’s” for sending them positive feedback send great coupons that do not expire right away, mailed out coupons from Websaver, Save, GoCoupons, etc. vary in expiry.  If there is NO expiry on the coupon, the coupon must say “NO EXPIRY” somewhere on the coupon.

4) UPC or BarCode Although coupons in Canada are not yet scanned in, but manually keyed into the computers, the bar codes does have some unique information for both the store level and redemption department

5) Picture vs. Description  An important feature about coupons is that companies will typically put a picture on the coupon for the most expensive item in their product line BUT what is the most important is the fine print that states what items are included, this takes precedent over the picture.  If you get into a discussion that the product picture does not match what you are getting, you can point out the details and wording of the inclusion criteria for the coupon.

….. stay tuned to how to read FPCs (Free Product Coupons) in my next blog post


Reading Coupons

8 thoughts on “How to read Coupons? What does all that information mean that is written on coupons?

  1. S.S.

    Thanks for your article. What does it mean when the coupon says ‘taxes are/are not included in the face value of (this) coupon’? Also, is it legal for stores to not accept coupons that are greater in value than the price of the item? I use coupons every time I go shopping and sometimes I feels like some stores do everything to stop you from even trying.

    • Louise

      Walmart allows for overage, so if the item is less than the coupon value, the coupon value is still entered as the coupon amount and the overage can either be given back in cash or put towards the remainder of your order.

      Other stores (such as Target) may adjust the coupon value to the item price if the price is less than the coupon amount.

  2. LTD

    I contacted Dare Foods about the “one per purchase” wording. You know what response I got back from them? That if I had 3 coupons for x product, and I was buying 3 of that product, then I would have to ring each up in a SEPARATE TRANSACTION, so 3 transactions vs. 1.

  3. Louise

    Someone should contact Dare Foods and see if you get the same response I got from them sometime ago when I queried their coupon and what 1 per purchase/item meant on their coupons, as their response to me differed from what is mentioned here.

    I was specific with them – asked them outright if I had 3 coupons for one of their crackers and I was buying 3 boxes of those crackers what would happen. They told me that in order to do it, I would need to do 3 SEPARATE transactions, that I could not buy all 3 and use the 3 coupons in the same transaction. That response is very different from what everyone has ever read about 1 per purchase/item.

  4. Erin Brayshaw

    This is great information. As a Cashier at Walmart i know that people get upset when we tell them they cant use this or its not the right product, so having lots of info out there for people to view is great. And people have to realize, we don’t make the rules we just have to follow the stores policies! Thanks again! I love you facebook page and your website! I am a big fan!!

  5. Lumeena

    Several times at the No Frills on Lakeshore and Elizabeth, there’s a cashier there who’s loud and obnoxious. She is a real tyrant, a coupon Nazi, and very very rude and doubly stupid. She argues constantly with ppl about coupons, specially when they say one per purchase. Everyone who’s everyone in the coupon world knows that means you have have 4, 5, 6, etc… of the same coupons as long as they are for each individual items in a same transaction. But, she refuses to acknowledge it, understand it or accept it. I REFUSE to shop there anymore. The owners, the supervisors and she is mostly to blame for my distrust and disgust of that store. Shoppers BEWARE. NEVER shop for groceries at that particular No FRILLS….it’s nothing but headaches. I travel further to No Frills at Dixie Mall where I know my coupons are accepted. At least they are courteous and professional and they know their stuff.


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