How To Stack Coupons (And How Not To)

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What “Stacking Coupons” means

As the term suggests, “stacking coupons” means using more than one coupon towards the purchase of the same item or items. Manufacturers coupons limit you to one coupon per item purchased. Therefore, the only “stacking” you can correctly do is using a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon, and NOT another manufacturer coupon.

Understanding the Difference between Store & Manufacturer coupons

In order to understand how to stack coupons, you will first need to know the difference between store coupons and manufacturer coupons.

Store coupons:

  • Are issued by the store – they are providing the discount.
  • Can generally only be redeemed at that particular store.*
  • Often let you buy more than one item with the coupon (the coupon will state a limit).
  • Can be found in weekly ads, mailers, in store, and occasionally, Sunday inserts or online (e.g., Target).

*Unless a store in your area accepts competitor coupons.

Manufacturer coupons:

  • Are issued by the manufacturer and read “manufacturer” at the top.
  • Can be used at ANY store that accepts manufacturer’s coupons.
  • Prohibit you to ONE coupon per item purchased.
  • Can be found in Sunday inserts, online, “blinkie” machines, tearpads, booklets, etc.

How to Stack Coupons

Let me illustrate with an example.

On the left you have a Walgreens coupon. This is a store coupon; Walgreens is providing this discount. It has the “W” logo on the top and reads “limit 3″ on it. You could buy up to 3 bags of Ricola for $0.99. Please note this doesn’t mean you have to buy 3 to get the $0.99 price. You could buy 1 or 2, if you’d prefer.

On the right you have a manufacturer’s coupon clipped from a Sunday paper insert. It clearly reads “manufacturer” up at the top and the fine print reads that Ricola USA will reimburse the retailer the face value of the coupon. The retailer in this case would be Walgreens. The coupon will specifically save you $1 when you buy 2 bags of Ricola cough drops. You must buy 2 to use this coupon.

To stack these coupons for the best discount, here is what I would do:

Buy (2) bags of Ricola Cough Drops
Use the store coupon to get $0.99 each
Use the $1 off 2 manufacturer coupon
You’ll pay: $0.49 per bag ($0.99 total)

Now technically you could buy 3 bags, since the store coupon allows you to. However, remember the manufacturer coupon will only save you $1 on 2 bags.

Buy (3) bags of Ricola Cough Drops
Use the store coupon to get $0.99 each
Use the $1 off 2 manufacturer coupon
You’ll pay: $0.66 per bag ($1.97 total)

As you can see, the second example (while completely within coupon policies) is just not as good of a deal as the first example.

Please don’t try this at home…or anywhere else!

Now that you know the correct way to do this, let me give you an example of what NOT to do.

Buy (1) Box of Pampers Diapers for $19.99
Use (1) $1/1 manufacturer’s coupon from the Sunday paper
Use (2) $2/1 manufacturer’s coupons from a coupon booklet
Use (3) $2/1 manufacturer’s coupons a friend gave you
And hope to pay: $8.99

You may not stack manufacturers coupons together towards the purchase of one item. It’s wrong, and please don’t try to explain to your cashier that the couponers on TV told you you could. The couponers on TV are using one manufacturer’s coupon per item (at least the ones doing it correctly).

While it’s not a great deal, you could however, do this:

Buy (6) Boxes of Pampers Diapers for $19.99 each
Use (1) $1/1 manufacturer’s coupon from the Sunday paper
Use (2) $2/1 manufacturer’s coupons from a coupon booklet
Use (3) $2/1 manufacturer’s coupons a friend gave you
And you’ll pay: way too much for diapers!

Some people think if they gather the manufacturer’s coupons from different sources that it’s OK. No it’s not. If you have two coupons that read “manufacturer” on them, you may not use them together. The only instance I can think of that might blur the lines is Rite Aid where, according to their corporate coupon policy, you are allowed to stack an in-ad “manufacturer” coupon with another manufacturer coupon.

Final Thoughts

My goal is to help you save money using coupons the correct way. I want you feeling confident at checkout, knowing your trips have been planned according to store coupon policies and manufacturer’s intentions.

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