With so many stores setting stricter limits on their coupon policies it's easy to assume that your favorite store is following the pack. But Jessica Crowe of TheHappyCouponer.com says don't be so sure. You could be missing out on some really great deals.
Contact the store directly
Most of the large grocery chains are governed by regional policies and those policies can vary from region to region. Don't assume that your store has stopped doubling coupons just because you heard they stopped doubling them in a neighboring state.
For example, says Crowe, Kroger announced earlier this year that they were going to stop doubling coupons in their Cincinnati-based stores. But the stores in Columbus, which is only 50 miles away, still honor the policy.
“Our Columbus stores fall into Kroger's Cincinnati region, but they're still doubling coupons, so never assume anything. Always contact each store directly,” says Crowe. “Don't be embarrassed to ask about their coupon policy. Stores get reimbursed for every coupon they accept and if that's what it takes to get you to shop in their store, the managers are perfectly happy to answer your questions.”
Be specific with your questions
Don't just ask your store if they double coupons, be specific. Crowe says you might be surprised.
“We always knew our local Eakin Rd. Kroger store doubled coupons but we assumed they only doubled coupons up to 50 cents for a total $1 credit. We checked our receipt one day, after using a 75-cent coupon, and were surprised to see they'd given us $1.50 credit. When we talked to the front-end manager we learned that our Kroger store doubles all coupons up to 99 cents. That means, if we have a coupon for $.99 off one item, we actually get $1.98 credit.”
"If you're talking about one coupon it's no big deal. But to serious couponers who take advantage of sales and coupons to build money-saving stockpiles, this little bit of knowledge can save thousands of dollars over a year."
“So don't just ask if your store doubles coupons, "says Crowe. "Be specific. Ask them, 'How much credit will I get if I use a 50-cent coupon, or a 75-cent coupon or a $1 coupon? You might be missing out on some huge savings.”
Ask about the limitations, too
Some stores will only allow you to use 5 of each coupon in a transaction. Some stores don't care how many coupons you use. Some will double all coupons if you have a loyalty card and some stores won't double any unless you present a loyalty card, and even then they might limit how many coupons you can use per day.
Crowe says it's important to understand the nuances of your store's coupon policy so you can plan your shopping trips to get the most for your money.
“If your store only accepts 5 of the same coupon per transaction and you want to buy 10 of the same item with a coupon for each, then break your purchases into 2 transactions. I frequently shop with my mother so we can use two shopping carts to separate our transactions. There have been times when I've had 12 different transactions because it's one of those great deals you just can't pass up.”
According to Crowe, though, you need to completely understand your store's coupon policy if you want to maximize your savings. She suggests checking their online policy if they have a website, but don't stop there. Contact your store's management team to get their specific policy because managers are often given a lot of leeway in their individual stores.
Crowe suggests asking the following questions:
- Do you accept paper manufacturer's coupons?
- Do you accept printed manufacturer's coupons?
- Do you accept competitors' store coupons?
- Do you price-match your competitors' ads?
- Is there a limit to the number of coupons I can use in a transaction?
- Is there a limit to the number of identical coupons I can use in a transaction?
- Do you double or triple coupons?
- Is there a limit on the number of coupons I can double per transaction?
- Is there a limit to the number of identical coupons I can double per transaction?
- If so, do you have a limit on the coupon value and do you have a limit on the amount of credit we receive?
- Do you pay out any overages?
- If so, do you apply the overage to the other items in the cart, pay it out in cash?
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