Reader Jonathan K. from North Carolina asks the following question:
Dear Coupon Girls,
I have three coupons that say $5.00 off of any size bag of Science Diet cat food. The bag of Science diet cat food that I have in mind costs $15.00. Can I use all three coupons and get the $15.00 bag of cat food free?
This is a pretty common misconception about the use of coupons and how us couponers get products for free. However that is not quite how coupons work. You cannot use multiple manufactures coupons on one product. Almost all coupons state on them somewhere in the fine print “Limit one coupon per purchase” or “Limit one coupon per item purchased” or other such wording. And this means that for each qualifying purchase (in this case 1 bag of Science Diet cat food) you can only use 1 coupon.
I know bummer right, especially when that cat food is so expensive to begin with!
Now there is one exception to this rule about only using one coupon per qualifying purchase and that is when there is a store coupon that you can stack with your manufactures coupon.
[pullquote align=”right”]How do you tell a manufactures coupon from a store coupon? In most cases it is clearly stated at the top of the coupon with the wording “Manufactures Coupon” or “Store Coupon”. Another way to tell is the bar code. The UPC codes on most store coupons start with a 0, 4 or a PLU#. While a manufactures coupon usually starts with either a 5 or a 9 (except the new bar coded coupons which leave us scratching our heads…)[/pullquote]Many stores offer their customers store coupons that are only redeemable at that store. For example CVS, Walgreens, Publix, etc are but a few stores off the top of my head that have store coupons that you can stack with a manufacture coupon. So for example if lets say your local Walgreens also had a store coupon for $5.00 off 1 bag of Science Diet cat food you could stack that store coupon with your $5.00 manufactures coupon and save $10.00 total off your cat food (good deal!).
And then some stores accept competitor store coupons too, so if you have a store that allows that then you may find that they have a better sale price (say Walmart has the cat food for $13 instead of $15), you use a $5.00 manufactures coupon and a $5.00 store coupon from Walgreens and get your cat food for $3.00. Not free but still a really great deal! (All made up examples for illustration purposes)
Now I cannot stress this enough though, each store has their own coupon policy and it is up to you, the consumer to learn what that policy is and abide by it as best as you can. There are some stores that, for example, do not allow you to stack their store coupons with manufactures coupons (Kmart comes to mind as an example). So always check with the coupon policy for your local stores.