For those of you who are completely new to shopping with coupons, I know it can seem overwhelming. You might not know where to begin or how coupons work at different stores. Stores are reimbursed for the face value of each coupon that you use (plus an additional processing and handling fee), so you are not taking money from the actual store. Some inexperienced cashiers might try to make you feel like you are stealing from the store when you use coupons; this is completely untrue...once they are reimbursed, they will be getting paid the same amount as if you had paid cash. (Only you are getting someone else to help pay for your grocery bill). I'll walk you through several different stores right here in San Angelo, so you won't feel so out of your element if you decide to shop with coupons.
If you are new to coupon shopping, Wal-Mart seems to be the most straight forward store to begin with.
-Wal-Mart will accept manufacturer's coupons found in the newspaper and from the internet. (When using internet coupons, never photocopy them...stores WILL NOT get reimbursed for those coupons, and it is considered fraud if you try to shop with them).
-If you happen to have a coupon that is worth more than the product you are buying (example...you are buying $0.97 deodorant and using a $1.00 coupon) Wal-Mart's policy is that they will adjust the price of the coupon down to the amount of the product you are purchasing. Some cashiers do this, and others just push the coupon through (allowing you to use the full amount). It seems to depend on the cashier.
-Wal-Mart advertises that they will price match any competitor's advertised prices. This must be from a local store and must be on the exact same product. You must bring in the store circular to show the cashier what you are price matching. They will only price match on an exact price...not a certain percent off or a buy one item get one free.
HEB is known for their meal deals and their buy one product get another product free sales. HEB is also know for all of the yellow coupons that they place around their stores. These yellow coupons are considered manufacturer's coupons and CANNOT be combined with additional coupons you might have from the newspaper or internet.
-HEB will accept manufacturer's coupons from the newspaper and/or internet. Some people have mentioned having problems getting cashiers to accept internet coupons, but I have never had a problem.
-If HEB is having a meal deal or a buy one product get another product free sale, you may NOT use a coupon on the product you are getting free (except for the yellow store coupon), but you MAY use a coupon on the product you have to buy in order to get the other item free. Example...Buy Oscar Mayer Lunch Meat and Kraft Cheese Get Macaroni and Cheese, Bread, Jell-O, and Mayonnaise for free (This seems to be a fairly common meal deal that you'll see several times a year). You could use a manufacturer's coupon (from newspaper or internet) on the lunch meat and cheese, but not one for the other items. Keep in mind that in order to get those items free you DO need to be picking up the yellow coupons throughout the store.
Albertsons has recently begun doubling coupons up to and including $0.50 and tripling those up to and including $0.39. I asked a lady at the customer service desk how long this would continue, and she couldn't give me a definite answer, so I am not sure if this will be a long term deal or not. Albertsons will allow you to double/triple up to 4 of the exact same coupon in one transaction. If you try to do a fifth coupon, it will not be multiplied. Example...you have 5 coupons for $0.50 off pasta. The first four will double up to $1.00, but the fifth will just take off $0.50. If you have multiples of coupons, you might think about breaking up your shopping trip into a couple different transactions.
-Albertsons also accepts manufacturer's coupons from the newspaper and from the internet.
-Albertsons often advertises 10 for $10 sales. You DO NOT need to buy 10 products to get these sales. If you buy 1 product you'll be getting it for $1; if you buy 100 products, you'll be getting them each for $1.
-Albertsons also will often run buy 1 get 1 free sales. If there is a buy 1 get 1 free sale, you may only use 1 coupon for the product you are spending money on. Technically you are getting 2 products, but their computers will not recognize the one you are getting free. Because of that only one coupon will be accepted. (Keep in mind that this is for the San Angelo stores; if you live in another city you might want to check with your local store).
-Target accepts manufacturer's coupons from the newspaper and the internet, but they also will accept Target coupons that can be found at http://www.target.com/ and are occasionally found in the Sunday newspaper. (Note not all coupons on target.com are Target coupons...Target store coupons will clearly say at the top of the coupon next to the expiration date...Target web coupon).
-Target will allow you to combine a manufacturer's coupon AND a Target coupon on one product. Example...$0.75 coupon from Sunday paper for Crest toothpaste
$1.00 coupon from target.com for Crest toothpaste
These can be used together when purchasing 1 product to take $1.75 off of one tube of toothpaste. When you are able to use a Target coupon AND a manufacturer's coupon on one product you are really doubling your savings. You will often be able to get items for free or for just a few cents when you are able to use these two types of coupons together.
-Like Wal-Mart, Target's coupon policy states that if the item you are purchasing is less than the value of the coupon that they will adjust the price of the coupon down. Again, this seems to depend on the cashier...some will just push the coupon through and allow you to get the full value of the coupon, and others will adjust the price down.
-Target has recently begun offering different gift card promotions. These will be featured in their Sunday ad, and also will be posted throughout the store. These promotions will be something like this...buy 4 boxes of Kellogg's cereal and receive a $5 gift card when you check out. You will not be allowed to use this $5 gift card on your initial transaction, but can go back through the store and do the same deal again, use the first $5 gift card and in return get another $5 gift card.
-Target will also often run buy 3 items and get the 4th one free sales. These will look something like this...buy 3 bags of Ore-Ida french fries, get a 4th bag free. If you decided to do this deal, you would put all 4 bags of french fries in your cart...the 4th bag will automatically ring up free at the register. Target will allow you to use a coupon on all 4 items (even the one you are getting free).
-Target has recently started price matching as well. You must bring in a competitor's ad and check out at the customer service desk if you decide to price match. Note...if you are trying to price match something that is featured in Target's gift card sale or buy 3 get 4th free sale...you must choose between the competitor's price or Target's promotion. They will NOT adjust the price down AND give you a $5 gift card or 4th item free. Some Target's will do both, but our local one will make you choose. I've found that it is usually best to stick with Target's ad prices.
If you are just getting started with coupons, these stores are the easiest to begin with. I will post later about Walgreens and CVS. Hope some of this was helpful to you!!