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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

Going Nuts? I can help you understand coupon terms and abbreviations

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understanding coupon lingo part 1

Most of us see a coupon and look for two things: the product on the coupon and the value of the coupon.  However, the fine print on the coupon contains information for the retailer AND the consumer (you!).  It’s really helpful to understand the fine print, especially since you may find yourself having to explain it to your cashier!  Here’s a breakdown of some of the more common terms:

One Per Customer

The manufacturer intended for each customer to only use one coupon per visit (or transaction).  We also see coupons with limits per customer like Procter & Gamble coupons that limit 4 “like” (meaning same exact coupon) coupons per customer.

One Per Purchase

This one can be confusing.  Think of each item as a purchase.  If you are buying 5 bottles of shampoo at one time, that’s 5 purchases and you would be allowed to use 5 $1 off coupons if you had them.  I will warn you, this is the most commonly questioned wording by a cashier.

One Per Transaction

Each time the cashier totals your order, you’ve completed one transaction.  To use 5 coupons for those 5 bottles of shampoo, you’d have to go through the line 5 times.  Or just not buy 5…

Redeemable At

Some manufacturer’s coupons include wording like “redeemable at CVS.”  They may even have a store logo on them.  However, since these are manufacturer’s coupons and not store coupons, they can be redeemed at any store.  That said… some cashiers may still reject them.  My recommendation is to ask the cashier to just try to scan the coupon.  A true CVS store coupon will not scan in another store since their register wouldn’t know how to read it.  A true manufacturer’s coupon will work just fine.

Redeemable Only At

If you spot the world “only at” on any manufacturer coupon, then these coupons should be used only at the store whose name is printed on the coupon.  If you use them at any other store, it’s likely that the store won’t be reimbursed for the coupon.

The Picture vs. The Description

Sometimes you’ll notice the picture on the coupon is for a specific item, but the wording indicates otherwise.  For example, “$1 off any Cheerios” with a photo of Frosted Cheerios.  The photo will often feature the most expensive or newest product that the manufacturer is hoping you’ll buy.  Remember, the wording is what matters, not the photo.

Understanding all of these terms is really only the first step, if you have a cashier that is not accepting a coupon I would recommend first to get them to try it.  If they won’t scan the coupon at all, you can try to explain the correct answer to them, but many times they won’t care.  In the end don’t argue, yell, etc. just tell them kindly that you want the coupon back and do not want to buy the product.  I would like to hope for most of us that with the GS1 databar we will see less cashier difficulties, but it will take time for the cashier to learn that you aren’t out to get them.

To learn even more, check out the FREE online coupon class and complete workbook.

    • ccha5777

      does that also mean that the catalina coupons that are print in differnt stores can be used at any store as long as thier listed manufacture coupons?

      • BamaGirl43

        I would be interested to know the answer as well.  Walgreen’s prints catalinas with “redeemable at Walgreen’s”, but I have always been hesitant to use them at other stores.  They say “manufacturer” and don’t say “only” at Walgreen’s.

      •  Yes!  The coupons that print for specific products (not Register Rewards or $3 off your next purchase) can be used at any store!

      • Sara

        I wish my CVS would take them. They don’t even read the coupon if there is another store logo on it, even if it is a manufacturer q. I’ve gotten several high value diaper catalinas from Bilo that pair up nicely with CVS sales, and they never let me use them. They even have the exact same fine print as the regular diaper q’s.

        • Firedancer254

          Sara – I think it is a new CVS rule. My CVS never questions me on any coupon. They will push anything through. But if it is a catalina from another store, even if it says mfr coupon on it, they won’t take it.

        • mrn1

          I think it is also a new rule with CVS.  It has just been in the past several months that they will not take any coupon that has another stores logo on it, even if it doesn’t say anything about Redeemable at…Back at Easter the M&Ms coupons that had the little WalMart logo on them they wouldn’t take and the Powerade coupon for $1/2 with Rite Aid logo on it they wouldn’t take.  The cashier said they  have been told they aren’t getting reimbursed for them.  I sure want my stores I shop at to get their money so I can continue to coupon, so I am not going to argue.  

      • Allison

         I used to work at Walgreens and we were told not to accept coupons — even manufacturer coupons — with other store logos on them.  At one point a manager posted a manufacturer catalina with the Kroger logo on the bulletin board as an example of what not to accept.  So, even if stores should technically accept these coupons, many won’t.

      • Allison

         I used to work at Walgreens and we were told not to accept coupons — even manufacturer coupons — with other store logos on them.  At one point a manager posted a manufacturer catalina with the Kroger logo on the bulletin board as an example of what not to accept.  So, even if stores should technically accept these coupons, many won’t.

    • Cindy

      Thanks Jenny!  I like your comment about the cashiers.  Being an “ex-cashier” it is not an easy job and cashiers do not make much money.  Just like waiting tables, it’s not easy dealing with the public!

    • Cindy

      Thanks Jenny!  I like your comment about the cashiers.  Being an “ex-cashier” it is not an easy job and cashiers do not make much money.  Just like waiting tables, it’s not easy dealing with the public!

    • ccha5777

      This is awesome news!!! I have so many but am really never sure if I could or not.. More savings for me on my coming up trip.. Thank you!!

    • katkoupon

      Does anyone have the # (without letters) or e-mail to catalina? My Kraft mayo didn’t print at Kroger on Sunday,

      • Guest

        Their website has a toll free number

    • cgmaynard

      I sure wish taking a couponing class was required for all cashiers and managers. It would save so many headaches for all of us.

      •  I agree!

      • I offered a coupon class for my local Walmart!  I live in a very small town and slowly but surely we are all getting on the same page!

    • Portercassandra

      The last tip happened to me yesterday, the cashier at Target tried to tell me that the Revlon coupon that was $2 off any “face product” only meant foundation or powder, not eye shadow or mascara?! Last time I checked, my eyes were on my face ;)  I polietly asked for my coupon back and didn’t make the purchase.

      • Guest

        Most make-up companies DO limit these coupons to “face” make-up only such as foundation, powder, concelaer. Eyes and lips are excluded. Although our eyes are ON our faces for this purpose they are not considered our face. Check with the manufacturer if the coupon/ad is unlcear.

      • Onlyme

        happened the same to me a few weeks ago she didnt want to take the 1off coupon on any table ware on straws i was buying. she said straws are not table ware and she didnt even try to scan the coupon. i went to talk to a manager and he said if the machine take we’ll take it and he did.

    • Guest

      What about the terms such as “void if copied, sold or transferred….”, “not to be transferred or sold…” or other similar terms in the fine print. These terms are also useful for the “… consumer (YOU!)…” as you say.
      We should understand all the terms, and i think, abide by them. I know if all consumers are encouraged to follow ALL theterms, not just cherry-pick those we want, coupon trading, sellin would be discouraged instead of encouraged. a shame that some of us choose which terms to follow and which ones to ignore.

    • guest

      Harveys in Macon Ga wouldn’t take B1G1 Ocean Spray because it says redeemable at Wal Mart, even though it says manufacturers coupon at the top.

      • macboy

        I had the same issue with a cashier at Walmart not wanting to take a coupon with a “Redeemable at Winn-Dixie” logo. I politely told her I didn’t want the item, but she couldn’t figure out how to void the item. She decided to scan the coupon anyway and it worked. Boom!

      • macboy

        I had the same issue with a cashier at Walmart not wanting to take a coupon with a “Redeemable at Winn-Dixie” logo. I politely told her I didn’t want the item, but she couldn’t figure out how to void the item. She decided to scan the coupon anyway and it worked. Boom!

    • Niddi

      Food Lion in Columbia SC would not take the B1G1 Ocean Spray that says redeemable at Wal Mart, tried 2 different stores and explained that it was a manufacturers coupon. Customer service told me that any other store logo and/or wording on the coupon and they will not take it.

    • Guest

      I followed the link above to the article about the new databar. I noticed the following in the article “You have heard me say over and over that you should always follow the wording on a coupon ….” with bold emphasis on follow the wording. I concur. We should all follow the wording, including words that prohibit the trading, selling, exchanging or otherwise transferring coupons. I find it hypocritical to suggest that we follow some wording and not all.

      • GingerinCA

        Well, here’s the thing. That wording is so all-encompassing as to be meaningless. If you follow that wording, when we buy our newspapers at the store, the coupons inside have been bought, sold, and transferred. Honestly, I think just about everyone on this site tries to be scrupulously ethical about their coupon use, but without being downright silly. By the rationale in the printing on the coupon, I think it would be perfectly fine to go dumpster-diving and pick up 100 inserts out of the trash, but not okay for my mom to cut out the Pedigree coupons from her inserts to give to me because that’s the kind of food my dogs like. Just out of curiosity, do you ever do anything like exceed the speed limit when driving? Or maybe come to a rolling stop at a stop sign? Because if you do, ever, then it’s probably hypocritical to try to police other people’s coupon useage.

    • Hijones60

      Kroger, Ingles, Rite Aid and CVS here in Covington all reject catalina coupons (for products) from another store. Rite Aid has become very stingy too. I had a $3.00 coupon for Aveeno Positively Ageless Skin Strengthening Body Lotion or Hand Cream. Rite Aid only carried the body cream which was actually pictured on the coupon. They refused to take the coupon, even after I showed an email from Johnson & Johnson stating that the coupon can be used on the body cream as well. Right now, the new GS1 databar causes a lot of confusion at Rite Aid. A lot of coupons will not scan, and the manager has to override. The $5.00 Zantac coupon was a big issue as well. The manager actually told me that I would have to print the “whole bar code” to make the coupon work, because “you know, she will be held responsible for what she takes in coupons”. The young cashier who rung me up and scanned my coupons rejected one of my 2 M&Ms coupons because it stated “do not double” which, in her opinion, meant that I can only use one coupon. It took a while to explain the meaning behind the “do not double”. Checkout took so long and was so painstaking last time that I don’t feel like visiting this store ever again.