Couponing Basics: Manufacture vs. Store Coupons

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Knowing the difference between a Manufacture coupon and a Store coupon is important to help maximize your savings.  Why?  You can stack a manufacture coupon with a store coupon at most stores!

We have already looked at the Anatomy of a manufacture coupon.  Make sure to head over and read that post if you missed it.

I want to look at in-ad coupons from my local grocery store, Farm Fresh.  I have received questions regarding these coupons over the years, so I wanted to focus on this store.

First, notice the coupon below states “Store Coupon” on the top where it would normally state “manufacture coupon”.  Additionally, you will notice the barcode starts with a “0” and the coupon lacks a redemption address and retailer terms.  The coupon also states “redeemable ONLY at Farm Fresh”.  The store doesn’t get reimbursed by the manufacture for this coupon.

You will also find manufacture coupons that are sponsored by a specific store.  The coupon below is a manufacture coupon with a Farm Fresh store logo. You will notice the coupon has all the same features of as a standard manufactures coupon and says “Redeemable at” Farm Fresh.  The coupon will be submitted to the manufacture for reimbursement.

Some stores will accept competitors manufacture coupons, so read the coupon policy at your local store to see if your store accepts competitors coupons.

Next Up: Learn about Stacking Coupons

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Couponing Basics: Recognizing Fraudulent Coupons

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After posting about the anatomy of a coupon, I realized it was important to step back and show you a few ways to recognize a fraudulent printable coupon. Unfortunately, it has become increasingly common to come across fraudulent or modified coupons.

Follow to steps below to reduce your chances of unknowingly using a fake coupon:

  1.  The coupon is too good to be true: If something is too good to be true, it probably is.  A printable coupon for a FREE 12-pack of Pepsi (or $3 off) would raise a huge red flag for me. 
  2. No expiration date or a long expiration date: A coupon must have an expiration date.  If there isn’t an expiration date, chances are the coupon is not valid.  Having an expiration date longer than 6 months would also signal something may be wrong with the coupon.  Most printable coupons are going to be valid around 4-6 weeks depending on the manufacturer.
  3. Lack of a UPC code:  A coupon needs a UPC code to be tracked and to specify the item.  If there isn’t a UPC or barcode, don’t try to use the coupon.
  4. The coupon is a PDF: PDF coupons are becoming increasing rare.  They are easy to manipulate and the number of prints is unlimited.  While not all PDF coupons are fake, research the coupon if it was emailed to you from a friend or found randomly on the web.  Obtaining the PDF coupon directly from a company website or from an email sent to you by a company is the safest course of action when dealing with PDF”s.
  5. Multiple coupons with the same encrypted 2-D Barcode.  This would signal the coupon has been photocopied and isn’t valid.

Also, make sure to use a trusted site for obtaining couponsThe Coupon Challenge and most other bloggers try extremely hard to ensure the coupons we are posting are legitimate.  Yes, we can still be fooled. However, we take measures to prevent sharing with you coupons that are fraudulent.

What are the penalties for coupon fraud?

  • Longest prison sentence: 17 years
  • Highest financial penalty: $5 million
  • Prison sentences of three to five years are not uncommon. Financial penalties generally vary, but have often been in excess of $200,000.

You can find a list of fraudulent coupons on the CIC website.

Next Up: Manufacture vs. Store Coupons

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Couponing Basics: Anatomy of a Printable Coupon

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Last week I talked about the Anatomy of a Coupon.  We will be continuing our examination of coupons by looking at the security features on printable coupons to prevent fraud.

1.  Pattern of Circles or Dots behind the expiration date to prevent photo copying.

2.  “Watermark” or faded image behind the Coupon Value and Description to prevent photo copying.

3.  Encrypted 2-D Barcode which is unique to each coupon print (even for a second print of the same coupon).  The first 4-digits is the same for each coupon you print, all other numbers will vary.  You can enter this code into the Veri-fi website to verify that the coupon hasn’t been redeemed ( if you’re concerned the coupon may be a copy).

4.  The Border of a coupon is repeating text that shows the time & date stamp of when the coupon was printed, zip code where printed, redemption value and expiration date as well as a unique number sequence.  The information identifies your computer!

5.  Under the expiration date (as part of the border box) you will find the same information as on the coupon border.  You could cut off the entire border of the coupon but the information will still be obtained from the expiration date box.

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Copying or creating coupons is fraud! Don’t do it!  Learn how to recognize a fraudulent coupon to protect yourself and local store.

Next Up: Recognizing Fraudulent Coupons

 Not sure Where to Find Printable Coupons?  Read my post to learn more.

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Couponing Basics: Anatomy of a Coupon

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It is important to familiarize yourself with coupon anatomy to be a successful coupon user. Today we will look at a manufacture coupon and learn how the coupon works and terminology used on the coupon.

It is important to note that you may only use 1 manufacture coupon per item.  If the coupon states to save X amount of dollars on 1 product,  you must purchase 1 item and only use 1 manufacture coupon.

How do you know you are looking at a manufacture coupon and not a store coupon?  It will say “manufacturer coupon” clearly on the top of the coupon.  Later in this post we will talk about coupon verbiage and images that may indicate a manufacture coupon is valid at a particular retailer.

The Expiration Date will also be prominently displayed on the coupon.  The coupon will be valid until the expiration date shown.  You CAN’T use a coupon that has passed it’s expiration date.

The product image will help you identify the product.  However, the image is NOT necessarily an indicator of the product(s) the coupon is valid on.  You will want to read the coupon terms to identify all products you may purchase.  It is common for manufacturers to use a product image of the most expensive product.

Redemption Value and Terms of the coupon states the value of the coupon and the terms of the purchase.   The terms are important for determining the type of product(s), how many products and what size you must purchase.   You will also find exclusions for size and variety.   A coupon that doesn’t specify a size or exclude travel/trial sizes can be used on the smallest product size available and will make the most use of your coupon.

Occasionally, you will see coupons that may indicate a manufacture coupon is valid at a particular store.    It has become increasingly common to see manufacture coupons stating “redeemable at” a specific store or including a store logo on a coupon.  While these are still manufacture coupons and can be used anywhere, some stores will not accept coupons that mention or are “sponsored by” another store.

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Couponing Basics: Can You Photocopy a Coupon?

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I have spent several weeks discussing where to get coupons and a lot of focus has been put on where to get printable coupons.  One important fact that must be mentioned before we can go any further is…

You may NEVER photocopy a coupon

Coupons have a unique serial number that is specific to that coupon.  Each time you print a coupon, it is given a different serial number (most sites allow 2 prints per computer – the barcode is the same but the serial number is different).  The store will not be reimbursed for duplicate serial numbers.

So, what happens if you DO photocopy a coupon?  The coupon will likely scan in-store and you will save money on the product.  The coupon will be shipped to the clearinghouse (where they process the coupons), and only 1 coupon will be valid while the others will show as duplicate serial numbers.  The store will not get reimbursed for the duplicate coupon value and the store will lose money.  In all likelihood, the store manager and cashier will get reprimanded for accepting the coupon and will be more stringent with other coupon users in the future.

To sum up – Copying coupons is illegal.  Don’t do it!

Next Up: The Anatomy of a coupon and how you’re identified on all coupons you print.

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Couponing Basics: How to Use Recyclebank

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RecycleBank is a program that allows you to earn points by completing Eco-friendly tasks that can be redeemed for coupons, discounts and gift cards.

To get started, you need to sign up for a FREE account.  Then you can earn points for:

  • Home Recycling (if available in your area)
  • Learn and Earn Opportunities
  • Completing Challenges
  • Entering Coupon Codes from Participating Products
  • Referring Friends

If you are planning to use RecycleBank for coupons, you will notice there are “Print at Home”, “Mailed Rewards” and “Online Rewards”.  The “Print at Home” coupons are available to be printed right from your computer before you head to the store, while a “Mailed Reward” will be sent to you via snail mail.

Watch the video to learn more. *This video was taken on the older site design, but all the information is still the same!

Having trouble watching the video?  Click here.

Make sure you know how to Use, &!

Do you use RecycleBank for printing coupons?

Next Up: Can You Photocopy a Coupon?

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Couponing Basics: Set Up a Facebook Account

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I hope everyone completed the assignment from last week and set up a coupon email address.  This week I have another assignment for Facebook hold-outs.  If you do not have a Facebook account – set one up now!

Why do you need a Facebook account?  For the coupons, of course!

Companies want you to “Like” their page and they are willing to “buy” your Like with a coupon.  It’s that simple.

I post coupons each week in my matchups that come directly from Facebook.  I’ve used Facebook to not only get printable coupons but to get FREE product coupons as well (a coupon for a FREE full-size bottle of Pantene is a recent example.) I’ve also used Facebook to sign up for FREE samples, print a mail-in-rebate and play games to win coupons.

Companies are using Facebook to promote their business and to get you to purchase their product.  You NEED to take advantage of this.

Are you a Facebook hold-out?

If you don’t have a Facebook account because you don’t want to share your information or don’t want people you knew 20 years ago contacting you, that’s okay.  It is not necessary for a Facebook account.  You don’t need to have friends on Facebook, you don’t need to include pictures on Facebook & update your status and you don’t need to include any personal information.  All you need is a valid email address.

How to Create a Facebook Account for Coupon Use:

  1. Sign up for a Free Facebook Account
  2. Enter you name or a name for your account
  3. Enter your Coupon Email Address
  4. Enter a password you will remember for accessing your account
  5. Select your sex
  6. Enter your birthday (for age appropriate content)
  7. Click “Sign up”
  8. Verify your email

If you WANT to have personal information, make sure to change your privacy settings to ensure your information is available to friends, friends of friends, the public, etc as you see fit.

Once you’re Facebook account is set up, you can go “Like” pages to get your coupons (when available).  Please remember that coupons and free offers on Facebook are limited, so you will want to print or request the offers as soon as they are announced.

Next Up: how to use Recyclebank to get coupons!

Do you use Facebook for coupons?

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Couponing Basics: Get a Coupon Email Address

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I have been talking about where to get printable coupons for a few weeks, and I’m not finished yet!  However, this week I wanted to step back and give everyone a bit of homework.  Your first assignment?  Set up a coupon email address. 

Why do you need a coupon email address?  You will be registering through a lot of websites to get coupons and free offers.  You don’t want these coupon related emails to clutter up your personal email account.

First, set up a new email account just for coupon use with a FREE service such as gmail, yahoo or hotmail.  Then whenever you are required to register to print coupons or to get on an email list for a store or restaurant, use that new coupon email address.  That way, all those emails are going to one account.  You can check your coupon email account as frequently or infrequently as you choose.

Next Up: Make sure you Set Up a Facebook Account to print coupons!


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Couponing Basics: How to Use Coupon Network

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Last week I posted specifically about 3 popular printable coupons sites (, and and How to Use each.  This week I am focusing on How to Use Coupon Network.

Coupon Network is a printable coupon site that has only been around for a year.  There are some great features about Coupon Network that should be beneficial to you in your money-saving endeavors.

Having trouble viewing the video?  Click here.

If you missed it, find out Where to Find Printable Coupons!

Next Up: Get a Coupon Email Address

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Couponing Basics: Learning to Use, &

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Last week we started talking about Where to Find Printable Coupons.  This week, we are looking at 3 of the most popular printable coupon websites –, and

Watch the video below to learn more about using these 3 sites – no sign up is required to print these coupons.  However, you will need to make sure you have downloaded the coupon printing software from both and  This will allow you to print coupons with a scannable barcode.  Once you have downloaded the coupon printing software from both sites, you will be all set for printing future coupons.

Having trouble viewing the video?  Click here.

Next Up: Find out How to Use Coupon Network for more printable coupons!


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