Thrifty Thursday: Ethical Couponing

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It is so important to practice ethical or honest couponing.  Becoming familiar with the law and coupon policy is a necessary part of using coupons.  Practicing ethical couponing helps ensure manufacturers will continue to provide coupons and stores will continue to accept coupons and provide incentives to coupon users. Even more important,  you know that you are doing everything possible to be an honest shopper.  If the deal makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, it’s not a deal.  

Use a coupon for stated products only:  Coupons are worded for specific products, sizes and quantities.  You should only use a coupon when you purchase products as specified.  It is illegal to use coupons on items other than as stated. 

The following is from The Coupon Information Corporation (CIC):

What is coupon misredemption?

Coupon misredemption occurs whenever someone attempts to redeem a coupon that is void for a product that he/she has NOT purchased. This activity is often in violation of Federal or State laws.

Coupon misredemption costs consumer product manufacturers hundreds of millions of dollars every year. Estimates of this cost vary from a low of about $300 million annually to more than twice that amount.

Coupon misredemption also increases costs for consumers, because the costs of misredemption often must be reflected in consumer prices.

Know store coupon policies: Each store will have it’s own coupon policy.  If you’re local store doesn’t have a policy available online, ask at customer service or email the company.  Stores will usually set a limit to the total # of coupon per transaction or person, a limit of like coupons, if they accept Internet coupons, DND coupons, and more.  You can find coupon policies for my local stores here.

– Be mindful of printable coupons:  Most of the Internet printable coupons we use come directly from a reputable site (ie and or from the manufacturer’s website.  I found a great “cheat sheet” for cashiers that shows what you should look for on printable coupons.

1.  Does the coupon come from a reputable website, is it a bricks or smartsource coupon?
2.  Are you limited to a set the number of prints, usually 2? (PDF’s are unlimited)
3.  Is the coupon a PDF with an unusually high value amount?
4.  Does the coupon have a barcode, expiration date and legal jargon?
5.  Does the coupon have a security device such as a hologram and/or an identifying number?
6.  Is the coupon too good to be true?

You can always find a current list of counterfeit coupons on the CIC website

What do you think is important about practicing ethical couponing?

This post is linked to Life as Mom, Madame Deals, Mrs. Moneysaver and My Coupon Teacher


  1. Your Frugal Friend, Niki says

    Great info here. Thanks so much for sharing. Some of that is new to me. I think it is important for everyone to really try not to abuse the system, because one bad apple spoils the bunch! If we do our part then the stores won't take away the privilege of using the coupons and we all win.

    Stop by and see me sometime over at Free 2 Be Frugal.


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