How to Read a Coupon

If you are new to couponing, I am sure you have sat there a time or two trying to figure out what everything means on those coupons, I think back and remember I had those moments, so here is an explanation of each section of the coupon. A huge thanks to Frugal Family Fun for the use of the image and list. I couldn’t have explained it any better 😉


Used with permission from “Frugal Family Fun”

  1. Manufacturer’s coupon (if it doesn’t state “manufacturer’s coupon) then its a Store coupon (for example Target coupons say “Target Web Coupon” and they are NOT manufacturer’s coupons
  2. Date of expiration (last day you can ethically use this coupon at any store)
  3. Value of the coupon (for instance the coupon above has a value of $1.00)
  4. What the coupon is for; This coupon is for ANY Caldesene product and you’ll note that there are full sized examples in the image however there are no size restrictions on this coupon (which means you may like to check for travel and trial size to snag a freebie to try out this product before you purchase a full size if possible)
  5. Product image (A coupon is “read” by the words NOT the picture. The image you see may be the item you purchase however the coupon states ANY Caldesene product so not just the one in the picture.  Many people think you have to buy whats in the picture and that is just not the case)
  6. Instructions for redemption. Not only is this section for the retailer to redeem, but at times has very important info for the consumer, it might states limits of use here or other info that they like to put in the fine print. Also did you know that stores submit coupons and get 8¢ above and beyond the face value of the coupon? Think about it for a minute….. If a Walmart store accepts 1,000 coupons per day and they have 1,000 stores in the United states (this is just an example not actual numbers) then Walmart is taking in $80,000.00 per day in coupons! WOW!!!!!
  7. Bar code: This is how the scanner “reads” your coupon.  A bar code that starts with a 5 will generally double (most of the time, unless otherwise stated) if your grocery store offers “doubles” (Check your local grocery to see if they double coupons) A bar code number that starts with a 9 will generally NOT double (most of the time).
    (Note added by OOingle – You will notice a lot of coupons have a new design barcode that looks different from above. These are called GS-1 barcodes and contain more information for the registers then ever before. Because of this, if a coupon beeps at Walmart, its very likely the coupon is not an intended match, as the Walmart registers fully read those barcodes information, if this happens, you will save yourself tons of headaches by kindly saying you do not want the item and getting your coupon back, instead of arguing. The cashiers have been told if the register will not accept it, not to accept it by manually entering.)