We’ve debunked 11 couponing myths so you can rest easy when you’re saving money on groceries.
1. You Can’t Sell What You Buy With Coupons
Unless otherwise specified by the coupon, it is well within your rights to resell any product you own, whether you buy it with a coupon or not.
The legal issues can appear if you fail to claim any profit you earn as income on your taxes. This is backed up by this thread on Avvo, where attorneys answer a question about selling a stockpile of items purchased with coupons. The attorneys agree that, generally, you can resell items you have purchased as long as you abide by two rules: Follow the coupon’s terms, and claim any profit you make on your taxes.
2. I Can Avoid Committing Coupon Fraud by Paying for Coupon-Clipping Services
All coupons have a non-transferability clause that says they are void if transferred — this includes selling, buying or even handing one to your aunt. If you don’t believe us, just read the fine print on any coupon you have laying around the house. I’ll wait…
The Coupon Information Center says there are many reasons not to purchase coupons. It not only violates manufacturers’ policies, but it also simply does not make sense to pay for something that is given away for free.
Coupon-clipping sites often say they sell their clipping and mailing services rather than selling the coupons themselves. But because the clipping company transferred the coupons to you, it has violated the coupon’s non-transferability clause, therefore, the coupon is void. Redeeming a voided coupon constitutes redemption fraud.
3. I Can’t Use Coupons on Clearance Items
If your coupon happens to be for an item on clearance, chalk it up to this being your lucky day! The store gets its reimbursement from the manufacturer, regardless of its pricing. This includes clearance-priced items.
4. I Can Print as Many Copies of a Coupon as I Want
Some people think if a coupon comes in the form of a PDF or other file, they can print as many copies as they want. But printing out multiples of the same coupon often constitutes fraud. Most printable coupons have a limit you can print out from one computer and will only give you that many uses in the bar code.
5. I Can’t Use a Coupon on the Free Item in a BOGO Deal
In couponer terms, this phenomenon is called a moneymaker deal. A moneymaker deal happens when the value of the coupon exceeds the product’s price. In this instance, you generally get the difference in cash or as a credit on your bill. This policy varies by store, so you may want to check your local store’s policy before trying this. This ultimately depends on the store, but most allow you to, as they still get reimbursed the full price for the item.
6. Couponing Takes Forever
Couponing can take however long you want it to take. You can do couponing at any level.
7. You Have to Be Extreme to Coupon
This goes along with myth No. 6 and the whole time consumption aspect. If you want to be extreme, go for it.
8. Stores Lose Money from Coupons
Stores don’t lose money when they accept manufacturer coupons — they are credited from the manufacturer. It might take some time for the store to receive reimbursement from the manufacturer, but they do get rewarded.
Some stores also offer their own coupons, which, unlike manufacturer coupons, are not reimbursed by the manufacturer. Store coupons often end up being what are called loss leaders, meaning the store loses money on the product. In these cases, the goal of the coupon is to get shoppers in the store and convince them to buy more products in the process. These are chalked up as paid advertising.
9. You Can’t Get a Free Item Unless the Coupon Says Free
If the item you have a coupon for happens to be on sale, you could get it for free or even possibly get cash back. We checked mostly manufacturer coupons found online, but we also stack them with store coupons.
10. You Can Be an ‘Extreme Couponer’ as Seen on TV
If you’re wondering why you can’t clear shelves like the extreme couponers do on TLC’s “Extreme Couponing,” there are a few reasons. Many stores featured only doubled coupons — a practice in which the store matches the manufacturer coupon — during the filming of the episode. Contestants on the show have been accused of redeeming counterfeit coupons. This makes all those crazy deals unachievable for regular people.
11. I Can’t Use a Coupon at Self-Checkout
Many stores allow you to scan your own coupons at a self-checkout, although their policies may differ. According to Simple Coupon Deals, Target allows you to scan your own, but Kroger requires you to have a cashier manually scan the coupons. Walmart also lets you scan your own coupons at the self-checkout, although this seems to vary by location.