How to Read a Coupon

To develop a coupon strategy, you’ll need to know how to read a coupon.  There are seven parts to a well-designed coupon:


  1. Product picture.  The picture is a guide, but read the “required purchase” text on the coupon for the details on what you can use this coupon for.
  2. Expiration date.  You can use a coupon on or before the expiration date.  However you organize your coupons, regularly go through and pull out expired coupons.  You can donate expired coupons to the Overseas Coupon Program (military bases allow coupons to be used 6 months past their expiration date.)
  3. Coupon type.  If the coupon is from a manufacturer, it will state that.  A store coupon will also be noted.  You can’t use two manufacturer coupons on the same product, but you can often combine a store and manufacturer coupon.
  4. Coupon value.  How much the coupon is worth.  Read the fine print for “free product” coupons, since they’ll often state a maximum value.  Sometimes the maximum value is less than the item cost, which means the item won’t be free.
  5. Required purchase. Details of what you need to purchase in order to use the coupon.
  6. Fine print.  Read the additional info on use of this coupon.  This section also has an address where the store can send the coupon to get reimbursed.
  7. Barcodes.  The grocery computer scanner reads the barcode to know what the coupon is for and how much it is worth.  Besides the barcode lines, there are also numbers next to the barcode that identify the product and value.  For more information, read our article on coupon barcodes.