Understanding Types of Coupons & How to Use Them

Confession: I’m not a super organized person. My mom always kept a file box in her car of coupons she might want to use and carefully cut out coupons every Sunday morning. I think for her it was a hobby. I’m way more into doing things digitally, and I feel extremely lucky that there are apps and websites to really do the work of couponing and organizing deals for me. But where do you start? How can you get in on this? What are the differences in coupons? Can you stack coupons? Maybe you’re looking at saving for something special or just getting a handle on your budget, and you’d like to know how you can keep more cash in your pocket. Here’s a helpful guide to the different types of coupons, where you can find them, and how to use them, so you can find deals and start saving. 

Manufacturer's Coupons

These are savings directly from the company that makes the items you want. Typically, these are for a specific amount of dollars off the price and sometimes are BOGO or free, up to a certain price point. These kinds of coupons are most often for groceries and household goods. You can use manufacturer coupons at any store that sells that brand item.

Where can I get manufacturer coupons?

    • Directly from the company by getting on their mailing list or checking out their website
    • Clipping them from weekly or daily newspaper ads
    • Through online apps like Coupon Sherpa or websites like Coupons.com
    • Through the store’s app that you are shopping at (Safeway and Walgreens, for example)

Store Coupons and Store Coupon Codes

These coupons are for discounts given by the store. You’ll usually see a percentage discount on store coupons. You can use store coupons only at that store, but some stores will accept coupons from their competitors (Publix, Fred Meyer, Frye’s, Walmart and Target are a few). All kinds of stores offer store coupons, from clothing to groceries to home improvement and more. Store coupons are easier to use for online shopping as well. 

Where can I get store coupons? 

  • From store advertisements
  • From websites like Rakuten as coupon codes. Download the Rakuten Browser Extension or App to get Cash Back and apply all eligible coupons with one click. 
  • Through the store’s app that you are shopping at (Target Circle, for example)

💡 Pro tip: Store coupons and manufacturer coupons usually can be “stacked” meaning, you can use both coupons on the same item for double the savings.

Store Loyalty Programs

Stores like to keep your business, so many of them have discounts that are only for members and give rewards (could be bigger cash discounts or free items) after you have spent a certain dollar amount. You typically rack up rewards points for every dollar you spend. There’s a wide range of stores that offer loyalty programs, and if you are on their mailing lists or use their apps, they will usually give you special discounts connected with seasons or events. Some examples of store loyalty programs are Macy’s Star Rewards, Sephora Beauty Insider and Kohl’s Rewards.

How can I access Loyalty Program discounts? 

  • Sign up with the store in-person, on their website or download their app

Catalina Coupons

You know the printout that comes with your receipt that is a mile long? You’ve definitely been given a Catalina Coupon. Some of these coupons are really just advertisements, featuring special deals at that store, but they are also targeted manufacturer and store coupons. These will have fine print for one when they expire and where they are redeemable (at any store or just this specific one). They may be a coupon for a specific item or brand, used for a discount off your total for your next shopping trip. 

Where can I get Catalina coupons? 

  • From receipt printouts when you shop
  • In your email if you receive an e-receipt

Cash Back and Rebates

These kinds of discounts always feel like real money and the least amount of work, to me. This is when you receive money back from the retailer for shopping. This is loads of work if you have to submit receipts to every manufacturer or store, but there are some really helpful apps and websites like Rakuten to get this money back to you in an easy way. Usually you’ll get a percentage or specified dollar amount back according to the total of what you spend or the item you buy. 

How can I get rebates and Cash Back? 

  • Join Rakuten and install the App or the Browser Extension. When you click on the link to Shop with Rakuten, Cash Back gets put into your account when you purchase online or in stores! 
  • Upload your receipt to apps like Ibotta for groceries and household goods and collect

The real bonus is that Cash Back and rebates can usually be used in tandem with coupon codes, manufacturer’s coupons and store loyalty programs. These savings really add up, and Rakuten is a great place to browse and discover advertised sales, coupon codes and get Cash Back.

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