WRAL SmartShopper

WRAL SmartShopper

Frugal Living Series: Grocery Store coupon policies and reward programs

Posted April 3

Newspaper coupon inserts

Do you ever get confused about how specific grocery stores will take coupons and how their reward programs work?  In the Frugal Living Series article for this week, we are outlining the grocery store coupon policies and reward programs. Here in North Carolina, we have a couple stores that double coupons every day of the week, a number of stores that offer digital, mobile and printable coupons and some stores that even offer Super Double and Triple coupons from time to time! Here are the details on those programs so you know what to expect at each of our area grocery stores.


Coupon policies that apply to almost all stores:

  • Coupons must be in date. Coupons without an expiration date will not be accepted.
  • Stores accept one manufacturer coupon per item.
  • Photocopied coupons will not be accepted. Most coupons have a specific and unique serial number and stores can see if you have photocopied coupons.
  • The item purchased must match the coupon requirements including product brand, size, quantity, etc.
  • Most stores will not accept printable coupons for a totally free product. Many will still take Buy One Get One Free printable coupons.
  • Stores reserve the right to refuse any coupon that may appear to be fraudulent.

The coupon policies below touch on the key points of the various store policies as of April 2014. Please see the official store coupon policies on their websites for more information. These policies are subject to change. You may want to print out (or bookmark on your smartphone) the coupon policies for the stores you visit.  Then, if there is a question at the register, you can pull out the policy to help resolve the issue.


Aldi

  • ALDI has some of the lowest prices on produce you will find. They also have some good prices on everyday basics like bread, butter, cream cheese, soup, chips, etc.
  • ALDI does not accept manufacturer coupons.
  • You will need to bring your own bags to bag your groceries. They do not provide free bags. Sometimes that have boxes in the store you can use if you forget your bags.
  • If you wish to use a grocery cart, you will need to deposit a quarter into the cart machine and you will get it back when you return the cart.
  • They accept cash, debit, EBT cards and Link cards as forms of payment. They do not accept credit cards, checks or WIC.

For more details on their coupon policy, see their website.


Carlie C’s

  • Carlie C’s accepts manufacturer's coupons. They do not double coupons.
  • Carlie C’s will accept 4 coupons for 4 of the same item. If you have 5 of the same coupon and buy 5 of the item, they will accept 4 of the coupons and not the fifth one.
  • For Internet printable coupons, they will accept 2 printables per day when purchasing 2 like manufacturer’s products.
  • They will accept Inernet printable coupons if they scan at the register.
  • They will not accept any free product coupons printed from the Internet. They will accept Buy One Get One Free printable coupons.
  • They will accept printable coupons for up to $2 off of a product.

For more details on their coupon policy, see their website.


Dollar General

  • Dollar General does accept manufacturer’s coupons, including Internet printable coupons.
  • You can print store coupons from their website. They often offer $5 off $25 coupons for the weekend on their website as well.
  • They will accept Inernet printable coupons if they scan at the register.
  • No free product coupons are accepted. Coupons that offer a free item when another product is purchased are accepted. Buy One Get One Free coupons are accepted.
  • Dollar General will allow a maximum of 2 coupons per item including 1 manufacturer’s coupon and 1 store coupon (as long as neither coupons indicates that it is not valid with any other coupons).
  • Dollar General does not accept competitor’s coupons.
  • No cash back is given when the coupon amount is more than the product cost.

For more details on their coupon policy, see their website.


Dollar Tree

  • Dollar Tree does accept manufacturer’s coupons. They do not accept competitor’s coupons.
  • They accept up to 4 like coupons per household per day.
  • They will accept up to 2 Internet coupons per household per day.
  • No free product coupons are accepted. Coupons that offer a free item when another product is purchased are accepted. Buy One Get One Free coupons are accepted.
  • No cash back is given when the coupon amount is more than the product cost.

For more details on their coupon policy, see their website.

 

Food Lion

  • Must have the MVP rewards card to get the sales and promotions.
  • Food Lion does accept manufacturer’s coupons. They do not double coupons.
  • There is a maximum of 10 of the same coupon for the same item per customer. This includes Food Lion digital coupons.
  • Food Lion offers store and manufacturer printable coupons through their website at FoodLion.com and from the in-store coupon kiosk found in most stores. None of these coupons will double. Many of the store coupons from the coupon kiosk expire that day.
  • Food Lion policy does not allow you to “stack” manufacturer and store coupons on the same product.
  • They do not accept competitor’s coupons.
  • They do not accept free product internet coupons.
  • They will accept pre-printed coupons for free items.
  • Rain Checks: Be sure to get rain checks when the store is out of an item. Rain Checks at Food Lion do not expire.
  • Sign up for MVP Shopper’s Companion e-newsletter at FoodLion.com for a weekly e-mail that usually includes printable store coupons (sometimes for meat and produce).

For more details on their coupon policy, see their website.


Harris Teeter

  • You must have a VIC reward card to get sale prices and promotions.
  • Harris Teeter will double the face value of a manufacturer coupon up to 99 cents every day of the week (.75 coupon doubles to $1.50, $1 coupon does not double at all)
  • There is no minimum purchase required before they will double coupons.
  • They double up to 20 coupons per day per person/household.
  • They will double up to 3 multiples of a coupon as long as you buy product to go with each coupon. Additional coupons for like items will be honored at face value.
  • They will not accept any free product coupons printed from the Internet.
  • Coupon Promotions: Harris Teeter offers Super Doubles or Triples every 4 – 6 weeks. They usually Super Double coupons that are $2 or less and triple coupons that are .99 or less.
  • BOGO’s ring half price and you can use coupon on each item. Some of your best deals will be with a Buy One Get One Free sale and a coupon doubled on each item! You can see the entire coupon policy on their website at HarrisTeeter.com.
  • Competitor coupons: Harris Teeter accepts local competitor paper manufacturer coupons for cents or money off of products. They also accept circular, direct-mail, and register checkout coupons for money off of the total order. Limit one per customer per day. The managers in each store determine their competitors.
  • Senior Discount: Seniors who are at least 60 years old receive a 5% senior discount Thursdays
  • Rain Checks: Be sure to get rainchecks when the store is out of an item. Rain Checks at Harris Teeter do not expire. Rainchecks can be written for up to 3 deals.
  • Price Scan Guarantee: from their website - "If an item scans higher than the shelf tag or sign, you will receive one like item free, excluding alcohol and tobacco." They will allow five "scan guarantees" per customer.
  • E-VIC coupons: Sign up for their e-VIC program at HarrisTeeter.com. Every Wednesday, you will receive an e-mail with the sales for the week and a special sale offer that is only valid for e-Vic members. This is usually s discounted grocery item. No coupon is needed to get the special discount as long as you are signed up on their website for the e-Vic program and you are getting the Wednesday e-mail. You can use a paper manufacturer coupon and a ZVR digital coupon (see below) with e-Vic offers. On Friday’s you will receive another e-mail from Harris Teeter with a new set of e-offers that only you qualify for. We do not get all of the same deals for the Friday e-offers.
  • ZVR Harris Teeter digital Coupons: Sign up at Harristeeter.com for the ZVR digital coupons (short for Zavers, the name of the company that processes the digital coupons). These are digital e-coupons that you can add to your Harris Teeter Vic card through harristeeter.com. Go to Harristeeter.com and click on Login/Signup and then register your Vic card. Then click on "e-coupons" and you can add them to your Vic card. Harris Teeter DOES allow you to “stack” a manufacturer’s hard copy coupon with the Harris Teeter e-Vic digital coupons (also known as ZVRs). No digital coupons will double.

When you get to the register, the cashier scans your Vic card and then the product and then at the end of the transaction, the ZVR discount should also be deducted. It will show up as "ZVR" on the register screen. Make sure you double check that the discount did come off because they do not sometimes. If it does not come off at the register, the customer service manager will usually either take off the discount manually at the register and let you go on your way or they will have you pay for the transaction and then give you a refund at the customer service desk after they look up your account to verify the e-coupon.

At this time, you can stack ZVR digital coupons with paper manufacturer coupons at Harris Teeter.

Important: Not everyone gets the same ZVR e-coupons so if you see one listed in the weekly deals list that you do not have on your digital coupons, it could be that if was not offered to you. It could also be that you recently signed up and the coupon was offered before you were registered and is no longer available to load.

To print your list of ZVR coupons that have been saved to your Vic card, go to the ZVR page (e-coupons) on their website. Click on My Specials (which is above My Saved Coupons). Look to the far right and click on Print, then select from the drop down menu Coupon Only. Then click Go. You will then get a pdf file that you can print.

For more details on their coupon policy, see their website.


Kroger

  • Must have Kroger Rewards reward card to get sale prices and promotions.
  • Kroger no longer doubles coupons as of May 12, 2013.
  • Sign up at Kroger.com for the Kroger digital coupons and special discounts and promotions. Kroger does NOT allow you to “stack” a manufacturer’s hard copy coupon with the Kroger digital coupons. If you have a Kroger digital coupon already loaded to your card when you check out, the register will automatically deduct that coupon and you cannot ask to use a hard copy coupon instead.
  • You can use most of the digital coupons up to 5 times in a single transaction.
  • No digital coupons will double.
  • BOGO’s ring half price and you can use coupon on each item.
  • They will not accept any free product coupons printed from the Internet.
  • Fuel Rewards: Earn 1 fuel point for every $1 you spend. 100 fuel points = 10 cents off per gallon of fuel. Discount can be redeemed at Kroger gas stations and up o 10 cents per gallon can be redeemed at Shell stations. Earn 2X fuel points no gift cards, wireless phones and airtime cards. Sometimes they offer 4X points for gift cards as well. Earn up to $1 off per gallon. For more information on the fuel program see their website.
  • Senior Discount: Seniors who are at least 60 years old receive a 5% senior discount Tuesdays. Excludes alcohol, tobacco and pharmacy.
  • Rain Checks: Be sure to get rain checks when the store is out of an item. Rain Checks at Kroger expire in 30 days.

The Kroger coupon policy for printable coupons can be found on their website.


Lowes Foods

  • You must have a Fresh Rewards reward card to get sale prices and promotions.
  • Lowes Foods will double the face value of a manufacturer coupon up to 99 cents every day of the week (.75 coupon doubles to $1.50, $1 coupon does not double at all)
  • There is no minimum purchase required before they will double coupons.
  • They double up to 20 coupons per day.
  • They will accept 4 multiples of a coupon. If you have 5 coupons and purchase 5 products, they will accept 4 coupons.
  • They will not accept any printable coupons for free products. They will accept BOGO printable coupons.
  • Lowes Foods offers Super Doubles every once in a while but it is not a regular promotion.
  • Sign up at LowesFoods.com for the Fresh Rewards weekly newsletter and for digital coupons and special Fresh Rewards discounts and promotions. Lowes Foods sends a Fresh Rewards e-mail on Fridays with additional Fresh Rewards deals. The Fresh Rewards e-offers can be combined with manufacturer coupons.
  • Lowes Foods does NOT allow you to “stack” a manufacturer’s hard copy coupon with the Lowes Foods digital coupons.You can only use one or the other.
  • No digital coupons will double. No store coupons will double.
  • BOGO’s ring half price and you can use coupon on each item. Some of your best deals will be with a BOGO sale and a coupon doubled on each item! You can see the entire coupon policy on their website.
  • Bring your own bags for your groceries and they will take off 5 cents off your total for each bag they use for your groceries up to 20 bags.
  • Fuel Rewards: Lowes Foods offers fuel rewards based on your grocery purchases. Save 5 cents per gallon for every $100 you spend in store at Lowes Foods. Fuel discount accepted at Lowes Foods gas stations and Wilco Hess gas stations. See LowesFoods.com for all the details.
  • Rain Checks: Be sure to get rain checks when the store is out of an item. Rain Checks at Lowes Foods expires in 30 days.
  • Competitor coupons: Lowes Foods will accept competitor coupons for a total dollar amount off your order (like a food Lion coupon for $5 off a $25 purchae). They do not accept competitor coupons for specific items (like $1 off Angel Soft bath tissue). They will take Catalina register coupons from competitors as long as they are in date and they scan.

For more details on their coupon policy, see their website.


Target

  • Target accepts one manufacturer coupon, one Target store coupon and one Cartwheel coupon per item.
  • There is a limit of 4 identical coupons per household per day.
  • They do not accept internet printable coupons for free items with no purchase required.
  • When using a manufacturer Buy One Get One Free coupon at Target, you cannot also use a cents off manufacturer coupon on the item you are buying. But, if a Target BOGO coupon is being used, you can use an additional manufacturer coupon on the first item. If a manufacturer BOGO coupon is being used, you can use an additional Target coupon for the first item.
  • Target does not accept competitor coupons.
  • Target.com printable coupons: You can find printable coupons at Target.com when you scroll down to the bottom of the home page and click on Coupons. The store Target coupons can be combined with manufacturer's coupons on the same item.
  • http://www.target.com/
  • Cartwheel discounts: There are also coupons available through their Cartwheel program. With the Cartwheel discounts, you can load specific % off savings to your Cartwheel account and then print out a barcode that is scanned at the register at the store or show the barcode on your smartphone through the Cartwheel app (which is what I usually do to save money on ink and paper). These Cartwheel savings can be combined with store and manufacturer's coupons for even greater savings. No more than one manufacturer coupon, one Target coupon and one Cartwheel offer can be combined per item. Each Cartwheel offer may be used for up to a maximum of 4 qualifying items per offer per transaction. Limit of 1 Cartwheel barcode per transaction and 6 Cartwheel barcode transactions per day.
  • Mobile coupons: Target offers mobile coupons regularly (including some grocery coupons!). Sign up for them by texting COUPONS to 827438. These coupons can be used with the other discounts. See their website for more information.
  • Red Card: If you have the Target Red Card credit card, you get another 5% off.
  • Price Matching: Target offer prince matching if you buy a qualifying item at Target stores then find the identical item for less in the following week’s Target weekly ad or within seven days at Target.com, Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com, ToysRUs.com, BabiesRUs.com or in a competitor’s local printed ad. You can also price match before your purchase. Bring in proof of the current lower price, your original receipt and we’ll match the price at the Guest Service Desk. There are a number of exclusions so be sure to read the price match policy on their website.

For more details on their coupon policy, see their website.


Walmart

  • Walmart accepts manufacturer coupons.
  • If the coupon value exceeds the price of the item, the excess may be given to the customer as cash or applied toward the basket purchase. This is the only store in our area that gives cash back for a coupon that is greater than the item price.
  • They do not accept internet printable coupons for free items with no purchase required.
  • According to their coupon policy, they do take competitor coupons for a specific item with a specified price. They do not take competitor coupons for a total off your total order (like $5 off a $25 purchase coupon from Food Lion).
  • They do accept Catalina register coupons as long as they have Manufacturer Coupon on them for a specific product and specific price.
  • The computer system will require a manager override for more than 40 coupons in a transaction, a coupon of $20 or more for one item or $50 or more in coupons in one transaction.
  • Walmart Ad Match Policy: Walmart will price match competitor prices under certain conditions. They will match competitor ads with a specific price in the ad. They will match fresh produce prices andmeat items when the price is offered in the same unit type (lb. for lb, per pineapple, etc). They DO NOT require that you have the actual ad in hand to get the price match. They do not match BOGO sales unless a price is given in the ad. They do not match percent off sales. They do not match internet pricing. For more details see their Ad Match Policy on their website.

For more details on their coupon policy, see their website.


Warehouse clubs including BJ’s, Sam’s Club and Costco

BJ’s Wholesale club does accept manufacturer coupons. They also offer printable and clip-less store coupons. Store coupons and manufacturer coupons can both be used at BJ’s. You can find store coupons at BJ’s.

For more details on their coupon policy, see their website.

Sam’s Club does not accept manufacturer or competitor coupons.

Costco does not accept manufacturer or competitor coupons. They offer their own coupons and promotional offers during the year.


If you find yourself questioning if your store will accept a specific coupon, hopefully the information above can answer your question. To see all the previous articles in the Frugal Living Series, click on the link under the photo at the top of the page.  As I always say, it's your money - spend it wisely!
 

5 Comments

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  • jdouglas13 Apr 4, 1:27 p.m.

    There is so much great info in this article. Thanks for your hard work, Faye!

  • Faye Prosser -WRAL Smart Shopper Apr 4, 11:55 a.m.

    RealStory - thanks for the additional tips!

    jtlnsw - I have heard good things about the diaper prices at BJ's when you can combine the store and manuf coupons. Thanks for sharing!

  • jtlnsw Apr 4, 9:42 a.m.

    This is very helpful, thanks Faye! BJs accepting manufacture coupons and club coupons saved us a few pennies on diapers until I can get them from Amazon next month.

  • RealStory Apr 4, 1:45 a.m.

    With that said, great article Faye! Thanks for the help

  • RealStory Apr 4, 1:44 a.m.

    I will also say if you use coupons a lot or do price matching - it's very handy to have the store policy printed out. You can always pull it up on your phone, but that normally takes a while and isn't handy when your mid checkout. I've found it works better if you have it on ink and paper.

    I haven't had too many bad experiences with couponing/deals other than at Walmart, where some cashier will make up their own policies as they go along. If I had a dime for everytime I tried to price-match an item and they refused to unless I had the ad in-hand because 'their manager said you have to have the ad'.

    That and horrible customer service have made me do 90% of my shopping at other stores. Every few weeks I'll go grab a few items at walmart that have great prices - but I try to avoid that.