How to Read and Understand Coupons

While coupons may seem simple and straightforward, there are a few parts of them that you need to read and understand to use them effectively. When you know how coupons work and how to read them properly, you can really become an expert couponer.

Diagram identifying the various components of a coupon teaching you how to read a coupon.

Parts of a Coupon

There are eight main parts of a coupon; here is a breakdown of each of them.

  1. Defines this coupon as a manufacturer’s coupon, meaning you can redeem it anywhere that accepts coupons.


  1. This is the expiration date; the coupon can be redeemed until this date.


  1. This is the amount you will save when you redeem this coupon.


  1. Description of the product and quantity required to redeem the coupon.


  1. This is the fine print, a list of the coupon’s limitations, and the redemption address.


  1. Bar code matching the product that the coupon is for.


  1. Barcode scanned by the cashier at the store to apply the discount


  1. Image of at least one product. This may not be the only product that you can use the coupon for.


Coupon Quantity Requirements

Every coupon has a quantity requirement about how many of a product you must purchase. Some coupons will require you to buy a certain number of items to receive a discount, while others will apply to just one item. Use the following examples to help you better understand how coupon quantity requirements work.

$1/1 or $1 Off the Purchase of 1 Item

In this example, you will save $1 when you buy one item. This coupon is for a single thing, and you can use two coupons if you buy two items unless otherwise stated.

$1/2 or $1 Off the Purchase of Two Items

In this example, you must purchase two items to receive the coupon. You will save $1 in total, which comes out to $0.50 per item. In this example, if you want to use more than one coupon, you will need to purchase two items per coupon.

Buy One Get One Free

In this example, you must purchase two products, one of which you will get for free and the other you will pay regular price for. You are usually limited to 1 coupon per purchase with this type of coupon. The free product must be of equal or lesser value to the product you pay for almost all of the time.

Redeemable At Versus Available At

When reading your coupon, you may see the words redeemable at or available at. When you first see this, it may appear that the coupon is only redeemable at the store listed. That may not always be the case.

Redeemable at Store

If your coupon says redeemable at the store, you can use this coupon at any of these stores that coupons are accepted. The store logo was included on the coupon to get more people to shop there. This is a form of advertisement, but some stores may not accept coupons with the logos of competition on them.

Redeemable Only at Store

If the coupon says this, you can only redeem the coupon at this store. The only exception to this is if a store accepts competitor coupons.

Available At

When you see these words on your coupon, it means the same as redeemable at. It is essentially an advertisement letting you know that this store has this product. You do not have to use the coupon at this store advertised.

Manufacturer Coupons Versus Store Coupons

Most coupons you encounter will be manufacturer coupons; sometimes, you may find a store coupon. Store coupons are only redeemable by the store, which issued them, whereas manufacturer coupons or redeemable at any store that accepts coupons and sells the product.

How to Tell if a Coupon is From a Store or the Manufacturer

The easiest way to tell if you have a store or manufacturer coupon is by looking for words on the coupon stating manufacturers coupon. This will usually be found right by the expiration date. Another way you can tell if it is a manufacturer’s coupon is if a redemption address is listed. Stores will not have to send store coupons somewhere to be redeemed, but manufacturer coupons must be sent to the manufacturer for the store to be reimbursed.

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