Couponing FAQ: which coupons will double and which ones won’t?

Jen asked this question:

Will coupons only double if they have a “5″ at the beginning of the bar code?

In short, this is a simple answer: yes. But I thought it might be helpful to explore it further, because there are often questions about which coupons do and do not double and why.

So, pull out a coupon and look at the barcode.  Chances are it will start with a 0, 1, 5, or 9.  It may or may not state “Do Not Double”, but in general, that doesn’t matter.  The computer doesn’t look at the words on the coupon, only the barcode, so unless the barcode itself tells it not to double, it will still double.

Coupons that begin with 0 or 1 are usually store coupons, and these definitely won’t double.

Most insert and printable coupons begin with a 5.  Most computers are programmed to automatically double coupons that begin with a 5 – assuming, of course, that it falls within their doubling rules (ie, a 50¢ coupon will double but a $1 won’t, at least not in our area).

Most catalinas and blinkies (the in-store coupons found in the little red boxes) begin with a 9, and computers are programmed so that those coupons will not double.

So, if you have an insert coupon for 50¢ off one product and, say, a blinkie for 50¢ off one product, chances are that the insert coupon starts with a 5 and will double and the blinkie starts with a 9 and will not.

There are exceptions to this rule.  I have occasionally found blinkies that stated “Do Not Double”, but the barcode began with a 5 and so it did double.  I’ve also seen an insert coupon that did not stated “Do Not Double”, but the barcode began with a 9 and so unless your cashier notices that it didn’t double and does it manually, it will not doubled.  (This particular coupon was for Mountain High Yogurt, FYI.)

And of course, we are talking about how the computer reads the coupon – not the cashier.  If for some reason the store is manually doubling coupons, the cashier may not double your coupons that state “Do Not Double” even if the barcode starts with a 5.  Or, as has been the case with Albertsons sometimes, sometimes the computer will double your coupon and then the cashier will override it because it states “Do Not Double”.

So, clear as mud?  Even with all the “usually”, “mostly”, “except for”, and “sometimes” circumstances mentioned, hopefully this gives you a clearer picture of what determines whether or not a coupon will double.

Feel free to a question in the comments section, or contact me if you have another couponing question you’d like answered!

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