Couponing FAQ: print coupons in color or black and white?

Earlier this week on the Wall, Sarah asked this question:

Do you have to print your coupons with color ink or is black and white OK?

A few of us responded on the Wall, but I wanted to highlight Sarah’s question and ask for additional input. There’s definitely no requirement to print coupons in color – in fact, many coupons now say “this coupon may appear in color or black and white”.  So, generally you’ll want to save the more expensive color ink and just print in black and white.

However, since many stores are leery of accepting printable coupons because there are scammers out there who will photocopy the coupons, I wonder if any of you have had better experiences using printable coupons if you print in color?

Seems like a reader once said they had better experiences when they printed on cardstock rather than plain paper – again, because stores are less-likely to think that it’s copied.

Love to hear your thoughts in the comments!  Remember, we’re talking about whether or not the method of printing affects stores’ willingness to accept them – not discussing ways to manipulate your printer to print more coupons or anything fraudulent like that.

Some other couponing FAQ posts you  may find helpful:



  1. I print everything I can in grayscale, but I can’t figure out how to do it with bricks coupons (likes smartsource, They are sent directly to the printer, so I don’t get the option of telling it to use black and white. I use a Mac. If anyone has figured this out, let me know!

    • I’d love an answer too!! I’ve searched all over online and can’t find anything on how to change the default for items (like coupons) that are sent directly to my printer (an HP) from my Mac. I’m wasting a lot of ink!!

      • Mendy and Lauren,
        I found that right before I go to print coupons, I edit the properties of my printer to print on a gray scale. So even when it goes directly to the printer it will print in black and white. When you are done or want to print something in color just go back to printers and faxes and change the properties of your printer back to color. Hope this helps :-)

  2. It is a PRINTER setting. Right click on your printer icon at the bottom of your screen (in the blue menu), or go to the control panel-printer-and right click on your printer. Then find the “settings”.
    At least that is how my Canon works, each printer manufacturer may be different.

  3. I’m guessing you’re on a Windows computer? Even so, when I bring up my printer, I can’t find anything to do with preferences or anything.

    • I don’t know the specific titles for Mac, but if you go to the main part of your computer (for Windows it’s Control Panel) and select the printer itself, it should have something like properties, options, preferences settings, etc. Something along those lines – even Windows can be different between them. Inside that, somewhere should be the option to either checkmark or pock mark a setting for grayscale or black and white. I know that’s not specifically helping, but maybe you might see a few of the words I mentioned.

    • LaShaun says:

      @ Lauren: I am having the same issue! I don’t mind them printing in color, but why does it have to be on the best setting, and why can’t it be on color fast draft?! So frustrating. It uses all of my black ink on the part that says Manufacturer’s Coupon.

  4. Yes, the control panel is a Windows option. Just make sure you hover over it and “right” click. I’ve of little help if you are on a MAC. Sorry. I find the printer Icon shows up at the bottom of my screen when I have a print job ready to print. I am able to right click on that too and get to the same place. If all else fails, maybe your manufacturer’s web site will have an aswer. Best wishes.

    • Hey Juls, I have my printer set up to print in grayscale (I have Windows 7), but it always prints in color. Do you know of anyway to change the settings when printing from

      • Tina, It is not a setting based on which site you are on on the internet, it is a setting that is associated with your printer. Do you want to call me? 201-5515

        • You may want to try uninstalling the program and re-installing on your next print attempt. I had to do that on my friends computer after changing the printing preferences.

  5. I sometimes print my coupons in color and sometimes in black and white, and I have never noticed a difference on how they are accepted by stores.

  6. I always print mine in black and white and have never had a problem. I never understood the whole black and white photocopying argument. It’s just as easy to make a color copy. Even my $60 printer has the ability to make color copies.

    • Carrie Isaac says:

      Yes, it’s just as easy, but it would cost a LOT more. If people are buying stuff using photocopied coupons to sell at garage sales and whatnot, printing or making copies in color would make it “cost prohibitive”. (As an aside, thinking about how much I’ve seen people selling items they got for free on Craigslist, I don’t know how they can consider it worth it even if they got the coupons for free, but whatever. :))

  7. At KS a few weeks ago, I got an education as to how to tell if a printed coupon is a legitimate coupon. After the checker refused two of my coupons because she said they were “copied”, she told me that on a legitimate printed coupon you’ll see a watermark behind the amount saved. She said that the watermark does not appear in photocopied coupons. It’s often difficult to see the faint watermarking on a b&w coupon. But, it’s easily seen on a colored coupon. So, try printing a coupon in color where you’ll see the watermarking and then you’ll know what to look for on your b&w printed coupons.

    • Carrie Isaac says:

      OK, so I’ve always seen this on printed coupons and wondered… Does it REALLY not show up when you photocopy it? Seems to me like it would need to be a special ink in order to not show up – unless it’s just so faint on the original that it doesn’t come through on most copiers.

      By the way, almost all internet coupons now also have unique PIN numbers on them – so you can point to that to prove that your coupons are not copied. Of course, as with ANYTHING you could manipulate that, too, but they are implementing features like that that make it a little harder anyway.

      • Thank is kind of a bummer, I have my printer set to “fast” or “draft” setting to save ink. I don’t get the water mark. -Hmmmmmm. I another note, I have not received grief over my Black and Whites.

  8. I have had personally better luck with color coupons. In general the checkout people do not take as long to look through them. They are always all legit anyway, but when I print them in black and white the checkout people scrutinize them for what feels like forever!

  9. I always print in black and white and have never had any issues. I have used them at Walmart, safeway and the commissary and they take them gladly. I don’t shop king sooper because I always find the cashier who is cranky, it just never fails.

  10. I don’t think it matters because some coupons are just in black and white in the paper. Like Vanity Fair paper products just say how much the coupon is worth and what it is for. There is no illustration.

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