How To Combine Coupons

I love when you guys send me deals. I have noticed lately that I am getting more and more deal scenarios where people are unknowingly using coupons incorrectly.  So I thought it might be a good idea to do a little post that might help clarify the correct way to combine coupons. One of the best things about Publix is that they allow you to use a manufacturer coupon in combination with a store coupon!!  They also accept competitor coupons--- so you have two options for coupon combinations.  You can use a manufacturer coupon with a Publix coupon OR you can use a manufacturer coupon with a competitor coupon.  

I know some of you are going to email me saying that you can use all three on one item (a MQ, Publix Q and a competitor Q).  From what I understand this is not the general rule. There may be a few stores that allow this but it is not the majority and to keep things simple and ensure that the majority of people are able to get a deal I ONLY post about using a MQ with one or the other.  As with any coupon usage it is your responsibility to know YOUR stores rules and policy.  So if you are ever in doubt just pop over to the customer service desk and they can give you the scoop :-) 

Now lets talk about manufacturer coupons as that seems to be where the confusion comes in with some.  Most all coupons you find are manufacturer coupons.  They are usually easy to spot as they have a bar code and will begin with the number 5 or the number 9.  Here on the site I designate a manufacturer coupon by listing it in red.  So when you see a match up for a product all the coupons in red are the various manufacturer coupons that are available for that specific product.  I use the color green to designate store or competitor coupons:   

Shedd’s Spread Country Crock, Regular or Churn Style, 15 oz tub or Twin pack, 2-pk , 7.5 oz tub, BOGO $2.03
-$1.25/2; $.40/1; $.30/1: $.50/1 Shedd’s Spread Country Crock Spread, any – 01-31-10 RP--MQ
-$.40/1 Shedd’s Spread Country Crock Spread, Any – 12-06-09 RP--MQ

-$.55/1 Shedd’s Spread Country Crock product, Publix coupon – Little book of big buys--STORE Q
-$.50/1 PRINT --MQ  

In the above match up you will see that there is only one store coupon but a variety of manufacturer coupons available for you to choose from.  I say choose because you will only be able to use one for each item you purchase.  Even though one coupon is from the newspaper and one is a printable coupon you cannot combine them --they are BOTH manufacturer coupons!

The vast majority of blinkies, tearpads, peelies, hangtags, printables and insert coupons are all manufacturer coupons!  So for each product you intend to buy you want to look through your manufacturer coupon options and choose the ONE coupon that you want to use on a specific product. Store coupons will typically state that they are store coupons.  They will begin with a number OTHER than 9 or 5.  Often Publix coupons are easy to spot as they have a LU number listed on the coupon rather than a bar code.  There are some Publix coupons that have a bar code but they usually start with a zero and often also have a LU number listed as well.

Publix coupon with a barcode & LU number
Competitor Coupon
Manufacturer Coupon

 It can be tricky especially when you come across coupons that may be misleading. Here lately there have been a few printable coupons that state "Retailer Coupon" but also begin with a number 5!  I treat these as manufacturer coupons. They are no different that a manufacturer coupon that states "redeemable ONLYat Publix" 

The best possible practice is to ask if you are unsure about a coupon!  The easiest way to ensure that all stores remain coupon friendly is to make sure that we use coupons appropriately!  To say that "the cashier accepted the coupon" or "the register did not beep when I used the coupon" is not a valid reason to use a coupon incorrectly. 

It is just too easy to get a good deal using coupons appropriately!!

I know this is old news to many of you coupon pros but there are a lot of new couponers out there!! Please feel free to comment with any additional info!!


  1. Jen says

    My store (NW Florida) has gotten a LOT stricter. The cashiers now ask for any coupons up front, spread them all out, scan the item and then immediately scan the coupon, making sure they are a match. I don’t ever use a coupon other than what it was intended for, so I don’t mind, but the people behind me sure do (well, some of them anyway). I have given more coupon advice in the check-out line than anywhere else! I just hate it that some greedy people are in danger of jeopardizing coupon use in general.

  2. Wendi says

    Thank you SO much for posting this! There are so many new couponers out there and they don’t realize it, but if they don’t understand the rules, it could ruin it for the rest of us. If we all follow the rules, then it will benefit us. My super sctrict cashier will take out her glasses and go through my coupons one by one…and the best part of it is that I did everything fair! Thanks for all you do!

  3. Trish says

    Thanks so much for posting this reminder. When people try to use coupons the wrong way, the rest of us pay for it by having stores restrict their policies. I think one of the best things is to develop a good relationship with your store. If you get to know the store manager, you are less likely to have issues with the cashiers. Perfect example last night, the cashier questioned a $2 coupon on a $2.50 box of cereal. Guess she thought I was getting too good of a deal. The manager came over, recognized me & told her, that’s fine. I shop this Publix every week & he knows that I’m an honest couponer.

  4. says

    I am in the NW too and our Publix is doing the same thing, gathering all the coupons first and spreading them out. Sometimes they wait to do the competitors, example CVS $4 off $20 coupons, till they have done all the other coupons. I try to do it all by the book but like you said sometimes us newbies mess up through not knowing or bad information. Thanks for the good couponing lesson!

  5. Kim says

    Thanks for posting this. While I enjoy getting the best deal possible, I hate to think of Publix feeling we are abusing their policy and add too many restrictions on coupons as some other stores do. I hope everyone will take note and coupon fairly.

  6. says

    this is great to clarify, I linked to your post in my latest entry to get people to understand how important it is to shop with integrity and use coupons correctly. Thanks for all your hard work.

  7. Allison says

    Great info! My store in Atlanta has also gotten stricter (spreading them out, asking for Q’s at the beginning of the transaction). I have a question about the Kroger store coupon you posted as an example. When the Kroger store coupon is for a store brand (like the Private Selection soymilk in your example), is there a way to use that at Publix on their store brand?? I never do it, but I would hate to miss out on a deal if that is allowed. Just wondering if you had ever tried that. Thanks!!

    • John says

      My understanding is YES…Publix accepts competitor coupons for the competitor store brand to be used with Publix brand products. So you can use a coupon for Kroger brand bread as a competitor coupon at Publix for the Publix brand bread (assuming your Publix accepts Kroger as a competitor).

  8. Julie says

    I have been following this web site for about 4 months.. I always look over it to see if any new rules have popped up. I do use coupons correctly and appreciate the savings. I get frustrated when a cashier says ” Well, I can’t accept that coupon .. there are so many ladies that come in here and walk out with things almost free.. I just don’t think that’s right”(not at Publix) …. when has the cashier been given the authority to create their own coupon rules Publix is great.. I’m speaking of Walgreens, Rite Aid, etc..

  9. blizzard says

    I am a newbie and really appreciate this info! I always try to be super honest (maybe even scrupulous!)and reading this post taught me about a “Retailer” Q. I have been automatically treating them like a competitor Q, but now I will use them as MQs unless I check with my manager first. I heart IHeartPublix!

  10. Mary Ann says

    What about coupons that appear to be manufacturer’s coupons (bar code, number starts with 5, and they say manufacturer’s coupons on top) but they have wording that says “redeemable at WalMart” or they may have the logo from another store? My Publix tends not to accept these as manufacturer’s coupons if another store is mentioned anywhere on the coupon. One recently had the bulls-eye logo from Target but didn’t anywhere on it say it was redeemable only at Target. Does Publix get reimbursed for these as manufacturer’s coupons, even with the verbage on the coupon from another store?

    Another question is this: If a manufacturer’s coupon says “redeem only at Publix” and then another coupon from another source only says “manufacturer’s coupon, will Publix allow you to stack these two?

    • Michelle says

      Question 1: From what I understand, they consider this type a manufacturer’s q and they get reiumbursed for those with another store’s logo. (at least my store will accept them) You could always ask if they will accept it as a competitor’s coupon instead..if their basis for not accepting it is that they won’t get reimbursed. It’s one or the other…

      Question 2: Only use 1— They are both manufacturer’s q’s and the store will only get reimbursed for one of them.

  11. Amy Hill says

    I have seen some deels posted for an item on sale the manufacture coupon listed and then it list a coupon you can print from target (with target logo). I go to taget sight and print the coupon and there is no target logo. Has this happend to any one els? And that coupon I printed I have to use as a regular manufacture coupon right? I get fustrated because I allready have 6 manufature coupons for that item.

  12. Traci says

    I am in Atlanta, too, and the cashiers have definitely gotten tougher. I put my shopping bags in front of my groceries and put the coupons on top so they have everything they need. It usually paves the way to a good experience.

  13. Traci says

    Oh, and this may sound stupid but I never even imagined someone could get away with using a competitor coupon, a manufacturer coupon AND a store coupon. I have never tried to get a competitor coupon through because I’m too chicken to ask if they take them. I’m afraid I’ll get a dirty look or frown.

    • Tammy says

      I have stacked store coupons and Maufacturer coupons many times. I have never used 3 (store, Man., and competitor) together because I know it isn’t the “rule”, but one day while checking out, the bag boy told me at my C. FL Publix, that I COULD also use a competitor Q with the man. Q and the store Q. I still haven’t done it and probably never will, but I was told by a Publix employee that I could. All of the cashiers know me at my Publix and I know which ones are stricter than others. Most know, by now, that I coupon honestly and so they don’t ever question me, but I would never want to ruin my integrity by doing something dishonest. But definitely, start stacking those coupons!!

  14. StephanieP says

    Traci – Don’t be afraid of using competitor coupons! Being able to stack them with MQs is what gives you some of your biggest savings. Just check with customer service first to make sure your store considers them a competitor. The cashiers are generally very friendly and know which ones they can and cannot take.

  15. says

    I am going to mention this on my blog with a link back to the original article. Thanks for taking the time to clarify these details for newbies and experienced couponers, we all need a refresher at times.

  16. Ruth Dennison says

    Thanks for this article. I didn’t realize that blinkies and manufactures can’t be combined. I learned something new.

  17. kristina says

    All of my local stores in Central Florida that I’ve been to do accept a competitors, publix and mfq on the same item. I’ve asked all of the stores to clarify and all of mine have said its okay… One store even lets you stack the 10/50+5/30+5/25 from multiple stores (I dont do that, but they said it was allowed). I guess every region/district is different.

  18. says

    Great article. My thought is that if you are couponing honestly then there is not an issue with the cashiers reviewing every coupon or scanning coupons & items together as you check out. It may take a few extra minutes, but to me it is worth it for how much I save! I always offer to match my coupons & items on the belt, but after establishing a good relationship at my particular store with the cashiers, they know I am doing it correctly and tell me that I don’t need to. It always annoys me when people are proud of sneaking a deal past a cashier, which will just lead to stricter coupon policies.

  19. Lexi says

    My Publix accepts 3 coupons per item and quite frankly I have NO issue using 3 per item. Yes I have the responsibility of making sure of the coupon policy but the cashier also has the responsibility of making sure that I use the correct coupons. Plus how many times have they missed a coupon or charged you more for and item??? They make their money. The groceries they sell are marked up alot, is that not in a sense them ripping us off?

    I’m not mad, just a thought….

  20. Joy says

    I have made it a point to get to know cashiers and managers at all of the stores that I frequent. I have had so many conversations with them and have asked carifying questions and it had really paved the way for a good relationship. Now if I make a mistake, which I sometimes do, they don’t think I’m trying to pull a fast one but rather made a simply mistake.
    Thanks for the article! I know it can be very confusing at first.

  21. Loretta says

    Thanks so much for this information. I try and go to the customer service desk first if there is a coupon that I am not sure of. This accomplishes 2 things. I establish a relationship with the management AND it cuts down on time in the checkout line. Once they know you and realize that you are honest it certianly makes things easier.

  22. JEB says

    I have questions about some coupons from ALL You Jan. issue…There is a Chef Boyardee coupon that is Buy 3 get one free…I also have a Manu. coupon for .35 off 3…can these both be used if buying 3?

  23. Shawna says

    In Birmingham, our Publix store has a sign posted on each register listing whom they accept as competitors. Unfortunately, they have cut back to only accepting other grocery chains in the area. This means we can’t use Target, Walgreens, CVS, etc. coupons there, nor can we use coupons for stores like Kroger (which we don’t have here, unfortunately) or Food Lion, etc.

  24. Jennifer says

    I am pretty new to couponing and I was wondering if I were to buy two products, could I use three manufacturer coupons, for example: Chef Boyardee: 2 coupons for 75 cents off and then an additional coupon if it’s for something like $1.00 off 2???

  25. cindy says

    I just wanted to thank you for taking the time to create this wondeful site that helps family save a tremendous amount of money on groceries… my question is when buying bogo boxes of cereal how many coupons can i use for that transaction at publix. Thank you I am a newbie at this. thanks for all your help in advance.

  26. teresa says

    I am new to the whole coupon scene. I did my first trip to Publix last week and averaged about 50% in savings. I was a little disappointed but I know now I have to do it without my kids:) My question concerns B1G1 coupons. If I have multiple B1G1 for the same item can I stack it to get the item for free or very reduced price? Example: Publix has Splenda on sale for $4.99. I have 2 B1G1 coupons up to $3.99. Can I get 2 Splenda and use both coupons and only pay $2.00? I do not want to abuse the policy just trying to figure how all this works. Thanks for all the help.

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