A crash course in grocery store coupon policies

You scoured, clipped and sorted. Now, you’re ready to conquer the world of couponing to cut your grocery bill.


Before you toss a batch of coupons to the supermarket cashier, you’ll want to be sure you’re up on the store’s coupon policy.

Just about every grocery store and mass-market retailer in the Capital Region accepts manufacturer coupons. They want you in, even if it’s with a 3-inch stack of clippings. Some stores also double coupons. Some offer their own store-specific coupons. Some allow you to load e-coupons onto a loyalty card.

The mix of individual regulations can be mind-numbing, but coupon policies exist to establish and maintain rules and consistency among retailers. To help clarify the varying policies and ease the coupon learning curve, here is a rundown of local retail rules.

Aldi: Nearly 95 percent of their products are names you may never have heard of — branded exclusively for the chain (or as my son loves to say, “off brand” even though he loves the products). For that reason, they do not accept manufacturer’s coupons. They do, however, offer a “double guarantee.” If for any reason, you are not 100 percent satisfied with any product, they will replace the product and refund your money.

The Fresh Market: There is no official coupon policy, but the two local gourmet markets welcome manufacturer coupons. They also occasionally offer store paper and coupons, good for several dollars off a future purchase, at checkout.

Hannaford: Hannaford accepts manufacturer, store and Hannaford-specific Catalina coupons, at face value. Sign up for My Hannaford Rewards online and you’ll have access to dozens of digital coupons. They do not double or triple coupons, nor do they accept competitor coupons of any kind. Hannaford does offer store-specific coupons, however you cannot pair a store coupon with a manufacturer’s coupon for extra savings.

Healthy Living Market: The Burlington, Vt.-based natural food market, with a sister store at the Wilton Mall in Saratoga Springs, welcomes manufacturer coupons and doles out quite a few exclusive store coupons every month.

Honest Weight Food Coop: The long-standing natural food store offers exclusive coupons in their sales flyer and on Facebook. They also feature coupon books at the store entrance and dollar-off clippings in the Times Union, SavingSource and other publications. You can use manufacturer coupons, however much of what you’ll find at this market are lesser-known labels.

Price Chopper/Market 32: The area’s home-grown grocer welcomes manufacturer, store, Catalina and e-coupons that you can load directly to your AdvantEdge card. Manufacturer coupons valued at or below 99 cents will be doubled, unless prohibited by the manufacturer. You can use (stack) one manufacturer and one Price Chopper store coupon for the same item, unless the manufacturer specifies otherwise.

Save-A-Lot: The retailer says it carries quality name brand and private label items you need at up to 40 percent lower prices than conventional grocery stores. You can use coupons. They honor manufacturer coupons for national brand items carried in their stores. Occasionally, they also offer dollar-off and store-specific coupons on their Facebook page and through their Smart Shopper Club email program.

ShopRite: The store accepts manufacturer-issued, store-issued (dubbed “Super Coupons”), Internet coupons, Catalinas as well as electronic coupons that are loaded onto the PricePlus club card via ShopRite.com.

Tops: Tops accepts manufacturer, store, Internet and “Click-to-Card” digital coupons. They exclude competitors’ coupons, including competitors’ Catalinas. The chain will double manufacturer coupons up to, and including, 99 cents. They occasionally offer Doubler coupons, allowing shoppers to double four $1 paper coupons, per household per week.

PriceRite: The small, discount chain is owned by Wakefern Food Corp., the same cooperative that supplies ShopRite Supermarkets. Locally, you’ll find a PriceRite in Schenectady and Glens Falls. For many years, the grocer refused coupons, instead promising rock-bottom. In late 2017, they conformed with the competition and began accepting manufacturer, printer Internet and store coupons found in their weekly ad.

Target: The retailer offers a generous coupon redemption policy. They welcome manufacturer and store-specific coupons, plus Target Circle offers (their loyalty program). Shoppers can use one manufacturer coupon (paper or digital), one Target coupon (paper or digital), and one Target Circle offer can be combined per item. There is a limit of four identical coupons per transaction, per day.

Trader Joe’s: The hip grocery chain welcomes accepts manufacturer coupons for name-brand items. However, TJ’s generally stocks private-label, low-priced products so you won’t be slapping down a big stack of coupons at checkout.

Walmart: Stores will accept valid paper manufacturer coupons issued by manufacturers of products that Walmart sells.

Whole Foods: The store welcomes manufacturer and store coupons. You can combine the two on a single product. You can browse, save and redeem digital coupons to get instant savings every time you shop with the Whole Foods Market app (available on iOS and Android). Coupons are never doubled or tripled, nor are competitor coupons accepted.

Editor’s note: This is the third story in a short series by Shannon Fromma, our Shopportunist, on couponing. They will appear in print in Sunday’s Unwind section.

If you’re new to couponing, you’ll want to be sure to follow the proper protocol.

Fine print: Carefully read the terms and conditions on the coupon. Check the expiration date, limitations on use and whether it is good only for online purchases or if it can also be redeemed at your local store.

Photocopies: Do not photocopy coupons. This is counterfeiting and is a criminal offense.

Decoding: Each coupon is a contract and should be used only for the item described in writing on the coupon itself. Using a coupon for any product other than the one intended is a type of fraud similar to shoplifting.

Legibility: If your printable coupons are blurry, torn or can’t be scanned, they will almost certainly be rejected at checkout.

Terms: Most coupons will stipulate “one coupon per purchase.” That doesn’t mean you can only use one coupon per transaction. It simply means you can’t use two of the same coupon on one item. You can use two coupons on an individual item when you are stacking a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon. More on that next week.

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