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BOGO stands for Buy One Get One.  Sometimes a sale is “Buy One Get One Free”, other times maybe it’s “Buy One Get One Half Off”.  We consistently get confused reader questions surrounding BOGO sales and coupons so today I’ll try to help expose the truth behind these sales!

First, I’ll start with BOGO store sales or Promos:

This means that the weekly store ad or a sign on a shelf in the store says, “Buy One product, get One Free”

Here’s an example from this week at CVS:

Act II Popcorn, 3-pk. $2.19
Buy One Get One Free store promo
Use 2 $0.40/1 Act II Popcorn from SS 9/20
Final Price: $0.69 each, when you buy 2

The confused question we often get is this: “How can I use 2 coupons when I’m already get one of the products for free?”
Answer:  The store does have the final say, but most stores will except 2 coupons on a BOGO store promo- and they absolutely SHOULD!  The manufacturer of the coupon 100% wants you to be able to use two coupons!  As long as you physically purchase two of their items, you may use two of their coupons, one per item.  When the cashier rings through the Act II Popcorn, both items will scan through at $2.19.  Only when you present your store loyalty card will you see the savings of $2.19 on one box of popcorn.  You just made two purchases of popcorn at $2.19 each.  The store is running a promo that allows you to save $2.19 when you buy 2 boxes.  When the store accepts your $0.40 off coupon it’s as good as cash- they will be reimbursed for the full face value of the coupon (plus an $0.08 handling fee that pays for the clearinghouse that does all the work of sorting, etc).  Stores do not lose money when you use your valid coupons correctly.
It’s difficult to make that clear when I’m typing and I remember being confused about BOGOs too, but once you see it from the manufacturer’s point of view, it becomes very clear!  Most of our store policies address whether a store will accept 2 coupons on a BOGO sale, CVS for example, will accept two coupons- officially.  The bottom line, nothing in life is FREE, including your second box of popcorn.  It still costs $2.19, but the store chose to run the BOGO style promo instead of discounting the price of each box to $1.10.   You purchased two boxes and you should be able to use two coupons.  Again, the stores get the last say, but read your store’s coupon policy or call corporate offices to make sure you know what the rule is!

Second, Let’s talk about BOGO store coupon:

Here’s an example from this week at Target:

Cesar Bistro wet dog food & select others, 3.5 oz $0.99
Buy One Get One Free Target Store Coupon from Red Plum 8/16

So in the above scenario, you’re going to want to buy 2 Cesar Bistro entrees, the subtotal will be $1.98 and then you’ll present your BOGO store coupon and receive savings of $0.99 cents.  How many other coupons could you use with this scenario?  One?  Two?  Actually, the answer is up to three!  You are allowed one manufacturer and one store coupon per item.  Since we are purchasing two items, that means we can use up to 4 coupons, 2 store coupons and 2 manufacturer coupons.  If we had two manufacturer coupons worth $0.25/1 Cesar Bistro, we could use two of them.  And if we had another store coupon for $0.40/1, we could use it too (except Target store coupons usually limit one per transaction).  The BOGO store coupon is for the “free” item.  You cannot use two store BOGO coupons to get both items for free.
There is currently a printable manufacturer BOGO Free coupon for Cesar Bistro.  Since it’s a manufacturer coupon, you may use it in addition to your BOGO Target coupon.  A coupon is only giving you savings on one item, here it is the “free” item.  BOGO coupons don’t read “one coupon per two purchases”. 

Cesar Bistro wet dog food & select others, 3.5 oz $0.99
Buy One Get One Free Target Store Coupon from Red Plum 8/16
Buy One Get One Free Cesar Bistro – (
Final Price: 2 for Free

Finally, Let’s talk about BOGO manufacturer coupons

At this point, hopefully we’ve busted some of the myths surrounding BOGOs.  You may use a BOGO coupon with one other manufacturer coupon as well as with two store coupons, if none of them prohibit it.  The BOGO coupon is for the “free” product and you may use another manufacturer coupon on the first product.

Nescafe Tasters Choice $6.99
Use one BOGO Free – Nescafe Taster's Choice Single Serve – (
Use one $0.50/1 – Nescafe Taster's Choice – (

BOGO coupons and doubling:

This is where I’m least clear on BOGOs.  I know what the cash register does when it doubles a BOGO coupon, but I’ve not talked to any corporate offices about whether it is permitted officially in the store’s policy.  Let’s use Kmart as the example. Kmart occasionally doubles coupons up to $2.00 in value.  This means for every $2.00 off coupon you use, the store will match that savings out of their pocket.  They’ll be fully reimbursed for the $2.00 off coupon you use, but not for the portion that they “match”.

Buy two Venom Energy Drinks $1.59
BOGO free – Venom Energy Drinks ( it’s now a $1.00/1 coupon
Final Price: both drinks for free

Here’s what happens at the register:  Both drinks scan through at $1.59, then the register reads your coupon and subtracts $1.59.  Kmart registers double coupons automatically if they’re under $2.00 in value, so as soon as the register reads you $1.59 savings it automatically doubles it, giving you two drinks for free.  Initially this seemed underhanded, but Kmart’s doubling is all about them matching any coupon under $2.00, the value of my BOGO Venom coupon was $1.59.  When I think of it that way it makes sense and seems totally legitimate.  If the energy drinks had been $2.09, or any value over $2.00, it would not have been doubled and I would have only received the savings once.

Did I help you or make your head spin even more?  What parts are still unclear?  How have your experiences been when shopping BOGO promos?