Even before I started couponing, I knew that using a coupon could save me money. What I didn't know is that, sometimes, using a coupon can also get me things for free.
When I discovered these neat tricks, I got even more enthusiastic about sleuthing for coupons. Here are seven surefire ways you can use coupons to get free stuff!
1. Learn how to stack coupons, deals, rebates, and cash back opportunities.
If you’ve been a part of the KCL community for a little while now, you might’ve noticed the frequent “Moneymaker” alerts.
- Translation: "Get things for free AND get cash back too."
- Example: "Moneymaker Crest 3D White Toothpaste at Target!" In this KCL alert, you learn about three different ways to make money depending on how much and what size toothpaste you buy.
- Note: Not every retailer will allow you to take the difference in cash or a voucher—some stores have policies to where the value of any coupon used cannot exceed the item's value, so the most you will get is a freebie.
"Stacking" essentially means "using more than one coupon or discount opportunity on a single item or transaction." One of the most common ways to stack coupons is to use a store coupon with a manufacturer coupon (for example, using a Target store Crest coupon with a Crest manufacturer’s coupon).
- Other stacking options: You can also stack coupons with other money saving options, including discount cards (like the Target REDcard), cash back apps (like Snap), rebate apps (like Ibotta), and rewards points (like Swagbucks).
2. Buy the smallest size of the advertised item.
Let's say you have a coupon for $1.00 off any size Crest toothpaste. The size you normally buy costs $2.19. But the travel size is selling for…only $1.00!
So here, when you buy the travel size of Crest toothpaste and redeem your $1.00 off coupon, you get the toothpaste for free!
3. Shop the loss leaders.
"Loss leaders" refers to popular items the store puts on sale to "lead" (or lure) customers into the store, where they will then hopefully purchase the loss leader item and lots of other full-price items too. This is a very common retail strategy—mostly because it works!
So what you want to do is notice which items are advertised on the first or last page of any sales flyer or weekly store ad. These are likely the loss leader products. Then gather up your coupons and match coupons to loss leaders. There’s a good chance you will have at least one perfect match, which means a freebie.
4. Always redeem those mail-in rebates.
In addition to handy apps (see #1), the old-fashioned mail-in rebate is still alive and well today. Some mail-in rebates will zero out the cost of your purchase, and some may even turn into moneymakers.
Not all mail-in rebate forms allow you to stack coupons along with the rebate offer, but some do so be sure to check!
5. Shop in the clearance bins.
My local Kroger always has a ton of clearance products. On any given day it will have an entire wall of overflowing bins full of everything from vitamins to wine, from cereal to hand lotion.
For a savvy couponer, this represents a gold mine of potential freebie opportunities. Just because a store puts an item on clearance doesn't necessarily mean it won't also issue a coupon (or the manufacturer of the item won't do the same).
Matching up a clearance-priced item with a coupon can easily net you a freebie or a moneymaker.
6. Watch the cashier and make sure all the prices ring up correctly.
Many retailers today will issue store credit, refunds, or freebies if items ring up incorrectly at the register and the customer catches the error before the clerk does. In the same way, some retailers will issue perks or cash back if the cashier fails to give the customer a receipt.
So simply keeping your eagle eyes peeled at the register may net you a coupon or voucher for cash off, a refund, or a freebie.
7. Use your rewards points like coupons!
I love my Amazon Visa card because I use it a lot and I accrue rewards points that I can spend like cash.
So at least once or twice a quarter I get a couple of items totally free on Amazon, especially when I combine these rewards with Amazon Coupons (and my Prime membership covers the shipping).