Like stacking coupons and savings, getting through checkout quickly and effectively involves strategy. Here are 12 hacks that will get you through manned and self-checkout like a pro:

5 Manned checkout hacks

1. Choose lanes with the fewest people (as opposed to the fewest items).

The express lane isn’t necessarily going to get you out of the store faster. People tend to determine which line they want to stand in based on the number of items someone has in their cart. The only problem with this is, on average it takes a checker two minutes to check out the average shopper—2.8 seconds per item, 48 seconds for payment. Adding 17 more items to a line is the same as checking out one person!

Here are a few more intriguing tips:

  • Thanks to superstition, "lane 13" often has the fewest folks waiting in line.
  • Lanes with more men in them are a better bet—this is because men are quicker to abandon ship if the line takes too long!
  • One single checkout line for all customers is typically faster than "choose your own line" systems.


2. Expect a new register to open if it’s super busy.

When there’s a long line and only one register open, expect that cashier to call for more help. I like to wait in between registers when there’s a long line, and as soon as I see the new cashier approaching, I try to be one of the first people he or she helps.


3. Save BOGO items for the end.

Expect Buy One, Get One products and their coupons in particular to slow you down. If I have lots of coupons for certain items, I try to place those items together on the conveyor—typically at the very end—right before I hand my coupons over. By doing this, clerks won’t have to dig through your already-bagged groceries if they have to verify a deal.

4. Use rebate apps.

When you use rebate apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51, you don’t have to worry about organizing coupons at checkout. Once you’ve paid for your items, just scan your receipt into the app and wait for cash back.


5. Choose your coupon type carefully.

If your grocer's loyalty card can do double duty as a digital coupon folder, let it! The more coupons you can redeem with a single swipe or scan, the faster you’ll speed through checkout. Also, check your receipt to ensure all coupons were redeemed before you leave the checkout line—otherwise, you face waiting in another line at customer service!

Related: How to Be a Coupon Diva When There’s Trouble at Checkout


7 Self-checkout line hacks

1. Consider who is standing in line when choosing your register.

Let's say you are ready to check out. You see two self-checkout lines—each one serves three self-checkout kiosks. In one line are four people in their 20s-40s, each with about 10 items. In the other line is one elderly couple with about 5 items. Which line should you choose? If it were me, I'd go for the four-person line every time…this is because age can matter when it comes to comfort with self-checkout technology.


2. Scan your loyalty card FIRST.

Even if you’re not prompted to do so, scan your card first, because your card stores more than just your right to pay the lowest prices. It can also store produce codes, shopping habits, even receipt preferences. In other words, scanning your card first makes the whole process go even faster and easier.


3. Pick your items—quantity and type—very carefully.

Specialty promotional items, holiday items, alcohol (or any items where purchase is restricted based on age), items with non-advertised in-store markdowns…each of these is nearly guaranteed to slow down your checkout time. Surveys suggest your sweet spot for using self-checkout is no more than 15 common items.


4. Locate your items’ barcodes in advance.

Barcodes can be obscured by frozen packaging, freezer frost, scratches, or poor printing. So train yourself to quickly scan the barcodes as you pick out your items, picking the package with a nice, clear barcode.


5. Note down your own item codes.

If you’re buying fresh produce, bulk nuts or grains, self-ground coffee or nut butters, fresh-baked bakery items, and other specialty items, you can save yourself lots of time by simply jotting down the codes for each before you get to the self-checkout kiosk.


6. Keep anything heavy away from the kiosk weighing surfaces…including the bagging area.

I wear a cross-body bag, which is usually super-handy…but not when it comes to self-checkout! If the bag falls on the kiosk-weighing area, I risk paying more for those bananas. As well, the bagging area is for bagged items only—don't place anything else there…unless you enjoy the experience of getting yelled at by a kiosk scale.


7. Don’t fill reusable bags until you’re done checking out.

If you try to place your recyclable shopping bags on the bagging area, it may confuse the kiosk's weight calibration system. A better strategy is to wait until you’re completely finished checking out before loading your products into reusable bags.

Related: 11 Things You’re Doing Wrong at CVS

12 Checkout Hacks for Impatient People