“Stacking Coupons” is when you layer coupons, sales, rebates and promotions to build the biggest overall discount possible on a single product.

I’m not gonna lie, learning how to stack coupons is one of the trickier things about nailing couponing — even for the smartest shopper.

Why? Because coupons have fine print you need to read and understand. And on top of that, every store has its own coupon policy, meaning they can kind of do their own thing, so learning how to stack coupons can take you from doing TikTok dances to ugly crying in about five minutes.

I’m going to simplify the terminology and explain what types of discounts you can stack. For a deeper dive into the nitty gritty of couponing, and to see more examples of different coupon stacking possibilities, read KCL’s Quick Start Guide to Couponing.

And download the KCL app so you’re armed and ready when it’s time to do your first couponing trip.

 

How do coupons work and what does “stacking coupons” mean?

At the most basic level, stacking coupons means using one manufacturer coupon and one store coupon on the purchase of a single item.

But to get the very best savings possible, you won’t want to stop there, you’ll want to layer more discounts for — you guessed it — more savings. I’ll get into this more, but first, I promised to simplify terminology, so let’s cover more definitions.

 

What is a manufacturer coupon?

Manufacturer coupons are issued by manufacturers of products for use at any store that accepts manufacturer coupons. They say “manufacturer’s coupon” somewhere on the coupon.

You’ll notice that manufacturer coupons are almost always for a dollar-off amount like “$1 off” or “Save $2 when you buy two.”

So, when you give a manufacturer coupon like “$0.25 off Crest Toothpaste” to a store cashier, they’ll get reimbursed for that $0.25 by Crest’s manufacturer. This means the store doesn’t take a hit when you use manufacturer coupons, in fact, coupons are like cash to them, even though there’s a process they need to go through in order to get reimbursed by the manufacturer.

You can only ever use one manufacturer coupon per item you buy. If you want to use two “$0.25 off Crest Toothpaste” coupons, you need to buy two tubes of Crest toothpaste.

 

RELATED: Where Do Coupons Go to Die?

 

Where can I find manufacturer coupons?

When it comes to manufacturer coupons, the name of the game is getting as many as you can so you can use them on multiple items and build a small stockpile when you find them at the lowest price possible. KCL recommends just a three to six-month supply, nothing crazy. This way, you’re never paying full price for your essentials.

Newspaper coupons

Where can I find them? Paper manufacturer coupons live inside Sunday newspaper inserts like Smart Source, P&G and RetailMeNot Everyday.

How many identical coupons can I get? As many as you want. The best thing about newspaper coupons — and the reason people still bother with them — is you can buy as many copies of the Sunday paper as you want in order to get multiples of the same manufacturer coupons.

Printable coupons

Where can I find them? You’ve got a couple options here. You can find printable coupons at Coupons.com or you can use KCL’s free printable coupon database. The benefit of using the KCL coupon database is that you can search for specific coupons by keywords like “diapers” or “Tide.” Coupons.com offers a lot of coupons, but you need to scroll through them all to see if they have diaper coupons. You can also often find manufacturer coupons on manufacturer’s websites directly, like PGEveryday.com or by brand name, like Kellogg’s.

How many identical coupons can I get? You can print each coupon twice per mobile number at Coupons.com. This means you’ll register for a Coupons.com account and then when you’ve printed two of a coupon, you’ll reach your “print limit.” A little hack for getting more coupons? Sign your partner up for a Coupons.com account so you can get four prints instead of two.

Digital coupons

Where can I find them? Look for these through specific store apps or websites. For grocery shopping, download the CVS app, Walgreens app, Kroger app and Target app to find digital manufacturer coupons.

How many identical coupons can I get? Typically you can just get one coupon per purchase. You’ll “clip” the coupon by tapping it and then if you’re placing an order through the app, the coupon applies to your order at checkout. If you’re using a digital coupon in-store, you’ll still “clip” it, but your cashier will need to scan it at checkout. The exception to this is a store where your coupons are linked to your loyalty account and applied when you enter your phone number. You can find this out by reading your store’s coupon policies, included below.

 

What is a store coupon?

A store coupon is issued by a specific store for use only at that store. Store coupons tend to be dollar-off savings or percent-off savings like “20% off a baby purchase.”

Unlike manufacturer coupons, stores do not get reimbursed when you use a store coupon, they absorb the hit. But, stores take these calculated hits because they are playing a long game — they want to get you inside their doors (or on their website!) so you’ll buy other things (they hope) for full price — which you won’t, because you’re smarter than them!

Also, if you’re doing grocery pick up or delivery, you’ll want to use digital store coupons that are available inside a retailer’s app. Many stores that accept coupons for grocery pickup or delivery require that you place your order through their app and “clip” digital coupons that are applied at checkout. Unfortunately, you cannot stack these coupons.

 

RELATED: Grocery Store App Coupons and Promos You Must Use

 

Where can I find store coupons?

Not all retailers offer store coupons, but here’s a quick list of our favorites stores that do. You can access store coupons through KCL (linked by store below), or you can download each store’s app to see store coupons.

 

 

Where do I find my store’s coupon policy?

It’s one thing to understand how coupon stacking works, but you’ll need to read your store’s coupon policy to make sure they don’t have any variations. For example, at Walmart you can only use one coupon per item, so no stacking. Period.

 

RELATED: Things You Should Know About Coupon Fine Print

 

How to stack coupons: Manufacturer and store coupon Do’s and Don’ts.

Here’s a general summary of what you can and can’t do with manufacturer and store coupons.

DO:

  • Use one manufacturer coupon and one store coupon on one product.
  • Read your store’s coupon policy to learn how many times you can use a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon in one purchase (transaction). Generally, it’s four times per transaction, but stores call their own shots.
  • Double check manufacturer coupon expiration dates. Some coupons (like P&G printables) expire the day after you print them. Time your trips to the store accordingly.
  • Use digital coupons from a store app if you’re placing a pickup or delivery order.

DON’T:

  • Try to use two identical manufacturer coupons on the same item or two identical store coupons on the same item. It has to be one of each, per item.
  • Expect more than one use out of digital, store app coupons. Typically you get one use only.
  • Ever, ever copy coupons. It’s fraud and it will land you in big trouble. Instead, ask your partner, mom and friends to print coupons for you. Or buy multiple copies of a Sunday paper.
  • Give up. Everyone feels overwhelmed at first, but if you go slow and take it one step at a time, you’ll get it!

 

Stacking Coupons Level 1: Use a coupon when you buy something on sale.

Easiest coupon stack on the planet is using a single coupon when you buy an item that’s on sale. Done. I bet you’ve already done this many times and didn’t even know you were technically stacking coupons.

To learn about your store’s sales, pick up a weekly sales flyer. Grocery store sales usually run Wednesday through Tuesday every week. Many of these weekly sales are posted on grocery store websites and in store apps.

And don’t forget to walk by clearance end caps inside stores — if you find an item on clearance and you have a coupon that applies to it too, you’ve struck couponing gold.

Here’s an example of disposable razors for $3.50 less than regular price when you use a newspaper insert manufacturer coupon with a sale price:

Buy 1 Gillette Daisy Disposable Razors, 4-count (reg. $5.49) $4.99, sale price
Use one $3.00/1 – Venus or Daisy Disposable Razors from PG April 26
Final price: $1.99

 

Stacking Coupons Level 2: Sign up for store rewards programs.

Stores like Walgreens and CVS offer promotions and cash-back opportunities when you sign up for their loyalty programs. It’s like earning passive “income” every time you shop. You can earn these points or discounts even when you use coupons!

Or consider Target, where you can link your checking account to your Target account and get 5% savings on every purchase with Target RedCard.

Here are stores with rewards programs you don’t want to miss:

 

Stacking Coupons Level 3: Combine a manufacturer coupon with a store coupon to buy something on sale.

You’re already a manufacturer and store coupon pro, so now, look for an item that has both of those types of coupons available and it’s on sale. Plus, you’ll be earning rewards points at stores that offer a loyalty program. (Hint, when you download the KCL app, our team does this legwork for you.)

Here’s an example of a situation where you’d get Tide for $5 less than regular price when you apply a printable manufacturer coupon from the P&G Everyday website and a Kroger store coupon:

Buy 1 Tide Laundry Detergent, 46-50 ounce (reg. $7.99) $5.99, sale price
Use one $2/1 – Tide or Purclean Laundry Detergent (pgeveryday.com)
Use one $1/1 – Tide Laundry Detergent, Kroger Digital Coupon (kroger.com)
Final price: $2.99

 

RELATED: Types of Coupons You Need to Know About to Save Big

 

Stacking Coupons Level 4: Get rebate app savings on top of coupons, sales and store rewards.

Rebate apps offer cash back for items you purchase at the store (or online!). You don’t take any action until after you make a purchase. Because of this, you can stack it with any type of coupon, sale or anything. Also, don’t be shy about redeeming an offer from multiple apps on the same item. Meaning, if Ibotta and Checkout51 both offer $0.25 back on bananas, you can use your one receipt to redeem the offer for $0.25 from both rebate apps, resulting in $0.50 savings!

Once you’ve completed a purchase, tap the offer you want to use and then scan a barcode on your receipt or take a picture of your receipt and upload it to the rebate app. Once you reach an app’s minimum payout amount, you’ll receive payment via PayPal or in the form of gift cards.

In fact, Ibotta and Checkout51 even allow you to redeem offers with an electronic receipt. So, you can still get savings, even if you don’t have a physical receipt. Email each company’s customer service to find out how to redeem e-receipts, it’s kind of an unpublished hack.

Here are rebate apps you need to download, stat!

Here’s an example using a manufacturer coupon from the Kellogg’s website, a Dollar General store coupon and an Ibotta rebate:

Buy 2 Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Cereal (reg. $4.99) $2.88 each, sale price
Use one $1/2 – Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Cereal (kelloggsfamilyrewards.com)
Use one $1/2 – Kellogg’s Cereal, Dollar General digital coupon
And submit one $0.70/1 – Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Cereal, 12 oz – 36 oz Ibotta Rebate (Ibotta.com)
Final price: $1.70 each, when you buy two

 

RELATED: Your Ultimate Guide to Rebate Apps

 

Stacking Coupons Level 5: Do all of the above, and pay for it with a discounted gift card.

What’s a discounted gift card? It’s an unused gift card someone sold to a third-party company like Raise.com because they didn’t think they were going to use it. The cool part is that Raise.com turns around and sells that same gift card for less than its face value, resulting in a discount for you.

So, if you find a $50 Walmart gift card for $47.50, that’s 5% savings! The store doesn’t know or care that it’s a discounted gift card — it’s still a valid form of payment and it stacks with everything.

 

 

What’s different about stacking coupons online compared to in-store stacking?

When it comes to digital coupons for online purchases, stacking coupons on a single item is less common. More likely, you’ll be looking for a chance to use multiple coupons, or promo codes online on a single purchase.

For example, if we are talking retail stores, Kohl’s allows up to 10 promo codes on a single purchase. Gap/Banana Republic/Old Navy/Athleta allow up to five promo codes on a purchase. So for retail stores, focus on how many promo codes you can apply to a single order to bring your balance as low as it will go.

Digital coupons for grocery stores are slightly different. For the most part, you can clip and apply as many digital coupons as you want. They do have limits, but the limits are so high that it’s unlikely you’ll need to worry about it — for example, Kroger’s digital coupon limit is 150 coupons per purchase.

Unfortunately, most grocery stores don’t offer both a manufacturer’s and a store coupon on the same item inside their app. But there’s a workaround for this so you can still get savings…

 

When you’re shopping online, coupons, rebates and sales are like a capsule wardrobe. Mix and match!

What if you’re shopping online and you can’t stack a digital manufacturer’s coupon with a digital store coupon on an identical item but you still want all the savings? Easy — focus on diversifying your types of discounts.

This means using a coupon on a sale item and then redeeming a rebate offer. Or paying with a discounted gift card. Or paying with your store loyalty points. These discounts are like a capsule wardrobe — they can be mixed and matched and used together.

Remember, any time you layer more than one type of discount, you’re stacking coupons!

 

Don’t scroll up! Here are the articles mentioned:

Where Do Coupons Go to Die?
Grocery Store App Coupons and Promos You Must Use
Things You Should Know About Coupon Fine Print
Types of Coupons You Need to Know About to Save Big
Your Ultimate Guide to Rebate Apps

 

UP NEXT: Get more couponing and money-saving tips

 

The Ultimate Guide to Stacking Coupons