Alana Vandagriff | 

12 Types of Coupons Every Smart Shopper Should Know About

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Every savvy shopper knows that using coupons can be a real game-changer when it comes to saving money. But not all coupons are created equally. From traditional paper coupons to their digital counterparts, the variety of coupons out there is wide and can sometimes be confusing. To help you navigate the world of discounts, let’s dive into the different types of coupons available today.

First, you need to know the difference between the many types of coupons. And then you have to know which coupons you can combine together (we call it “stacking”) to get the biggest savings.

Whether you’re a fan of old-school paper coupons or prefer the convenience of digital savings, understanding the different types of coupons can help you get the most bang for your buck. Happy saving!

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1. Traditional Paper Coupons: The Old Reliables

Someone holding a Buy one get one free coupon cut out of a newspaper

Paper coupons are the most recognizable type of coupon. There are two main kinds in this category: manufacturer coupons and store coupons. Manufacturer coupons are issued directly by the product maker and can be used at any retailer that stocks the product. On the other hand, store coupons are specific to a particular retailer. An added bonus is that you can often ‘stack’ these two types of coupons together, using both a manufacturer’s and a store coupon on a single item for extra savings.

Here’s where it gets tricky, though: there are a few different methods or types of manufacturer coupons, and you cannot stack those together on a single item.

For example, if you have a printable manufacturer coupon from for $3/1 Olay body wash and a $3/1 Olay body wash newspaper manufacturer coupon, you can’t stack them together for $6 off one Olay body wash. Why? Because they are actually the same coupon, just in a different form. The same goes for digital manufacturer coupons inside store apps like the Walgreens app.

What stacks with newspaper manufacturer coupons?

  • Store coupons
  • Catalinas
  • Loyalty program discounts
  • Some rebate app offers like Ibotta and Checkout 51

What doesn’t stack with newspaper manufacturer coupons?

  • Printable manufacturer coupons
  • Digital manufacturer coupons — Load2Card or eCoupons

Related: Ways to Get Free Newspaper Coupons


2. Printable Manufacturer Coupons

A woman holding out a stack of manufacture coupons. The coupon on top is for $2 off Tide Pods.

Anything you use your printer for is considered a “printable coupon.” They can be a manufacturer or store coupon. Just look at the top of the coupon and you’ll see “Manufacturer’s Coupon” or “Store Coupon”.

When you download the KCL app, you’ll see that we’ve done all the legwork of finding coupons that match up with store sales — so all you have to do is print coupons and head to the store.

Be sure to sign your spouse up for an account, too, so you can print four coupons instead of two for each item. This makes buying a lot of items a great deal easier, especially if you’re stockpiling a 3- or 6-month supply.

TIP: Sometimes printable manufacturer coupons say “Redeem at Target” or “Redeem at Walmart” across the top. For the most part, you can ignore this, since it’s just a suggestion about where to use the coupon. The only time that matters is if it’s a store coupon (not a manufacturer coupon) — then you’d have to use it at the store listed.

What stacks with printable manufacturer coupons?

  • Store coupons
  • Catalinas
  • Loyalty program discounts
  • Rebate app offers like Ibotta and Checkout 51

What doesn’t stack with printable manufacturer coupons?

  • Newspaper manufacturer coupons
  • Digital manufacturer coupons — Load2Card or eCoupons

Related: How to coupon with just a smartphone.


3. Digital Coupons: Convenience at Your Fingertips

A bottle of Downy bliss fabric softener next to a manufactures coupon on the displayed on a the Target circle app..

The digital age has brought a significant shift in how we save, introducing digital coupons. Digital coupons are another form of manufacturer coupons, but there’s no physical, printed-out coupon to use. These types of coupons are easy to use and accessible right on your smartphone or store app. They come in a few forms, like inside a store app — for example, a Target Circle dollar-off discount that’s actually a manufacturer coupon inside the Target app. Or it could be a Load2Card coupon inside the Walgreens app.

Most store apps offer both store coupons and manufacturer coupons, so pay close attention and read the fine print when you’re accessing digital coupons at stores like Walgreens, Target, CVS, Kroger, and more.

Remember, since most of these are actually manufacturer coupons, you can only use one per item.

Rule of thumb: if it’s a dollar-off discount (not a percent-off), it’s generally a manufacturer coupon, but always read the fine print!

Once you find digital coupons, you either download it to your device or add it to your store loyalty account within the store’s app. Then when you checkout using your store account, the discount gets applied automatically. This seamless integration into the purchasing process is what makes digital coupons so popular among tech-savvy shoppers.

What stacks with digital manufacturer coupons?

  • Store coupons
  • Catalinas
  • Loyalty program discounts
  • Rebate app offers like Ibotta and Checkout 51

What doesn’t stack with digital manufacturer coupons?

  • Newspaper manufacturer coupons
  • Printable coupons



4. Product Coupons

Keep an eye out while browsing store aisles — there are product coupons to be found. These usually come in the form a sticker attached to a product or tucked inside its packaging, offering a discount on that product or a future purchase. It’s like finding a small treasure when you’re unboxing your latest purchase. These are manufacturer coupons, so they play by the same rules as others. You might hear some veteran couponers call these blinkies or peelies.

What stacks with product coupons?

  • Store coupons
  • Catalinas
  • Loyalty program discounts
  • Rebate app offers like Ibotta and Checkout 51

What doesn’t stack with product coupons?

  • Printable manufacturer coupons
  • Digital manufacturer coupons — Load2Card or eCoupons


5. Use store coupons found in your store’s app.

Albertsons app shows $1 off coupons and clipped reward offers

Plan to use one store coupon per item, just like with a manufacturer coupon. Look for store coupons in printable or digital form (from a store website or app) or in paper form through their weekly flyers.

Some store coupons are straightforward dollar-off just like a manufacturer coupon ($1 off Open Nature products), but some are a percentage-off like a Target Circle discount (20% off your bed and bath purchase).

Here are a few stores that offer store coupons:

  • CVS
  • Dollar General
  • Family Dollar
  • Kroger (at the discretion of individual stores)
  • Kohl’s
  • Petco
  • PetSmart
  • Rite Aid
  • Safeway
  • Albertsons
  • Staples
  • Target
  • Walgreens
  • Whole Foods

What stacks with store coupons?

  • Loyalty program discounts
  • Manufacturer coupon Catalinas
  • Rebate app offers like Ibotta and Checkout 51
  • Newspaper manufacturer coupons or printable coupons or digital manufacturer coupons (only one per item)

What doesn’t stack with store coupons?

  • Exact same paper store coupons
  • Store coupon Catalinas

TIP: When it comes to printable coupons found directly from the website, you may find they expire the day after you print them. You gotta plan ahead before you print, but also make sure not to wait too long. They usually change weekly.


6. In-Store Credit from Store Loyalty Programs

A person's hands holding a cell phone displaying 10% off Tide laundry detergent on the target circle app and a $2 off manufacture coupon, and a bottle of Tide liquid detergent in a Target shopping cart.

Most stores, like Target, offer a loyalty program where you can earn points, or “store cash” to redeem on future purchases. (Target’s is Target Circle). The first order of business, once you decide to be a smart shopper, is to join loyalty programs at all the stores you currently shop.

Drugstores like Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid are must-joins in order to save money couponing, and we have lots to say about them. Also, join retail store programs at stores like Kohl’s where you can earn “store cash” to spend on future purchases.

Drugstore rewards promotions:

For all of these, you can earn points that add up to future savings. Promotions are similar in nature and look like “Buy 2, get $5 in Register Rewards/ExtraBucks/Bonus Cash.” Or look for promotions like “Spend $20, get $10 in RR/EB/BC.”

Also, there are product-specific rewards that are basically manufacturer coupons. These look like “$0.50 off Charmin bath tissue.”

What stacks with store loyalty promotions?

  • Manufacturer coupons — Only for rewards that are not item-specific. For example, you can stack a manufacturer coupon with a “$5 off your next purchase” reward.
  • Store coupons or promo codes — If they’re different types. For example, ExtraBucks would stack with a CVS store coupon. They would also stack with a manufacturer coupon for deeper savings.
  • Rebate apps like Ibotta and Checkout 51 — Not everything may be stackable.
  • Kohl’s Cash stacks with other Kohl’s Cash — You can use multiple coupons in one transaction.

What doesn’t stack with store loyalty promotions?

  • Store cash that states “manufacturer coupon” — These would be product-specific like “$0.50 off Charmin.” You can’t stack these with another Charmin coupon.
  • Exact promotions at drugstores — You can’t use two ExtraBucks coupons together in one transaction, for example.

TIP: Create your own freebies by using your store cash and store rewards to buy same-priced items. I’ve scored free peanut butter, free hair accessories, and more this way because I might have $5 in ExtraBucks that I can spend on a jar of peanut butter and some barrettes on sale at CVS.



7. Coupon Codes: A Boon for Online Shoppers

Someone holding a phone next to the RaceTrac Krispy Kreme donut display with a sign advertising the National Doughnut Day offer with the promo code GLAZED

For those who prefer online shopping, coupon codes are the way to go. These are alphanumeric strings that you enter during the checkout process to secure your discount. It’s one of the many perks of e-commerce. Certain sites and products will allow you to stack multiple coupon codes, making it an easy win online.

What stacks with coupon codes?

  • Depends on the site and product

What doesn’t stack with coupon codes?

  • Depends on the site and product

Related: We have a list of the best Amazon promo codes out there!


8. Rebate Apps: Cash-Back You Get After Purchases

a person holding a phone out in front of her, facing the camera, with the ibotta app open on it.

We call Ibotta, Checkout 51, and Fetch Rewards “rebate apps” since you don’t take any action until after you’ve checked out at the store. You pay upfront and then send your receipt to get reimbursed. Lucky for us, they stack with a good amount of other offers.

Meaning — if you can find a rebate that both Ibotta and Checkout 51 offer at the same time, you could possibly redeem both and also redeem your receipt through Fetch Rewards. Just check the offer fine print to make sure you can pair the two.

For Ibotta and Checkout51, you’ll unlock or select the product you want to buy and redeem an offer like “$0.50 cash back when you buy Yoplait yogurt.” Then, depending on which store you’re shopping at, you’ll either take a picture of your receipt to submit it or scan the receipt QR code at the bottom. Once it’s complete and you’ve reached $20, you can cash out via PayPal.

For Fetch Rewards just take a picture of any receipt to earn points that translate into gift cards to stores like Amazon and Target.

What stacks with rebate app offers?

  • Rebate apps like TopCashback, Fetch Rewards, Ibotta, Checkout 51, and/or SavingStar.
  • Everything else.

What doesn’t stack with rebate app offers?

  • Select Ibotta offers won’t allow you to stack with other coupons.
  • Checkout 51 and SavingStar offers cannot be stacked on a product — You will get the redemption for one but not the other. I know because I tried to stack them.

Related: Your Ultimate Guide to Rebate Apps


9. Catalinas: Those Special Receipt-Like Coupons

Catalina coupon printing next to receipt at Walgreens checkout.

Have you ever seen the long and narrow receipt-like coupons that spit out after you complete your purchase? Those are called Catalinas. Sometimes they are store coupons, including dollar-off-your-total-purchase, and other times they’re manufacturer coupons for specific products.

Regular coupon rules apply to manufacturer coupon Catalinas — you can only use one per item. But if it’s a store Catalina or a dollar-off-your-total-purchase Catalina, you can stack it with a manufacturer coupon at most stores.

Some major stores that offer Catalina coupons are Kroger, Albertsons, Fred Meyer, Safeway, Walgreens, Rite Aid, and Harris Teeter. This is also the coupon you’re most likely to throw away because it looks like an advertisement. But don’t toss it! We’ve talked a lot about how Catalina coupons can save you big.

What stacks with Catalinas?

  • Opposite types of coupons — Store coupon Catalinas stack with manufacturer coupons and vice versa
  • Loyalty program discounts
  • Rebate app offers like Ibotta and Checkout 51

What doesn’t stack with Catalinas?

  • Same-type coupons don’t stack — Manufacturer coupon Catalinas don’t stack with newspaper coupons, and store coupon Catalinas don’t stack with other store coupons.
  • Also, note that Catalinas can’t be rolled. This means if you are earning one in a transaction, you cannot pay with one because it won’t print.

TIP: When using dollar-off-total-purchase store Catalinas, remember, you have to reach that dollar amount after all coupons and discounts have been applied. For example, for a $5/20 at Walgreens, you have to make sure your total is over $20 before tax and after you use all of your coupons and discounts.


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