Doubling Coupons…How Does it Work?

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How Doubling Coupons Works

Doubling Coupons FI

There have been some questions about doubling coupons, how it works, and if the first digit of the coupon’s UPC makes a difference.  I will attempt to clear up any questions you may have about doubling coupons.  The first thing we need to know is how it works.  Normally the manufacturer will reimburse the store the face value of the coupon plus a flat $0.08 for handling fees.  When a store doubles a coupon, the manufacturer will still only reimburse the store for the face value plus the handling fee. The store will eat the difference from doubling the coupon.  This is something  some stores are willing to do in order to get consumers to shop at their store instead of a competitor.

The next thing we need to know is the store coupon policy.  Every grocery chain is different, and most the time each store in a chain is different.  The majority of the coupon policies normally have a sentence in them leaving the decision up to the individual store.  Some stores only double coupons on certain days of the week in an attempt to get more customers to switch their shopping day to a day when the store is not as busy.  Here is a list of some common policies:

  • Coupons $0.50 or less will be  doubled
  • Coupons $0.99 or less will be doubled
  • Only four identical coupons may be doubled per household per visit
  • Only 20 coupons in any transaction may be doubled
How Do the Barcodes Work?

The next thing we need to clear up is the question about the first digit of the barcode when doubling coupons.  The first number on the barcode is called the Number System Character or NSC.  This number tells the barcode scanner what it is scanning.   Below is a list of NSC numbers and what they correspond with on a UPC.

0 – Standard UPC number.
1 – Reserved.
2 – Random weight items like fruits, vegetables, and meats, etc.
3 – Pharmaceuticals
4 – In-store code for retailers.
5 – Coupons
6 – Standard UPC number.
7 – Standard UPC number.
8 – Reserved.
9 – Reserved

All manufacturer coupons from the Sunday paper inserts and internet printables start with the number 5.   Some of the “blinkies” have the first digit of the UPC as 9.  Any coupon that starts with a 9 will not automatically double by the register,  “blinkies” and “peelies” are normally the only coupons that start in the number 9.  I have found that even a lot of the “blinkies” and “peelies” have a UPC that also starts with a 5.  Even if the coupon says do not double or triple or if the UPC starts with a 9, the cashier or manager can override the register, if their store coupon policy allows it.

Ask Your Manager About Their Doubling Coupons Policy

Doubling Coupons Store ManagerIn the end, the safest policy is to speak with someone at your store’s customer service desk.  They will be able to give you accurate information specific to how their coupon policy works.  In the interim, it is safe to say that the register should automatically double all coupons that start with a 5 up to the doubling limit.  Outside of that, a quick conversation with a friendly store employee is the best way to get closure to the specifics.

You may ask yourself: why would a store do this?  At face value it seems like they would be giving money away, but that’s not the case.  Take a moment to think about it from a different point of view.   If the manufacturer still honors the face value of their coupon and the store eats the difference, how is this different than “stacking” a store coupon with a manufacturers coupon at a store that doesn’t double?  The answer is, it isn’t any different at all.  Stores have certain line items in their annual budget to draw traffic into the store.  Doubling coupons on certain days in an effort to drive traffic is no different than issuing a store coupon just to drive sales of specific items.  The only difference is one is done in an effort to increase shopping for a desired time period, the other is done in an effort to increase shopping for desired products.  Either way, the net effect on the store is the same.

In a Nutshell….

Doubling coupons sounds cool, can be confusing, but most definitely saves money.  Like everything else on our site, you will need to plan and then execute your plan to maximize your savings and reduce your total out of pocket.  Then, and only then, you will experience Serious Coupon Magic!!!


See More Tips from the Pros Here


  1. Thanks for the post. I did have a question though. I’ve noticed the some stores will allow you to double and even triple manufacturer coupons for one product and also match the manufacturer coupons that are scanned up to .99. Now my question is does the store still get its money from the manufacturer? Even know on a lot of coupons they say do not double or triple it still will usually work. This will usually work with multiple coupons from different inserts from the sunday newspaper.

    • The Wizard says

      Andrea, the store only get reimbursed for the face value of the coupon. If they double or triple the coupon, that is money the eat. They do that as a marketing ploy to get people to shop at their store.

  2. Thanks so much for this information. Fairly new to the major coupon lifestyle I did not know a lot about this process. In just the few weeks since finding The Wizards I have learned so much and have started my stock pile. Again thanks for everything.

  3. I’m new to couponing..How does this work? If I have a coupon for $1.50 and my store says that they will doble up to 99 cents and the product is $4 I will pay $2.50 out of pocket (I get this). But how to people on tv end up paying like $1 or $5 total for their purchase ? Also where other than the Sunday paper can I get coupons *(they never say that on tv either!)

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