Over the past months, a trickle has turned into a torrent of e-mails from people telling me that X store doesn't take printed coupons and Y store does but only if you use less than five and Z store has no limit and… you get the point. The thing is, in this example, Walmart was X, Y, and Z store!
So, I set out to see if there was a universal corporate coupon policy for any of the big name stores. I compiled the list below and began emailing corporate offices asking if they accept Internet coupons. Long story short: yes, most have an official policy and in the majority of stores, printed Internet coupons are okay.
But as I've hinted to, everybody seems to have a horror story of a cashier who refuses to accept the coupons and suddenly the total bill balloons. Nine times out of ten, that cashier is in the wrong and this is where a little education, planning, and hopefully this post will come in handy. If you shop regularly at any of the stores below, you might want to print out the policy and carry it around in your purse when you go shopping next!
There's no reason for anybody to be denied savings when they're rightfully entitled to them, especially in this economy!
A&P – Holy Mother of…A&P simply did not want to respond to my e-mails at all. But after a mere trillion messages by me, I received an e-mail with the following statement:
The internet is a powerful vehicle for getting information out to people and at the same time it is also a vehicle for false information. Unfortunately, internet coupons are not accepted in our A&P stores due to an abundance of fraudulent coupons circulating over the internet.
I know this is not the answer you and your readers want to hear at this time, but we are listening to you and other customers who are seeking alternate means of stretching their food dollars. Currently, we are working on a solution that would allow our customer's to download coupons from the internet directly to our loyalty cards electronically. We are exploring this idea and hope to put it into fruition in the near future. I apologize for the delay in my response, as I wanted to wait until we had more information of the new clipless electronic coupon service we will be offering. We are working with an external vendor and hope to have this service available starting August 7, 2009. [ed: so…it's released now?]
So that's kind of promising as it sounds like they'll be rolling out their own Cellfire version within a month in the past.
Acme Markets – Same as Albertsons below.
Albertsons – This is a clear yes, as long as the coupon is in good condition.
We accept internet printed coupons. The same manufacturer and store coupon rules above apply to all internet printed coupons. Internet printed coupons must be capable of scanning at checkout. Internet printed coupons must have serial numbers and must follow an industry-standard format. Manufacturer internet printed coupons must clearly indicate that they are a manufacturer coupon and must have a valid manufacture address on the printed coupon. We will not accept “free product” internet printed manufacturer coupons.
Aldi's – Aldi does not accept manufacturer's coupons.
ALDI-exclusive brands make up more than 90% of our product selection, and we guarantee the quality is as good as or better than name brands. However, we do carry some name-brand products. For these items, we always negotiate the best possible prices with our suppliers and because of this we are unable to accept manufacturer's coupons.
Costco – I kind of expected this response, but it's always good to double check.
Costco Wholesale does not accept general manufacturer coupons. We have our own coupons and promotional offers, which are distributed to members in the mail and at our locations at various times throughout the year.
We are able to offer consistently low prices because our buyers negotiate the best deals with our vendors. Manufacturers often will simply ‘load’ the cost of a coupon program into the original pricing of their product. We will not permit our vendors or buyers to do this since there is no advantage to the member.
CVS – They sent me an epic response, but a few months later posted their policy online:
Coupons must be presented during checkout, be legible and have a scannable barcode.
Food Lion – Upon emailing their customer service center, I received a short reply that included the following: “We will accept internet printed coupons in our stores, however, we reserve the right to decline acceptance if the coupons are deemed to be fraudulent. We will accept printed barcode internet coupons that appear to be the original, with the exception of “FREE” internet coupons.”
Fry's – See Kroger
Giant – Their website has this to say:
We do accept internet coupons, including those for a free item, with the following exceptions:
- Coupon value cannot exceed $5.
- If we are notified of fraudulent activity involving specific internet coupons.
- Expiration date must be clear and visible.
- Expired coupons are not accepted.
- Coupon must be printed legibly and be scannable.
- Coupon must have a valid remit address for the manufacturer.
- Photocopied, altered, duplicated or reproduced coupons are not accepted.
- Invalid coupons or coupons received after 30 days will not be accepted or returned.
- Internet coupons may be doubled provided they meet all doubling requirements and are not specifically prohibited by the manufacturer.
Harris Teeter – “We gladly accept internet manufacturer’s coupons for product; however no “free” product internet coupons are accepted.”
Ingles – After a few e-mails, I finally got the following response:
We will NOT ACCEPT “FREE” internet coupons, only cents off. We will only accept 2 internet coupons per manufacturer product per visit per day. We reserve the right to reject any internet coupon that is altered or does not scan properly.
Jewel-Osco – See Albertsons
Kmart – They will accept Internet coupons as long as they aren't from an excluded list:
“Kmart does accept secure print-at-home coupons. Effective October 9, 2014, we do not accept the following coupons: expired coupons, photocopies or counterfeit coupons, coupons from other retailers or coupons for products or services not carried in our stores, and print-at-home coupons (non-newspaper or periodical clipped coupons) for razors, alkaline batteries, alcohol or tobacco.
Kroger – “Effective November 2007, all Kroger divisions accept industry-standard, secure print-at-home coupons.” And for the record, Kroger is the parent company for many other supermarkets, like Ralphs, Fry's, and another dozen or so. Scroll down a bit on the previous page to see a collection of the logos of all their subsidiaries.
Martin's – Their website states the following:
Customers with a MARTIN'S BONUSCARD may redeem coupons that have been printed from the Internet. We do not accept internet coupons for free products, or those with a value greater than $5.00. We reserve the right to refuse any internet coupon that appears to be fraudulent.
Meijer – They recently put their coupon policy online, which states:
“We accept all valid internet coupons.”
Piggly Wiggly – Repeated emails went unanswered, however I was able to get in touch with their Carolina division, which operates many of the PW stores in the Southeast.
Yes, Piggly Wiggly accepts printed coupons from reputable websites, such as Coupons.com, Upromise and SmartSource.com. No “FREE item” or “CASH back” internet coupons are accepted. Limit one coupon per item per visit.
Publix – “Publix accepts manufacturers’ coupons (limit one per item), Publix coupons (originals only—no copies), valid Internet coupons, and coupons from nearby competitors identified by each Publix store.”
Ralphs – See Kroger
Rite Aid – After years of speculation, they finally issued this statement
Rite Aid will accept internet / print at home coupons up to the equivalent value of $5.00 off. A Rite Aid coupon (with the Rite Aid logo) is NOT considered an internet coupon (even if printed off the internet) and is therefore not subject to the $5.00 maximum.
Safeway – “We can only accept Printable Coupons if they scan properly at the register.” It's worth pointing out that while they accept BOGO coupons, they do not accept straight up “free” coupons.
Save-A-Lot – Here's what their new about page states:
Because we operate more than 800 independently licensed stores, each store tends to have its own coupon policy. Across all corporate stores, we do not double coupons, but we do try to accept online and manufacturer’s coupons (one per household).
Schnucks – They have this to say:
Schnucks accepts Schnucks Digital Coupons, printed manufacturer’s coupons (with some exceptions) and printed internet coupons (with some exceptions). Please review the information below to learn more about our policies and exceptions.
Our printed internet coupon policy is:
- As with all manufacturer’s coupons, only one coupon per item can be applied.
- Internet/home-printed coupons for FREE products will not be accepted unless the coupon is issued specifically by Schnucks.
- Internet/home-printed coupons with a value greater than $5 will not be accepted unless the coupon is issued specifically by Schnucks.
- We reserve the right to decline acceptance of any coupon that does not appear to be an original and/or any coupon that does not scan properly.
- Please contact the manager on duty if you have any questions about a specific coupon or offer.
ShopRite – I previously had to track down their policy via emailing corporate, but thankfully they've since placed it online! Here's the response I received, which includes a link to an amazingly helpful site in identifying counterfeit coupons:
Periodically, we receive notification from the Coupon Information Corporation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to enhancing the integrity of the coupon redemption process, that fraudulent coupons are being circulated via the Internet. Their guidance has helped us recognize the following restrictions:
- Coupons displaying signs of mass cutting or similar cuts and tears, and coupons bearing tape or sequential numbers may suggest coupon fraud and will not be accepted.
- Coupons that are copied, scanned, altered, sold, traded, distributed or transferred by their original recipient to any other person, firm or group are VOID.
- We cannot refund the value of a coupon or return the coupon if a purchased item is later returned to the store.
- Only one manufacturer coupon will be applied to each “Buy One, Get One Free” offer.
Stop & Shop – Their site reads: “We do accept internet coupons, including those for a free item, with the following exceptions:
- Coupon value cannot exceed $10.
- If we are notified of fraudulent activity involving specific internet coupons. Internet coupons may be doubled provided they meet all doubling requirements and are not specifically prohibited by the manufacturer.”
Target – Their new coupon page says “We gladly accept valid internet coupons with a scannable barcode. We do not accept internet coupons for free items with no purchase requirements..”
Trader Joe's – Looks like Trader Joe's is a no-go. Or are they?
At this time we do not offer any sort of coupons or discounts for products purchased in our stores. Our reasoning for this is that we, unlike many other larger grocery stores, already work really, really hard to keep our prices as low as possible without artificially high profit margins.
Okay, sounds clear enough. However, about two weeks later, I received this message:
Thank you for your inquiry. Trader Joe's can only accept coupons from manufacturer's only. We are unable to accept any coupons from 3rd party distributors.
So…wait, what? Internet coupons ARE manufacturer coupons. But since the manufacturers aren't the ones distributing them, Internet coupons don't count? That's kind of lame, but okay, good to know.
Walgreens – After years of leaving it up to “local manager's discretion,” Walgreens finally published an official coupon policy that states “Walgreens accepts valid internet/print at home coupons. Walgreens cannot accept “free product” internet printed coupons.”
Walmart – Ah, the store that started this all!
We gladly accept valid, internet manufacturer coupons for the manufacturer’s items with a scannable GS1 barcode and are not expired that validates to our master file. We do not accept internet coupons for free items with no purchase requirements.
So there we have it! As I pointed out above, all Coupons.com coupons have these three requirements, so your local Walmart better darn well accept printed coupons!
Wegmans – I've officially run out of ways to segue into a blockquote:
We take internet coupons with only two restrictions. FREE coupons are out, and the fine print, to minimize checker uncertainty, is that the word FREE can't appear on the coupon. This includes Buy One Get One Free offers. The other restriction is that the electronic coupon value (or the double value) may not exceed the value of the item being purchased; the same as for other coupons.
Whole Foods – I hope you like unhelpful corporate policies, because here we go!
We are a decentralized company divided into regions that function fairly autonomously. Coupon acceptance policies vary from region to region and in the case of internet coupons, from store to store. I would direct shoppers to contact their local Whole Foods Market store directly to inquire about the coupon policy of that location.
Winn-Dixie – When I first contacted Winn-Dixie, they sent me a garbled corporate-speak response that made absolutely no sense. They referenced a bankrupt, out of business company as their verification system and repeated emails for clarification kept being routed to an intern who hadn't worked for them in 3 years (I'm not making any of this up, I swear) All our correspondences did was send me on a one-way trip to Confusedville.
Lucky for us, I made so much fun of them that they simplified their policy and posted it online.
Thank you for contacting us. Winn Dixie does accept online coupons. Internet coupons must have a scan-able barcode.
Letter to Retailers – And finally, SmartSource, one of the main sources of on-line coupons, has a Letter to Retailers that you might want to print out if you use their coupons. It explains where the coupon came from, why it's legit, and how to ring it up. I think this is a phenomenal move in the right direction towards retailers and coupon sources finally recognizing the importance of each other in terms of mutual survival.