Combining BOGO Sales with BOGO Coupons

by Jess on March 15, 2010

Did you know that if a store has a Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO) sale & you have a BOGO manufacturer coupon you’ll get BOTH free? It’s crazy to think you can walk out of a store paying nothing when this happens, but you can - In fact, it’s the coupon jackpot!

How It Works:

Let’s say Vons has CoverGirl mascara on a BOGO sale. You happen to also have a BOGO CoverGirl mascara manufacturer coupon. Vons (Safeway) will ring the first item up at regular price & the second item at $0. When you go to pay at the register your transaction will look like this:

CoverGirl Mascara | $5.99
CoverGirl Mascara | $0 (FREE from store promotion)
Subtotal: $5.99
- $5.99 (FREE from the manufacturer)

You may come across a cashier that denies your coupon reasoning “You need to buy one to get one free.” Usually I find it’s the $0 balance that prompts this response and it’s almost always out of fear of getting in trouble. The fact is, just because a store has the same sale as a coupon does not mean you can’t use your manufacturer coupon. Their store sale also doesn’t allow them to force you to buy another item in order to use your manufacturer coupon.
Think about it, you are allowed to use a $1 manufacturer coupon on an item regardless of whether the store also has that item on sale for $1 less. What difference is the BOGO coupon? There is no difference. You are stacking your BOGO coupon with the store sale, which means you only need to buy one. In this case, because of how the register is set up, the manufacturer coupon is deducting the initial purchase price of the first mascara because there is nothing else to apply the manufacturer coupon to.
Remember, using a coupon is just like paying with cash. When you pay for part of your transaction with a manufacturer coupon the store forwards that coupon to a clearing house for a refund of the face value. The store also receives an additional 8¢ handling fee on top of that refund for their hassle & time. Any cashier that tells you “We will loose money if we give you both free”, kindly remind that they will not. Their store will be reimbursed for the coupon by the manufacturer plus will make 8¢ in profit.

Let’s take a look a how that same transaction looks to the accounting department at the store:

CoverGirl Mascara | $5.99
CoverGirl Mascara | $0 (store sale)
Subtotal: $5.99
- $5.99 (manufacturer coupon)
Total: $0
+ $5.99 (refund from manufacturer)
+ 8¢ (handling fee from manufacturer)
Transaction Total: $6.07

See how the store ended up making the same amount, whether a coupon was used or not? Actually, they made an additional 8¢ from the handling fee that the manufacturer gave them as a bonus. The register may read $0 for you the customer, but the store still made money off of you.

What if my store rings up a BOGO sale at half price?

It’s important to note that some stores, while rare, have their registers programmed to discount both items in a BOGO sale to 50% off each instead of just making the second one ring up at $0. If that’s the case at your store the transaction would go:

CoverGirl Mascara | $2.99 (50% off)
CoverGirl Mascara | $2.99 (50% off)
Subtotal: $5.99
- $2.99 (FREE from manufacturer)
Final Price: $1.49 ea. (75% Savings)

What if my store’s policy does not allow free items on BOGO sales?

Some stores are cheap and simply won’t allow using a BOGO coupon in conjunction with at BOGO sale. Why, I don’t quite understand because they will still make their money back from the manufacturer. If you run into a store like this don’t have a coupon conniption because you’ll still be able to score a great deal. In this case you would purchase 4 mascaras and your transaction would look like this:

CoverGirl Mascara | $5.99
CoverGirl Mascara | $0 (FREE from store sale)
CoverGirl Mascara | $5.99
CoverGirl Mascara | $0 (FREE from store sale)
Subtotal: $11.98
- $5.99 (FREE from manufacturer)
Total: $1.50 ea. (75% Savings)

Consult the Coupon Policy

When in doubt, always consult a store coupons policy (at the corporate level) regarding using a BOGO coupons in conjunction with BOGO coupons. In my experience, most cashiers & even store managers are very unclear about what the store – again, at the corporate level – allows.
The following are stores that I shop at with coupon policies that allow you to use a BOGO coupon with a BOGO store sale for 2 free products:
  • CVS
  • Rite Aid
  • Walgreens
  • Target
  • Walmart
  • Vons (Safeway)
  • Ralphs (Kroger)

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