April 22, 2018

Coupon Etiquette Tip #5: Don’t Use Coupons on the Wrong Products

Jan 16, 2012

There is a form of coupon fraud that has been around for a while but has escalated ever since Extreme Couponing aired an episode with Extreme Couponer Jaime Kirlew committing coupon fraud.

The episode revealed Jaime’s shopping list on which she had included coupons matching up with the wrong products. For instance, she used a coupon that was for a 4-pack of Yoplait yogurt on a single cup of yogurt.

That is coupon fraud. It is illegal. DO NOT DO IT.

Another thing people are bragging about doing is using coupons, not just on the wrong size, but on completely different products! Using a $10 Crest White Strips coupon on a $2 tube of Crest toothpaste = FRAUD.

Just because the coupon scans, does not mean it’s okay! I’m sure you could also get away with sticking a pack of gum in your purse and walking out of the store without paying. Is it okay because you got away with it and the store didn’t stop you? No, it is stealing! Misusing coupons is also stealing.

To hear that people are doing this makes me both angry and sad. To abuse coupons and break the law is hurting the manufacturers, other couponers, and yourselves! Coupon restrictions are getting tighter and tighter and there are even new bar codes for coupons now in an attempt to prevent this kind of fraud.

While some people do it intentionally and know that what they are doing is wrong, I know some people simply haven’t learned how to use coupons properly yet. Here are a few guidelines for using coupons correctly in the future.

Coupon Usage Guidelines

1. Buy the right size. If a coupon says “any” then you can truly buy ANY…..of that product. If it says good on “4 – 6 oz” then you must buy that size.

2. Buy the right variety/flavor. If a coupon is for a specific variety or flavor, then that is what you must buy. If it says $1 off Dawn Hand Renewal dish soap, then that is what you must buy. You cannot use it on the regular Dawn dish soap.

3. Buy the right number of items. If a coupon says $1 off 2 Secret deodorants, then you must buy 2 Secret deodorants per coupon that you use.

4. Don’t use expired coupons. Unless your store specifically says they accept expired coupons in their coupon policy, don’t use expired coupons. If today’s date is January 16th and the coupon expires January 16th, it is your last day to use that coupon. Don’t try to use it on the 17th, it will be expired.

5. Ignore the picture. Manufacturer’s usually put a picture of their newest or most expensive product on the coupon to make you think that is what you have to buy. The picture is not always what you have to buy though. The wording on the coupon is the final say in what you must buy.

6. Use one coupon per item. You can only apply one coupon to each product you purchase. If your coupon is for $1 off 2 Bounty paper towels, then that coupon applies to both paper towels that you buy. You cannot use any other coupons (aside from store coupons) on those 2 paper towels, regardless of the type or value of the coupon.

Examples following these guidelines:

  • $1 off 1 any Crest Toothpaste, 4 – 6 oz – You may buy any variety of Crest Toothpaste (cavity protection, whitening, etc.) with a size of 4 oz – 6 oz only.
  • $1 off 1 any Crest Vivid White Toothpaste – You may buy the Crest Vivid White Toothpaste in any size it comes in (even trial size).
  • $1 off 2 any Crest Toothpaste – You may buy any 2 Crest Toothpastes, any size or variety, but you must buy 2 to use the coupon.

I hope these guidelines help clear up any confusion about this. Be sure to visit the Getting Started page for more Couponing Tips!


  1. Thank you for posting this! I REALLY hate the show, Extreme Couponing because of what it’s doing for us NORMAL couponers!

  2. I’m not sure how people even get a $10 Crest White Strips coupon to work on a $2 toothpaste. I use coupons exactly for the product they are for and they still dont scan sometimes!

  3. I agree CJ. Even when I’ve accidentally picked up the wrong thing it doesn’t scan. And most of the time at Walgreens even the right stuff doesn’t scan.

  4. Just a question–

    If you are buying a product with a size restriction and the store has a 10% more free package (ie.. 9oz and you get a 10 oz because of x%Free!) that places it OUTSIDE of the size restriction… can you still use that coupon?

    For example, at my Rite Aid there are bags of Dove that have a 10% more free that place them outside of the coupon restriction. Can I still use my coupon? I don’t know if the extra “10%” should count… without it they would fit the correct size.

    Can anyone clarify?

  5. How about on any wet and wild or fergie product 1.99 or above? Can I use my WNW coupon on a wnw item that is .99 or does it have to be 1.99 or does that just apply to the fergie product?an

Speak Your Mind