While you may not get a month’s worth of groceries for 13 cents, as popularized by extreme couponing, coupon stacking can still be a great way to save at checkout. At its simplest, stacking coupons is the practice of collecting and applying manufacturer coupons, store coupons, sales, and rebates to get the largest discount possible. 

Coupon stacking is most often used for home and grocery goods like detergents and canned goods, but there are plenty of ways to save with other retailers, too. In 2018, $2.7 billion in coupons were redeemed, saving shoppers more than a pretty penny. While it may not be easy at first, stacking coupons is great for your budget. 

Coupon Types to Know

Illustration identifies the difference between manufacturer's coupons and store coupons.

The first thing to know is that there are actually two different kinds of coupons — manufacturer’s coupons and store coupons. Many stores allow you to stack these two kinds of coupons to save on the same item, while you typically can’t stack two manufacturer coupons or two store coupons on the same item. 

How to Use Manufacturer Coupons

Manufacturer coupons are the classic P&G pages you get with your Sunday paper for discounts on everything from health and beauty items to cleaning supplies. These are coupons provided by brand-name manufacturers to get you to choose their product at the store. 

These discounts are typically for a set amount off the price of an item. For example, “$1 off pasta” instead of “pasta for $1.50.” They’re also restricted to one coupon per item, so you can’t apply multiple coupons to one box of pasta, but you can use multiple coupons to save on multiple boxes of pasta — which is a great way to save on essentials. 

Manufacturer coupons are redeemable at most any store that sells the product, and the company reimburses the retailer the cost of the discount. You can find manufacturer coupons:

  • On coupon websites
  • In your Sunday paper
  • In the mail

How to Use Store Coupons 

Store coupons are discounts provided by the retailer to be used in their stores only, though some competitors may be willing to price match. These typically include restrictions on stacking, like one coupon per item or per transaction, and they can’t often be stacked with other store coupons. 

Store coupons can be found:

  • On coupon websites
  • In your email when you register with the retailer
  • When shopping in-store or online
  • In mailers and newspapers

Dos and Don’ts of Stacking Coupons

Illustration shows the differences between manufacturer's coupons and store coupons.

Ready to start stacking coupons? There are several rules to know and they vary significantly by store. Here are some of our top tips for organizing and planning your shopping trips:

Dos of Coupon Stacking

  • Register for rewards and download your favorite retailers’ apps for sales and coupons.
  • Double-check your expiration dates before you go shopping.
  • Pre-pair your applicable store and manufacturer coupons.
  • Buy essentials in bulk when you have a coupon to save more long-term. 
  • Read up on store policies to follow their coupon guidelines and see if they have restrictions on stacking coupons. 
  • Stick to your shopping list to avoid overspending.

Don’ts of Coupon Stacking

  • Don’t copy coupons. Instead, have your friends and family help you collect coupons.
  • Don’t try to use multiple identical coupons on one item. You can apply duplicate coupons to additional items, or mix and match individual manufacturer and store coupons. 
  • Don’t try to reuse digital coupons or coupons with unique codes. These typically don’t work more than once.
  • Don’t buy items you won’t use just because they’re on sale. You may spend more than you save.

Tier 1: Shop For Items On Sale

Illustration shows how stacking coupons, rebates, and sale items allows you to save more.

The easiest way to help stretch your coupon savings is to apply them to items already on sale. You’ve likely done this before and you know the sensation when you feel like you’ve struck gold. 

Pre-plan your shopping trip by checking out weekly ads, the retailer app, and their online store. Then sort your coupons and see what sale items pair with your coupons. Don’t forget to watch for markdowns and clearance items while you’re at the store, too. 

Sale Item: Cetaphil Skin Cleanser ($9.59)
Target Sale: BOGO 25% off | Manufacturer Coupon: $2 off one

Total Savings: $4.39 (23% off) 

Tier 2: Pair Store and Manufacturer Coupons

Once you have the hang of searching sales and clipping coupons, it should be an easy transition to begin pairing coupons. While you can’t use multiple identical coupons on one item, you can pair a manufacturer’s coupon and a store’s coupon on the same item. 

Pairing coupons on a sale item can get you triple the savings. Plus, most manufacturer coupons are for everyday essentials, so you can enlist the help of your friends and family to buy items like laundry detergent and toothpaste in bulk. 

Sale Item: Downy Liquid Fabric Softener ($11.99)
Kroger Sale: $10.99 | Manufacturer Coupon: $1.50 off | Kroger Coupon: $2.00 off

Total Savings: $4.50 (37% off)

Tier 3: Download Rebate Apps

Rebate apps like iBotta are a quick and easy way to save money that doesn’t really require any pre-planning on your end. All you have to do is scan your receipt from participating stores and the rebate app will give you a certain percentage of cashback on your purchases. These rebates will collect in-app until you’ve earned enough to cash out to your bank account. 

The best part about rebate apps is that they’re stackable in a way, too. You can scan your same receipt in multiple apps to save even more on your shopping trips. Be sure you’re also watching for special sales and promotions that can earn you even more money back.

Sale Item: Downy Liquid Fabric Softener ($11.99)
Kroger Sale: $10.99 | Rebate App: 5% back
Manufacturer Coupon: $1.50 off | Kroger Coupon: $2.00 off

Total Savings: $4.87 (40% off)

Tier 4: Collect Rewards and Share Your Email

In addition to your Sunday newspaper, one of the best places to find great coupons is from the retailer themselves. Share your email online to receive coupons, sale updates, and even access to special shopping dates like President’s Day Sales

Not only will you get exclusive deals, but many retailers manage their own rewards programs. Stores like Target, Kroger, and CVS are known for their excellent rewards that offer cashback and rewards points that can be redeemed for discounts. 

Sale Item: Cetaphil Skin Cleanser ($9.59)
Target Sale: BOGO 25% off | Target RedCard: 5% off | Manufacturer Coupon: $2 off one

Total Savings: $5.14 (27% off) 

Stacking Coupons While Online Shopping

Illustration of a computer online shopping with a coupon code.

While there are plenty of opportunities to save while shopping online, you likely can’t stack multiple coupons to save on a single item. You can still use multiple coupons to save on a complete order, though. 

Check your store’s coupon policy, too, to see just how many they allow. Department stores tend to limit 10 or fewer, while grocery stores have much higher limits. Even if you can’t stack all of your coupons, you can still save with rewards and rebate apps. Before you begin shopping, browse current deals at your favorite stores to see who has ongoing sales and collect coupon codes. 

Don’t forget to compare unit and store prices to calculate discounts and be sure you’re getting the best deal. The ability to directly compare is one of the greatest ways to save while online shopping. Be sure to register for rewards and use your rebate apps, too. 

Stores That Allow Coupon Stacking

Every store has a different policy on coupons and coupon stacking. There are still plenty willing to work with you to get a great deal. If you’re just starting to stack coupons, here are some of your new favorite couponing retailers:

  • CVS: Stack manufacturer and store coupons, and even multiples on sale items. 
  • Dollar General: Apply a manufacturer’s and store coupon, or even multiple store coupons to an item. 
  • Kohl’s: Stack up to four different coupons on a single item. 
  • Publix: Combine a manufacturer’s coupon with a store or even competitor coupon.
  • Rite Aid: Use multiple coupons as long as they’re of equal or lesser value.
  • Target: Stack manufacturer’s, store, and Target Circle coupons. 
  • Walgreens: Use a manufacturer and store coupon on the same item. 
  • Whole Foods: Combine a manufacturer’s coupon and store coupon.

Stacking coupons, rewards, and rebates can save you big on groceries and everyday essentials. It may seem overwhelming at first, but start small and build your skills until you’re stacking coupons like a pro. 


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