Couponing 101: How Double Coupons Really Work

Double coupons. Wow. It seems like our site is flooded daily with comments and questions concerning them and lately, I’ve found them on Facebook as well.

As I was looking on the page of rural store in our state, I noticed the following question posted by one of their fans:

As far as I’ve read, your store would get reimbursed for doubling coupons so long as the coupon says ‘Do Not Double’ so why not double???  I guarantee you that it would promote a WHOLE LOT more purchases at your stores. I even have friends traveling an hour just to get to Homeland, who DOES double!!!


After I saw that, I thought now would be a good time for a little Q & A about double coupons:

1. What is a double coupon? 

This is a store promotion where the store decides to literally double the coupon up to a certain amount to give you double the savings. For example, at Homeland, a $1 off coupon is actually worth $2 because they double coupons up to and including $1. 

2. Why do some stores double coupons?

The idea is to bring you into the store so you will buy other products. In the mind of the store, if they offer you a discount on some products but you walk in and buy a weeks worth of groceries on top of that then it’s well worth it. This is a store promotion, just like a weekly sales flyer or store coupon would be. All are designed to bring you into the store so you will shop and buy everything on your list whether it is on sale or not.

3. Do stores lose money on double coupons?

Yes…and no. Well, it depends. First, the majority of stores do not get reimbursed for the ‘double’ portion of the coupon. So, if you visit Homeland and give them a $1 off coupon for Blue Bell ice cream, they will get reimbursed $1 for that coupon from the manufacturer directly  but they will not get reimbursed the $1 double portion of the coupon because this is the store promotion. In this case, the store loses $1 on this purchase.

Again, the idea behind double coupons is that you (the consumer) will go into the store to get your good deals but then decide to pick up other items while you are in there. This would make the loss of the double coupon worth it to the store in the end.

If you picked up 3 things at a double coupon store that were free after double coupons but you spent another $200 on other things while you were there, then the store could easily afford to lose the $3 for the doubles. In this case, it would be a win for the store.

This is what bothers me about the facebook statement above where obviously, this person was yelling at the store (in computer language) for not doubling coupons and even more obviously, not realizing that doubling coupons does cost that store (which is a business) real money.

Telling the store that it will ‘promote a WHOLE LOT more purchases’ won’t matter that much if the store loses money on every single one of those purchases. In fact, that statement may have just scared the double coupon right out of them!

 4. Why do some double coupon stores get so upset with couponers?

Simple. As couponers, we are only going into the store for what we have coupons for and that is it. We are flying in the face of the original design of double coupon marketing and therefore, we do cost the store money.

There are some stores in our area that had a double coupon policy long before couponing became popular. It was a good policy for them because it brought in the few money conscious spenders who then bought the rest of their groceries in the store as well.

Then, we came along.

These stores were originally ok with the loss because they made up the difference however, that is no longer the case. Now, we come in with our coupons and use the policy the store has in place to get our groceries for next to nothing. The store gets reimbursed for the face value of the coupon so that is no big deal but the store is taking a loss on every single double coupon (and that’s all we’re using) and that is a big deal…at least to them.

5. Why are there certain days for double coupons & why are there strict policies?

Some stores offer double coupons every single day, if the value of the double coupon is low (say .50) then they don’t feel the heat quite as much and offering a daily double coupon amount that low does not impact the budget as severely especially if their everyday prices are on the high end.

However, if the store has a high double coupon value (like $1) and doubles that every single day, then the rate of their loss increases each day. This then forces the store to become more strict on the policy to ensure they do not lose even more money.

Many stores around the country do offer the $1 double coupon everyday however, those tend to be large stores that attract plenty of non-couponers as well.

In other cases, you’ll see stores offer only a double coupon week as in, one week out of the month. This entices money conscious grocery buyers but then also helps establish a relationship between that store and the customer that may not have been there before. And, if the store is lucky, you’ll stop by their store on the other weeks that the double coupon promotion is not taking place.

These are the stores that take the loss as more of an advertising fee as they are hoping they have made such a good impact on you that you’ll come back for more with or without your coupons.

Double coupons are a big deal for couponers as they do give us double the savings however, it is important to realize that it is a privilege to have a store that offers double coupons, it is not a right. It is disturbing to see people ‘demanding’ double coupons at stores. That is a promotion that they must weigh the pros and cons of financially before they could offer and I’m not so sure yelling at them would convince them to do so.

For the stores that do double coupons, I believe it is important for us to thank them for that and respect what their policy tells us. If that policy is getting too strict then there are plenty of other stores to shop at. Simply price matching and using coupons at Walmart can give you double savings and also combining store and manufacturer coupons at places like CVS, Walgreens or Target.

Double coupons are not needed all the time in order to save money however, if you are so blessed to have been able to use double coupons, just keep in mind a good attitude can go a long way and the better we treat these stores, the more likely they are to keep the double coupons. Also, the next time you just need a gallon of milk, keep that store in mind and help ’em out a bit.


  1. says

    if we do find a store that doubles and decide to take advantage of a coupon do we ask the cashier to double the coupon or do they automatically do it?

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