Coupon Dictionary

coupon dictionary

AC (Ad Coupon, In-Ad Coupon)

1. a coupon included in an advertisement (as in a newspaper) which is clipped and scanned at checkout to receive a discount

Example: In the newspaper, Sally finds an advertisement for Folgers coffee which includes a bar code to receive $1 Folgers products.

Origin: In the 1980s, coupons became associated with periodicals.  Advertisements with coupons often took up at least ? of the newspaper.

Related terms: inserts, paper coupons


1. free retailer or manufacturer coupons dispensed from machines mounted on shelves in store aisles; they can be used in stores for a purchase on the date taken or saved for use at a later date as long as they are used by the expiration date printed on them.
2. the coupon-producing machines that are mounted on shelves in store aisles

Example: While shopping for allergy medicine, Sally finds a blinkie for Claritin and saves $2 on her purchase of Claritin D.

Origin: The machine that produces the coupon is built with a blinking light (usually red or green) intended to attract the attention of a shopper walking down an aisle.  The machines are typically mounted on a shelf near the item for which the subsequent coupon may be used.

Related terms: tearpad, grocery coupon, manufacturer coupon, retailer coupon

BOGO (Buy One Get One, B1G1)

1. a discount where the purchase of one item (or type of item) earns the buyer a second item (or type of item) free of charge;
Example: At a shoe store, Blair bought one pair of fashion boots at full retail price and bought a second pair for free because of the store’s BOGO sale.

Origin: The original promotion phrase “Buy One, Get One” was abbreviated into the fun-sounding acronym “BOGO.”

Related Terms: bulk discount, sale

Catalina (Register Reward, Checkout Coupon)

1. a coupon that is printed at checkout and handed to the customer with their receipt

2. Two types of Catalina:

  • On Your Next Order (OYNO): coupon that offers a discount on a customer’s entire purchase during their next transaction
  • Manufacturer’s Coupon: a coupon that offers a discount on a specific brand related or similar to the customer’s purchases in their most recent transaction

Example: Sally bought a package of Jimmy Dean sausages.  After checking out, she received a Catalina with her receipt that gave her $2 off a package of Adele sausage on her next purchase.

Origin: Catalina is the name of the company, Catalina Network, which used scanner-based technology to retrieve information on and respond to customers.  They produce the machines that print the Catalina coupons.

Related terms: grocery coupon, manufacturer’s coupon


1. a website where manufacturer’s coupons can be found and added to a customer’s store savings card; the discount will be applied at the next purchase.  Once Cellfire authenticates a customer’s store savings card number with the store, the customer can view and select promotions online, through mobile apps, or through mobile browsers.

2. the coupon or discount available from

Example: Sally found a great Cellfire coupon online for Vons and added it to her Vons club card before her next grocery shopping outing.

Origin: Cellfire is a trademarked name filed in 2005 for the company.

Related terms: manufacturer’s coupons, grocery coupons, online coupon

Coupon Clipper Service

1. a website that sells coupons for a small fee paid to the person clipping and sorting them; these are especially efficient for coupon stockpilers as they can save both time and money in the long run

Example: Sally pays for a coupon clipper service to get her coupons for home and groceries when her week gets filled up looking for savings for others.

Related terms: discount gift card

Coupon Policies (Retailer Couponing Policies)

1. the guidelines and regulations of particular retailer with regard to coupons (how many coupons can be applied towards an item, double couponing, couponing in conjunction to storewide sales, etc.); most retailers have their own policy, and every retailer has different rules.  Retailers should make their coupon policies available in stores or online; customers can always ask retailer staff or managers if they have any questions about the couponing policies.

Example: Sally had three coupons for toothpaste: one manufacturer’s coupon, one Walgreens retailer coupon, and one Walmart retailer coupon.  She read Walmart’s coupon policy to find out that she could use only one coupon per item, but Walgreens coupon policy said she could use up to one manufacturer’s and one retailer (Walgreens) coupon on her purchase.

Related terms: double coupon, limit, manufacturer’s coupon, retailer coupon

Discount Gift Card (DCG)

1. a gift card for sale that is priced at less than its value; DCGs are usually resold by owners who do not want or need them anymore.  These kinds of savings are rarely offered by coupons at stores.

Example: Blair had a gift card to Bebe with a balance of $54 on it.  She wasn’t going to use the rest of it, so she sold it as a discount gift card for $45.  She got some of her balance back, and the buyer enjoyed getting essentially $9 of free merchandise.

Do Not Double (DND)

1. a denotation on a coupon indicating that it cannot be doubled in value to double the discount on an item or purchase

Two types of Do Not Double coupons:

  • DND-5: the barcode on the coupon starts with 5; while the coupon says “Do Not Double” the coupon can be manually overridden by the cashier
  • DND-9: the barcode on the coupon starts with 9; this coupon is coded in such a way that it cannot be doubled

Example: Sally had planned to get $2 off her laundry detergent by doubling her $1 coupon, but she DND denotation and a barcode starting with the number 9 let her know that doubling this coupon was not going to happen.

Origin: Manufacturers started putting “DND” on their coupons to protect themselves financially since they have to reimburse the retailer for not only the face value of the coupon but a small handling fee.  Retailers then become responsible for covering any additional loss incurred by a doubled coupon; since they don’t want to lose money, many retailers have stopped double couponing.

Related terms: double coupon, stacking

Double Coupon

1. to double the value of a single coupon to get twice the discount.  Retailers may have double coupon promotions or regularly practice double couponing; customers should check with specific retailers to their policies on  double couponing (e.g. maximum amount doubled)

Example: Sally wanted to double coupon at the grocery store; she took in her $1 off dog food coupon and was able to double it and get $2 off.

Related terms: coupon policies

Embedded Coupon

1. an online discount that requires no code for redemption; it is automatically applied at checkout

2. a coupon code that is automatically applied towards a purchase at checkout when the customer clicks on a particular coupon link

Example: Tyler clicked on a coupon link for 20% off monitors; when he added a new monitor to his shopping cart and proceeded to checkout, the 20% discount was automatically applied to his total.

Origin: As the name implies, embedded coupons are built into a specific link and carried over automatically; this distinguishes them from other online coupons where customers must manually copy and paste the coupon into a online coupon box.

Related terms: online coupon, promotion code box

Expiring Coupon

1. a paper or online coupon which will become invalid on the printed date.  Expiring coupons can be used on the date of expiration typically until midnight.

Example: Sally had an expiring coupon that would expire on December 31; she made sure she used it in early December to get her savings.

Related terms: paper coupon

Free Shipping (Free Delivery, Free Shipping & Handling, Free S&H)

1. an online retailer promotion which offers no extra costs or fees for shipping a product to a customer’s home or office

2. an online retailer practice of charging no extra fees for a certain tier of shipping methods, usually the slowest and most inexpensive

Example: Sally was in no rush to receive the book she ordered from Amazon; she chose the 2-day free shipping option instead of the next day $17 shipping option.

Origin: Free shipping may seem like an industry standard today, but handling and transportation fees have been a part of business for ages.  Only with the advent of e-commerce and online shopping has business through the Internet become so cost effective that charging nothing for shipping is now a viable business solution.

Gift Card

1. a preloaded debit card that allows the cardholder to use it for the purchase of goods or services; the card becomes invalid once the remaining balance is spent

2. a preloaded debit card which can be reloaded by adding funds for continuous use

Two types of gift cards:

  • retailer gift card: can only be used a select retailers e.g. Starbucks, Walmart
  • unlimited use: can be used at any retailer which accepts credit cards; specifies only a dollar amount, not a place where it must be used e.g. Visa, American Express

Example: Megan received a Starbucks gift card for her birthday and, when she had used its balance, reloaded to keep a set amount of her coffee budget on her card.

Origin: In the mid 1990s, major retailers including Blockbuster and Kmart started moving away from paper gift certificates which were easily lost or damaged.  Inspired by digital card technology used with prepaid phone cards, gift card programs became widely used and very popular.  Retailers even noticed that cardholders usually spent more than the value of the card when purchasing full price items.

Related terms: discount gift card

Grocery Coupons

1. a ticket or document that is redeemed for a financial discount when purchasing grocery products

Example: Sally organizes her inserts and clippings into piles of grocery coupons for use at the store and other coupons specific to different non-grocery retailers like Hobby Lobby and Lowe’s.

Origin: C.W. post created and distributed the first one-cent coupon for his health cereal, Grape Nuts, to customers in the late 1800s.

Related terms: Catalina, insert, blinkies, manufacturer’s coupon, retailer coupon

Hang Tag

1. a coupon, usually a manufacturer’s coupon, that is tied around a product like bottles and jars which offers a discount

Example: Sally found a hang tag on a bottle of cleaner; while it just looked like product information, it actually gave her $2 off the item!

Related terms: manufacturer’s coupon, peelie

Insert (Free Standing Insert, FSI)

1. a sheet inserted into a newspaper filled with both manufacturer’s coupons and retailer coupons

2. a booklet of coupons for different retailers or manufacturers (e.g. Smart Source, Red Plum, General Mills or Proctor & Gamble) inserted in newspapers or left in mail boxes

Example: Sally reads the newspaper every Sunday to collect coupons from inserts that she can use in her start of week shopping.

Related terms: grocery coupon, retailer coupon, manufacturer’s coupon

Limit (Lt)

1. a parameter in a coupon’s fine print that designates how many coupons can be used in what circumstances or in conjunction with other coupons

Common types of limits:

  • One Coupon per Transaction: one coupon can be used for each total transaction.  If a customer wants to use multiple coupons, they must complete multiple transactions e.g. two coupons for milk quarts requires two separate transactions for milk quarts
  • One Coupon per Purchase: one coupon can be used for each item purchased in a transaction e.g. two coupons for milk quarts allows the purchase of two milk quarts in the same transaction
  • One Coupon per Visit: one coupon per item per visit to a retailer e.g. two coupons for milk quarts requires the customer, after making an initial purchase of a milk quart with the coupon, to leave the store and return later that day or another day to use the second coupon
  • One per Customer: the coupon can be used only once by one customer; the coupon cannot be used within the same transaction or visit e.g. the customer can use one milk coupon in one transaction and must leave, return and perform another transaction to use the second coupon

Example: Sally used a coupon with a limit of one coupon per purchase and was able to use a coupon for almost every item she bought.

Related terms: do not double, coupon policies

Manufacturer’s Coupon

1. a coupon issued by a product manufacturer to increase the sale of a specific product

Example: Sally found a manufacturer’s coupon for toothpaste; since the coupon was for the specific brand of toothpaste, she had her choice of retailers when it came to redeeming it.

Origin: In 1887, Asa Candler, the co-owner of Coca-Cola, began marketing hand-written tickets offering consumers a free glass of Coca-Cola.  The promotion was so popular that the product was being sold in every state in the country within 10 years.  The focused promotion on the part of the manufacturer made their product their single most popular.

Related terms: retailer coupon

Online Coupon (coupon code, discount code, promo code, promotion code, voucher code)

1. a code, composed of a series of characters like numbers and letters, that is entered into an online coupon box at checkout from an online shopping site; the code then applies a specific discount if the items in the shopping cart meet certain criteria.  Coupons must be entered exactly as they appear to redeem the discount from the retailer; case sensitive codes are not uncommon.

Online coupons can offer any number of discounts (just as paper coupons) from free shipping to a sale on a particular product or brand to a percentage off your entire purchase.  Customers should always read the requirements of the online coupon to make sure they can apply it to their purchase.

Example: Sally finds an online coupon to Target for $5 off apparel, shoes and accessories with a purchase of $50 or more.  She finds $50 worth of clothes on Target’s website, adds them to her shopping cart, and then enters the online coupon code to redeem her discount at checkout.

Origin: Online coupons first start to appear on e-commerce sites as online shopping becomes more popular.

Related terms: paper coupon, online coupon box

Paper Coupon

1. any retailer or manufacturer’s coupon printed on a tangible piece of paper that can be redeemed in retailers’ stores; they can be printed or clipped.  Paper coupons include all their fine print and limits printed right on them; customers are encouraged to read these restrictions and guidelines before attempting to redeem them.

Example: Sally collects all her paper coupons from inserts, blinkies and Catalinas before she goes to the grocery store.

Origin: Paper coupons were originally hand-written vouchers used to market products in the late 1800s.  They took off in popularity and have become a part of shopping culture for more than a century.

Related terms: insert, blinkies, Catalina


1. a coupon attached to a product that can be removed to redeem the discount; they may be either manufacturer or retailer coupons

Example: Sally was pleasantly surprised when she discovered the peelie on the bag of chips that would let her save money on that one item.

Origin: The name comes from the way the coupon is attached to the product.  Like hang tags which hang around the neck of an item, peelies are attached with a non-permanent adhesive and can be peeled off to be redeemed.

Related terms: hang tag, paper coupon, blinkies

Printable Coupon

1. retailer or manufacturer coupons found online intended for use in stores; they can be downloaded or printed directly from an Internet browser and then redeemed during checkout.  Customers should only download coupons from reputable coupon sites like official retailer or manufacturer’s websites.

Example: Sally found a great printable coupon for AC Moore that would let her get 50% off any regular priced item.  She printed the coupon, took it to the store, and redeemed it on a new die cut machine she wanted for scrapbooking.

Origin: Printable coupons blend both paper and online coupons, bridging the gap between searching for coupons easily online and redeeming them instantly in stores.

Related terms: paper coupon, online coupon

Online Coupon Box (promotion code box, checkout box, coupon code box)

1. a special field of an online checkout page where the customer can enter an online coupon code and apply it’s discount to the purchase; the box can appear at different stages of the checkout process or be hidden until a certain link is clicked depending on the retailer

Example: Before finalizing her sale from Sears online, Sally entered her online coupon code into the online coupon box to apply it’s discount to her purchase.  Once she confirmed that the coupon had worked, she proceeded with checkout.

Related terms: online coupon

Price Match

1. to match prices or promotions of a retailer’s competitors; price matching can be an ongoing practice or a short-term/seasonal event

Example: Brad got a deal on new tires because he showed his Ford dealership a competitor’s lower tire price during Ford’s Price Match Guarantee promotion.

Origin: The phrase comes from the practice of matching (or in some cases beating) the prices of competitors.

Related terms: retailer couponing policies

Rebate (Mail-In Rebate, MIR)

1. a discount on specific goods provided by manufacturers.  The most popular form of this discount is the mail in rebate which requires the submission of a rebate coupon, transaction receipt and proof of purchase in the form of a Universal Product Code to the manufacturer by mail which will result in a reimbursement or prize (gift card, free item, etc)

Example: Tyler used a mail-in rebate to get reimbursed for his printer which was free with the purchase of his new laptop (after the rebate, of course).

Related terms: universal product code

Retailer Coupon (Store Coupon)

1. a coupon offering a discount specific to products of a particular retailer than of a manufacturer.  While retailers do not always receive reimbursements from store coupons, they are rewarded with the customer’s business.  Since so many products from the same manufacturers are offered at different retailers, retailers try to attract consumer attention away from their competitors with retailer coupons.  Retailer coupons

Example: Sally buys her household essentials from the big name retailer that has the best coupons available during any given week.

Origin: Retailer coupons were first used by Super Markets in the 1940s who wanted to attract consumer attention away from their local markets where the same manufacturer products were available.

Related terms: manufacturer’s coupon


1. a promotion in which some or all of a retailer’s products are sold at discounted prices; while many in-store sales are reflected on retailer websites, some online sales are exclusive to Internet shoppers and not available in stores

2. a section of a retailer’s website where products (usually outmoded or out of season) are sold at huge clearance discounts to deplete the old stock

Example: Brad bought a new set of golf clubs on Black Friday.  While the department store was more crowded than he’d ever seen it, the prices during the Black Friday sale might never be that low again any time soon.

Related terms: online coupon

Sitewide Coupon

1. a coupon that can be applied to all items available for purchase from an online store; will typically include some restrictions such as a minimum purchase value.

Example: Sally could use her 15% off coupon code on anything she wanted as long as her checkout total was over $50.

Related terms: coupon code, free shipping


1. to combine two or more coupons in order to receive a greater discount on a purchase; such combinations can include a manufacturer coupon and a retailer coupon, multiple retailer coupons, multiple manufacturer coupons, etc.  Retailer couponing policies can restrict the number and type of coupons used in stacking.

Example: Sally has a 20% Off coupon to Bed Bath & Beyond as well as a $5 Off for all Pyrex products.  She plans on stacking her coupons to save a combined $5 +  20% on her next Pyrex purchase.

Related terms: manufacturer’s coupon, retailer coupon, retailer couponing policies


1. a stack of coupons displayed in a store’s shelf, display or refrigerator door near the product for which offer a discount; customers can tear a coupon from the stack and present it with the product at checkout to redeem the discount.

2. a stack of coupons as described above that offer instead a mail-in rebate instead of an in-store discount

Example: Sally was shopping for tortilla chips when she found a tearpad near her favorite brand offering $1 Off coupons.  She tore off a coupon and received a discount at checkout.

Related terms: blinkies, hang tags, peelies

Universal Product Code (UPC)

1. an identification marker affixed to all manufacturer products usually consisting of both a bar code and a 12-digit number.  The UPC are designed to be scanned electronically as well as cut out and mailed in with rebates.

Example: When Sally brings her groceries home, she cuts out the Universal Product Codes of anything for which she has a mail-in rebate.  The discount might come a bit delayed, but she eventually capitalizes on the promotion thanks to the UPC.

Origin: Universal Product Codes were first implemented by the Uniform Code Council in 1974 as a way of tracking at the point of sale the types and quantities of grocery products sold rather than constantly taking inventory.  Manufacturers apply for permission to enter the UPC system, pay an annual fee, and can place unique UPCs on their products regardless of the retailer location.  The system proved so efficient and successful that bar codes are the primary identification model used with most retail products today.

Related terms: manufacturer’s coupon, rebate

Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)

1. a disclaimer added to promotion descriptions listed by deal finders or couponers.  This note may be indicative of any number of qualifications for the coupon in question; such qualifications include: the coupon may not work for everyone; the coupon might not be applicable in all stores; the coupon might not be applicable depending on the preferences of store workers; the coupon is applicable only in certain regions.

Example: Sally is always sure to read the Your Mileage May Vary notes on coupons she finds so that she knows to check whether or not they are applicable at her stores.

Related terms: retailer couponing policies, Do Not Double