Understanding Overages When Using Coupons

Get Paid to Shop By Taking Advantage of Coupon Overages.

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Sometimes, if you are very lucky, a number of your redeemed coupons will equal more than the items you are purchasing and the result is what is known as a coupon overage. Although this does not happen often, it usually involves a certain amount of strategy and coupon matching.

One example of coming up with a coupon overage strategy is to shop at stores that allow you to use a manufacturer's coupon with a store coupon and use both on items that have been reduced. You can also achieve overages when you use a high-valued coupon on a product that is on final reduction.

For example, let's say that your store has priced a brand of mouthwash that is normally $3.25 onto the 75% off table, making the mouthwash now just $0.81 -- and you have a coupon for $1 off the mouthwash. By using the coupon on the deeply discounted item, you will end up with an overage of $0.19, which can be applied toward purchasing additional items.

Here is another example, this time using both a manufacturer's coupon and a store coupon on a sale item. Let's say you have a manufacturer's coupon for $1 off of Dial Shampoo and a Target store coupon for $0.50 off of the same shampoo. You see that Target has the Dial Shampoo on sale for $1.25. By using both coupons and taking advantage of the sale price, you will end up with an overage of $0.25.

Another way to get overages at the cash register is by combining coupons and sale products and redeeming a Catalina that is for dollars off your total purchase. Here is a coupon scenario that shows how the Catalina can result in an overage. Let's say you bought $8 worth of items and your coupons bring your total sale down to $4.35. You have a Catalina that is for $5 off your next purchase. When you redeem your Catalina, you will end up with an overage of $0.85.

What Are Fillers?

You may have noticed on coupon matching sites where the people talk about fillers when going over a successful scenario that resulted in an overage. Fillers are generally small, inexpensive items that couponers keep handy during checkout in case they end up with an overage. Many stores will not refund an overage so you often need a filler so that you do not lose out on recouping your overage amount.

Also, some ​stores have policies that prevent couponers from using more coupons than they do items when checking out. This situation can happen when you combine manufacturer's coupon and store coupon on a single product, or when you use reward points or other store loyalty perks to pay for your purchase. By having fillers handy, you can save the sale and still walk out ahead of the game.

Controlling How It All Gets Rung Up

When it comes to trying to get overages by using coupons and other savings strategies, it is often helpful to understand the limitations of the register systems in the stores where you shop. This may sound like a real challenge, but if you limit learning the systems to the stores where you are most successful in using coupons and other savings, it will not take long to learn it all.

The reason that you want to learn the system's capabilities is because sometimes the order in which you hand a cashier your coupons will determine how much of an overage the sale will generate. To learn how the register system works, pay attention when you purchase items and change up the sequence of how you hand over your coupons and other savings. If the register beeps, you know it has rejected your sequence. Keep trying different redemption sequences until you understand how the register will accept your multiple coupon savings, store incentives such as loyalty store dollars and Catalinas.

For example, let's take a look at the Catalina sale again, except this time we will say that the Catalina reads $5 off your next $5 purchase. You know that at one point your sale was over $5, but after all the coupons were applied, the sale only came to $4.35. In some stores, handing over your coupons in a certain way will ​determine how much of a discount you'll get.

In this case, you would want to the cashier to ring up all of your items and apply the discounts, then hand over the Catalina, then hand in the coupons. Because you handed in the Catalina before the coupons were subtracted from the total sale, the register may be programmed to take your Catalina. If you hand in the coupons before the Catalina, it may reject your purchase because you have not reached the $5 limit specified on the Catalina.

The Bottom Line

By paying attention to what is on sale in the stores and combining the sales with coupons, store incentives, Catalinas and other savings tools, you should be able to get overages on a regular basis. Since overages are better than free, once you master them you can consider yourself an extreme couponer.