Extreme couponing guide

Extreme couponing UK

Have you ever wondered how extreme couponing works? We've written the ultimate guide to getting and using coupons in the UK.

How to use coupons

When you get a coupon, there are five things you need to look at straight away to find out what the best way of using it is:

  • Which exact product/size of product it applies to
  • How much the coupon is worth
  • Where it is accepted
  • When it expires
  • Other T&Cs

When you know the exact product or products your coupon applies to, you can then look on MySupermarket to find out where the item is available cheapest, and if that matches up to where your coupon is accepted, you’re onto a winner.

If your coupon has a long expiry date, it might be worth hanging onto it until a REALLY good deal happens. On each product’s page MySupermarket shows a graph that displays the item’s lowest ever price, so you could set a price alert and hold on for that to happen again if you want a mega bargain.

bargain price graph

Top Tip

Enter the expiry date of particularly good coupons into your calendar, so you remember to use them in time.

Most coupons will state ‘Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer’, which in reality doesn’t mean anything. Generally, you CAN use it alongside special offers, yellow sticker reductions, cashback apps or your student discount at The Co-Op, you can and should try and pair up as many offers as possible. Be honest though, go to a salesperson (rather a self service till), so it is up to them whether they let you use the coupon.

One per person V One per transaction

Other terms and conditions you need to watch out for include whether the coupon specifies one per person, per transaction or per item.

If the coupon is one per person (and you have more than one) then they shouldn’t let you use them both, you can go to a different shop or come back later and try your luck.

One per transaction coupons can usually be used more than one at a time if the checkout assistant is willing to do a separate transaction for each item.

One per item is the most self-explanatory, and it allows you to take advantage of BOGOF or two for £xx offers.

Remember

The most important thing to remember when you’re couponing is that it isn’t always cheapest, even with 50% off an item, it might still be cheaper to buy a value product. If you are overspending when you’re couponing then you’re not doing it right.

lots of UK coupons

(photo courtesy of pro-wombler @smod123)

Price Match Vouchers

There are ways to play the system when you’re shopping at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, ASDA or Morrisons, because all of these supermarkets offer a version of price matching. The basic tactic is to split your basket into items that are a good deal, and items where you’re spending more than they’re on offer for in another supermarket, and pay for them separately. The reason all the supermarkets can put on price matching offers is because most people are going to naturally lean towards the best value items that are on special offer at the supermarket they’re shopping in, and not know what’s on offer at another. Using MySupermarket’s app you can make a shopping list and see where’s cheapest for different items, and use that to guide you.

If you’re shopping with someone else you can get them to carry one of your baskets, or just split your trolley and ask the cashier to do two transactions.

tesco Tesco price matches branded items with Morrisons, ASDA and Sainsbury’s and there needs to be at least ten different items in your basket, including one identical to one sold at Morrisons, ASDA or Sainsbury's to get money off your total with Tesco Brand Guarantee. You might need to put items that are the same price elsewhere in with your more expensive ones to get a voucher. Your discount is worked out automatically at the till up to a maximum of £20 off your shop.


sainsburys Sainsbury’s only price match branded items against ASDA, and you need to buy ten different products to get a voucher (they don’t all need to be brands). If your shop turns out to be more expensive you’ll get a voucher straight away with your receipt.


asda ASDA’s Price Guarantee promises that you shop will be at least 10% cheaper than a comparable shop at Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Morrisons or Waitrose when you buy a minimum of eight different items (with at least one that’s also available in another store), or they’ll give you a voucher for the difference. Enter your receipt number here to get a voucher.

Get FREE shopping

With Sainsbury’s and ASDA you can womble to find extra savings lying around on the floor. We’ve written an extensive wombling guide on it, but the basic jist is that you find price match vouchers lying around the supermarket that you can take and use as savings off your own shop. We’ve seen people get whole £50 shops doing this!

How to get coupons

waitrose uk coupons

Direct from the manufacturers

These are some of the most difficult (but best) coupons to get hold of, your best bet is to keep a VERY close eye on our Food & Drink section, where we’ll post the best coupons (usually freebies) available right now.

Procter & Gamble and Johnson & Johnson own loads of big brands, and they give coupons on Super Savvy Me for P&G, or Caring Everyday for Johnson & Johnson. Sign up and keep checking the coupon pages for offers.

The next best way to find out about coupons is to sign up to a LOT of newsletters, some good ones are Danone, who send out a £1 off voucher quite often, and Dr Oetker who we’ve had coupons for free pizza from before. Consider creating a new email address for your couponing, to avoid clogging up your normal inbox with (mostly) rubbish.

If you live in a larger city then it’s quite common for brands to hand out freebies and coupons in busy places. We’ve seen fizzy drinks handed out near Boxpark in Shoreditch, free yogurts in The Bullring in Birmingham and free loaves of bread in Victoria station. A lot of the time the freebie you get handed will have a coupon attached to it too, so it’s a double bargain!

The final way to get a few sneaky extra coupons is to write into companies to complain about or compliment a product. Complaints are most likely to get you a coupon, but don’t push your luck and start making up issues. Sending in compliments can be more risky, but we’ve seen success stories before, and you’re more likely to get a coupon if you’re creative, taking pictures of you using the product or even writing a poem about it is a good tactic.

food and drink coupons

Coupons on packaging

It’s quite common for products you buy to come with coupons either attached to them or inside their packaging, and occasionally you can actually use the coupon to buy the product it came on! For example a while ago certain Carex soap bottles had a tag around the neck for 50p off, you could just take it off and hand it to the cashier at the checkout, taking 50p off the price right away.

Another thing to watch out for is ‘Try me free’ or ‘Love me or your money back’ on packaging, as with both of these you can follow instructions to send off part of the box and proof of purchase and the company will send you your money back.

One of the best couponing offers we’ve seen is the Dr Oetker pizza glitch, where if you bought one pizza it came with various vouchers, including a coupon for £1.50 off future Dr Oetker purchases, and guess what, they were on offer for £1.49! Loads of people loaded up their freezers with unlimited free pizzas. We’ll let our users know about all amazing coupon stacks like this, so keep an eye on our Food & Drink section.

uk packaging coupons

From individual supermarkets

Supermarkets actually hand out a lot of coupons, but not all of them accept coupons from anyone (complicated, we know). We’ve summed up some lengthy couponing policies down to a YES we accept coupons, or NO we don’t, however different supermarkets have different managers who tell staff different things, so don’t be too upset if nobody will take your coupons, as there might have previously been an issue with counterfeit coupons.

Tesco

YES coupons are accepted

Clubcard members get sent new coupons about three times a year, it’ll post them to you but you can also print them here. In the past, we’ve had free Matchmakers chocolate, as well as loads of coupons giving you double or triple points, which are perfect for Tesco’s point exchange promotions.

Tesco has a free monthly magazine you can pick up in store. It usually has lots of coupons inside, there aren’t often total freebies, but if you’re going to be buying the items anyway it’s worth taking a look.

TIP: If there is a good coupon in the magazine, don’t expect them to hang around long. Couponers will stock up with as many as they can carry.

The Tesco Orchard is a scheme where Tesco shoppers are sent coupons both for themselves and their friends. You have to be invited to programmes, but you can increase your chances of being invited by filling out all of the surveys available to you. Find out more information on our Tesco page.

Read the official coupon policy here.

Aldi & Lidl

NO coupons are not accepted

Both of the German supermarkets don’t accept manufacturers coupons, however they both tend to release money off vouchers in newspapers. Most months Aldi has a £5 off £40 voucher in the Daily Mirror and Daily Record (50p), and Lidl every now and then has a £5 off £40 in ‘Lidl News’, the free in store paper.

Lidl also has given away coupons on its Facebook page before for £5 off a £30 shop, and a free box of chocolate truffles, so keep an eye out for future giveaways.

We keep track of all current offers on our Aldi and Lidl pages.

Sainsbury's

YES coupons are accepted

Sainsbury’s give you a few coupons with your receipt every time you shop, they’re usually for extra Nectar points, but we’ve had money off ones before. Watch out for Brand Match coupons when you buy ten or more items, because if your branded shop would have been cheaper at ASDA you’ll get a coupon for that money back.

If you’ve got a Nectar Card you can get extra points on the things you buy most using My Coupons, you can choose five offers to apply to your Nectar card (no printing needed) and then you’ve got eight days to redeem them. Remember that each Nectar point is worth 0.5p, so divide the Nectar points by two to get a more accurate idea of the offer.

Sainsbury’s have both a free and a paid for in store magazine, both have coupons inside, so have a quick flick through them while you’re shopping just in case there’s something worthwhile.

Read the official coupon policy here.

Co-Op

YES coupons are accepted

The Co-Op has an in-store magazine with extra coupons, a membership card that’ll post you a few extra coupons AND there’s a year-round 10% student discount for NUS Extra Card holders. Combine all of these offers with your coupons for a triple discount.

Morrisons

YES coupons are accepted

Remember to use your Match & More card to get five points for every £1 spent in store, and you'll get a £5 voucher when you've earned 5000 points.

ASDA

YES coupons are accepted

ASDA does accept coupons, but they don’t have a loyalty scheme or really issue any coupons of their own. However, look out for the ASDA Price Guarantee where you’ll get a voucher for the difference of a cheaper comparable shop at a different supermarket plus 10% extra.

Read the official coupon policy here.

Waitrose

YES coupons are accepted

Waitrose has its own free newspaper called MyWeekend, and there are often coupons inside. We’ve even seen one for a free pint of milk in MyWeekend before! Remember to bring along your MyWaitrose card for additional special offers, and choose ten items to save 20% on every time you shop with Pick Your Own Offers.

Remember that you can pick up a free tea or coffee with your MyWaitrose card - no purchase required, but if you want it in a Waitrose cafe you’ll need to buy something else.

Iceland

YES coupons are accepted

Iceland will accept manufacturers coupons, but Iceland’s Bonus card doesn’t send out vouchers or get you any money off.

Nisa

YES coupons are accepted*

All Nisa stores are franchises, so it’s totally up to each individual store whether they accept coupons or not - but they told us most should.

M&S

NO coupons are not accepted

Most products stocked are own brand, and M&S told us they only issue their own coupons to M&S credit card holders.

Boots

YES coupons are accepted

Although not strictly a supermarket, Boots both accepts coupons and dishes out a lot of their own to Advantage Card members, and in the in-store magazine. We once had a coupon for a free chocolate bar that was proving hard to find in supermarkets, but Boots stocked it and accepted the voucher.

B&M Bargains

NO coupons are not accepted

B&M don't accept coupons, and they don't issue any of their own unfortunately.

Couponing dictionary

Cashback apps - a way to get extra freebies is to download CheckoutSmart, Shopitize and TopCashback’s Snap and Save. The way they work is that you go in store, buy specific items and they’ll give you money back for it. Sometimes it’s branded products, other times it’s just a generic pint of milk or iceberg lettuce - there are some really big savings to make.

Coupon stack - when you can use more than one coupon at a time. Most coupons state in the Ts & Cs that they’re either one per item, per person or one per visit. If it’s a one per item coupon for £1 off and the £1.50 items are on offer for two for £2 then you could get BOTH free with a coupon stack.

eBay - believe it or not, there are people that sell coupons on eBay. We suggest that you steer clear of that entirely, as it’s hard to know whether you’re getting the real deal.

Illegal coupons - surprisingly you CAN actually break the law using coupons. In 2011 someone was officially cautioned for using photocopies of a £1.50 off Unilever voucher, and another couple was found guilty for re-using a £17.50 Tesco Clubcard coupon at self checkouts so many times, that in the end they had essentially stolen £1,085 worth of shopping. It’s best to avoid photocopying at all costs, and not re-use coupons unless the Ts & Cs say you can.

Manufacturer's coupon - a coupon that has come directly from the manufacturer, from giveaways, complaining or complimenting a company. These usually have a long expiry date.

Overage - when a coupon is worth more than the product it’s buying so the extra discount gets taken off the rest of your shopping. Checkout staff are supposed to cancel it out, but they very rarely do.

PDF coupons - these are print at home coupons that are not unique, each one has the same barcode on it, so you can print off as many as you like. Depending on its terms and conditions you could use these coupons to get loads of items for free.

Price matching - Waitrose and Ocado match the prices of branded items with Tesco exactly, not including deals - but Tesco, ASDA, Sainsbury’s and Morrisons do it a little differently. They’ll reimburse you with the difference with a voucher if your shop would have been cheaper elsewhere (or with points towards a £5 voucher at Morrisons).

Raincheck vouchers - it’s so annoying when you go shopping and the items on special offer are out of stock; there’s nothing you can do, right? WRONG. Some supermarkets offer so-called ‘raincheck vouchers’ that entitle you to use the offer at a different time, or a bit of money off now. If you want to get these vouchers you have to charm a member of staff, as these are all unpublished policies that they might not even be aware of and even if they have, it’s at the discretion of the staff whether you get one.

At Tesco they’re called Special Promise Vouchers and they allow you to get the same price after the offer has finished, ASDA have £1 off ‘Smiles’ vouchers that you can take off the price of your whole shop, and Sainsbury’s can give you a special coupon that will let you get a different item at the offer price.

SafeCoupons - these are coupons printed through the Coupon Printer software that stops coupon fraud by allowing each computer to only print one unique voucher. Some people manage to print two by clicking the back button when it says 'printing' (but we didn't tell you that).

Tesco DTD - Tesco double the difference is a secret Tesco policy where if something is priced incorrectly from the price on the shelf edge label or on the actual product, if you pay the incorrect price they should give you DOUBLE the difference back at the customer service desk. They might try and just give you a refund for what you paid extra, but if you quote ‘Double The Difference’ to them, they should give you double.

Wombling - when you find other people’s price match coupons around the supermarket, whether it’s on the floor, left in trolleys, or abandoned at the checkout. It sounds weird but you can literally save hundreds doing it, find out more in our wombling guide.

Yellow stickers - here at SMS we love a good supermarket reduction, but did you know you can also use your coupons on them? It’s one of the best ways to score a major bargain.

For other money making ideas, check out our main "Make Money" page

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