Friday, January 29, 2010

What Are Catalina Coupons?

You have probably seen the term cat or catalina used all over the frugal blogosphere.  I've received a few emails with questions about what they are and how they work, so I thought I would try to explain them to the best of my understanding.  Mind you, I'm not an expert, but I do have some experience using them.

Catalina coupons are the ones that come out of the little machines next to the cash registers at most big grocery store chains.  You know, the ones the cashier hands you when you are checking out.  Their name comes form the company that distributes them, Catalina Marketing  Generally, these are manufacturer coupons and promotions.  Occasionally you will get a store coupon or an advertisement for a local company.  If it is a manufacturer coupon, you will need to use it at the retail chain you received it from.

This is an example of a Pillsbury Promotion catalina, and is typical of the ones you will see.  (When you buy X amount of the specified products, you will receive X amount off of your next purchase).  These promotions usually run for about 3-4 weeks.  As a general rule, if one store is running the promotion, all of the big chains are running it as well.  This is not written in stone though!  These promotions generally cause a lot of excitement because when an item included in the promotion goes on sale and you have manufacturer coupons to go along with it you can get some of the best deals.  Here's an example using the catalina above:

Buy 6 Pillsbury Crescents for the sale price of $1.00 each
Use (3) $1/2 manufacturer coupons
Pay $3 at check out and earn a $4 off your next purchase catalina
Final Price: $1 moneymaker! ← (excitement)

This is an example of catalina coupon that you receive for participating in a promotion, like the one I just mentioned.  (I got this one when I bought 4 boxes of Ziploc bags.) They are also known as "OYNO, or off your next order" catalinas.  You can use this catalina coupon on anything you purchase, compliments of the manufacturer who ran the promotion.  Of course there are a few exceptions, like alcohol and tobacco.  Like I mentioned above, you just have to use it at the grocery chain that you received it from.  

This is an example of a manufacturer coupon that comes out of the catalina machine.  You can use it like any other manufacturer coupon, meaning you can stack it with a store coupon, but not with another manufacturer coupon.  Once again, just make sure you use it at the retailer where you got it.  Obviously, I would use this one at Fred Meyer.

I wanted to mention that I have had problems in the past with "off your next order" catalina coupons not printing.  Fortunately the store I was shopping at has worked with me and "force printed" them.  But, if this ever happens to you and the store can't help you out, you can call the Catalina Marketing Company at 1-888-8COUPON (1-888-826-8766) or 1-888)-322-3814.  It is not the stores responsibility and I was just lucky to have some really nice checkers.

If you are wondering how you find out about all of the catalina promotions, unfortunatley there isn't any one spot.  Frugal blogs are often a great source of information.  Frequently, big promotions are advertised in weekly store circulars.  You can also check out coupon forums like A Full Cup and Hot Coupon World.

Hope this clears a few things up for anyone who has had questions about catalinas!

Top photo courtesy of
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Frugal Canner said...

I really appreciate your explaining Catalina coupons. I thought I had to travel to California to get them!
I am going to Freddie's tomorrow to try my hand using the Pillsbury coupons I printed from the computer. This is the first time I have tried this method. I will follow your advice. Thanks!!! I am now a Puget Sound Prudence student.

Kim said...

I'm glad that I could help. I hope it works out for you! I forgot to mention, you can generally "roll" catalinas. So if you want to stockpile Pillsbury, you can use the catalina you receive from your first transaction on a second transaction. (ie. buy 6 Pillsbury products and earn a $4 OYNO catalina, buy 6 more, and use that OYNO to pay, and earn another $4 OYNO catalina. You can always freeze Pillsbury.

maygan said...

Great post on catalinas! May I suggest blacking out those bar codes though? Generally it's a good idea so people can't save the photo and attempt to print their own coupons from photos/scans you've posted!

Kim said...

Thanks Maygan, They are actually not complete bar codes. I cut them off so they are partials. Hopefully no one can use them!

maygan said...

haha, didn't even notice but I'm glad you did!

Christan said...

Is that crescent dollar deal good today? Everyone is posting buying the grands for $1.50. I am printing both coupons just in case...

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