Published March 16 2012
Coupon Queen: Making sense of ‘Catalina coupons’
At many supermarkets and drugstores, you’ve probably noticed the small machine that prints coupons when you make a purchase. Years ago, as legend has it, coupon shoppers nicknamed these checkout coupons “Catalinas,” after the name on the machine.
Catalina coupons generate a lot of reader email. Listen in.
Q. Where can I find good Catalina coupons? Sometimes I go shopping and don’t get any, and other times I get really great ones, like one good for $2 off cat food. I also got one for $4 off the vitamins I use. – Miranda L.
Q. I know there are some Catalina deals where you can get money for your next shopping trip. How does that work? One of my friends says she gets paid to shop with Catalinas and I want to do that, too. – Kealy P.
A. Several different types of Catalinas can pop out of the machine at checkout time. For example, you might get a manufacturer or store coupon for a specific product. These coupons are triggered by your purchase history. If you buy pet treats, you could receive coupons for pet food and other pet-related products. If you buy diapers, you’ll likely see more coupons for baby products printing at the register. You may also notice higher-than-average dollar values on your Catalina coupons. Because these offers are targeted to specific shoppers’ purchase histories, manufacturers may offer a larger incentive to try their products.
Other types of Catalina coupons you might see are the payback offers Kealy asked about. These Catalinas are generated by the purchase of a specific number of items featured in a store’s promotion. For example, if you buy four boxes of granola bars that are on promotion, it may generate a Catalina good for $2 on your next shopping trip.
When you receive this coupon, you can use it on whatever you’d like. These payback offers from Catalina are called “YourBucks” coupons because they do, indeed, pay you to shop. These are some of my favorite promotions. If I’m buying products that I like and need anyway, getting money back for my next shopping trip is a welcome bonus.
Other types of Catalina payback promotions can be specific to the store. One of my local supermarkets often runs a sale advertised as a “Spend $25, Get $10” promotion. Buying $25 worth of featured products will generate a $10 Catalina coupon for your next trip to the store. I really enjoy these sales because the payback is high, and you can often add manufacturer coupons to further reduce the price of the items you’re buying.
You might also receive a printout from the Catalina machine that isn’t a coupon at all, such as a notice for an upcoming sale or Catalina promotion. It’s worth holding onto these “buy and save” alerts to remind you of upcoming sales. The printed alerts typically contain the names and varieties of products included in the YourBucks offer, the quantities you need to buy to receive the Catalina reward at checkout and the dates that the promotion will run.
To find out more about the Catalina offers available at your local store, watch for flyers and signage about upcoming promotions or visit Catalina’s website, www.couponnetwork.com.
Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her website, www.jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.