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By Jill Cataldo, Coupon Queen, Published August 03 2012

COUPON QUEEN: Have buy one, get one free sales in the bag

My readers often ask about buy one, get one free sales. Here are some recent BOGO-related questions in my inbox.

Q: Can I stack buy one, get one free coupons during a buy one, get one free sale? I think my store allows this, but I am not sure how it works.

– Bryan A.

A: This is one of my favorite super-couponing techniques! Using a BOGO coupon on a BOGO sale can be a little confusing, but you’re going to love the outcome because it often equals two free items.

Here’s how it works: When a store has a BOGO sale, it typically works one of two ways. Either the first item in the sale rings up at full price and the second sale rings up at $0, or both items ring up at half the original price. Here’s how each of these examples work:

Example 1: My store has packages of disposable razors on sale for $8.49, buy one, get one free. I have a coupon that carries the statement, “Buy one package of disposable razors, get one free.” The coupon has a maximum value of $8.99. At this store, the first package of razors rings up at $8.49, and the second package scans as $0. Now, here comes the coupon! When the coupon scans, it pays for the price of the first package of razors, taking $8.49 off at the register. The second package of razors is already free because of the store’s sale. Keep in mind that in most areas, sales tax is figured into a pre-coupon total, so I took home two packages of razors for nothing but tax.

Example 2: My store has packages of crackers on sale for $3, buy one, get one free. I have a coupon that carries the statement, “Buy one package of crackers, get one free.” At this store, both items ring up at half price during a BOGO sale. Each package shows up as $1.50. When the coupon scans, it pays for the price of one box of crackers, taking $1.50 off at the register. I pay $1.50 for two, the cost of the remaining box. You’ll notice in the second example that even though the sale was labeled as BOGO, neither box was actually free.

Q: Every time I use a BOGO coupon on a buy one, get one 50 percent off sale, I never know what I’m going to have to pay. Help! – Cora Y.

A: When a store has a buy one, get one 50 percent off sale, it’s hard to know what you’ll actually pay. Let’s say a store has shampoo on sale for $6, buy one, get one 50 percent off and I have a, “Buy one hair care product, get one free” coupon. The first bottle of shampoo scans at $6, and the second bottle scans at $3. Now, when the buy one, get one 50 percent off coupon is scanned, the mystery begins! Will the coupon pay for the price of the more expensive $6 bottle, or will it pay for the less expensive $3 bottle?

Believe it or not, there’s no correct answer here. The cashier gets to decide. If it’s applied to the $6 bottle, I’ll pay $3. But if it’s applied to the less expensive $3 bottle, I will pay $6.

I understand the frustration of not knowing what the outcome will be, so I usually approach these sales with the understanding that I’m OK paying either price. If I’m not, I’ll sit the sale out.


Jill Cataldo, a coupon workshop instructor, writer and mother of three, never passes up a good deal. Learn more about couponing at her website, jillcataldo.com. Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@ctwfeatures.com.