It is the bane of all coupon users’ existence. They get to the store, hand the cashier a coupon that says “one per purchase” and the cashier tries to tell the customer that they can’t use 2 coupons on 2 items because it says “one per purchase.” Has it happened to you?
The purchase vs. transaction debate is likely as old as couponing is. When it happens to you, the absolute worst thing that you can do is get mad at your cashier and fight with her. In truth, the exact reason that you are having that issue is because the cashier simply does not know the difference. It is better for you to educate them than to fight them.I have found that the majority of the time, the cashier was given the wrong explanation of transaction vs. purchase. If you teach them the difference, you will (and other couponers) will have less problems in the future with that cashier. Most importantly PLEASE remember to be polite and kind to cashiers!!
So what IS the difference?
It is actually quite simple. A purchase is the item you are buying and a transaction is when you pay.
When a coupon says 1 per purchase that literally means 1 coupon for 1 item. If you have 4 items and 4 $1.00 off 1 coupons, you can use all 4 coupons. The only reasons you would not be able to use all four coupons is if the coupon or the store itself forbids it with a limit. (i.e. “limit 2 like coupons per day”)
If a coupon says “1 per transaction” it means that you can only use one coupon every time you pay. In other words, if you wanted to use 4 of these coupons, you would need to pay four separate times. Again, this is provided that the coupon itself doesn’t forbid being used over a certain amount of times.
As I’ve mentioned, some coupons do impose a limit other than per purchase or per transaction. Some of the ones that you will see are a limit per transaction, a limit per day, or even a limit per shopping trip. Recently we’ve also seen them impose limits against who can use the coupon based on the type of insurance they have.
Now you might be asking why you should pay attention to these limits. That answer too is quite simple. When stores accept coupons beyond the limits of what is stated, the manufacturer can refuse to honor it. The store then loses money and then the store is forced to pass those lost costs onto the consumer. That means you end up paying more for your groceries, even with a coupon.