Jill Cataldo

Jill Cataldo

“Dear Jill,

A friend that I coupon shop with showed me that she has signed up for multiple store loyalty cards.

One of our supermarkets always has a free item each week, and you load the coupon for the free item in their app.

She logs out of the app and logs in with a different card’s account, and then loads it again. She will go to the store multiple times in the same week to use all four of her cards.

I feel like it is wrong. She said it is no different than my husband and I having our own cards in the store, which we do.”

Doreen R.

Before jumping into this topic, I want to stress that stores’ rules for their loyalty programs can typically be found on their own websites.

Some stores use physical loyalty cards, while others are tied to an individual shopper’s cell phone number.

That said, most stores’ loyalty cards are intended to be limited to one per person.

Some stores even place a limit on one card number per household, offering multiple duplicate cards to members of the same family or residence. Regardless, these limits are in place to reduce fraud.

If a manufacturer wishes to offer a coupon for an entirely free product to each member of a store’s loyalty program, they’re doing so because they want to put that product in the hands of as many shoppers as possible.

Ultimately, the brand and store share a similar hope: The brand hopes you like the product enough to purchase it in the future, and the retailer hopes you’ll purchase it at one of their locations.

It is not the brand’s nor the store’s intention to give multiple items away to the same person.

It’s not a wise use of their promotional budget, and it doesn’t cast as wide a net as giving one free item to many different, independent people.

I do not advocate getting multiple loyalty cards in order to score as many freebies as possible.

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If your store’s policy allows each member of your household to have his or her own loyalty account, that’s fine – however, subscribing to multiple accounts likely violates the terms of the loyalty program, and the store typically reserves the right to purge duplicate or fraudulent accounts.

I love getting a freebie as much as anyone else does, but it’s best to do it legitimately.

“Dear Jill,

When a coupon states ‘Limit 2 per household per day,’ how does the store really know if I use more than two of that coupon in the same day?

What is to stop me from going to one store, using two coupons for razors, then going to a different store and using two more identical coupons?”

Edward R.

The manufacturer has placed these terms on the coupon to prevent the same household from redeeming multiples in the same day.

This helps reduce “shelf clearing” issues where high-volume couponers come into a store and purchase dozens (or more) of the same product.

That said, there is currently no method that will track you if you use two coupons at one store, then go to a different store within the same day and use two more.

Some retailers limit shoppers to four identical coupons per day under their own coupon policies, but this is, currently, on a per-location basis. You could conceivably drive to another store and use four more if you were determined to do so.

The “limit per household per day” terms are on your honor. In clipping and using the coupon, you’re agreeing to abide by the terms to receive the discount.

Manufacturers use restrictions like these to encourage a large number of shoppers to purchase their products while simultaneously discouraging single shoppers from redeeming a multitude of identical coupons.

You may be wondering “Why does the brand care? Don’t they want all of their coupons used?”

In next week’s column, I’ll explain why this is not quite the case.

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Email your own couponing victories and questions to jill@supercouponing.com.