Understanding Buy One Get One Free Coupons

04/25/2011. This post may contain affiliate links. Read my Disclosure Policy.


I get asked about transactions involving Buy One Get One Free sales and coupons all the time.  I wanted to take a minute to talk a little about how these sales work.

You can click below to get the full scoop!

There is something about BOGO sales/coupons that makes people uncomfortable. For some reason it just doesn’t feel right to have a zero balance- especially to a cashier. This is a perfectly legitimate transaction and is even provided for in some store coupon policies. You are doing nothing wrong by combining these offers but you do need to be prepared to occasionally run into issues on these types of offers.

Question: Can you use a BOGO coupon with a BOGO sale?

You sure can do this at lots of stores! Typically the way a transaction might work is like this:

Store x offers Crest Toothpaste- Buy One Get One Free ($3.99/2)
In this case the store is usually offering the free item they advertise.

If you have a Buy One Get One Free coupon for Crest Toothpaste, in many situations you can use that coupon and the deal looks like this:

Buy 2 Crest at $3.99/2- Buy One Get One Free
Use Buy One Get One Free Coupon (takes off $3.99)
Final Price: $0 + a few cents tax.

Now the store has offered the free item they advertised and you have elected to pay for your purchase using a manufacturer coupon. So the manufacturer is paying for one item and the store is paying for the other item. The store will be reimbursed for the coupon value.

The Rite Aid coupon policy and the Walgreens coupon policy specifically allow for this type of transaction.  Some stores, like CVS, do not have a written coupon policy so although it should be OK to do a transaction like this, there is always a chance your cashier will simply refuse.  Finally, some stores expressly prohibit this type of transaction- like Safeway stores.  The Safeway coupon policy does not allow for a coupon on a free item- so depending on how you look at it they can legitimately refuse to honor the transaction.  (In my opinion, the coupon is used on an item that is not free so it should be OK but again it will really depend on how the store interprets the policy.)

Question: Can you use a BOGO coupon and a another coupon together?

Here is an example of how something like that might work:

Honest Tea $1.00
Use Buy One Get One Free Honest Tea coupon (should take off $1.00)
and Use $1/1 coupon
Final Price: Both are free

Now with this type of transaction there are a few things to look for before you head out.  On the Buy One Get One Free coupon, you will want to check the barcode and see if it has a “14″ listed.  You can see the breakdown of a bar code below.  On the right side where it says “Value Code” is where you want to look.  If the coupon has a 14 listed that means the coupon will attach to both items.  If the coupon DOES have a “14″ that means you can not use it with another coupon.  (So the scenario above would not work.)

If you do NOT see the “14″ listed, that means the coupon will only attach to one item and you should be able to use another coupon in your transaction. So the transaction above should work.

What about adding store coupons to the mix?

This is where it gets a little trickier.  We can see this at Target pretty frequently.  The Target coupon policy does not specifically address this situation- but here is a sample of how this might look:

Buy 2 Ore Idea Potatoes at $3.49, Get One Free
Use Buy One Get One Free coupon (takes of $3.49)
and Use $1/1 manufacturer coupon
and Use $1/1 Target coupon
Final Price: $1.49 for 3 bags

Now to make this even more complicated, there are some stores that might allow you to use more than one Target coupon. Technically you can use a Target coupon and a store coupon on each item, so you can try something like this:

Buy 2 Ore Idea Potatoes at $3.49, Get One Free
Buy 3 potatoes at $3.49 (one is free)
Use Buy One Get One Free coupon (takes off $3.49)
and Use $1/1 manufacturer coupon
and Use (2) $1/1 Target coupon
Final Price: $.49 for 3 bags

Can you use (2) BOGO coupons together?

Well, in my option no you shouldn’t use (2) BOGO coupons together. A scenario might look like this:

Buy 2 Reach toothbrushes at $2.50
Use (2) BOGO coupons
Final Price: 2 for free!

I suppose this could possibly work but I don’t want to encourage anyone to try this. I don’t think this is how the manufacturer intends for you to use these coupons. Now this sample scenario would be an appropriate way to use more than one BOGO coupon:

Buy 4 Reach toothbrushes at $2.50
use (2) BOGO coupons
Use (2) $1/1 coupons
Final Price: $2.50 for all 4 items.

That scenario should be fine providing those Reach coupons don’t have a “14″ in the value code.

What about a BOGO 50% off sale?

This is a tricky one and Walgreens at Rite Aid in particular offer these sales all the time. So in this case you buy one item at full price and get the second at 50% off. If you also have a BOGO coupon, the value of the lowest priced item is the one that should be applied to the coupon. So here is a sample scenario:

Buy 1 Gillette body wash at $4.99
Get one 50% off at $2.49
Use BOGO coupon (should take off $2.49)
Final Price: $4.99

Of course there might be some situations where a cashier takes off the higher priced item, but in general these almost never work out to be a very good deal.

What’s the bottom line?

If you are shopping at a store like Walgreens or Rite Aid that expressly allow for this type of transaction in the coupon policy, you should be OK.  If you have a store that does not have a written coupon policy (like CVS), or a store that does not make reference to this (like Target)- your luck will vary.  It will really be up to the cashier if they allow the coupon through.  The way I typically view a transaction like this at a store without any guidelines is that I hope for the best and prepare for the worst.  I will trypically try and see- if I get shot down- well on to the next thing.  You can always try again another day.  If you feel very strongly about a specific deal, you can also try to speak to a manager or contact corporate offices for clarification.

I hope that clears up a little confusion!

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{ 91 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristi Hill July 7, 2011 at 4:35 PM

at my walgreens when i use a bogofree coupon with a bogo50% sale all i pay is the 50% for one. i have done this numerous times at more then one walgreens and this is always how it turns out!

2 head and shoulders $5.99 each
use one bogofree coupon $5.99 off
store sale is bogo 50% off so $3 off
total $2.99 plus tax for both or $1.50 each!

Charles July 13, 2011 at 9:58 PM

Hello just would like to no any tips or secrets in couponing that would help me get. Better

Mary August 11, 2011 at 12:54 PM

Can you tell me how to get a 10 dollar coupon from amazon to buy diapers. I never see them in the parents or other magazines Thanks

Charlene August 11, 2011 at 1:08 PM

Mary they are no longer available.

nikki davis September 20, 2011 at 9:59 AM

thank you so much for all this wonderful info, it’s soooo helpful and amazing! your hard work is so much appreciated!

crystal September 25, 2011 at 8:58 PM

Just thought i would let everyone know with all your expired coupons if u know anyone that lives in Germany they csn use coupons up til 6 months past their expiration date. I have many friends who are in the air force stationed in Germany and i mail them all my expired coupons to them to help share the savings! I hate to see what my son calls our “magic money” go to waste.

Alysen October 9, 2011 at 4:49 AM

I had hate to throw away expired coupons and I have heard that military families overseas can use them. I would love to send my coupons to them. Does anyone know where I can send them to help military families?

ClevelandPennyPincher November 17, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Thank you so much for explaining when you are allowed to combine the cents off coupons with the BOGO coupons and when you are not. I thought they could be used together all the time. I didn’t know there was a difference.

Aisha November 27, 2011 at 7:39 PM

I have a buy 2 get 1 coupon , can I use that coupon towards a buy 2 get 1 store sale.

Christina November 29, 2011 at 7:56 PM

Did you find the answer Aisha? That is exactly what I googled and ended up here! I have a couple buy 2 candy bars get 1 free coupons and there is a sale at CVS this week for buy 2 candy bars get 1 free and I wondered if this is allowed or what the scenerio would be.

Charlene November 29, 2011 at 7:58 PM

Yes you buy 1 and get 2 of them free. One is free from your coupon and one is free from the store.

Aisha November 30, 2011 at 10:28 AM

Yeah i used the B2G1 on the mars candy a couple of nights ago at CVS, they worked perfectly, the candy is also included in their spend $30 get $10 gift card so got 12 candy bars and i still have around ten cpns left. I picked the cpns up at Krogers they were on a tearpad near the register.

mariana November 30, 2011 at 3:46 PM

what if for example, walgreens have covergirl products on sale buy one get one half off, and I have a coupon buy one get one half off, how will that work?

Charlene November 30, 2011 at 3:50 PM

Not sure on that Mariana. We don’t see Buy One Get One Half off coupons very often. In fact, I don’t think I have ever seen one.

Becca December 17, 2011 at 9:56 PM

I also send my expired coupons to the troops. I live in Tx and send them to Germany and Italy. You can email me at oliver_77rowcrop@hotmail.com and i can give you details of where to send them.

AIMEE December 31, 2011 at 11:56 AM

Can i use a buy 2 get 1 free coupon with another coupon? For example, a buy 2 ziplock bags, get 1 free with another coupon of 1.00 off 2?

Nelly February 11, 2012 at 11:55 PM

I don’t understand when the coupon says limit 4 per coupon….does that means it will discount $1.00 off for the 4 items together I get or $1.00 off for every single one?

Catalina May 9, 2012 at 7:46 PM

I have a BOGO coupon for pantene product and I also have a $3.00 of when you buy 2 pantene product coupon. Can I use them both together?

Charlene May 9, 2012 at 8:22 PM

Catalina, if you have 3 items you can. If you only bought 2 items, the Buy One Get One and the $3 off 2 is going to apply to the same item. You can’t use more than one manufacturer coupon on the same item so it wouldn’t work.

Mercedes Diane Griffin Forbes June 8, 2012 at 7:46 PM

These are some great tips. As a single mom, with champagne taste and a beer budget, getting the most for my dollar is a must. :)

Monica Brown June 17, 2012 at 2:50 PM

I have a coupon for $1 off any two Arm & Hammer Power Paks. The store sale is buy one get one free with the price of one being $3.00. I have multiply coupons (3) and want to stock up. Does anyone know what my final cost will be.

Bonnie Parlow July 20, 2012 at 7:21 PM

what is the best way for a beginner to learn on how to start extreme couponing?

Charlene July 20, 2012 at 9:18 PM


Really it is just a matter of reading as much as you can :). There are so many articles about the different aspects, you just dive in and then the pieces start to come together.

Let me know if you have specific questions along the way.

Here is a good place to start:


and here


Brittany December 27, 2012 at 6:52 AM

This helped me a lot! Thanks You!

Carol May 2, 2013 at 5:07 AM

I wanted to know if my ad is selling Garnier hair products 2/$6 can I use a BOGO and combine that with a 1/$1 or can I use the BOGO and 2 1/$1? Not sure how to get the best deal out of that, please help.
Thank you

Charlene May 2, 2013 at 8:06 AM


Some stores will allow you to use a Buy One Get One Free coupon- that will apply to your 2nd shampoo (it will be free). They will allow you to stack that with a $1 off coupon- that coupon is going to attach to the first one you bought and paid $3 for. Your price will be $3 for 2 items. You can’t use an additional $1 off coupon because you would need a 3rd product for that coupon to attach to. Not all stores allow this. You want to check the coupon policy first- here are a few of them:


Vicki August 5, 2013 at 6:47 PM

How does it work in a store or catalog when you have a “buy one get one for .99 sale (no coupon), mix or match of equal or lesser value” – and you want to buy 2 items that are $6.00 each and 2 items that are $1.99 each. Which ones do you get for .99? Does it matter if the 2 – $6.00 items are identical and the 2 – $1.99 items are not?

Charlene August 5, 2013 at 8:59 PM

Vicki, the lesser priced item is going to be the one that is $.99. In that situation it might be worth doing 2 transactions just to be sure it is right. The first transaction would be $6 + the other $6 item is $.99. The second transaction is $1.99 and the second item is $.99. You wouldn’t get two items for $1.99 and then the $6 ones for $.99. Most likely if there was an error it would be (2) items for $6 and the cheaper things would be $.99. HTH!

Vicki August 6, 2013 at 12:30 AM

Charlene – 2 questions on your comment. You say the lower priced items would be .99 (or they would be the free ones if it’s a BOGO). But, then why do you say do 2 transactions to be sure it’s “right”? I get doing 2 transactions to save the most money – is that what you mean? And then you say it would be an “error” to charge full price for the 2 most expensive items and .99 for the two cheaper items. Why is that an error? I guess I’m really trying to find out if there is a common practice by retailers. (A friend says because the 2 $6 items are identical then it should be 1@$6, 1@.99, then the other 2 items (not identical) would be 1@1.99, 1@ .99. I don’t see the logic there…) Thanks soo much!

karol August 26, 2013 at 9:43 AM

When the store have a buy 2 get 1 free sale, can I use 3 coupons since their 3 items? My Stop & Shop store said I cannot use coupon on a free item.

Charlene August 26, 2013 at 9:55 AM


Some stores will allow it and some will not. You need to check the coupon policy for each store.

This is the coupon policy for Stop and Shop:

Only 1 manufacturers’ coupon may be redeemed per item; No substitutions are allowed.
The exact item stated on the coupon be must be purchased in order to redeem the coupon.
Coupons cannot be redeemed after the expiration date stated on the coupon. The total redemption value of the coupon may not exceed the retail value of the item purchased.
Any coupons for “free” products will be honored for the value of the item only. “Free” coupons cannot be doubled or tripled.
Act Media coupons cannot be doubled or tripled.
Product specific Checkout Coupons cannot be doubled or tripled.
Product specific Checkout Coupons cannot be used with any other manufacturers’ coupons for the same item.
Non-product specific store Checkout Coupons can be used with another manufacturers’ coupon. For example: a customer my use a coupon for “50¢ off any Produce item” and a manufacturers’ coupon on the same item.

I don’t see where it says no coupons on free items so in that case it is up to the store to decide. You could try again at another store or with another cashier and see what happens.

paulina August 29, 2013 at 10:15 PM

What about if Giant Eagle is having a sale for toothpaste for Buy One Get One free…. I have coupons for .75 that they will double right? so can I use 2 coupons for each toothpaste even if one is free? and can they double every coupon? Is there a limit?

paulina August 29, 2013 at 10:17 PM

I meant can I use 1 coupon for each toothpaste even if one of them is free? and will they double both of my coupons?

Alana August 29, 2013 at 10:43 PM

I’m new at couponing and am barely getting to understand it all. I do have one question. If that walgreens has an item sale for buy one get one half off and I have a coupon for the same item for buy one get one free, how would the two work together?

kieu November 9, 2013 at 3:59 PM

So i have a buy one get one Dove hair shampoo, get one 12oz Dove hair conditioner free! This is a manufactures coupon from last sundays newspaper. and i went online for target.com and see that they have a coupon for buy two any DOVE hair product and $1 off. Can those two be combined?

Michelle January 27, 2014 at 1:28 AM

FYI- at Target if you use a buy one get one coupon you can only stack one additional item. If the bogo coupon is a target coupon you can use one manufacturer on top. You can not use a coupon torwards the free product. It must be a new coupon policy :(

Jc January 31, 2014 at 8:55 AM

Ok i have a buy 2 get 1 free and its on sale for buy 1 get 1 so does that mean i buy 2 get 3 free?

Jack June 20, 2014 at 6:40 PM

Can you use a B2G1 manufacturers coupon towards a store B1G1? If so can you give me a break down scenario

deniece August 8, 2014 at 11:39 AM

Hello, I’m new at this my first store is the .99 store. using my
manufacturer coupon.

Ronny October 27, 2014 at 7:05 PM

Hey guys, read through this thread and didn’t see this question specifically: CVS – if they have a sale for buy 2 get 3rd free can I use a buy one get one coupon on that? From what you’ve said it sounds like it’s worth the try because the one would be free from the store and the other free by manufacturer. Of course you stated CVS has no written policy.

Tiffany January 29, 2015 at 3:15 PM

Walgreens has Pantene shampoo 2 for $8. I have a BOGO coupon. How does this work?

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