Here is a quick tutorial on catalina coupons from Moneywise Moms. I thought I might expand a little as I had to contact Catalina myself this morning.
Basically a catalina can be either a coupon or it can be treated like cash on your next order (OYNO). Walgreens frequently offers register rewards which means you will get a catalina for a certain amount that you can use on your next transaction. Walgreens tends to be different than most stores in that you can’t “roll” catalinas from the same promotion.
For example, this week there is a catalina for Bertolli pasta sauce at Safeway. I can buy two of the pasta sauce pouches for $2.00 each and I will get a catalina for $2.00 off my next purchase. I can use that catalina as payment for my next purchase of two more sauces and so on and so on. This is exemplified in my post here where I did 5 transactions- rolling the catalina each time to net 20 boxes of cereal for .73.
At Walgreens however, if I purchase Skintimates shave gel this week and get a catalina I can use it to buy another shave gel but I will not get another catalina. The register reward program has a lot of quirks and this is one of them. If I buy a Chapstick this week and get a catalina and use it to pay for the shave gel I will get a Skintimates catalina. I can then use that to buy a Chapstick and go back and forth between the promotions. Confused yet?
When I was a new couponer I frequently did not get the catalina I should have gotten- especially at Walgreens. They are famous for saying “If you use coupons a catalina (or register reward) will not print.” This is not true. The catalina did not print because of a mistake in their system, a mistake you made (like paying with a catalina from the same promotion as I mentioned above), or the machine is not working. After several weeks of back and forth at Walgreens, a cashier finally told me the catalina machine at the HBA counter has never worked! That was why my register rewards were not printing. Simple.
If this happens to you I have typically found it fruitless to argue- especially if you are already dealing with a manager. You can politely ask them to ring you up again at another register (in case the machine is broken) or you can request a refund. They will return your coupons or pay you cash for the value of the coupons you used.
Another option is to call Catalina directly. I have not done this in the past but have heard it is a simple process. After not receiving my catalinas for the transaction here, I had a reader remind me of this service. I called catalina this morning and was put on hold for about 6 minutes. I gave the customer service person my information and the missing catalinas will be sent to me in the mail. In total it took about 10 minutes and as I was busy doing other things it was time well spent.
You might think it is too much trouble to bother with all this but catalinas can be an incredible tool for saving money. In the example of Walgreens, you can frequently get a lot of items for free or you can actually make a profit by using coupons. In the post I referenced above I got 20 boxes of Post cereal for .73 by rolling the catalinas. Many times you can utilize the profit you made on the catalina to buy other things you need.
For example, I want to buy feta cheese this week which is difficult to get a great price on. I used coupons and a sale to get the Bertolli for $1.00 for two and got a catalina for $2.00 back. So a $1 profit plus free pasta sauce for every 2 I purchased. I can then use that $1 profit to offset the cost of the cheese. In the transaction I called catalina about this morning, I paid $6.63 total for a 2L of Pepsi, 2lbs of carrots, a can of green beans, 6 Bertolli pouches and a tub of Huggies wipes. Once I receive my catalinas- I will have paid .63 total for all those items. Don’t need the Bertolli? Someone out there does! This is exactly the reason I got into couponing in the first place, to be generous and help my community on a very limited budget.
One other note- catalinas are not always a value toward your next purchase. They can also be valuable coupons. Frequently when you purchase Huggies diapers you will get a Pampers catalina coupon. The catalinas are typically store specific so a Pampers catalina from Walgreens can not be used to get a great deal at Target. Many people don’t bother with catalinas. I use the UScan at my grocery store as frequently as possible as there is almost always a few catalinas people have just left behind. You never know what you will find so it is always worth the few seconds to look at them!
Does anyone else have tips on maximizing catalinas or questions? Please leave a post below!
To contact catalina you will need your store details- name and store #- the date of the transaction, and your rewards card/ club card or receipt to verify the purchase. The phone # is
888-322-3814 and you will need to ask for customer service.