For a long time, Walmart’s generous coupon policy made shopping at the big-box retailer’s stores even more affordable than it already was.
However, Walmart has made some adjustments to its coupon policy — and if you’re trying to keep more money in your wallet, you aren’t going to love the new guidelines.
Here is everything you need to know about the changes and how to adjust your shopping habits.
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Walmart’s coupon policy basics have not changed
Walmart updated its coupon policy in September. The last time the retailer updated its coupon policy was in 2017, according to The Krazy Coupon Lady website. Fortunately, the new policy is largely the same as the old one.
Walmart doesn’t accept digital coupons, competitor coupons, or expired coupons. It won’t take printed coupons from the internet that are blurry, improperly scanned, or altered.
The retailer also reserves the right to refuse to accept a coupon for any reason, especially if customer behavior becomes disruptive, which Walmart defines as “reoccurring.”
With that in mind, following are the key changes that have occurred.
Walmart might limit the number of identical coupons you can use
In the past, Walmart didn’t impose its own hard limit on the number of identical coupons an individual shopper could use in a day.
Both the Krazy Coupon Lady and Coupons in the News are reporting that this policy has changed. They say Walmart is imposing a limit of four identical coupons per household per day.
It is worth noting, however, that Walmart’s policy says there is a “limit of 4 identical coupons per household, per day (unless otherwise noted on coupon).”
The phrase “unless otherwise noted on the coupon” appears to leave some wiggle room in at least a few cases.
Walmart no longer offers cash back or overages
If a coupon’s value exceeds that of the product it applies to, some stores will offer cash back to make up the difference. Or, they might apply the difference to the rest of your purchase.
For years, Walmart was one of these stores. The Krazy Coupon Lady called this policy “one of the best ways to save at Walmart.”
However, after September’s update, the coupon policy now says the following: “The value of a coupon will be applied up to the price of the item and any excess value will not be applied to the transaction total.”
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Employees cannot override the system now
Like most major retailers, Walmart requires each coupon to exactly match the product it was intended for. However, in the past, a cashier or their manager might have made the decision to accept an unmatched coupon.
However, the Krazy Coupon Lady reports that Walmart has updated its policy to say the following: “Acceptance of unmatched coupons is against policy and will be systematically denied."
That means cashiers will no longer be able to circumvent the system even if they think there’s a good case to be made for accepting your coupon.
The new policy means you might spend more during the holidays
Thanks to Walmart’s newest coupon policies, you might not be able to save quite as much money shopping at the retailer as you did before.
The timing of Walmart’s coupon policy change is especially brutal if you were hoping to spend less during the holiday season. Many shoppers might be frustrated that Walmart enacted these changes at the end of another challenging financial year.
Prepare for some frustration if your coupon isn’t accepted
You should also be prepared for a little more frustration at the cash register. If the computer denies your coupon, there is basically nothing you can do about it now. Instead, the system has the ultimate say over whether your coupon will be accepted.
The person working behind the counter might be just as frustrated as you are about the fact that the system won’t accept your coupon. However, there is nothing they can do to change it.
Using the right coupons can still bring your cost down to $0
While it won’t be possible to get cash back in exchange for a coupon, you can still lower a product’s cost to zero dollars if you find the right item and apply the right coupons.
Check out the clearance section for the best luck: Items are priced low enough there that you might not need that many coupons to score a free transaction.
Store management decides whether to accept a coupon
Finally, here is a little glimmer of good news: While individual cashiers can no longer override the system and accept a coupon that the register has denied, the coupon policy itself states the following: “Store Management has the final decision in taking care of the customer.”
It’s not completely clear if this refers to your local store’s manager or to someone higher up the chain, such as a regional store authority.
Still, depending on the circumstances, your coupon might be accepted after all. Asking a manager to approve the coupon might be an overlooked way to save money when shopping at Walmart.
Now that Walmart’s coupon policies are more in line with other big-box stores’ policies, the retailer is not quite the bargain it used to be.
Still, as long as you’re aware of the policy changes, you won’t be taken by surprise. And the retailer’s low everyday prices mean you can still keep more money in your bank account by shopping at Walmart.