Have you ever purchased what you thought was the correct product for a particular coupon and then gotten to the cash register and had it not work the way you expected? It isn’t always possible to list every eligible product on that little tiny coupon, but you can generally figure it out by understanding how the barcodes work. It can be confusing, but let’s see if we can break it down.

Most coupons contain a code of numbers called a UPC. Products also contain UPC codes. Generally if the first five numbers of the UPC coupon code match with the first five numbers of the UPC product code, than the coupon can be redeemed for those products.

Typically a barcode looks something like this: 5-44444-333-22-1

- The first number will normally be either a 5 or a 9. In our example it is a 5 and this means the coupon will automatically double (if your store does that). A coupon that starts with a 9 will not automatically double.

- The second set of numbers (44444 in our example) is the “Manufacturer’s Code”.

- The third set of numbers (333 in our example) is known as the “Family Code”. A set of 3 digits with no zeros at the end means that the coupon is good for a specified variety of the product. If there were one zero at the end then the coupon would be good for more then one variety of that product. If there were 2 zeros at the end then the coupon would be good for more than one type of that product.

*Confused… Here are some examples:*

Let’s say the coupon is for Brand X chocolate granola bars and shows a photo of a 8 count box.

- 333 would mean the coupon is good ONLY for an 8 count box of Brand X chocolate granola bars.
- 300 would mean the coupon would probably work on any flavor of Brand X granola bars and most likely any size.
- 310 would mean the coupon would probably work on just about any type of cereal, granola bars or food products that Brand X sells.

- The next set of numbers (22 in or example) is the “Value Code”. This is how the register knows how much to take off. Some numbers to make note of are as follows:

00 – The coupon requires the cashier to manually input the amount.

01 – The coupon is for a free item and it will usually beep for an amount.

14 – This means the coupon is buy one get one free and it will usually beep for an amount.

50 – The coupon will take off 50 cents (if it starts with a 5 and your store doubles then it will take off $1.00.

The last digit really isn’t important. It is just a check digit for the computers.