Monday, January 25, 2010

Coupon Tip (1/25/10) - Catalina Deals

I talk a lot about Catalina Deals and I thought it would be a good idea to have one place I can point back to that explains how catalina deals work. So this week's coupon tip is all about Catalina Deals!

Pairing up a sale with a coupon is a great way to save, but add a catalina deal in the mix and you usually can take home your items for free or close to free (if not MORE than free because you end up leaving with more than you came with - what couponers like to call "moneymakers"). Catalina deals run at Jewel, Dominicks, Ultra and Meijer's (and a few other stores too). You might be asking yourself what is a catalina? A catalina ("cat" for short) is a coupon that comes out of the little printer next to register and its called that because Catalina Marketing are the people responsible for them. Catalina deals usually are something around buying a specified dollar amount or item amount and then you get a catalina coupon for $x off your next order.

To make the most of catalina's couponers like to "roll" them if at all possible. That means buy the items that will generate the catalina and then use that catalina to buy MORE of the same items, pay little to nothing oop (out of pocket) and get another catalina. Wash-Rinse-Repeat.

Although they generally work the same way wherever they are offered at Jewel it works a little differently for cat deals that involve a specified dollar amount. Most of the time (even though it is NOT advertised as such), catalinas will generate of the REGULAR non-prefered card price not the sale price. This means it takes less items to get to the specified dollar amount and you only have to pay the sale price! Add coupons on top of this and a lot of the time you can end up breaking even after your catalina prints if not making money on the deal!

Here's an example:
The ad states Buy $30 in one shopping trip earn $15 in catalina coupons to be used on your next order. For this example we are going to use Progresso Broth.

Progresso Broths - the non-preferred card price is $2.99, but the sale price is $1.49.

Non-Preferred Price 11 X $2.99 = $32.89 (enough to trigger your $15 in catalinas)
You actually pay: 11 X $1.49 = $16.39
After the $15 catalina you just paid $1.39 for 11 Progresso Broths.

Add coupons in the mix and you make it even a better deal! Say you only have 3 .50/1 coupons - you pay $14.89 and get back $15 = FREE. If you have 11 .50/1 coupons - you pay $10.89 and get back $15 - you just made $4.11!

If you want to guarantee that your catalina's will print, you should spend $30 in sale prices and your coupons will print. BUT as I mentioned above, the registers are currently programmed to calculate the $30 on the non-preferred card price (this is the first price that scans and prints on your receipt before your preferred card savings is listed). This of course can change at any time, and customer service has told me on more than one occasion that they are working on the fix...but I won't believe it until it happens!

Once you have your first set of $15 catalinas you can "roll" them and essentially pay tax after coupons if you have them, for whatever you want to buy in the deal!

IMPORTANT: And I can't stress this enough...please be kind to your customer service people. If you choose to work the deal in this way (basing it on non-preferred card prices) and your catalina doesn't print (which DOES happen for a variety of reasons)...please do NOT go to customer service and complain, yell or demand your cats. Just be prepared to return everything and try again. Your cat machine might be offline, out of paper, you didn't add right (all of these things have happened to me)...and most of the time it is my mistake (bought the wrong sku, short by a few cents). I can almost guarantee the answer you will get back if you do is that you didn't buy enough because it works on sale prices (which is not actually the case). And ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS double check your math and use a price scanner if you aren't sure what the pre-perfered card price is.

A couple of tips:
  • Always check the cat machine if you can to make sure the solid green light is on!
  • If you want to be totally sure you'll be over the $ amount that you need to generate the cat before your preferred card savings, use the self check. Do not scan your preferred card first, scan your items. Once your done scanning all of the items for the deal, subtract the tax and if its over the dollar amount your cat should print. Then scan your preferred card so all of your savings come off and pay!
  • If you want to try and figure out the Non-preferred card sale price at the shelf. Look at the tag. Add the sale price to the "amount saved" and you should have the price is will actually ring up at the register before preferred card savings.
  • Avoid shopping between 11 pm and 2 am when Catalina is updating their machines.
  • And always be courteous to the coupon shopper behind you - don't clear the shelf. Of course buy what you need for your family, but if you need a lot (as in the typical amount that is on a shelf) consider putting in a special order. They have no problem ordering items for you.
For all other stores:
The Catalina deals are truly how they are stated in the ads or shelf tags...but using coupons plus electronic savings paired with a cat deal you can get things for free there as well!

Are you a visual person and want to see some REAL examples...check out my posts here, here or here!

Is there anything I haven't answered? Still have questions? Leave a comment below and I'll update this post with the answer! For previous coupon tips go here!

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