Commissary Coupon Rules Explained


At the commissary today, I found a handy little pamphlet called "DeCA's Quick Coupon Info, Acceptance and Redemption of Merchandise Coupons."  With a publication date of May 2012, I think it is the most up-to-date information available on the Commissaries' rules for using coupons.  It is always so nice to have actual rules in black and white!

Directly from the brochure:

About Merchandise Coupons

Coupons come from a variety of sources, such as Sunday newspaper inserts, magazines, store shelves and the Internet.  They are redeemable when purchasing the items specified on the coupon.  Except for Internet coupons for free products, military commissaries accept all valid manufacturer coupons when redeemed in accordance with the terms stipulated on the coupon.

Commissaries may only accept manufacturer coupons.  This includes "military" or "commissary" coupons, which are provided by manufacturers that reimburse DeCA for coupons redeemed in accordance with their policies.  Store coupons from commercial grocery stores are in-store promotions, which are part of their advertising program.  Commercial grocery stores that offer these store coupons use their profits to pay for them.  Commissaries sell their merchandise at cost and have no profit margin to offer store coupons and absorb the loss.  Since manufacturer, military, and commissary coupons are all manufacturer coupons, they cannot be used together on any single product.

For the same reason, DeCA cannot double or triple the face value of manufacturer coupons.  DeCA is required by law to sell all commissary items at prices set only high enough to cover item costs and cannot manipulate prices to generate gains to offset losses associated with double or triple coupon promotions.

DeCA's Coupon Policy:

Coupons will be accepted only for items purchased by the customer.

Coupons will be either scanned or rung up individually.

"For free" coupons will be rung manually; internet coupons cannot be accepted for free products.

DeCA does not accept or process manufacturer rebate checks, refund certificates, or mail-in offers as coupons.

DeCA only accepts manufacturer coupons; this includes military and commissary coupons.  (see About Merchandise Coupons)

DeCA does not accept commercial store coupons, such as Lucky's, Food Lion, etc.

Coupons will not be disbursed to customers at the cash register.

Coupons will only be accepted as specified on the coupon.  If the coupon states a particular type, size, or brand, this coupon cannot be used on a different size or product.

If the coupon states that the value is up to, but not to exceed a certain dollar amount and provides a space for the cashier to write in the cost price of the item, the customer will be given credit for only the actual cost of the product.

DeCA accepts one coupon per item or purchase requirement, as stipulated on the coupon.

  • Additional "cents off" coupons cannot be used in conjunction with "buy this, get that free" or "buy item A and Get $X off item B" type coupons.
  • "Military" or "commissary" coupons cannot be used in conjunction with a manufacturer coupon.
Valid coupons will be entered at the value stated on the coupon.  If the value of the coupon exceeds the cost of the product, the customer will be given the full value of the coupon unless prohibited by the manufacturer's terms and conditions printed on the coupon, e.g., "No cash back if coupon value exceeds retail price."  Customers will receive any "overage" in the form of commissary gift cards until the remaining balance due is $24.99 or less.

Coupons may be used for "reduced for quick sale" items.

Photocopies of any coupon will not be accepted.

All coupons must be in English; coupons written in a foreign language with an English translation printed on the coupon are acceptable.

Coupons identified as counterfeit by DeCA or the Coupon Information Corporation web site ( will not be accepted.

DeCA may accept Internet coupons.

  • They must be an original print in either black and white or color.
  • Internet coupons cannot be accepted for free products.  Coupons that require the purchase of one or more items to get another for free, such as "Buy One, Get One Free" coupons, are acceptable if they meet all other requirements.

Required Elements for Coupons:

The following elements must be present for a coupon to be valid (see diagram below):

a.  The word coupon

b.  A message to the retailer specifying the terms and conditions for accepting the coupons.

c.  Redemption address.

d.  The purchase requirement, e.g., "Coupon good on any size purchase of...," or "Coupon good on the purchase of two cans of....," etc.

e.  A specifically stated face value, e.g., "50 cents," or an "up to" or "no more than" value, e.g., "value no more than $2.00."

f.  Internet coupons must contain a typical barcode and/or GS1 DataBar; a Dot Scan Barcode may be printed below the expiration date, but it is not required.

Please note:  An expiration date is not required on the coupon.  A valid coupon may have an expiration date, may be imprinted to state NO EXPIRATION DATE, or not have any information regarding expiration date.  Coupons will not be accepted past the expiration date printed on the coupon, except for locations outside of the 50 states.

(Sorry, I don't have access to a scanner today to include the picture, I will include it when I am with scanner.)

For more detailed information on DeCA's coupon policy, please visit our website at

This brochure is great for answering many coupon questions.  I have been told that I can't used coupons with Dent and Damage items, now I know for sure that is inaccurate.  I have also been told that I can't use coupons with tent sale items, and that makes a bit more sense since most of those discounts use coupons.


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