Coupon Barcodes – Decoding the Code! It’s more fun than you think…

Have you ever wondered why some coupons beep, some don’t, what products are really included in the vague wording, why some coupons take off different values than printed on the coupon? Well, it’s all in the code – the barcode that is! Here is your guide to understanding the coupons you are using – just in case you wanted to know!

I’ve taken a bar code from a currently available PDF coupon. I’ve blacked out the actual barcode for copying purposes. This should help you visualize what I am referring to.

1.) The fist number you find on the barcode will generally be a 5 or a 9. This number tells the register if it can double the coupon. This will only apply to you if you are using the coupon at a store that has a policy to automatically double a coupon. This will not apply to Albertsons double coupons that are released in the ads. If this number is a 5, the register will double the coupon according to the store’s policy. If the number is a, 9 the register will not double the coupon. See? This is easy, right?!

2.) The next set of numbers (5 of them) refer to the Manufacturer Code. These numbers should match the numbers found on the barcode on the product (same spot). This a general number that usually matches up with an entire brand or product line. It’s usually not specific to one variety/flavor of the product.

3.) This set of 3 numbers is the Family or Product Code. This is where coupons become more of less specific on the products included. The language on the coupon is the intended use of the coupon! Please use this information responsibly. Here are a few special family codes to be aware of:

  • 000 – This coupon will not beep on any product if the Manufacturer code matches
  • XX0 – Any code with 1 zero at the end means the coupon can be used for more than one variety/flavor of the product
  • X00 – Any code with 2 zeros a the end can be used for more than one product in the brand line
  • 992 – The coupon will either beep every time, or never beep on any product, regardless of your purchase. Because the item does not have to be purchased for the coupon to be redeemed, most retailers have programmed their registers to beep every time a 992 code is used. This prevent fraud and encourages the cashiers to verify the product is bought. There used to be mass amount of coupon fraud with people trying to use these coupons without purchasing the product.

4.) This set of 2 numbers refers to the value of the coupon. It tells the register how many products need to be bought and how much to deduct. I’ve only posted some of the most common amounts. To see a full list of code amounts, go HERE.

00 – Manual Input (from cashier)
01 – Free item (manual input usually required)
02 – B4G1 Free
07 B3 – $1.50
08 B2 – $3
10 – $.10
13 B4 – $1
14 – B1G1 Free (this tags to both products, so if you try to use another $ off with it – it will beep)
16 – B2G1 Free
20 – $.20
21 – $.34
22 – $.40
23 – $.45
24 – $.50
25 – $.25
28 B2 – $.55
30 – $.30
31 B2 – $.60
32 B2 – $.75
34 B2 – $1.25
41 B3 – $.50
42 B3 – $1
75 – $1
78 – $1.50
82 – $2.00
84 – $2.50

The second bar code has to deal with the expiration date – I think. From my limited understanding, most registers aren’t programmed to read this code so it’s not really that relevant to us couponers. The expiration date is pretty straight forward anyway:).

I think that sums it up. I’m not a coding specialist or claim to know everything about codes, this is just the general info that I do know. I’m sure there are exceptions and other rules or factors involved. If anyone has anything to share – I would love to hear from you!! Leave a comment!

Thanks Slick Deals and more specifically mahgobbi for sharing the code values!


  • Tiffany

    Wow, very interesting and helpful. I enjoyed this and all other “beginner tips.” Thanks!

  • Jaime

    I am not new to couponing, but everyday I learn something new and this is great information! thanks for all you do!!

  • Angela

    Wow!! Very interesting. I had no idea there was so much information to be had from paying attention to barcodes! I’m going to go decipher some barcodes now…yes, I am a nerd. Lol….

  • Jennifer

    Wow, who knew I could actually read a barcode. This is so interesting. I was comparing some coupons while reading this and it matched up to what was explained. Very cool!

  • Jim

    Any info on the new coupon barcode GS1 standard?
    I believe GS1 is going to replace the current coupon barcode in the future.

  • steph

    Wow, what great info…I am going to check out your links too.

    I have a question. ok, i get the 14 means it tags to both items so you can’t use a $1 off coupon but do you know if there is something similar with b2g1 coupons. like if it is just 16 can i use a $1 of coupon on each of the products i am buying and the coupon tags to the free item? i have been trying to find the answer to this.

    also, would it be ok to use some of this info in a post of mine and link back to you? i don’t want to step on any toes, but it is great info. and I want to give credit where credit is due.

  • Becky

    Thank you so much for all of you advice! I did find out that you can use two BOGO coupons and get two items free at Walgreens, I do it all of the time! The same coupons did not work at other stores ie. Jewel, Target but did work there.

  • Tyler Smith

    Ok I have a question. I’m a cashier at a dollar general and at least once a week these two women comes in and ties me up at my register with their coupons. I wouldn’t care if I didn’t think they wasn’t commiting fraud. How can I tell if these women are in the wrong? They are greedy and never leave anything for anyone else.
    I believe in saving money but being a couponer and being a crook are two different things.

    • Heidi

      Hi Tyler, I think I can answer your question, but I need to know a little more. How do they tie your time up at the register? Are you having to key in coupons? Why do you specifically think they are being fraudulent? Do the coupons not look real? If they are leaving nothing for other customers that could probably be resolved by sticking to the manufacturer’s guidelines on the coupon (usually four; but there are exceptions). What is their total % savings? And what do they buy? If it is 50% or less, they are almost definitely NOT committing fraud, and if they are, they are no good at it. Lol. 75% is my average, but that’s at the grocery. If I go to a store like yours, having a clearance sale, combined with coupons, I could save 100%. So let me know, and hopefully I can get u answers:)

  • Melissa Germain

    Thank you I was looking everywhere for information on this!

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