Catalina madness

What are Catalinas? And why does everyone get so excited about them?

Catalinas are a great way to save even more on your total grocery bill. On any given day, a good portion of the emails I receive pertain to Catalinas. There is so much to know about Catalina deals -- how they work, why they work, and why most of them aren't advertised. I cover Catalinas in great detail in Super-Couponing 2, and if you're crazy for Catalinas, I'd strongly encourage you to attend a session of Super-2 if you can.

But here's a primer on Catalina basics:

The term "Catalina" refers not to the delicious red salad dressing but to those checkout coupons that print from the small machine near the cash register at the end of a shopping transaction.

Why are they called Catalinas? The company that makes the machines and offers the deals is called Catalina. The coupons themselves are actually called checkout coupons, but almost all couponers and couponing websites refer to the paper coupons themselves as "Catalinas," so I do too.

How do they work? At any given time, there are dozens of Catalina promotions running at various stores. By purchasing an item, or a certain number of items, the register triggers the machine to print a coupon good for money off your next order, or a coupon for a product the machine feels you may be interested in buying based on past purchases. Some Catalina deals are based on purchasing an individual item, and others are based on quantities of a variety of items.

How do you know when a Catalina is going to print?
Some stores, like Walgreens, regularly advertise almost all of their Catalina promotions in the weekly flyer. That's why I teach that these are the best deals for new couponers to learn the ropes of Catalinas with. First, when you know exactly what should print, you can plan your shopping trip a little easier -- and if for some reason the Catalina doesn't print, you have the flyer in hand to show the store and can usually encourage the store to either try to reprint the Catalina or make additional arrangements to compensate you for the Catalina you missed.

Why wouldn't a Catalina print?
There are many reasons why a Catalina won't print. The first ones are hardware related. The machine could be out of paper or ink. The machine could be turned off (look for the green light on the front of the machine, or ask a cashier to make sure the machine is on.) The machine could also temporarily lose its uplink to the satellite connection, which transmits your purchase history to Catalina and triggers the Catalina to print.

You could have also purchased the wrong item. Catalina deals are typically highly specific to varieties, sizes and types of products. One flavor of salad dressing could trigger the Catalina (no pun intended!) while another may not. And if you're doing a multiple-item Catalina deal which requires you to purchase 6 participating items, purchasing even one wrong size or variety will ruin your entire order.

Worse, sometimes some varieties of items don't get scanned into the Catalina system, and even when it's supposed to generate a Catalina, it won't -- because that item's UPC is not attached to the Catalina in their system due to some oversight. That frustrates everyone, but there's truly nothing you can do about it. And it has happened. A few months ago, we saw a Mitchum deodorant deal in which each Mitchum purchased triggered a Catalina... except "Mountain Breeze." Why? Mountain Breeze's UPC wasn't entered into the system, so purchasing it didn't trigger the Catalina, even though "All Mitchum deodorant" was supposed to work.

How do you know about Catalina deals when they aren't advertised?

This is the big question :) And that's why Catalinas are a game unto themselves. There are typically 3 ways to find out about unadvertised Catalina deals.

1) In-store tags or cues. Many stores will have small shelf tags next to the price tag (square and white) that indicate the item has a Catalina deal attached to it. Jewel's Spotlight magazine (available on the racks in the front of the store) often has Catalina promotion info inside as well.

2) On Catalinas themselves. This is one of the biggest reasons I say NOT to throw those Catalinas away! Whenever you get a Catalina, read the wording closely. They often contain information about upcoming Catalina deals, telling you either the dates a deal is coming up, or a web address to go to, which contains more information about the upcoming deal.

3) On couponing websites. This is where the "risk" element comes in. There isn't one large, good resource about Catalinas - rather many diverse couponing sites that watch the deals. I would link them here but they're fairly difficult to navigate for beginners -- they use a lot of acronyms and couponing lingo, and because of their steep learning curve, they aren't terribly friendly or receptive to questions for beginners either. (If you think the acronyms SS, P&G, RP and KL are confusing, you would not be happy with trying to translate some of these..!) Some of these deals may be completely unadvertised for Jewel, but may be advertised at a different state's stores, like Albertsons, Acme, Supervalu or other stores in the same chain. When that's the case, you kind of have to try them on "faith" to see if they'll also work at Jewel -- and if they don't, you have no recourse to go to customer service and ask for a refund, because they were never advertised to begin with.

And then... if they're working at Jewel, I might try and see if they're working at Meijer too. Or Dominick's. Or Kmart. Or any other stores that have Catalina machines. Grocery stores sometimes share some of the same Catalina deals. But many times they don't. It really becomes a game of "does this work?"

What do I do when a Catalina doesn't print?
This, again, is the reason I encourage new couponers to stick to advertised Catalina deals. People tend to get very upset when they don't get a Catalina they're expecting -- and then instead of dealing with it at the store, they email ME and ask me to fix it for them :) I have no pull with the store. I just report what I know is working in my local store. Beyond that, there is ALWAYS an element of risk to a Catalina deal. If it's unadvertised, going to the service counter and asking for reimbursement will never work. The stores almost never have information about the Catalina deals that are running at any given time.

Your best course of action is either to chalk it up to experience, or return the items that you bought expecting the Catalina, and let it go. Or, you can try again with a different size/flavor/variety of the item in the deal. But again, this is why Catalina deals are beautiful when they work... and frustrating when they don't. Without an advertisement, there are no guarantees.

That's why I try to post the best and easiest Catalina deals here for you guys (doing the hard work myself.) But there's always risk involved. To do some of these higher-value Catalina deals, you need to understand that you are taking a chance on saving big. If you aren't willing to lose from time to time, don't get in the game. But if you're buying items at a good price that you wanted anyway, saving more money is an even nicer bonus.

Confused as to how many you can get

Hi there. I am wondering if I have to split my purchases if I want to lets say get 3 Sierra Mist 2 ltr bottles and get the $1.00 cat back but I really want to get 6 Sierra Mist 2 ltr bottles... If I purchase 6 in one transaction will a $2.00 cat come out? Or do I need to do 2 separate transactions and get 2 $1.00 cat's?

As many as you want

With the current Jewel-Osco "The More You Shop, The More You Save" Catalina, you can buy as many quantities of 3 as you'd like. Buying 6 will indeed trigger TWO $1 Catalinas in the same transaction.

raisin bran at Dominicks

I purchased the four Raisin Bran cereals listed for the catalina at Dominicks and it did not print. I asked at the Dominicks service desk and the manager went to the aisle and checked the tag and said there was no Catalina. However this week there is. Is there a number to call Catalina or email to send and they will send a coupon in the mail?

I think it starts today

I think that Catalina starts today. They may not send it to you if the cereal was purchased outside of the offer dates, but you can try..! Their number is 888-8COUPON. You'll need your receipt in hand when you call. Or, you can fill out the contact form on their site at this link:

form for catalina is

I called the phone number and they recomended I go to this site to fill out the form - which I did.

I too bought the 4 boxes of raisin bran today and did not receive my cat

I did this yesterday (Sunday)...

...and it didn't work. Of course store knew nothing about it so I filled out the online form with catalina. Heard back from them today that I had only purchased 3 of the 4 qualifying products (I purchased 4 of the exact same boxes of raisin bran). I have replied back and I am going back into work tonight to scan my reciept to send to them. My receipt only has one line for the cereal - 4 Raisin Bran @...

I'll keep you posted on the outcome!

Catalina Question-Jewel

I have several catalina coupons from Jewel. They are as follows: Free bakery bread with any $5 purchase, $3.00 off your purchase of $30, and $2 off dairy products when you spend $20. I also have a coupon to save $5 off produce if I purchase $10 of fresh tilapia. Can I spend $30 and use all three catalinas plus my coupon? The do say "one coupon per customer per transaction". That only means one identical catalina, right? Help!


You should be able to - and yes, the wording refers to using one identical Catalina per transaction :) Hope this helps!

Thanks a bunch!

Thanks a bunch!

Redeeming Catalinas at Walmart?

Does anyone know whether Walmart will accept Walgreen Catalinas (for dollars off), or indeed Catalinas printed by any competitor of theirs?

Yes and no

They will take any Catalina for a specific product, but NOT general dollars-off-your-order (Register Rewards.)


Does anybody know if I can use my Walgreens RRewards (Catalina/manufacturers) at CVS? Any luck?


No, they typically do not accept them.

1st-timer's Catalina Success

I'm throwing myself into couponing, and getting my kids involved. I work full-time, so they get to help plan meals, and any coupon savings they come up with that we use they get to put in their spending account for our family trip to Hawai'i next year.

The night before last, I stopped at Jewel and took advantage of the free bread and $2 produce coupons I got for registering my Jewel card. Saw on the in-store flyer's back page that if you purchased $30 in various products listed, you would get a $15 iTunes card. So... yesterday at lunch I did some research, and figured out what I could get coupons for from the inserts I had saved and online coupons.

Ended up buying a total of $58.69 before savings... preferred card savings took off $12.22, MFG coupons took off another 3.54, and I used $5.00 in store coupons. (Got another loaf of free bread and some produce again).

So... for $37.93 out of pocket, I received items worth $73.69... giving me a 51% savings return. Much of what I bought were paper products that are easily stored, so while I didn't *need* them at this time, we will at some point, so its not wasted.

I'm happy. Not bad for a first-time out and planning for that big catalina option.

LOL... and I did this

LOL... and I did this *without* reading your post on this very topic. Just saw that now as I was reading some of the past posts.

Dominick's Catalina

On the recent Windex deal, there were $2 catalinas that were printed for every two that you bought. When I tried using more than one of those catalinas in one transaction, the cashier said it wasn't allowed and only allowed me to use one. Is that normal? I know I used more than one with a different cashier to buy more Windex a few days prior.... but this particular cashier wouldn't let me. Is that normal policy? I'm new at supercouponing and trying to figure out the ins and outs. Waiting for a class to come closer to me. Thanks!

cats at Gurnee Doms

I was told the same thing. Employees recently went through coupon training and unless a cat specifically says you can use more than one, they will now only let you use one. I just split up my orders.


Dominick's makes up their own rules. Take those Catalinas to Jewel, where you can use as many as you'd like per transaction.


Thanks for the quick reply! She said on back that only one can be used per transaction, and she was does say that, so I had nothing left to say. I was just surprised since previous cashiers didn't seem to have any issues.

Per Purchase vs. Per Transaction

Dominick's OFTEN confuses "per purchase" with "per transaction." Those Catalinas are one "per purchase" - per purchase is per item we buy, not per trip through the lane.

GREAT to know!

Thanks for that distinction! Thank you so much again! I am just looking into this couponing concept. I was kind of anti-doing it for so long when a lot of friends were into it, bc i thought it took too much time, but hopefully I can get the hang of it soon. Your website is great. THANKS!

Cat won't scan

Hi Jill,

I have had 2 orders messed up recently because they entered cats as grocery! I asked if they could put them in using the code. The one entered the code on a $10 cat and it showed 1.50. Which numbers should they use? There are numbers above and below...? Can you let me know which numbers I should be giving them? I think the YB are running the inkers low!

So I'm new to this and had no

So I'm new to this and had no idea what a Catalina was till I read this article...but the best cat deal I've found is on baby formula. At Jewel, using your preferred card, if you buy a 12.8 ounce can of Similac Neosure powdered formula (specifically made for preemies, which my kids are), you'll get a cat for buy 1 get 1 free on Enfamil Enfacare Lipil (also made for preemies.)! Considering the enfamil is $15 to begin with, I love that I can get a free can! Also, the coupon says it's only good "up to $13.87" and the formula is $14.99...but i RARELY have a checkout person read the fine print and charge me the $1.12 for the "free" can :) Happened yesterday and my husband was rather amused that we got it for free instead of $1.12!

double cat

can i use a $3 off of $30 or more and a $4 off $40 on the same transaction of $40 to get $7 off $40?

calculating the regular price, not the preferred, unless there are 3 prices, then i use the middle price.

but!! what if the sale says with preferred card? reg price or preferred price?

thanks- this is my first week. love it.

where to use cats

I posted elsewhere, but got no reply, so I'll try again...

I see that you can use Jewel cat at Wags and visa versa... what about using them at other stores?

example - I currently have a catQ for $3 off any dove clinicals deodorant (no size specified!! love that!) Jewel does not seem to carry a travel/trial size of this item, but walmart DOES. And wal-mart's price for this travel sized item is 2.49, giving me .51 cents overage (if I can use the Q there)

since this cat says MFR Q across the top and includes a redemption address and policy notice of repaying 8 cent above the Q value, would it then qualify as a MFR Q I could use at wal-mart?

I understand that a cat along the lines of $5 oyno would obviously NOT be good at WM, but this type of cat Q has me confused.


Some will, some won't

From my experience it seems to be at the whim of the cashier. I have had Dom's accept cats from others (Wags, Jewel). I don't believe I've tried to redeem a cat at WalMart, but it's worth a try. I would ask at customer service before going through the checkout; see if they agree that the cat says "Manufacturer's Coupon", remind them that it just printed at Jewel or Walgreen's but doesn't specify that it has to be used there. You can also point out that the cat has an address that they will be able to send it to for reimbursement.

Catalina's phone number?

I know it's been posted before, but I can't find it now. Can someone please share Catalina's phone number? Thanks!

catalina's #


thank you!

Thank you Happy Saver. Appreciate it.


If a cashier enters a catalina as grocery, can you ask them to change that and enter it as a manufacturer or is it too late? Do they give you a hard time if you do ask them? when they have to when they have to manually enter it in they have to do it as a manufacture? What if they just scan it? Then when they scan it, it comes up manufacture and not grocery?

The only time you'd have to ask them to ring it in as manufacture is when they have to manually punch in the code..correct???


If it scans, it automatically goes in as Manufacturer.

If it does not scan (ink is blurry, etc) they may LIKE to enter it as a dollar-amount GROCERY discount (faster and easier for the cashier) but this will reduce your entire dollar value of the grocery purchase = no Catalinas.

Offer to read the UPC number on the Catalina back to them as they key it in. Saves time for everyone and ensures you get your Cat.

Usually not

If it won't scan, BEFORE they start to key it in as grocery, that's when you want to nicely ask them to key in the entire UPC number, instead of typing in the dollar amount and hitting Grocery.

what is the difference...

if they ring it in as "manufacturer" or "Grocery"?

Unless you are trying to stack a mfr Q WITH a store Q...??

The difference is

that if they ring it as grocery, the amount will be subtracted from the total grocery purchase price you are trying to reach and you will come up short for your cat.

4th price at Jewel

With Jewel's new (Aug. 2009) "Big Relief Price Cut" prices, you use this one (and not shelf- or sale-price) to calculate getting to a catalina threshold, correct? Just wanted to double check. Thanks!


If there is a Big Relief price, THAT is the price you use to calculate, yes. :)

Jewel Catalinas

I am a black belt in training (only at Couponing a month), and to double check my math I will go to the self check out on my first run during a cat offer. I try to get a mix of all the products I am interested in and will run them prior to scanning my jewel card. When I hit the magic number I scan my card, and wait for the cat. I then hang onto the receipt as a cheat-sheet to plan my next sortie. I may be under or over an item, but if I plan my first trip with a buddy or at a slow time, not a problem. I am sure I will abandon this strategy eventually, but right now I have done it over a dozen times and haven't been burned (and learned alot!). I just make sure I am purchasing qualified items. I am waiting for the day they start using facial recognition technology like the casinos ("'Mam-your preferred card has been revoked")-If you are going to have a vice this is better than most.

"If you are going to have a vice this is better than most."

I always tell my husband "Coupon crack. At least its not real crack!"

When Cats won't scan...

What is the best way for the cashier to enter them instead of "grocery"? Thank you!


As "manufacturer." They need to physically key in the UPC on the Cat, vs. just hitting "grocery" and typing in the dollar amount. That's why they do that - entering as grocery is faster, but it also prevents the next Cat from coming.

Ahhh Haaa! That is why my

Ahhh Haaa! That is why my mayo deal didn't work as it should have. It worked for others, but not me. I did go an try again and it worked the second time and cats printed. Now I recall, that a cat from my previous transaction(I did multiple) would not scan and she manually entered it. I need to pay attention to what they are doing next time. Now I know what to look for.


Thank you for the fast response! Now I can be prepared when I go to use these again. I certainly appreciate you sharing your coupon wisdom with us all!

You mentioned in another

You mentioned in another thread that cats don't work after 11pm, and that you shouldn't try to do these deals late at night, but I didn't see that little tidbit here.

Should be

I'll get it added. You are really on your own if you try them after 11pm, because at SOME point between 11pm-2am, the machines go down to receive updates for the next day. The green light will still be on, but the high-level cat deals won't be transmitted.

Mine won't scan

I have some Cats for Wags that won't scan when I try to redeem them (hehe, I used the couponing lingo:). It seems that the ink in the printer might have been low because the bar code is on there, but its discolored.

Is this something I should call the Cat # about or go back to the Wags I got them from?


Whats the problem

If you are trying to redeem these at Wags, Im not sure what your problem could be. I have had several that do not scan but the cashiers always just punch them in manually and all is good.


I actually haven't tried them at Wags, only at Jewel. I'll be going to Wags tomorrow so hopefully they will just punch in the code like you said without problems, thanks.

Number of Cats I can use to pay at Jewel

Ok, I've been pretty successful at Wags with cats, I know you can't roll those RRs on the same deals and if I want to pay with a RR & coupons I have to make sure I have same number of items (3 items= 2 mfc & 1 RR). But I know things work differently at Jewel. There you can roll the cats. My question is: At Jewel can I pay with more cats than I have total number of items? (3 items, use 2 mfc & 2cats) Thanks for all the help everyone gives!!


Yes, you absolutely can at Jewel. When the Crystal Lite sale was going last month, I was using 20 or more $2 Catalinas to pay for groceries, etc.