Is it Legal to Buy, Sell & Trade Coupons?!?

Hip2Save may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you via trusted partners and affiliate links in this post. Prices and availability are accurate as of time posted. Read our full disclosure policy here.

I had quite a discussion on the Walgreens Dr. Scholl’s post yesterday. For the record, I was out most of the day running errands. When I posted the Dr. Scholl’s deal I didn’t realize the coupon was for a different product then what is sold at Walgreens. Since it was a regional coupon I never had a chance to look at it and apologize for that. I do NOT condone using a coupon for not the intended purpose of the manufacturer.

Alright, now that we have that out of the way-here is the real reason for this post. It seems lots of people are confused as to whether it’s legal to sell, trade and buy manufacturer coupons. I noticed quite a few of you have been referring to eBay and voiced your concerns on the legality of others selling manufacturer coupons on their. Here are my thoughts, as well as, some facts on this topic.

To make anything illegal, there has to be a law in place. If you can believe it, there is actually NO law that deals with selling coupons. Which means that it is actually NOT illegal to buy or sell manufacturer coupons on places such as eBay. I understand this seems confusing because the fine print on manufacturer coupons state they cannot be transferred, purchased, traded and the list goes on. These rules are set up by the manufacturer, not the law! It’s the same when you set up rules for your kids. If they don’t eat there veggies at dinner time are the police coming over?… no! They cannot send you to jail or punish you in any way. The only thing they may be able to do is void the coupon, which doesn’t happen often.

You purchased 10 coupons from eBay and go to the store and redeem those coupons for the correct products. You have done absolutely nothing illegal. The manufacturer may not like it, but there is not much they can do about it. Since the coupons were used correctly, the manufacturer will take NO action to try and void the coupons.

The main thing to remember is this: It does NOT matter where you acquire your coupons. As long as your correctly using them, by getting the right product and the right size and using the coupons before they expire, then you are doing nothing wrong!

When eBay first came to be so popular there was actually no rules at all in place for selling coupons. Later, the manufacturer’s tryed to get eBay to ban all coupon sales. Well, as you can see that never happened. Instead, though, eBay has set up some rules. One of them is limiting the number of high value/free coupons that can be sold. I know quite a few eBay sellers put a small disclaimer at the bottom of their auction. Usually it states, you are paying for my time to find and clip these coupons, not the actually coupon themselves. It may be that putting this little disclaimer on their auction makes the seller feel better about what they’re doing. Although, it’s really not needed since it’s not illegal to sell coupons.

On a side note: This post has nothing to do with the Old Navy coupons being sold on eBay. In my opinion, it’s ridiculous that this is happening. I personally think Old Navy should limit you to one coupon per IP address. I think that would solve a lot of issue and give people who will actually use the coupons more of a chance. This is just my opinion and you may disagree.

Join The Discussion

Comments 21

  1. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    After staying up for the mayhem and walking away with nothing from ON… I agree fully with your last paragraph. Nicely said.

  2. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    Why is it that you often encourage people to hit the back browser to get multipe IP coupons but you think Old Navy should limit it to one coupon? Why is it so horrible for people to sell them on Ebay. I bought one on ebay and had so much fun using it. I “broke even” on the cost of the coupon by seling stuff that otherwise would be collecting dust around the house and used that money to pay for it. I don’t have the desire or the time to sit up for 4 hours at night to hunt for the coupon so this helped me greatly! I have a baby so sleep is precious and time.

  3. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    I do agree that you should be limited to high dollar coupons at 1 per week. I have never gotten one and at the rate they are going, I may not get one. They are having to get trickier because people are being dishonest in getting several at a time. That is not the purpose of the coupons. It is to let as many people as they have coupons be able to save money. I am actually worried that they will stop this because of some people who have no integrity. I would beware of buying off of ebay anyway since they may have photocopied the coupon leaving you looking like an idiot in the store. Your integrity would then be in question. So sad!

  4. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    I have a question. I noticed that on many blogs they list a coupon that is for an item on sale, let’s say Dove deodorant, but the coupon is only for Go Fresh deodorant and the sale does not include that specific type. If a dove coupon lists just Go Fresh on the coupon, can we use it on a diff type of deodorant? I notice this quite often on blogs and I just skip over them if I think the cashier may stop me. Hope this makes sense.

  5. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    I agree with you completely! I really do appreciate all of the hard work you do to help everyone save money and take advantage of really great deals! Your site is by far the BEST! Keep up the good work!

  6. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    Why do I encourage people to press the browser back button?

    hmmm… lets see, so they can get an additional manufacturer coupon. The manufacturer allows this, so why wouldn’t I encourage others to print an additional coupon. It only makes sense. I really don’t understand the point of that question and how it has any relevance to the Old Navy coupons being sold on eBay.

    As I stated above, this is just my opinion and you don’t have to agree with it. Also, since you don’t stay up late to search for the coupons, then you obviously don’t know how frustrating it is to not be able to snag a coupon, but then see 10 of them being sold within miniutes from the same SELLER. In my opinion that’s greed!

  7. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    Something may be “legal” but is it ethical? If a manufacturer asks that something not be sold or traded, is it ethical to go against their request/policy?

  8. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    As for hitting the back button, the coupons mostly can only be printed x amount of times, if you go over the limit it will tell you – you can’t “beat the system” by hitting the back button, so what’s the big deal?

  9. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    In my opinion it is ethical to buy, trade and sell coupons. If the coupons are available why let them go to waist. Some people live in small towns and have a hard time getting newspaper insert coupons. This is a great solution for those people.

    If some people have access to more coupons then others, then why is it so bad to share the savings?

  10. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    One Mom One Daughter:
    Total Agree. I love and appreciate the time that goes into everyone putting deals up on their blogs, but I get so sick of people putting together “deals” with coupons that are not for the actual product. If it’s a Dove product for sale it doesn’t mean you can use any Dove coupon for any Dove product unless it specifically states any product.


  11. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    Hi Collin, I personally wouldn’t pay for coupons on line…if I don’t have a coupon for a particular item, I just do without. If people know ahead of time that there is a good coupon, just purchase extra Sunday newspapers, that way you will have a lot of extra coupons that might come in handy later. I do realize not everyone gets the same coupons…oh well, that’s life.

  12. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    I have bought coupons on ebay one time because it was going to be a super deal…otherwise I do without. I guess I still have mixed feelings on it.
    Here’s another idea. It works for me because I live in a small town. I buy one Sunday paper for the coupons. Then a few days later I go into our newspaper company and go through their small recycle bin for the Sunday coupon inserts. I contacted them and made sure this was ok and I have to ask the receptionist each time too. I like to buy at least one Sun. paper so I don’t feel like I’m totally using the newspaper comp., but those coupons in the recycle bin were just going to go in the trash!

  13. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    Thank you for posting your opinion on printing off 2 MQs. I agree that the manufacturers allow it, if not, there wouldn’t be a print limit. Someone mentioned yesterday that it is unethical to do so and I don’t believe that at all.I print off two with the intention of using them – not to sell them like the Old Navy ebay sellers. (That’s what I call ruining it for the rest of us!) But maybe I’m just bitter because I can never seem to get one.

    I do believe that coupons shouldn’t be used for anything other than what it says, even if it doesn’t beep at the register. I know mistakes happen, but to intentionally missue a coupon is wrong. I don’t think I would ever purchase coupons on ebay, but that’s just me. If I don’t have a coupon for the item, I’ll do without. No big deal and it seems silly to me to pay someone for their “time” to cut out the coupons, but that’s just me.

    I love your site and think that you post great deals and honest ways to save money. I appreciate all you do and the time you spend to help us (strangers to you)save a little money.

  14. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    Personally, I think the subject of the ethics of couponing is a bit ridiculous. We are all adults here who have both the right and the responsibility to make the personal decisions that we feel comfortable with (when there is no overriding legal requirement, of course). Hip2Save provides a very valuable service that I am very grateful for. It is each user’s responsibility to decide how they will personally use the information provided here. I think a little perspective on the whole matter will help everyone realize that we’re only talking about coupons, after all, and if this all went away tomorrow, life would continue. Thank you again Hip2Save for all the time and effort you put into your great site.

  15. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    So is it right to post where to find those Old Navy coupons? Shouldn’t everyone just find them themselves? Isn’t that what Old Navy intended? Maybe it’s the “where to find” posts that make all those people get multiples to sell on ebay. Just a thought.

  16. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    The Old Navy explicitly states that “coupon is not transferable and not valid for resale.” The folks on ebay are acting in contravention of the terms and conditions of the offering. Also, there may be some federal statutes implicated since ebay sales are done in interstate commerce…
    It is a bad idea to sell these and regular coupons on the internet. A East Coast Lawyer and Fellow Couponer

  17. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    Wow! What strong opinionsÂ… I think we all care about doing the right thing. In the end who wants manufacturers to get mad and stop printing coupons? Then it wouldnÂ’t matter if it was legal or not to buy coupons on ebay. So sisters, letÂ’s not forget that sometimes it all boils down to listening to your conscience. Since there is no legal law being broken, if you feel bad about it donÂ’t do it. There are plenty of other ways to get coupons. If not then keep on.

  18. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    Well, well, well. Aren’t I just the black sheep coupon user here. Because I couldn’t care less about any of the “rules”. I will use a coupon for my benefit anytime I can get away with it. And that’s just the honest truth. I think people who are freaking out over all these “coupon ethics” issues are hilarious! The money I’m saving is sooo amusingly small in the big picture. I’m soooo laughing here…

  19. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    Anon I applaud you for being so honest! I’ve never intentionally misused a Q but there have been a few times that I didn’t realize it was for the wrong item etc until after the fact, but i didn’t run back to the store and demand a return. I think buying and selling insert coupons is totally ok. The way I see it the manu puts out X amount of qs and if person A buys 100 papers and re-sells them for parts to person B that otherwise wouldn’t have had access to those qs, where the harm in that? There was still X amount of Qs the manu put out, no one exceeded the limit the manu intended.
    As for the Old Navy Qs I think it is complete greed for people to hourd these Qs to make a HUGE profit on them! I totally agree with the last paragraph HiptoSave. I actually included the one per IP address idea in my email I sent to ON last week. I really wish ON would be more proactive about the fairness of their Qs. All I want is ONE just ONE! Is that too much to ask?

  20. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    I completely agree with BMJ.

    Furthermore, I would like to add a perspective from Internet marketing. From an Internet marketing standpoint, what is going on here is -exactly- what manufacturer’s want. This is the basic principal of Internet buzz. When they go to all the effort to make some “secret” and limited-edition Internet deal, then they know that the blogs (such as this one) will get all in a tizzy over it and do all their work for them, namely spread word of their promotions and therefore increase visits to their site and/or store. Believe me, the people who print/make coupons are not in it for altruism. They print coupons to make money, to move inventory, to increase visits. By using and talking about their coupon, you are not somehow taking advantage of them. Ironically, they are probably taking advantage of you.

    For instance, how many of you stayed up, hitting their website over and over, being exposed to their advertising every single time? If I could achieve some massive and consistent surge of website visits and bombard them with an ad for the small price printing a few coupons, believe me, I would. And then on top it, the visitor comes out thinking they are the smart consumer, not some victim of internet marketing.

    So, when talking about the “ethics” of using coupons, I encourage you to include a discussion of the “ethics” of advertising, which is the flip side. Either you’re in the system or you’re out. Reject capitalism or bathe in it. And the users of this site, whether they admit it or not, are definitely in. They are the consumers, albeit an elite, awesomely intelligent and generous branch of the population at large (thank you Hip2Save). And the manufacturers need the consumers. And they need you to generate buzz about their products too, which you are doing.

  21. Collin (Mrs. Hip)

    Wow it’s so funny that a lot of you are fine with selling coupons on e-bay or getting away with any deal you can with any coupon, or printing out 25 coupons at a time but when it comes to the All Mighty Old Navy coupons it’s another story. It’s the same story, but you’re just jealous that you are not getting the big $$ coupons for Old Navy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

It's not your Grandma's coupon site!

Sign up for a Hip2Save account (it's free) to access all of the awesome features!

Forgot Password?

Don't have an account? Register

Forgot Password

Don't have an account? Register

Become a Hip2Save Insider

Don't Miss Out! Join our large community of insiders - it's totally free! Once you join, you'll be able to save & share your favorite deals, rate posts and recipes and add items to your HipList and Cookbook! What are ya waiting for?!

Already have an account? Login

Thank you for rating!

Would you also like to leave us a comment?