Target’s Latest Fraud Prevention Efforts Make it Harder to Redeem 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.

Target’s new in-store coupon policy is frustrating shoppers at the register.

exterior of Target next to palm tree

If you’ve been having issues redeeming manufacturer’s coupons at Target, you are definitely not alone.

Back in October, Target quietly updated its in-store coupon policy to help reduce fraud. Unfortunately, these changes have also been making it harder for honest shoppers to redeem their valid coupons.

woman holding coupons

What’s different about Target’s new coupon policy?

In October 2022, Target began accepting only coupons that could be found on a master list of barcodes provided by manufacturers. This means that if your coupon hasn’t been entered into the company’s “positive offer file,” it will be declined.

Thanks to this new system, counterfeit coupons are automatically getting rejected at checkout, which is good. The bad news is that not all manufacturers are participating in this new master file system. Unfortunately, this means that a whole lot of legitimate coupons are getting declined too.

To add to the confusion, there’s no way for shoppers to know which manufacturers are on board with this new system. So at this point in time, there’s no way to predict which coupons might be accepted when you get to the register. This is unthinkable for shoppers who like to plan their Target runs around coupon match-ups.

Despite all the frustration it’s causing customers, Target is reportedly pleased with the results of its new coupon policy, reporting a 95% reduction in the use of counterfeit coupons. But many honest couponers are extremely frustrated, reporting that about half of their legit coupons are getting declined at the register… sometimes more.

scanning Target Wallet barcode at checkout

Can you still save money under Target’s new coupon policy?

In light of these new changes, is there anything honest shoppers can do to save money with manufacturer’s coupons at Target? The short answer is yes, but you’re going to need to work a little harder at it and bring your patience every time you shop.

Here are our best tips for saving money under Target’s new coupon policy:

  • Use Target’s in-app circle offers instead of paper coupons. Download the Target Circle app and add this week’s deals to your account before your next Target run. These offers were created by Target and will be automatically whitelisted as legitimate offers.
  • Be kind to your cashier. This new system is causing headaches for them too, but they do have the power to manually override a rejected coupon if they believe it’s valid. If your cashier is unsure, you can politely request that a manager review the transaction with someone from Assets Protection. Unfortunately, this is a time-consuming process and your results will vary based on the training your store’s team has received. All you can do is ask nicely and hope for the best. 🤞
  • Ask for help from a team member at self-checkout. If you’re attempting to use a valid coupon in one of Target’s self-checkout lanes and it’s being rejected, be sure to ask for assistance from the team member supervising the self-checkout area. They can either confirm your coupon’s validity on their own or request that a manager review it with Assets Protection.
  • Redeem your coupons at other stores instead. It really pains us to say this because Target used to be a fun place to coupon. But as things stand now, there are so many other coupon-friendly retailers who will accept your manufacturer’s coupons with a lot less resistance. If you don’t like uncertainty and you’re not in the mood to potentially defend every coupon at the register, you may be better off redeeming them elsewhere.

Target Bags

While we applaud Target’s efforts to cut down on fraud, it’s frustrating to see the way their new coupon policy is affecting ethical couponers.

Going forward, we’ll continue to watch this situation carefully, and we’ll update this post with any future changes to Target’s coupon policy. Hopefully, the store will find a way to strike a better balance between fraud protection and offering a positive guest experience for honest shoppers.

Learn more about Target’s Circle app and how you can use it to save money in-store.

About the writer:

Jenna has a Bachelor's Degree from Lycoming College and her Master's from Penn State, holding 4 years of writing experience between a variety of publications and Hip2Save.

Join The Discussion

Comments 20

  1. bremoeller

    Yes, as a Target front end worker please be nice to us. We will work with getting your coupons taken off and are willing to help it will just take time. A little backstory, at my store we have had scammers photocopy free item coupons and have them in their phones. They then use these coupons to get hundreds of dollars in free items. People that do that make it hard for everyone and that is the reason for the change with Target’s coupon acceptance. Target still accepts all valid coupons but they all have to be manually overridden so the process takes longer.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks so much for the insight and for sharing with us, Bremoeller! 💞🤗

    • onefruitloop

      Thank you bremoller!!

    • Del

      My Target wouldn’t do a manual override. They just sent me away. I printed the Band-Aid coupons right off of the official website. It was only 2 because they limit you to 2, and my Target would not take them. I was told if it doesn’t work when scanned, then they can’t take them.

  2. Stella

    I don’t blame retailers at all. I’ve seen shoplifting before my very eyes and I’m aghast how brazenly these thieves operate. I do make it a point to tell the nearest associate when/what I witnessed, but often the crime happens so quickly, there is little that retailers can do. Another unfortunate sign of the times we live in, rather than placing their employees in harms way, many retailers now allow the thieves to walk out. While this practice is certainly understandable, we the honest shoppers continue to absorb the higher “cost of doing business.”

    • TraceyBR

      This is so true, my son’s fiance used to work at a certain fabric store and they had folks come in on a regular basis and steal things right in front of the employees pretty much. Their policy is not to confront them for security reasons (and I’m sure it’s expensive to take them to court, etc.) She said the best they could do was to “straighten” items near the potential shoplifter as they were less likely to steal that way. She said one lady came in the same time each week!!

    • Del

      Someone brazen enough to do that is not going to bother with coupon fraud.

  3. Melissa

    I had some Sunday paper coupons rejected recently for CoverGirl mascara. Thankfully the cashier manually entered them.

    • Claudette (Hip Sidekick)

      I’m so glad you were able to use the coupons with a helpful cashier!🥰

  4. everest716

    I haven’t stepped foot inside my beloved Target in about a year for the difficulty I experienced redeeming my coupons. I can’t imagine them taking any coupons at my Target now that this went into effect. I still use drive up and online ordering. Bottom line..I spent 3/4 less at Target this year. My business went elsewhere. Not just because of the hard time they gave me using my coupons, which was ridiculous because my coupons were all clipped from the Sunday paper. It was just everything for me. I always buy Target brand baby wipes and realized on my last order that the big boxes went up $5 EACH, so that $20 gift card for spending $100 – I basically paid for. To me they have taken advantage of their loyal shoppers. They have big losses due to “organized crime” $400 million so far this year and estimated up to $600 million by years end they say. They could invest in loss prevention for all the theft but instead want to “crack down” on my 75cent coupon when all I’m trying to do is save money for my family in this economy with this inflation!

  5. everest716

    I wanted to add, I have all the patience in the world to have my coupons manually entered but the people behind me sure do not. I got looks like I was a criminal, and the cashier basically said if the computer doesn’t take it – we can’t take it – (which was later corrected by customer service and I was refunded for the coupons) I had 3-4 really bad experiences where the cashiers either just did not know the coupon policy and/or rejected every coupon. I gave up. This was last year, so I can’t image it better now with this policy. My REDcard has never had such a break. I was in Target sometimes 3 times a week, shopped there for everything!

    • Claudette (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks so much for sharing your experience. We sure appreciate you taking the time to let us know and are very sorry to hear this.🥰

    • Del

      A supervisor told me they can’t take it, and then the person at the customer service desk told me they couldn’t take it. I was never a Target fan anyway, and this definitely soured me even more.

  6. jim

    OK, but what is Target doing to arrest and prosecute shoplifters?

  7. berrylandnow

    Wow great

  8. Del

    I ran into this issue back in October. They wouldn’t let me use Band-Aid coupons I had printed off of Johnson’s own website. I ended up going to Walmart instead.

  9. Jen

    I would ask the cashier to void my entire order give all of my coupons back and I would walk out of the store never to come back. I don’t have time for this nonsense. I see people on the news in California filling garbage bags full of merchandise in stores like Target and Walgreens and simply walking out and nothing happens to them. And I’m gonna be hassled over a couple of dollars worth of coupons. Um, no.

  10. logan smith

    I stopped couponing at target while the confusion gets settled.

  11. Steph

    In my experience it is not just Target. I have had trouble in the past at CVS, Meijer, Kroger and Walmart. All of these stores were cracking down on coupons. I finally decided pretty much to just use digital coupons and have used “paper coupons” hardly at all since before the covid pandemic. I can say I don’t miss them at all. Saves time at checkout and less stress .

    • Terry

      I totally agree. My Fred Meyers (Kroger) stopped taking any computer printed coupons years ago. They might, depending on the cashier you get, take original coupons (from the paper, sent to you, etc.), if you are lucky. They told me…digital only. At Walmart, the same thing. They call over 3 people to help them decide if they want to take the coupon or not….by then, the people behind you are getting impatient. Worth it….not sure anymore.

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?