Sign Up For Free Daily Deals!

July 28, 2015

Secret Tips On How To Score Random Catalinas At HEB

Do you get jealous when you see other couponers posting all the hot catalinas that print out for them at the HEB registers?

Or does it make you crazy that YOU do all the couponing -- but whenever your husband goes to the store, he comes back with a fistful of high-value catalinas that you never get?

Well, turn off the green-eyed monster -- I think I've broken the secret code on how to trigger random catalinas at HEB!

Keep in mind that the following tips won't work on every single transaction -- otherwise, random catalinas wouldn't be really random.

But if you try these hints, I bet you'll start seeing more fun coupons print out for you at checkout, and fewer ads or discounts on oil changes!

Note that I'm talking about catalinas like the $5 off $5 coupon pictured above -- basket coupons that aren't manufacturer coupons, and aren't promoted in the weekly ads like the P&G and Unilever offers that roll around fairly consistently.  Regular readers know how to get those!

(And if you're a brand-new couponer and don't know what catalinas are, no worries: it's just a fancy name for the coupons that print out at checkout.)

So here's what I've figured out so far:

1) HEB prints more random catalinas when competitors move into a market.  Got a Walmart being built nearby?  Then start shopping at the closest HEB -- you'll see more catalinas being generated, as HEB tries to keep shoppers happy and less likely to go check out the new store.

This is great news for a lot of San Antonio shoppers, since Walmart is making a big push into the city right now!  For example, Walmart is building a store right across the street from my HEB, and also right across the street from my mother's HEB (on two totally different sides of town.)

So if your store doesn't have any competition in the direct neighborhood, it might be worth shopping closer to work, church, or another area that does!

2) HEB prints more random catalinas when a store is under a remodel.  I saw this when the 3009 store up the road from me went through a year-long renovation -- those shoppers got significantly more catalinas than I saw shopping at my usual Kitty Hawk location in Universal City.

Again, it's a way to surprise and delight customers who might otherwise be getting tired of all of the upheaval that a renovation automatically brings.

3) HEB Plus stores print more random catalinas than non-Plus stores.  This is just a gut feeling of mine, but I'm pretty confident in it.  Since Plus stores have more inventory, they have more discount opportunities than the non-Plus stores.

My family friends who shop the Plus stores are constantly showing me some great coupons that they get, especially the random $3 off $30 coupons and ESPECIALLY especially basket coupons good in the baby department!

4) HEB will print out FEWER catalinas for transactions using a lot of coupons.  This is the one that I think really kills couponers -- we want those catalinas so badly, and then they go to folks who are less interested in coupons (or who leave them behind in the grocery cart or even throw them away in the parking lot!)

But it makes business sense when you stop to think about it -- giving catalinas to folks who rarely or never use manufacturer coupons means HEB won't be losing money on the transaction.  In fact, that catalina will prompt non-couponers to spend MORE money than they might otherwise.

I tested my theory just this afternoon -- I went into my Universal City location and used only HEB yellow coupons and digital coupons on my transaction.  (And to be on the safe side, I also paid with a different card than I normally use.)

And guess what printed out?

Yep, that hot $5 off $5 meat basket coupon in the photo is mine, all mine.  And trust me, I never but never get those kinds of catalinas (because I really hardly ever buy at HEB without using at least one or two clipped or printed coupons!)

So I am definitely going to make a point of every once in a while putting together smaller transactions just with yellow coupons or digital coupons, just to up my odds of receiving these sweet, sweet discounts.

What other tips do you have for earning or scoring high-value random catalinas at HEB?  If you've worked out any additional hints, I would love to hear them in the comments!

Need more secret tips to couponing at HEB?  Check out my guide to finding HOT unadvertised deals at HEB each week!


  1. One thing I've noticed is that I'm far more likely to receive a couple of coupons like that if I stop in on a weekday. I don't get them on weekends.

  2. Aha! I think you've hit on something. I've received several of the catalinas on meat and deli items when I've shopped at an HEB in Bulverde where a Walmart will open close by. I was wondering the other day what triggered them. I happened to shop twice in one day, once with several coupons and once without and sure enough, the order without coupons got a catalina.

    Congratulations on the $5 off meat. The largest I've gotten is $3. off.

    Thank you for sharing, and while I'm at it, thanks for all the work you do that helps me save more money. Nan

  3. Yep I agree. I got a $3 off $3 of meat today at the Bulverde HEB.... I have also noticed some prices going down on a few items that I buy. I will start going more often and making smaller purchases...

  4. I got a TON when we had a new store open up in my city. Lucky me, it's a plus store as well. ;) I got that nice random $3/$30

  5. It actually depends on 3 things:
    Yes, if a store has a new competitor they test this program
    The products you purchase. It doesn't matter the size of the store. The program is intended to help some store with sales and attracting new customers. Especially, for those who buy national brands. They want you to try HEB products. In the future you are more likely to keep buying own brand.
    The form of payment(s) used. If you constantly use 1 card then the system considers you a frequent shopper and there is no reason to give you a catalina. The Catalina are intended for those customers who are unlikely to come back!

  6. So yesterday, I shopped at the store at Blanco and 1604. No new Walmart or other grocery coming nearby. I bought 30 items, most of which was produce but did buy 3 8 o'clock bags of coffee using three $1.50 off coupons and the $2 off $10 HEB sent by email. I also used a $3 off beef or chicken catalina for a total of 5 coupons.

    I received the $5 catalina that Jennifer pictured above. I'm wondering if it was because I'd not shopped that store for a few months as was suggested above. It seems HEB is in a giving mood these days.

    And while I'm here, a question? I received a text of a preloaded digital coupon for $2 off $10 in the meat market but can't find it on my digital coupon list or the selected list. Will it still deduct if I put in the phone number or is it a glitch that it's not there? Some of my digital coupons haven't worked. Thanks for any help with that, Nan P.S. I love your captcha, much easier and more fun that trying to figure out weird shaped numbers and figures.

  7. I hardly ever get catalinas anymore, but did tonight. I purchased only two eight o'clock coffee packs from the clearance section. They had $4 clearance stickers but rang up at $1.24 and I had two $1 coupons so ended up paying 48 cents for the two packs and payed in cash. I received a $2 off $2 Deli Meat or Deli Cheese catalina.

  8. This might be a dumb question, but are the Catalina's only triggered when you pay with a card?

  9. How do yall get the deli/meat coupons? I ALWAYS walk out with the $3 off toilet tissue, $2 off coffee, and $3 off baby dept! Today I got all 3 plus a free item!

    1. I wish I knew. I got two deli meat catalinas yesterday from paying for prescriptions in the pharmacy. But I've never gotten a toilet tissue or coffee catalina, just printed from the emails they send. I buy all toilet tissue and paper towels at Costco, so I am surprised HEB hasn't given me coupons. Perhaps it is all more random than we are trying to make it out to be. Nan

  10. Today I returned two items to my local HEB. One item was spices and the other was a brand of worcestershire sauce I didn't care for. Lo and behold I got five catalinas that printed for me. I said, wow, I return something and they reward me with all these awesome catalinas.

    1. $1.50 off next basket on pie filling or crust, exclude pumpkin pie filling but it looks like everything else is included. Exp 11/29/15

    2. $2.00 off next basket when you spend $2.00 on baking chips, cocoa or nuts. Exp 11/29/15

    3. $2.00 off next basket when you spend $2.00 on flour, baking powder and yeast. Exp11/29/15

    4. $$1.00 off next basket when you pend $1.00 on foil, parchment paper or cupcake liners.
    Exp 11-29-15

    5. $3.00 off next basket when you spend $3.00 or ore on baking pans or cookie sheets. They are showing pyrex pie plates and metal baking sheets. Exp 11-29-15

  11. I noticed that the smaller transactions get more coupons. I can spend $160 with no coupons and get none, and my husband will spend $20 or less and come home with like 4 or 5 coupons.

  12. I have definitely noticed a trend in this the past few weeks. I'm usually the type of shopper who does a big grocery shopping and then doesn't return to H-E-B until the next big shop. But lately I've been popping in every few days for just a few items, and used little or no coupons. I cannot tell you how many great coupons have printed out for me on these stops! I hardly ever have them print out on my big shopping trips with a bunch of coupons. I also agree that if you purchase more brand name products it will trigger them. In the past month I've purchased 3 blue bell half gallons and each time I've had a coupon print for a free pint of Central Market ice cream (just what I need, more ice cream!). I'm now a strong believer that not entering your phone number for the coupons from the app triggers it also. I've been pretty lax on using my app lately and the last time I checked out without it or any yellow coupons I received a $3 off tilapia, $1.50 off any cheese, $2.50 off any ground meat, and $5 off any purchase over $100, all from the same transaction!