Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Using Rainchecks 101

Back several weeks ago, reader Kathy suggested that I do a post on rain checks. She said, "I've been afraid to try them but it seems to really work for you." I thought it was a great idea and promised her that I would try to get a post up soon. Now more than a month later, I'm finally getting it done!

What are rain checks?i defines it as a
"coupon" or ticket
entitling a customer to purchase at a later date and for the same amount a sale item that is temporarily out of stock." And that pretty much sums it up. If you go to a store and they are out of a sale item, they'll give you a rain check that you can use later to get that same item at the sale price. It's really quite easy and painless usually.

What stores offer them?
Drugstores and most grocery stores. I didn't realize for a long time that grocery stores offer rain checks and missed out on a lot of deals because our closest Giant is rather pathetic and often runs out of sale merchandise.

There may be other stores that offer them as well. (Obviously Target does according to the above picture.) Any one know of any? And if you are at a store and want to know, just ask them. The worst they can do is say, "Rain WHAT?!" :)

How do they work?
Say you go to CVS and they are out of the Gillette body wash that was on sale for $2.00 with an Extra Buck of $1.50. You can simply go to the check out and ask for a rain check for that item. In my experience both Rite Aid and CVS will write the rain check to reflect the Extra Buck or UPReward that you would get with the purchase. So in other words, you don't have to miss out on getting your Extra Buck/UPReward just because the item wasn't in stock and you had to get a rain check.

At grocery stores you have to go to the customer service desk which is a bit more unhandy because you shoot more time. But it's still often worth it.

The length of time that a rain check is good varies on the store. I think Rite Aid's rain checks say they are good for 30 days (I don't know if they enforce it.) CVS rain checks never expire. And obviously grocery stores will vary greatly. Just look at the fine print on the rain check and you should be able to figure it out.

What don't I like about them?
The thing that frustrates me with rain checks is that sometimes I have coupons to use an item and they expire before the item gets back in stock, so a rain check isn't much help in that case! On the other hand, sometimes another coupon will come along and I'll still be able to get a good deal.

And you have to remember to use them! I know, it's a no-brainer. But when I first starting using rain checks I buy the item and sometimes forget to give the cashier my rain check. SO annoying! And kind of along the same line is remember to ask for the rain check. I can't tell you how often I have left the store and gotten home before I realized I had forgotten to ask for a rain check for an out of stock item.

The Bottom Line...
As Kathy observed, rain checks have worked really well for me. I use them frequently and it sure beats running back to the store later in the week to get the good deal they were out of stock on!

So, do you use rain checks? What do you like or hate about them?


  1. WOOHOO. Thanks so much! This is helpful. I have just a few questions.

    1. Is there a limit to the number of rainchecks you can get per item? Or does each store have different limits?

    2. In your Gillette example. Would the the raincheck be to get the Gillette for $.50? Or would it be for $2.00, plus they would manually give you the $1.50 ExtraBuck when you then used the raincheck? Or do you have to call in to customer service after you use the raincheck and they'll mail you the EB? I'm just curious if the EB will print on your receipt at checkout, or if there is another step involved.

    3. Last week Giant was out of the Magnum ice cream bars, which I really wanted to use my coupon and dollar doubler for to get them for only $.50! I wish I would have known you could get rainchecks at grocery stores then! :) But anyway . . . that was part of a deal where if you buy 10 items you get $3 off your total purchase. Would something like that be reflected in a raincheck? I'm assuming not, since I had to get a different tenth item in order for the $3 instant savings to be deducted immediately when I checked out.

    Hope these questions make sense!

  2. Kathy, glad it helped you. :)

    1. The # of rain checks you can get per item actually varies with the sale (and perhaps the store too, although I've never ran into limits). For instance, if the Extra Buck limit on an item is 2, you'll be able to get one rain check written for a qty. of 2. If there is no limit in the ad on the amount you can purchase of an item, as far as I know, you can get the rain check written for as many as you like

    2. The rain check would be for $2.00 with a note to give you the $1.50 in Extra Bucks at the time of the purchase. And yes, they have a way to trigger it at the time of purchase.

    With Rite Aid I've had various experiences. Sometimes the cashier writes the rain check for the $0.50, sometimes they write it for $2.00 and note that you should get $1.50 UPReward. It seems like they must not have a set way to do this.

    The $0.50 way is frustrating if you have a $1 coupon and want to do a moneymaker because then they are supposed to adjust the coupon down. You still get the item free, so I don't complain but I would prefer the money maker obviously. :)

    3. Oh, sorry you missed out on the icecream deal. :( I love ice cream so I feel your pain. Again it would probably vary, but from my experience you would have missed out on the $3 instant savings UNLESS you had them write the rain check for 10 Magnum ice cream bars. Then if you asked them, they would have probably noted on the rain check that you should get $3 instant savings as well.

    That is one of the other down sides to rain checks. Some cashiers don't do their job well and miss adding the Extra Bucks or other "extra perks". I always try to watch as they are writing the rain check and remind them of anything like that if they miss it.

    Does that all make sense? Feel free to ask anything else if you need too!

  3. Perfect! Thanks again! I'll let you know when I try it. :)


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