It’s a coupon lover’s worst-case scenario: An item you want is on sale with a coupon; but, when you get to the store, the shelves are empty because all of the items have been snatched up already. Fortunately, depending on where you shop, you may be able to get a rain check.
What Exactly Is a Rain Check?
A rain check is a voucher that allows you to take advantage of a sale even after the sale date has passed.
“Essentially, rain checks are issued when a store doesn’t have the stock to meet a sale price,” said Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com. “For instance, if you go shopping and an item that you were hoping to buy on sale isn’t in stock, you may be able to receive a rain check from the retailer so that when the item is in stock again you can get it at the sale price, even if the sale has passed.”
If you’re at a retailer that offers rain checks, you can ask for a voucher from a sales associate.
Ramhold added, “They should be able to make sure that you get a voucher that you can redeem at a later date for the sale price of the item once it’s back in stock again.”
Which Retailers Offer Rain Checks?
“Several retailers may offer rain checks, so it’s definitely worth checking with your favorites to see what their policies are,” Ramhold said. “Those with advertised policies include Target, CVS, Walgreens for select in-store items, Kroger and Best Buy on select in-store items.”
Target’s Rain Check Policy
According to the Target website, “a rain check may be available if a sale item is not available at your Target store. The rain check entitles you to today’s sale price for the next 30-45 days (varies by state), and can be used at any Target store. Target can’t guarantee product availability or hold merchandise and does not provide notifications when the product is available. However, substitutes are offered whenever possible. Ask a store team member for help.”
Some items are not covered by Target’s rain check policy, including clearance and price-cut items; music, movie and software titles; and contract cell phones. Rain checks are available only in store.
CVS’s Rain Check Policy
To use a rain check voucher at CVS, you must present both the original coupon and the rain check at the time of purchase. Rain checks never expire, according to the CVS website.
Walgreens’ Rain Check Policy
According to the Walgreens website, “Rain checks are good for in-store purchases only and are valid for 60 days. In some instances, a store employee may authorize the substitution of a similar product of the same brand at the advertised price.”
Kroger’s Rain Check Policy
Be aware that not every Kroger location offers rain checks. According to the grocery chain’s Twitter, “the rain check policy is at the discretion of the local” store.
Best Buy’s Rain Check Policy
According to the Best Buy website, “BestBuy.com does not offer rain checks for products sold online. Best Buy stores may offer rain checks when advertised products are out of stock.”
What You Need To Know About Using Rain Checks
Before assuming a retailer offers rain checks, know that some have paused their policies temporarily, so it’s important to ask whether they are still available.
“Some retailers have paused them due to current supply chain issues and other buying restrictions,” Ramhold said. “Stores like Publix may normally offer rain checks but have paused them during the pandemic due to supply chain issues or imposed buying restrictions to keep shoppers from buying too many of one item in an effort to keep enough supply to meet local demand.”
There also may be restrictions on how long they can be redeemed, depending on the retailer.
“It’s not a guarantee, but some rain checks may have other restrictions that are applicable, such as expiration dates,” Ramhold said. “Some stores don’t put an expiration on these, but others cap the time frame at 30 to 60 days.”
On the other hand, some retailers will allow you to get a rain check on a rain check.
“If the expiration date for your rain check comes up and the item still isn’t in stock, you may be able to ask for an additional rain check to extend the time frame,” Ramhold said. “However, beware that if the store is experiencing stock delays due to things like supply chain disruptions, they may not be willing to extend your rain check indefinitely.”
If a retailer does not offer rain checks, they may offer substitutions.
“If you’re looking at a particular item that’s sold out, a retailer may opt to offer a substitute at the same deal rather than issuing a rain check,” Ramhold said. “These subs should be of equivalent quality and value, so it should still be a good deal even if you aren’t able to get the exact product you were planning to buy.”
Finally, an important thing to note is that rain checks are not typically issued during Black Friday and other large sales.
“In those situations,” Ramhold said, “it’s best to see if another local store has the item at the same price or if it can be ordered online to reduce the risk of missing out entirely.”
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