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Ever heard the expression “Can I take a Rain Check (raincheck) on that?” or “I’d like a Rain Check”? and it wasn’t even raining out? Now you’re scratching your head wondering what on earth are they talking about? So, what is a rain check (raincheck)? When can you add this to your bag of tricks for budgeting both your time and money? This really is one of my favorite and easiest savings tricks. I kinda think you’ll love it as much as I do.
So, let’s start with what rain checks are. Then we’ll go into how it can save you so much money and frustration, and just as valuable, your time. We won’t forget to share where and when you’ll ask for a raincheck. This short tutorial is long on savings. I learned about this almost 40 years ago and it’s still saving me.
I’ve noticed when shopping, a lot of items are not in stock these days. In particular, certain items go quicker than ever before. I’m not just talking toilet paper friends. More people are stocking up lately, which is great. Yet, when you’re the one who gets to the store the items want are out of stock, what next? You counted on getting an item when it was on sale to help stretch that budget. So frustrating, I know. Rain Check to the rescue!
What if I told you there was a way to extend that sale price easily. In many cases for months or even indefinitely. If you haven’t used these magic little pieces of paper, vouchers, notes, you will be rolling over with joy once you start!
What are rain checks?
Rain checks are pieces of paper that you request when an item on sale is out of stock. If there are lots of people who coupon in your area, chances are that you might run into this occasionally. This way, when the item comes back in stock, even if it isn’t on sale anymore, you can still purchase it at the sale price with rain checks (also known as rainchecks) . Typically, rain checks include expiration date and a limit to how many you can purchase with that rain check.
Think of these little gems as a store’s promise to you to honor a great price.
Rain checks can be given at the customer service desk. Some stores will even offer them right at the register. After you receive your rainchecks, you’ll want to hold on to them until the item comes back in stock. Keep them wherever you are likely to have easy access and won’t forget about them.
How to Redeem a Rain Check
Make sure you’re following any guidelines set in the rain check. Check item limits or expiration dates, and head to the register!
Hand your rain checks to the cashier so they know ahead of time. Scan the items as you normally would. Most cashiers will be familiar with rain checks. If you have a new employee or someone not familiar with them, you might need to request a manager. They’ll be sure the transaction to make sure it flows smoothly (although you likely won’t run into any problems).
Keep in mind coupon expiration dates. Rain checks do NOT extend coupon dates.
For example; Your coupon expires on 1/15. You receive a rain check on 1/14. The item likely won’t be in stock by the time you’d be able to use the rain check.
However, coupons tend to come out more than once (check databases and apps for new coupons). You may just want to wait to use your raincheck at the same time the new coupon comes back.
You can only redeem rain checks at the store they were given to you at. Some will allow you to redeem them at different locations of the same store.
You can not use a rain check from your local grocery store at a different store (eg; a rain check from Giant can be redeemed “only” at Giant) You most likely can use it at another branch of the same local grocery store.
Rain Check Tips For The Best Savings
- Check with your store manager or on the store website for rain check policies (rules). They do vary by store.
- Always ask for the maximum quantity allowed on a rain check.
- If you use this product often, you can ask (doesn’t always work) for more than one rain check, each with a maximum qty. For instance, I purchase canned tomatoes in larger quantities, so for me to buy 11 cans is not unheard of when on sale (it’s usually more like 20-30). If the max on the rain check is only 8 then that doesn’t even come close to what I would have bought. I will request a few rain checks for items like this.
- Do not feel obligated to buy the maximum quantity on the rain check. If there is no expiration, you can purchase a couple at a time as your budget and storage space allows. Cashier, manager, or customer service will adjust the quantity or give you a new rain check to account for what you’ve purchased. Be sure you don’t leave without it.
- If a rain check is about to expire and you have not had luck getting item(s), ask for an extension or a new rain check.
- Combine sale price on rain check with valid coupons when available. This means increased savings to you!
- Increase savings by submitting for rebates with programs like Ibotta.
- Keep those pieces of paper in a safe convenient place. (envelopes are great for these)
- Keep a copy of the sales flyer of the original sale.
Who Gives Out Rain Checks?
With a flood of extreme couponers in past years, item shortages in recent years, stores are often updating policies. Check online or in-store for current policies. Most often you could get a rain check at a grocery store. However, some retail stores will offer rain checks on regularly stocked items. Don’t expect to get a rain check on a season item. Still, you should always ask, it cost you nothing more than asking or looking it up online.
I went to the market with my usual list, which this time would include 30 cans of crushed and diced tomatoes. They are usually $1.09 but on sale 2/$1, which is a big savings, more than half off! I get there and there are 6 cans left, o.k. I grab them up quickly.
On my way to check-out, I stop an associate of the store and ask if they could check if there are more in stock elsewhere in the store, they politely and promptly check. Nope, sorry none left, they were big sellers this week. This stinks, the sale is over tomorrow.
No problem, I go to the register, ring all my items in (self-check-out), and wave to another associate. Explain to them I would still like very much to get the sale price on the canned tomatoes and would they be kind enough to help me get a rain check.
Problem: The store only gives out rain checks for a maximum qty of 10. Now if this was an expensive roast, I’d have no problem with that policy, but canned tomatoes? No guarantees, but I stop at customer service on my way out, plead my case that they are canned tomatoes and most likely are sold out because well, doesn’t everyone buy 30 at a time when they’re on sale? This new associate pages the store manager to the front and asks if he would consider over-riding the policy and issue 3 rain checks (qty 10 each) for the sale price on my precious canned tomatoes. Well, you know what? The store manager understands, after all their mom just bought 40 cans herself yesterday!
I promptly put my 3 rain checks in an envelope in my purse.
Important note: if an item is in stock, you cannot get a ran check (raincheck). Do not abuse, stores are wise to tricks and will promptly discontinue generous policies like issuing these vouchers if there’s excessive abuse.
Flash Forward a Month
I get to the grocery store, canned tomatoes have increased in price to $2.09! However, there are hundreds of cans on the shelf. I fill up my cart with 30 cans, go to the self-check-out area where I stop a store associate and let them know I’ll be using rain checks. They understand and stay nearby as I finish my transaction. At the end of my transaction, they step in and adjust pricing on my order to reflect the correct (older sale with rainchecks) price.
O.K., did you catch the part that not only did I save but originally was looking to save 50% and now it’s over 150%!!
Did You Know
Rain checks were first used as a term in baseball. O.K. well, in the 1880’s if a baseball game was postponed due to rain a rain check was given. A ticket holder would be given a voucher, a rain check. This would give them access to a future game. Kind of like a promissory note. Who knew, ha? It was new to me and I thought it kinda fun to share with you too.
How else can you use the term rain check?
You’re invited to go out with friends for a bite to eat and drinks after work. You would love to but just can’t make it this time. “Hey girls, can I take a rain check?”
Someone asks you to show them how to operate their new power tool. The problem is you already promised your wife you’d take the kids to soccer. “Hey buddy, can I give you a rain check?”
You ask your kids to clean their room and they respond: “Hey mom, can I give you a rain check on that?”
Source: The Idioms
You may have been asked for a rain check if someone used these:
-Can we postpone?
-Oh, I’d love to ‘do it another time
-I’m super busy, let’s pick another date.
-The weather is lousy, let’s chose a nicer day.