Bargain hunting is a great way to cut costs and save on common household items. But what happens when the item you thought was on sale is sold out? Instead of shaking your head and moving on to the next item on your grocery list, you can ask for a raincheck to lock in that product’s pricing during the sale — even if you cannot purchase it until the sale is over.
What is the meaning of raincheck?
Rainchecks were first used in the 1800s when baseball games were delayed or canceled due to inclement weather. The stadium would issue rainchecks to the people who purchased tickets to the game so that they could attend the next game at no additional charge. Now rainchecks are used by many institutions to extend a sale if they are out of stock.
For example, the big-box store normally has granola bars for $6, but they’re on a krazy good sale for $2 each when you buy 2. If you go to the store to buy granola bars and they’re out of stock, you can ask your cashier for a raincheck to buy the granola bars at the sale price when they are back in stock. The cashier will hand you a paper voucher, and when granola bars are stocked again, you can purchase them using the voucher.
FTC Rules on rainchecks
The FTC noticed that stores were not stocking the shelves well enough for their sales. People would come for the sale and then have to buy a more expensive product because the on-sale item was sold out. The FTC frowned on these bait and switch tactics and created the Unavailability Rule. Stores comply with the rule if they do any of the following:
- Order advertised products early enough and in sufficient quantities to meet reasonably anticipated demand
- Issue rainchecks for the advertised products
- Offer comparable products at comparable prices to the advertised product
- Offer other compensation at least equal to the advertised value
6 steps to asking for a raincheck:
1. Beware of Restrictions
Rainchecks only work if there aren’t any restrictions for the sale. You cannot get a raincheck on limited-time offers, special promotions like buy one get on free, or clearance prices. If you’re not sure about whether your item qualifies for a raincheck, check the store’s website for their policies.
2. Ask employees if they have any in stock
If there are not any items on the shelves, ask an employee if they have any in the back. If they do, you’re good to go. Just add the item to your cart and proceed to checkout. If not, make a note somewhere that you need a raincheck, so you don’t forget about it when you come up to the cashier.
3. Tell your cashier you’re going to want a raincheck early on
You’ll want to make sure that your cashier knows you want a raincheck at the beginning of the transaction. This will make the whole process smoother for everyone. The cashier will either write you one on the spot, or they’ll direct you to the customer service desk.
4. Make sure you know your raincheck’s expiration date
Each store policy is different. You’ll want to know when your raincheck expires. I’d recommend putting it in your calendar so you remember to come back.
5. If the store is still out of the product by the rain check’s expiration, ask for an additional raincheck
If the item still isn’t in stock, you can ask the customer service desk to write you a new raincheck. Again, add the raincheck expiration date into your calendar so you don’t forget. Keep in mind that not all stores allow this, but it’s never bad to ask.
6. Most stores only issue rainchecks for current ad sale prices, not promotional offers
If the item you want the raincheck for is part of a buy one get one free, you’ll want to ensure that the raincheck is valid while the promotion is running to get the item.
8 Stores that Offer Rainchecks:
Target raincheck policy
Target has so many exclusions, getting a raincheck is nearly impossible. Clearance items, price cuts, temporary price cuts, everyday low prices, and items that state “no rainchecks” can’t be rain-checked.
For in-store shoppers, Target offers you a raincheck valid for 30 to 45 days. You can use it at any Target location. But there are loads of exclusions:
Do you know about Target price matching? It requires that Target have the items in stock, so you can’t get a raincheck for a competitor price.
CVS raincheck policy
CVS has the best raincheck policy anywhere. Not only can you get a raincheck for any out-of-stock item in the store, you can get that raincheck written in such a way that you could actually get a better deal than you would have if the item was in stock. Here’s how:
If the raincheck is for an item that’s part of an Extra Bucks promotion, CVS rainchecks are written so that you can still get those Extra Bucks after the fact. And, if you have a CVS store coupon, the raincheck can be written for the price minus the CVS store coupon’s value.
If body wash is on sale for $5 and you have a $3 CVS coupon when you find the item out of stock, your raincheck will be written for $2.00.
And CVS rainchecks never expire. EVER. See the official policy here.
Save your raincheck for the next time you have a manufacturer coupon or digital rebate, and you could end up getting the product completely free.
Walgreens raincheck policy
Walgreens only issues rainchecks for out-of-stock sale items in stores, not online. If the item was producing Walgreens register rewards during the week it was out of stock, your raincheck will not get you that savings. If the item was producing Walgreens points, it’s worth asking the cashier to write the raincheck for the after-points price. Your mileage will vary based on your store. When requesting a raincheck, be advised that a substitute item with a higher retail cost may be offered for the price of the out-of-stock item.
Walgreens rainchecks are valid for 60 days. View the official policy here.
Rite Aid raincheck policy
Rite Aid offers rainchecks for the sale price on items that are out of stock; however, whether you earn BonusCash on the product when it becomes available again depends on the store.
Say the OxiClean detergent you want is out of stock this week, but if it were in stock and available for you to buy, you’d earn $1 BonusCash and get the $3.99 sale price for the purchase. Instead, you have to ask for a raincheck, and you are only guaranteed the $3.99 sale price.
While some stores will also give you the BonusCash in the form of a reduction in price (the manager may write $2.99 instead of $3.99 in consideration of the $1 BonusCash you’re losing out on), other stores will not. This is where it pays to be friendly to your Rite Aid manager and cashiers!
Learn more about how to coupon at Rite Aid.
Albertsons/Safeway raincheck policy
Albertsons and Safeway rainchecks can be issued for more than just sale-priced items. Albertsons rainchecks can also be written for items that have a qualifying store coupon. If the cost of the item is $12 and you had a $3 store coupon, the raincheck could be written for $9.00.
Rainchecks here expire 90 days after the date issued, but they are accepted at any Safeway or Albertsons store.
Albertsons doesn’t give rainchecks on clearance items or for sale prices listed as “limited” or “while supplies last.” And according to the official policy, rainchecks cannot be issued “for beer, wine, spirits, tobacco products, fuel, and all fluid items in the refrigerated dairy section.”
Kroger raincheck policy
There is no policy anywhere stating they do or do not offer rainchecks, so raincheck law applies. As long as your coupon/sales flyer does not say “limited quantities” or “available at select locations” (or the coupon has other exclusions, like they cannot be used on clearance or specially priced products), they are legally obligated to give you a raincheck if the item is entirely out of stock in both FOH and BOH.
Publix raincheck policy
Due to the pandemic, Publix is not offering rainchecks. However, under normal circumstances, Publix offers one raincheck per day per household. The rainchecks are good for 30 days.
Hobby Lobby raincheck policy
Hobby Lobby offers in-store rainchecks when specific items are on sale. However, when a whole set of merchandise is on sale, rainchecks are not available. If you have questions about a particular item, you can ask guest services and they will help you out.
Sears raincheck policy
While they do not offer rainchecks for their online products, Sears will offer a raincheck if demand outstrips their supply and they run out of a popular item that is on sale.
Best Buy raincheck policy
Similar to Sears, Best Buy does not offer rainchecks for online products but will offer rainchecks for in-store products.
Stores that do not offer rainchecks
There are quite a few stores that do not offer rainchecks for sales, including but not limited to the following:
- Walmart does not offer rainchecks.
- Walgreens does not offer rainchecks.
- Home Depot does not offer rainchecks.
- Lowe’s does not offer rainchecks.
- Michaels does not offer rainchecks.
- Kohl’s does not offer rainchecks.
- Macy’s does not offer rainchecks.
However, these stores still must comply with the FTC’s Unavailability Rule.
Rain Check FAQs
When should you use a raincheck?
You should use a raincheck within the time period that it’s still valid and when the item is back in stock. Rainchecks vary from 30 days to 90 days, so make sure you check the expiration date when you get it.
How do you ask for a raincheck?
You just ask your cashier! If the cashier is unable to issue you a raincheck, then they’ll direct you to customer services.
Do rainchecks expire?
Yes, they do. They normally have a 30- to 90-day expiration date. Make sure that you write down your expiration date in your calendar so you can cash in your raincheck when the product is back in stock.