Strategic Value of Rain Checks

I shopped Sprouts for the 72 Hour Sale over the weekend and was disappointed to find that five of my favorite deals were not in stock.

I have learned to not be upset by this, because usually it works out in my favor.

The better the sale, the more likely the shelf is going to be empty of the sale items.

When this happens, it's a good idea to ask for a rain check. Simply put, that means you get a slip of paper that will allow you to get that price when they add more stock.

What I've experienced with rain checks is that I often get better deals when I buy the product with the rain check when it's no longer on sale. I'll give you two examples of how using a rain check resulted in some unbelievable deals.

The first example involved the Madhava Raw Honey that was BOGO within the last couple of months at Sprouts. Because they were BOGO, the price for two jars of honey was the full retail price of one, or $9.99. That's a great deal, and if they had had enough of them I probably would have bought two of them during the sale.

I got a rain check for the honey, and the cashier wrote "BOGO" on the rain check and didn't write the price. So a few weeks later, I was extremely happy to see that the they were on sale for $5.79 each. Since the cashier didn't write the price on the rain check, I got two nice jars of raw honey for $2.89 each.

It turns out that this honey is the best tasting honey I've ever eaten. Perhaps the deal made it sweeter, I'm not sure!

The second example I have is from a shopping trip to CVS. Their rain checks NEVER expire, and even better, you can double dip on an Extra Care Bucks deal. Kris is always asking me about paper deals on towels and toilet paper, and this example is how to save BIG on these items at CVS.

I went to my favorite CVS store to buy paper towels, and even though I went on Sunday (the first day of their sale), their shelf was already cleared. The deal was spend $15, get a $5 ExtraBuck, and the six packs of Sparkle paper towels were $5 each, plus I had $1/1 coupons. This would have netted me 18 rolls of paper towels for about $7 after the Extra Bucks.

It's a screaming deal, right? Well, they had the SAME deal several weeks later, and this time they had enough in stock. I bought three packs of Sparkle paper towels for $5 each, used the $1/1 coupons, AND used my rain check.

Since the paper towels were on an Extra Bucks special that week, the register automatically printed out the $5 ECB. However, when I used my $5 ECB, I also got the $5 from the previous sale that when they were out, just for using my rain check.

So, I got 18 rolls of paper towels for $2 after you factor in the $3 in coupons and $10 in ECB's.

Insane, right? Well, as usual, your mileage may vary. I go to the same stores week after week because it's easy to shop there.

These are just two examples of the strategic value of rain checks. I am sure there are many more examples.

Sprouts will write you a rain check if they are out of something.

Sprouts and CVS both offer rain checks. CVS' rain checks NEVER expire. Sprouts will usually put a date on theirs but I've never had a problem redeeming them after that date.

Fry's says they only offer rain checks on ad items, but it I've never had a problem with getting a rain check there, or using it after the date it expires.

I usually find that it's more strategic to hold onto rain checks, because 8 out of 10 times a coupon for that item will become available.

I would encourage you to familiarize yourself with your store's coupon policy and rain check policy so you know which stores will give you the rain check.

Then, put them into your binder for safekeeping, and use them when the time is right.