On occasion, you might receive a coupon that is marked “no expiration date,” but those are rare. Most coupons expire within a few weeks or a few months of issuance. Think of a coupon’s expiration date as a little like Cinderella. Once it passes midnight on its expiration date, it has no value. If you have a coupon that expires on April 1 of a particular year, for example, you can still use it at an all-night supermarket or drugstore until 11:59 p.m., but once the clock strikes midnight on April 2, that coupon is just a piece of paper or an electronic blip. Of course, if you live near a time zone change where it’s still an hour earlier, you can use your coupon at a store in that zone, but few coupons are worth that much effort.
What happens if you’re at store on the day the coupon expires and the item you want is not in stock? If it’s a coupon issued by that store rather than a manufacturer’s coupon, go to the service desk and request a raincheck.
Most supermarkets and other retailers will issue a raincheck, which will allow you to receive the money off the item once it is back in stock, although the coupon has expired. How long you have to redeem the raincheck varies by store policy and when the product in question becomes available.
Store Coupon Policies
In most stores, the time to redeem a raincheck is fairly limited, generally within a week or two of issuance. If you have a manufacturer’s coupon and the item is out of stock, you might be out of luck. As the name implies, these coupons are issued by the manufacturer of the product. You have the option to go to another store carrying the item you want that day and see if it’s on the shelves.
Some stores will issue rainchecks on manufacturer’s coupons, even though they may not receive reimbursement from the manufacturer past the expiration date. It’s a good customer service policy to lose a little money on a sale rather than to inconvenience a customer, especially since the store’s lack of a product is not the buyer’s fault.
It’s more common for a supermarket to honor a raincheck on a manufacturer’s coupon than it is for other retailers to do so. The store's service desk might have a sign indicating the coupon policy for rainchecks, or the clerk at the desk will inform you whether rainchecks for manufacturer’s coupons are available.
A graduate of New York University, Jane Meggitt's work has appeared in dozens of publications, including Sapling, Zack's, Financial Advisor, nj.com, LegalZoom and The Nest.