When was the last time you spent money with Groupon, the United States’ most popular social coupons merchant? Unless you’re an extremely disciplined consumer or just don’t shop online very much, it probably hasn’t been long.
Groupon has long since outgrown its roots as a scrappy daily deals provider. In addition to classic Groupons, those deeply discounted merchant vouchers we all know and love, Groupon now sells merchandise directly through Groupon Goods, offers formidable travel deals through Groupon Getaways, and hawks hard-to-get tickets to concerts and other live events on GrouponLive.
But most Groupon products expire at some point. And as the world emerges from the coronavirus pandemic, Groupon customers are sitting on more expired online coupons and vouchers than usual.
Fortunately, no matter when your Groupon expired, there may be something you can do about it.
When Do Groupons Expire?
The expiration policies for popular Groupon products vary by Groupon type.
- GrouponLive: Purchases are final after the day you buy them unless there’s an extraordinary event, such as a natural disaster.
- Groupon Getaways and Market Picks: These are usually valid only within a predetermined travel window. After that, their promotional value disappears, and the offering merchants are responsible for processing face-value redemptions.
- Groupon Merchant Vouchers: These can expire as little as 30 days, though they never completely lose their value.
Groupon’s terms of sale outline its expiration, refund, return, and related policies in remarkably clear, concise English. If you’re curious about the expiration terms on a specific Groupon product, check it out before contacting their customer service team.
Most regular Groupon buyers let the occasional deal slip through their fingers. I’ve purchased more than a dozen Groupons in my time, mostly to save money at restaurants I’d eat at anyway.
I’m all too familiar with the sinking feeling that accompanies the cold realization your Groupon has expired unused. But expired unused doesn’t mean out of luck. There still may be a way to get at least some of your savings back.
What to Do With Your Expired Groupon Deals
Allowing a traditional Groupon voucher or travel purchase to expire unused isn’t the end of the world. But if you’re lucky, you might be able to recover the full promotional and face value of your expired Groupon.
Even if things don’t break your way, you likely won’t suffer a total loss. A traditional Groupon merchant voucher’s value has two parts: face value and promotional value.
The face value or “paid value” is the purchase price of the voucher — say, $30. The promotional value is the value of the discount to which the voucher entitles you — such as $25. The voucher’s total value is the sum of these two values — in this case, $55.
You’re always entitled to the voucher’s face value, even after expiration. The promotional value is what you stand to lose when your Groupon expires.
These eight strategies can help you recoup your investment on your expired (or about-to-expire) vouchers lurking in the My Groupons section of your Groupon account.
Some apply only to certain Groupon products, like traditional vouchers or travel purchases, while others are universal. All are good for your wallet.
1. Ask the Merchant to Honor It Anyway
The most straightforward way to extend the full value of your Groupon product beyond its expiration date is simply to ask the issuing merchant to do you a solid and waive the stated expiration date.
In most cases, they have full discretion (but no obligation) to do so under Groupon’s terms of sale.
If they’re really feeling generous — or perhaps just eager for the business — they might extend the date indefinitely without any cut to full value. If you paid $50 for a Groupon that entitles you to $50 off a $100 massage, you could still get that massage at half-price.
Even if they can’t honor the full Groupon, they might be willing to compromise, such as lowering that $50 discount down to $25. That’s still 25% off a $100 massage.
Or perhaps they’ll let you redeem your Groupon’s face value without meeting the required spending threshold — a budget-friendly gesture that takes you that much closer to your next Groupon purchase.
For Groupon purchases other than traditional vouchers, these compromises will look different.
For instance, a travel merchant that agrees to extend your booking or redemption deadline might impose blackout dates during peak travel times. If they intentionally scheduled the promotion to expire the weekend before Memorial Day weekend because they knew they’d have no trouble filling rooms at that time, they’ll likely exclude the Thursday-through-Monday Memorial Day period from your two-week extension.
That said, you’re less likely to convince a travel merchant to budge on the terms of a Groupon Getaways or Market Pick deal than you are to convince a restaurant manager to extend your redemption deadline by a week or two.
As such, Groupon highly recommends buying travel insurance on any airfare, hotel, or cruise purchases you book through Groupon. If the unexpected happens and you can’t journey during the promotional period, you can recoup much (though probably not all) of your nonrefundable travel expenses.
2. Escalate to Management if Warranted
If the issuing merchant’s representative refuses to honor part or all of the promotional value on your Groupon voucher or deal, be persistent.
Politely but firmly ask to speak with a manager or owner and don’t give way until you do. If they aren’t around, get their name and ask when the representative expects them back, and come or call back later.
In the age of Yelp and Facebook, ordinary customers have extraordinary leverage.
While you should never lose sight of the fact that you wouldn’t be in this situation had you stayed on top of your Groupon product’s expiration date, that shouldn’t stop you from telling management you plan to post a review of their establishment online.
That alone could make many managers eager to please, especially if they’re a new business or trying to build their Yelp ratings.
As long as you hold your ground and make a coherent case for why the merchant should take your side — or at least meet you halfway — you’ll probably reach an amicable conclusion.
3. Ask Groupon to Intervene With the Merchant
If the merchant refuses to budge, get Groupon involved.
Legally, Groupon’s customer support team can’t compel a merchant to honor the promotional value of a voucher after its stated expiration date or extend a travel booking or redemption deadline beyond the allotted window.
However, they can and will compel merchants to honor the face value of an expired voucher or deal, no matter how old.
Groupon’s customer support folks have been known to go further. Depending on the circumstances, they may try to persuade the issuing merchant to honor your expired voucher or deal or come to some other arrangement.
The “goodwill is good for business” argument goes a long way. For small businesses eager to attract new and returning customers, so does staying in Groupon’s good graces.
4. Trade It in for Groupon Bucks
Groupon Bucks are Groupon’s in-house currency, and 1 Buck is worth $1 against future Groupon voucher purchases.
When you trade in an expired voucher, your Groupon Bucks payment is equal to the amount you originally paid for the traded-in voucher — the voucher’s face value. You have 24 hours to use them to purchase a new voucher or vouchers.
If you don’t make any purchases with your Groupon Bucks within 24 hours, you forfeit your Bucks and Groupon restores the face value of your expired voucher. Remember, that face value won’t expire under ordinary circumstances.
If you redeem part (but not all) of your Groupon Bucks balance, you retain the remainder of your balance indefinitely to redeem at your leisure. Your original voucher will become worthless. That’s one of the few times a traditional Groupon voucher can lose its face value.
But there’s more to the terms and conditions of the Groupon trade-in program and Groupon Bucks. So before executing your trade, read the fine print on both.
5. Ask Groupon for a Refund
Groupon’s refund policy varies by product type.
According to the Groupon Promise, the plain-English version of its return policy, refund terms are actually pretty strict for traditional vouchers: Once three days elapse after purchase, all sales are final.
But that isn’t always the case in practice. If you can demonstrate your deal expired unused due to a problem on the issuing merchant’s end, Groupon may think it easier to eat the loss itself and credit your account with dollars or Groupon Bucks.
It isn’t uncommon with low-volume service providers, such as spas and cleaning services temporarily overwhelmed by Groupon-induced demand. Groupon Bucks issued as a refund have a longer 180-day expiration window.
Groupon Getaways’ return policies are more lenient. Getaways that require you to book within a preset window are refund-eligible when the merchant can’t honor your booking request during the active window.
In other words, if a Getaways deal expires unbooked because the issuing merchant can’t accommodate you on your preferred stay dates, you’re off the hook.
6. Resell It Online
There’s a thriving market for unwanted gift cards, coupon codes, and social coupons, including traditional Groupon vouchers. Depending on the nature of your Groupon product and the marketplace you select, you could recoup much — perhaps nearly all — of the product’s face value.
The catch: You need to offload your Groupon before it expires. Once the expiration date passes and the promotional value disappears, your product’s value will plummet, and there’s no point in trying to sell it.
If you need to get rid of traditional Groupon vouchers, check out coupon resale sites like Swap.com.
These sites generally ask sellers to accept substantial discounts to face value, so they’re only appropriate for those certain they can’t redeem in time. Voucher holders who even think there’s a chance they can redeem before expiration should hold out.
If you’re holding unwanted Groupon merchandise past the refund window, you can sell it on a reputable resale site, such as eBay or Amazon. Sought-after products command premiums on these sites. With a compelling listing and a little luck, you could actually turn a profit on your impulsive purchase.
7. Check the Extraordinary Event Policy
In rare cases, live performances and events booked through GrouponLive are refund-eligible after the date of purchase. GrouponLive’s extraordinary event policy spells out when you can expect to get your money back for a live show or festival gone awry.
When an event is canceled and not rescheduled — for instance, the headline performer becomes seriously ill and needs to cancel the show or tour or travel troubles force the tour to skip your venue — you automatically receive a refund.
However, Groupon doesn’t provide refunds for multi-act performances or festivals simply because the lineup changes — only if the specific event (performance date) or entire tour is canceled. And if the event is rescheduled, you have to ask for a refund if you need one.
8. Eat the Promotional Value
If all else fails, wave goodbye to your Groupon’s promotional value, accept the loss, and move on.
Traditional Groupon vouchers’ promotional values rarely exceed 70% of their total value. To be sure, it’s a real shame to lose out on a 70% discount, but it’s not like you’ve already spent that money.
When the time comes to redeem your expired Groupon, spend just the bare minimum required to trigger the deal (or negotiate with the retailer to reduce your spending requirement further) and exit the situation with minimal damage to your discretionary budget.
If nothing else, the ordeal of paying full price for a product, service, or experience you thought you’d get for much less will teach you to watch your Groupon deals’ expiration dates more closely.
But under no circumstances should you accept less than your traditional Groupon voucher’s face value from the issuing merchant.
It’s not uncommon for retailers to try to nickel-and-dime hapless consumers with penalty fees and the like. Groupon frowns upon this behavior and will intervene on your behalf if you bring an incident to their attention in a timely fashion.
Your Groupon collection almost certainly isn’t a make-or-break line item in your budget.
But it’s still important to manage your Groupon spending and ensure you don’t spend more than you should in the final accounting by allowing your Groupons to expire.
To avoid dealing with expired Groupons, you can take steps to ensure you remember to use them while they’re still valid.
Set a calendar reminder for each Groupon at least two weeks ahead of the scheduled expiration date. Purchase Groupons opportunistically, working around outings or events you’d already planned — like weekend trips during which you’re planning to dine out several times. And avoid buying Groupons you aren’t sure you’ll use.
Finally, if you find yourself going to torturous lengths to redeem (or simply to find time to redeem) Groupons you probably shouldn’t have purchased in the first place, it’s time to take a self-enforced break from the app. Absence makes the heart grow fonder — and it gives your wallet time to recuperate.