Imagine the scene—you’re opening a box of cards that guarantees you’ll receive any number of autographed cards, let’s say two.
You’re down to your last pack and you’ve only pulled one auto, so you know the next and final auto is sitting in the pack you’re holding in your very hands!
You crack the seal, and begin thumbing through…a different colored card begins to appear. There isn’t any shine to it, and your mind begins to race. As you get closer, you realize what you hold in your possession.
A redemption card.
Now, some people might sound the “wah, wah” at this moment, but depending on the year and set, you could be holding a redemption for one of the hobby’s hottest names. You could also be holding something less desirable, but that’s all part of the chase.
Either way, you’re holding a redemption card, and not the auto you thought you’d be receiving. So, let’s go from there.
And just so we are all on the same page…
What is a Redemption Card?
A redemption card is used to replace an autographed card that is not yet ready to be inserted into packs.
For instance, when card companies release a product, they do so with a checklist of players and cards. If the cards they send out to players to be autographed aren’t returned in time, the product is still released according to checklist, but instead of the autograph card being included, a redemption for the autograph card is sent out.
These redemption cards will contain the players name, and usually the specific card it is representing. There is also a “scratch off” area that protects a unique code to be used for redeeming. Doesn’t matter if it’s a hobby box or retail box; redemptions can be found anywhere.
The holder of the redemption then goes to Topps.com or PaniniAmerica.net to redeem their card, which typically includes submitting that unique code revealed once scratched. Depending on inventory and circumstances, that item is fulfilled when ready, or might be replaced with a card of equal value.
While the card not being returned on time seems to be the most common reason for a redemption card being sent out in its place, it could also be because of damage or production issues.
“At time of the product release, Topps was unable to insert into the release the completed card of the player(s) indicated on the reverse side of your redemption card. There may be multiple reasons why Topps may not have been able to insert the completed card into the final release, including the player(s) being unable to sign during the production window, cards being damaged in production or various other production issues.”
Now, the other key piece of info on those redemption cards is an expiration date…
What Happens to Expired Redemption Cards?
Expired redemption cards can be fulfilled, rejected, or replaced, with the outcome differing between scenario and company. The actual cards that were on hand to be sent out once a redemption card was redeemed might be used to replace other redemptions, etc.
Again, it all depends. Again, from Topps:
“Redemption codes must be received or entered on Topps.com no later than the expiration date printed on the redemption card. Expiration dates can vary. Expiration dates cannot be extended. Please make sure to review the expiration date on the front of the redemption card.”
“Once a redemption code expires, it cannot be extended or redeemed.”
Regardless of what is said or thought, it’s my belief companies will still try and help in order to provide at least something as a replacement.
Each redemption card can be used only once. Each redemption card includes an expiration date. If you do not submit a Redemption Request prior to the expiration date, the redemption card is void and cannot be used in the Redemption Program. If the Redemption Request is submitted prior to the expiration date, then it will be considered a timely Redemption Request.
A recent Beckett.com article stated Panini is no longer accepting expired redemptions which stemmed from a tweet mentioning an official policy change. That policy has now been reversed with the launch of Panini’s new portal which allows for the entry of expired redemptions, with caveats on what will be returned (point values or cards).
If you find yourself in possession of an expired redemption card, don’t panic.
If a Topps redemption card, send an email and try to get a hold of someone on social media, like Twitter, and see if anything can be done—you never know! And then, with Panini, utilize their portal for submission.
I’ll try and add more from other companies when time allows, but would love to hear your experiences.