Walgreens 101 – How to Shop and Save Money at Walgreens!
This is a simple guide to getting the best deals when shopping at Walgreens. We all know buying household items at a pharmacy traditionally isn’t the cheapest option, but with the right coupon and rewards strategy, it can be!
And sometimes it’s the easiest… if you’re already in the store for medicine, why not scoop up the rest of your shopping list? Read on for some pro tips on how to maximize your dollar at Walgreens. (If you’re more of a CVS person, check out our guide on that here!)
Walgreens Balance Rewards
This is Walgreens’ free loyalty program where members get access to exclusive sales and coupons while earning Balance Rewards Points on their purchases. These points can then be redeemed as dollars off future purchases.
But this isn’t a straightforward, 1 point per dollar kind of program. Depending on what you buy and the status of your account, you can earn way more than that! More on that later. But first, the basics…
How do I sign up?
Head over here to sign-up. Keep in mind that everything is tracked through your Balance Rewards card, and some sale prices are only available to cardholders, so be sure to scan it every time you shop. If you forget your card, they can still look you up by your phone number. Just make sure to ask before paying.
Another way to carry your Balance Rewards card with you — and this is my favorite way — is through the Walgreens App. Not only does it pretty much guarantee that I’ll always have my card with me, it also enables me to look up sales and coupons right on my phone while I’m in the store. No need to clip coupons before coming in!
How do I earn points?
There are a few different ways to earn points:
Shop & Activate Everyday Points Perks
Every Balance Rewards member gets points back on select items that are designated as earning Balance Reward Points. These are typically marked with a green tag in stores and usually only earn 1 point per $1 spent. But you can up your earnings tenfold if you activate Everyday Points Perks. This program sets you up to earn 10 points on almost everything you buy — in store, online or on the app.
Don’t leave points on the table when it’s totally free and easy to activate this perk! All you have to do is log into your Balance Reward Points account online and add the Everyday Points Perk to get 10 points per $1 on almost everything.
Become a Beauty Enthusiast
If you buy things like makeup and hair products regularly, this is another perk you don’t want to miss. Log into your Balance Reward Points account online and add the Beauty Enthusiast Perk to unlock these benefits:
- 5,000 points ($5 reward) for every $50 spent on beauty
- Digital coupon via email for 20X everyday points when you sign up
- Enthusiast-exclusive access to events, sneak peeks and samples
- Personalized dashboard with products curated just for you
- First access to new beauty products
Fill Prescriptions at Walgreens
When you pick up your prescription from Walgreens, make sure you scan that Balance Rewards card! Even if your medicine is covered by insurance and you don’t end up paying anything out of pocket, you should still scan your card. Why? Because you can earn hundreds of points depending on the type of prescription you fill:
- 30-day prescriptions = 100 points
- 90-day prescriptions = 300 points
- Vaccinations = 100 points
Make Healthy Choices
This is probably the coolest way to earn points because you don’t have to spend a thing and you don’t even have to go into a store. In an effort to promote healthy lifestyles, Walgreens is awarding Balance Rewards Points for walking, running, cycling and a number of other healthy choices that you already make every day.
Register to start tracking your healthy activity for Balance Rewards Points here. Once registered, you can link your activity tracker (Fitbit, Apple Watch, etc.) or activity app (MyFitnessPal, Runkeeper, etc.) to start earning!
And this doesn’t have to be exercise… even if you simply weigh in or test your blood glucose levels, you can earn points. Check out the FAQ on this unique program here to see if your activities qualify to earn you points.
How much are the points worth in dollars, and how do I “cash in” my points?
Each 1,000 points is equal to $1 in credit toward a future purchase. You can redeem your points at any Walgreens or Duane Reade store during a purchase or online at Walgreens.com, but you must have at least 1,000 points on your account. You can choose to redeem all, some, or none of your points during any given purchase. Note that your earnings on that purchase will be calculated based on your total after the Balance Rewards has been applied!
To redeem in store, you will be prompted by the sales associate to choose to either redeem your points or continue earning points on that purchase. You can elect to redeem or keep saving using the pin pad at checkout or by telling the sales associate.
To redeem on Walgreens.com, you will be prompted to either redeem your points or continue earning points on that purchase on the Payment Options screen of the checkout process. Use the dropdown menu to select your rewards redemption value (or to continue earning without redeeming points).
How do I know how many points I have on my account?
Look at the bottom of your receipt to see a summary of your current Balance Rewards points. You can also log into your account online or on the Walgreens App to keep track.
Do points expire?
Points and rewards expire one year after they are earned or if an account has been inactive for 6 months. Your account is deemed inactive if you have not used your card in-store or online. Be sure to watch these dates closely so you don’t lose out on the points you’ve earned.
What else do I need to know (coupons, details, how transactions work, etc.)?
As couponers, you know we need the nitty gritty on how all of this is going to work for us! Here’s what I’ve discovered so far:
- Balance Rewards Points can be used in conjunction with manufacturer’s coupons or promotions. For example, if you have a $1.00 coupon for a certain bottle of shampoo and 1,000 Balance Rewards Points on your account, you could save $2.00 on that shampoo!
- Coupons do not affect the number of points you get on advertised Balance Rewards offers. So just keep on using your coupons like you normally would, and you’ll still receive the amount of points advertised for the item you’re buying!
- There is not a limit on how many Balance Rewards Points items you can buy in one transaction like there was with the old Register Rewards program. You can buy as many items per transaction as you’d like, and get points for each item. For example: If you buy 4 deodorants that each earn you 1,000 points, you’ll earn a total of 4,000 points!
- If you pay with points, you will NOT earn points on that part of your purchase.
- Balance Rewards policies can vary in certain states. To look up your specific area, check out the full terms and conditions here.
Weekly Ad Coupons
These are coupons found in the weekly store ad. They usually advertise a price (e.g., Dawn Dish Liquid 99¢) and most have a limit on how many items you can buy with the coupon.If you buy more than the stated item limit, any items over the limit will ring up at regular price.
These are not sales that apply to any purchase; you must present the coupon in order to get the advertised coupon price. However, most stores don’t require you to cut them out! Just show the cashier the coupon you want to use and they will scan it or type in the coupon code.
You can pick up a weekly ad in-store or view it online here.
If you have a Balance Rewards Card, you can also clip Paperless Coupons from the online or in-app database here and virtually add them to your account. These coupons will then automatically apply when you scan your card at checkout. You can also skip the trip to the store altogether and order straight from the coupon database!
The best order to give the cashier your coupons is Manufacturer Coupons, then IVCs, then Walgreens Ad Coupons, then Register Rewards. For example: Gum is regularly priced $1.19, use a B1G1 coupon which will deduct $1.19 then use the Walgreens Weekly Ad coupon that makes the gum 2/$1 which will deduct $1.38 from your order. That means you get the gum free! Note that overages do not get paid out in cash at Walgreens.
For more information, check out my post on the Walgreens official coupon policy.
Subscribe to Automatic Shipments
Last but certainly not least, you can subscribe for automatic refills on everyday items and save. Visit the Walgreens Auto Reorder site here to set automatic shipments on products that you use regularly. Right now they are running a promotion where you get 10% off and free shipping on automatic shipments starting on your second delivery, and select Walgreens brand items will receive 20% off!
If you plan it out right, you can save even more when you think about the gas you’ll be saving by eliminating the need to go into the store, and you’ll avoid any impulse buys that happen in-store (I see you eyeing that candy at checkout!). Just be careful not to order too much too frequently, or else your savings will be a wash, especially on items with an expiration date that go bad before you get to use them.
So that is how to shop and save at Walgreens!
If you have any additional Walgreens shopping tips, feel free to share in the comments!