Please note that the links below to SavingStars, Ibotta, and Checkout 51 are affiliate links, meaning that I will receive a referral credit if you use them to sign up.
I hope that you have enjoyed this series of breaking down the ways to save store by store. I think that it is very important to understand that all stores do not have equal policies. If you are new to couponing, I always suggest in my classes that you choose one store. It could be your favorite, it could be the one closest to you, or maybe it’s the one you see the most buzz about on my page. Either way, choose one retailer and learn how that store runs their sales, how their coupon policy overlaps those sales, and how many of the layers of stackable savings will apply at that store. Once you have conquered that one, add another. Don’t get frustrated, or you will burn yourself out. You efforts will have been in vain, and you will go back to spending money that you didn’t have to spend.
Saving Money at Walgreens
Walgreens is somewhat similar to CVS in that their shelf prices are ridiculous. Before I started couponing, (as I said in the CVS post) I would have NEVER purchased anything in Walgreens that didn’t have a prescription attached to it. The prices are crazy high compared to Wal-Mart.
BUT!! Also like CVS, when they have sales and you have all of these layers of savings to apply, you can score some SWEET deals. You just have to know how to do it.
First of all, Walgreens added a member card program abut a year and a half ago. I can tell you that I signed up the moment that it went live and have yet to ever earn a point on it. But, as I have already disclosed, I prefer CVS, so I tend to shop over there (ya know, across the street from Walgreens?) more frequently. But that’s not to say that I avoid Walgreens. In fact, there have been deals that have turned me into THAT GIRL. (I’ll share that story later.)
Ways to earn points:
* Their card program is called Balance Rewards. There are several ways to earn these rewards, or points. There are offers where you will get 1000 points (equal to $1) instead of saving $1 on the that product.
* They offer a program called STEPS where you get 20 points for every mile you walk or run and 20 points per daily weigh-in. You can also set goals, engage with an active community and earn badges for healthy activity.
* You can also get 500 points for every prescription and immunization that you receive at Walgreens. That 500 point is worth $.50. (Just to compare, the CVS RX rewards are $5 per 10 RX filled. So, it’s the same value.)
As you accrue your points, their value increases. In other words, that few thousand points are only worth $1 per thousand in the beginning. But, here is the breakdown once you break into 5-digit-land:
10,000 points = $10
18,000 points = $20
30,000 points = $35
40,000 points = $50
So, to me, that encourages you to not use the points right away. But, if I have points that can make my next purchase free, I am more than likely going to use them.
Some items cannot earn these rewards, but they are pretty standard exclusions. “Points cannot be earned OR redeemed on purchases of: alcohol; dairy; tobacco; stamps; Walgreens or other gift cards; phone/prepaid cards; money orders/transfers; transportation passes; lottery tickets; charitable donations; pseudoephedrine or Ephedrine products; prescriptions, health tests, contact lenses or any other pharmacy items or services that must be excluded by law as determined by Company (“Excluded Pharmacy Items”) that are paid for in whole or in part by a Medicare, Medicaid, TRICARE, or any other state, federal or government funded healthcare program;…”
Unlimited Monthly Coupons
Walgreens also has a monthly coupon booklet that you can pick up near the current weekly sale papers. This book is full of STORE coupons. There is no need to tear the coupon out or pick up multiple copies because if you have 15 of the qualifying item on your order, one single scan of that booklet coupon will come off all 15. The coupons are valid for pretty much the entire month, so you don’t have a “one and done” situation. They are somewhat unlimited.
Also, the cashiers USUALLY know what items are in the booklet and have one handy at the register. Don’t rely on that, of course, but I have seen it a lot.
Here is an example of how this works: a few years ago, Walgreens had EXPO Dry Erase markers on sale. Regularly $11.99 per pack (CLUTCH THE PEARLS!!), they were on sale for $3.99. At the same time, EXPO put out a coupon for $2 off 2 on their Facebook page. In that little booklet was a $3 off any EXPO product coupon. So, watch this math:
Sale price – $3.99
Buy 2 – $7.98
Use $2 off 2 EXPO coupon
Use $3 off coupon in booklet (will come off twice)
Final Price – FREE!
So, I headed to my closest Walgreens with enough coupons to get 8 packs of $12 markers free (this, my friends, is crack to a couponer!) to find that they didn’t have any. I asked when the next truck came in and they told me. I went that day. They received none on the truck. I asked when the NEXT truck came in and they told me. I went again on THAT day. They hadn’t unloaded the truck yet! (DYING!)
At this point, I realized that it was Saturday, and the sale would be over tomorrow! So, I asked for a received a raincheck. Also, “by this point”, they had pegged me the crazy marker lady without a doubt! I had been in that same store FOUR times looking for these dang markers!
The next week, I went BACK in with my raincheck. Still no markers. Now we are approaching the end of the month and that $3 coupon in the booklet is about to expire. So, they issued me a NEW rain check with the price of $.99 per pack to take into account the coupon that I had not been able to use. Finally, the third week and umpteenth visit in this saga, they received FOUR lowly packs of markers. I grabbed them and threw the rest of the coupons away.
I say all of that to say that:
#1 Though I’m sure they talked about me when I left, (I certainly would have!) and wondered if I needed the markers for something more than to sniff, they worked with me and issued the appropriate rainchecks until I was able to take advantage of the fabulous offer that they deprived me of with their pitiful inventory. (In my defense, I was going to give the bulk of them to my son’s teacher, and I did give her 2 of the 4 I got.)
#2 To show how you should respond when you aren’t able to snag the deal. ALWAYS get a raincheck. That’s what they are there for
#3 To show you how these booklet coupons stack up with manufacturer’s coupons.
Walgreen’s coupon policy states that they accept one store coupon and one manufacturer’s coupon per item. This is what I was doing in the crazy marker story. However, if they give you store credits in the form of a “Register Reward” (looks like a Catalina coupon), they consider this a manufacturer’s coupon. (To compare, at CVS, this is like cash!) Therefore, you can’t use it in a one to one ratio as listed above. For example:
If you have paper towels on sale for $3, and you have a Manufacturer’s coupon for $2 and a register reward for $1, at most stores, you would have free paper towels. But, Walgreens considers this $1 Register Reward a manufacturer’s coupon and therefore the ratio is off. You would have to find a piece of candy or a pencil or something we call a “filler item” to add to your order and restore the ratio. That is probably my biggest gripe with Walgreens. It’s just complicated.
But, overall, it’s certainly not a bad store to shop and they certainly do have fabulous deals from time to time. Their policy is just different and it takes some getting used to.
Get cash back with Rebate Programs
Finally, Walgreens purchases are also eligible for Ibotta, and Checkout 51 offers (affiliate links). That means that you can also get cash back on your purchases, ABOVE AND BEYOND all the savings that I mentioned above! They are also eligible for rebates on purchases at my latest discovery: Shopmium.
In fact, when you sign up for Shopmium and use a referral code, you can get a 100% rebate on a fabulous Lindt candy bar (may I suggest the Salted Caramel?), which I found and purchased at none other than Walgreens! (See below) CLICK HERE and use referral code: GMCEGEPA (This is my referral code and I will earn a referral credit if you use it. However, if you DO NOT use a code, you WILL NOT get the free candy bar offer.)
I purchased on a Wednesday night and received the rebate the next day. It’s not instant, but it’s FREE CHOCOLATE! If that doesn’t put you “At the Corner of Happy and Healthy,” nothing will!
Do you have any tips for saving money at Walgreens?
About Northshore Mama
Kari, born and raised on the Northshore, began Northshore Mama after her family experienced a couple of rough financial years. Kari shares the tips and tricks to maneuvering each store’s different marketing of their sales, as well as introducing her readers to various programs and websites where she earns free stuff every day. Northshore Mama’s mission is to bring you the coupon deals and show you how to match them up with each store’s weekly sales to get the most bang for your buck!