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Coupon Abbreviations
  • SC = Store Coupon
  • MC = Manufacturer Coupon
  • SS = Smart Source
  • RP = Red Plum
  • PG = Proctor and Gamble
Coupon Terms
  • WYB = When You Buy
  • B1G1 = Buy One Get One Free
  • .75/1 = 75 cents off one item
  • .75/3 = 75 cents off three items
  • EXP = Expiration Date

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changes at Walgreens

When I teach workshops or do our weekly Q&A online video chats, I don’t hide my frustrations with Walgreens.  They have two rewards programs and sometimes have great deals, but there are so many tiny rules and murky areas with their rewards that I urge people to never start drugstore deal hunting at Walgreens.

This week Walgreens made a nice change to the Balance Rewards program that makes shopping there a little easier!  While I’m still going to stick with my advice of never starting at Walgreens, this change does make it easier to earn and redeem rewards in the store.

What Did They Change?

As of this week you can earn Balance Rewards and redeem them in the same transaction.  Previously, if you were buying items that should give you Balance Reward points and you chose to use any points you had saved up from previous deals you wouldn’t earn any new rewards.  Now you can!

balance rewards deals

There Is Still A Catch

As with anything Walgreens does, there is always a catch.  If I pay with Balance Rewards on a deal like the one pictured above, and my total goes below the $20 needed to earn the reward, I won’t earn the new rewards points.  In general it’s best to just not use points to pay for deals that have a “threshold” dollar purchase requirement so you don’t run into problems with this quirk.  This doesn’t apply to deals that just require you to buy a certain number of products.

Note: This is not a problem at CVS or Rite Aid, at other stores you just need to buy the amount required and you always earn the reward.

How To Use This For Great Deals

Even with the small quirk left, this change still helps make deals even better at Walgreens!  In the past I would tell you to save your Balance Rewards and only use them to pay for Register Reward deals, but now you don’t need to do that.  What I would recommend to help you save the most is to break your transactions up into three:

Walgreens order to buy deals in

  1. Buy any Register Reward Items you Want – pay coupons & any Balance Rewards you have left from last week.
  2. Buy any threshold Balance Rewards deals you want – pay with coupons & Register Rewards
  3. Buy any regular Balance Reward deals – pay with coupons & Balance Rewards earned in #2

The rewards points you earn from transaction #3 can be saved and used to pay for that first transaction the next time you are in the store.

A few other notes on Balance Rewards (this is not changed, just to help those that don’t normally shop there):

  • Balance Rewards expire in 3 years as long as you shop in Walgreens once every 6 months.
  • Points can be used to by anything in the store except, tobacco, stamps, prescriptions and milk (in some areas).
  • Points are saved to your card or phone number, you use them at checkout selecting the amount you want to redeem in the keypad.
  • Points can be redeemed at certain increments only 5,000 = $5 off, 10,000= $10 off etc.

What are your thoughts on the change?  Does it make it easier, or just add to the confusion?

    • Beth

      I was told I couldn’t use my rewards on gift cards or prescriptions… is this true?

      • rsteadman4972

        That’s true with most rewards programs…not good on gift cards, alcohol, prescriptions, milk, newspapers, gasoline….I’m sure I missed a bunch. This doesn’t sound much better to me. I’ll probably still avoid Walgreens program. I’ll stick with CVS’s much easier to use program.

    • Valerie Little Molloy

      I basically have stopped shopping at Walgreen’s for all the reasons above. Use to love to shop there but only when necessary now!
      Thanks for the update.

    • L. Haynes

      I still don’t bother wit Walgreen’s. Too many hoops to jump through. Just not worth it at all.

    • Lois

      I lost you about half way through. I don’t have the time or patience to figure out their system of rewards. Definitely not worth shopping at Walgreens when CVS makes it so much easier and has great deals.

    • Toni Woodbury

      Thanks, Jenny. I understand. Also thanks for recapping the rules at the end of your post, because in my experience even those who work at Walgreens–including some managers–still have trouble understanding the rules and can’t relate them accurately to customers. That is because these newer policies are difficult to sort out and keep track of.

      In the early years, I used to go round and round with Walgreens for not honoring their advertised deals. Things were more cut and dried back then as far the rules went, but they often did not follow them because if the cash register did not accept the advertised deal, the managers themselves personally took the hit (I’ve been told). Now with the new rules, the stores at least can feel good about honoring store policies and customers do not not go away feeling as cheated as they used to.