This week we’ll learn how to shop at Walgreens- correctly and effectively. They do have a coupon policy. You will want to print this and add it to your growing collection. (I suggest that you keep a copy of every store’s policy in your binder, as your back up plan if needed.) Even with a policy, your mileage may vary (YMMV) at some stores with certain managers.
These are the terms you need to become familiar with when shopping at Walgreens:
- Register Reward (RR): It’s a long, slender coupon that prints out because of certain purchases, for a discount on your next purchase. It is viewed as a coupon at Walgreens, not cash. These print from a Catalina Marketing machine, separate from the register. RR generally expire in 2 weeks, so make sure to use them before then so as not to lose that “money”.
- Catalinas- these are MQ that print from the Catalina machine (where the RR print). Some of these are just MQ, while others are for an amount off- just like a RR. They are called Catalinas, rather than RR, as they are a national marketing campaign- not just at Walgreens. Some of them print for everyone and others print because of another purchase you made.
- Balance Reward Points: This is their newest addition. You need a card, in order to participate. You earn points for making specific purchases each week. (I’ll explain this more in depth further down) You can earn 500 points for purchasing prescriptions and more points for joining their “Steps” activity program.
- Monthly Coupon Booklet: This is a small coupon booklet that contains Walgreens store coupons and it can usually be found next to the weekly sales flyers at the front of the store.
- Fillers: These are small and inexpensive items that are often needed in order to be able to use a register reward (RR) on your transaction.
There are 2 incentive or reward systems used at Walgreens, and they are called Register Rewards and Balance Rewards. As stated above, RR are viewed as coupons and not as cash. (This differs from CVS.) Because of the reward programs that Walgreens offers, you can get some great deals there- IF you are willing to learn the ropes.
Balance Reward Points: This is their newest addition. You need a card, in order to participate. You earn points for making specific purchases each week. These are listed on southernsavers, as well as being noted in each ad. You can earn points for multiple items in the same transaction.
EXAMPLE: Earn 1,000 BR pts for buying 2 Crest Mouthwash. I buy 4, use my Q’s and earn 2,000 pts. in the same transaction.
These points equate to dollars: 1,000 points = $1. You have to have at least 1,000 points accumulated in order to cash them in. At the end of your transaction, before you pay, you can choose to redeem points (If you have enough in your account). This is done by you or the cashier, on the credit card scanner screen. (Let your cashier know ahead of time that you want to cash in points and how many.)
You can not earn points AND use points in the same transaction. Learning how to best use these 2 reward systems is key! I have found that earning BR points and paying with RR in the same transaction; followed by the next transaction-switching that and earning RR and paying with BR points works well.
You can “stack” coupons at Walgreens. Remember that stacking is when you use a Manufacturer coupon (MQ) and a store coupon on the same item.
Nabisco Cookies or Crackers 6-16 oz @ $2.50 (Buy 2)
-$1/2 Nabisco Oreo cookies, 10.5-18 oz August Walgreens coupon book
-$1/2 Nabisco cookie MQ
=$3 for both boxes.
You can NOT use two coupons on a Buy-One-Get-One-Free sale
Walgreens no longer allows you to use two coupons in a BOGO sale. Only 1 on the item being purchase, not including the free product, as long as the net price does not go below zero. This also means you CAN NOT use a BOGO coupon on a Buy One Get One sale and get both items free. You must purchase at least one item in the transaction! (Using these types of Q’s at Walgreens is not going to be our best option any longer.)
Store coupons often have a limit stated on them. If so, they are valid for multiple items, with just 1 coupon.
Example: a coupon that states “Bar Soap 99¢, Limit 3″ covers 3 items. The register will adjust the price for up to three pkg. of Soap to 99¢ with just the one coupon. You can purchase more, usually. Just make sure the register has removed the correct coupon value for the extras. I have had the cashier scan that store Q again, if it did not.
The number of coupons may not exceed the number of items. This is why we need “filler” items when shopping at Walgreens.
Example: Buying 1 crest and I want to use 1 MQ and a previously earned RR. This puts my items at 1 and my coupons at 2 – and we are out of balance. I need a filler item that has no Q used against it to balance my transaction out.
1 crest @ 2.99 – $1 MQ
1 gift sack @.29 (filler)
Now I can use my $2 RR, as I have 2 items and 2 coupons. I owe .28 cents plus tax.
You can not “roll” your RR from 1 purchase onto another of the SAME item. “Rolling” is when you can earn a reward and immediately use it on whatever you choose (pretty much). At Walgreens, you can not roll your RR from Crest onto another Crest purchase or the next RR will not print out. (You can’t use it on an item from that manufacturer either. Such as P&G, which makes Crest, Scope, Gillette, Venus, Tide, Downy and MANY more.).
Example: Purchase 1 Crest toothpaste @ 2.99, use your $1 MQ, & pay $1.99 plus tax OOP (out of pocket). Then the Catalina machine will spit out your $2 RR.
Purchase 1 Crest toothpaste @ 2.99 and 1 Easter gift sack @ .29 (filler)
use your $1 Crest MQ, use your $2 RR and pay .28 plus tax OOP (out of pocket). BUT then the Catalina machine will NOT spit out your next $2 RR.
BUT you can use a RR on another transaction and the next RR will print, as long as you did not use a P&G RR on a P&G purchase (as an example).
A better #2 transaction:
Purchase 1 Colgate toothpaste @ 2.79 & a .29 gift sack (filler)
– $1 MQ – $2 Crest/P&G RR and pay .08 plus tax and you get the $2 Colgate RR.
(Because Crest & Colgate are made by different manufacturers)
The RR value OR coupon value CAN not exceed the total purchase amount. Their policy states that they do not allow for overage and they do not adjust the value of coupons. BUT there are some stores/managers/cashiers that are still doing it. SO I do share scendarios that allow for it. It is called “YMMV”: Your mileage may vary. They will adjust the price of an item OR the value of your coupons, in order to accept your coupons/RR. They do not allow overage on any given coupon or Register Reward EVER! So do not expect that. They do not give cash back and there is no cash value for your RR coupon.
Example: If your transaction sub-total comes to 1.99 and you want to pay with a $2 RR, they can manually alter the price of the item by 1 cent. Thus allowing the register to accept the RR and not allow overage. (It works this way with MQ, also)
RR offers are one per transaction, per item. For example: If the offer is buy one Bottle of Shampoo for $4.99 and receive one $4.99 RR, only one $4.99 register rewards will print EVEN if you buy two or more. You need to do separate transactions if you want to take advantage of the RR offer more than once. (But you could buy the shampoo, the Crest and the Colgate and get the RR from all 3 in the same transaction.)
The key to a smooth shopping experience at Walgreens is planning your purchases in advance. (Remember, no more fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants shopping!) This will help you maximize your savings. The secret to minimizing your out of pocket spending(OOP) is by limiting your purchases within a transaction and using RR/BR points earned from the first transaction on the second and so on. Please remember to be polite and let others ahead of you if you have more than two transactions planned. (I prefer to cash out at the Beauty counter, as the cashiers at my Wags Beauty Counter are just great!! They earn commission and are usually eager to help.)
Walgreens does not accept expired coupons!! (They system knows that they are expired!!) They do not accept MQ for items that they do not carry. Nor do they accept competitor coupons.
They have a FREE publication called “Heart Health & You” that is usually found back by the pharmacy. It is released quarterly and usually has several health related coupons inside.
Here are a few items that are considered to be great “filler” items: seasonal gift sacks (.12-.29), holiday pencils (.10-.20), spices (.50-.88), canned mushrooms and mandarin oranges (.50-.59), single roll of paper towels or toilet paper .50. Also make sure you know where the clearance section is in your store.
If you are of the age to qualify for AARP, they have special offers for you! If you go to walgreens.com/aarpcard they have the current offers listed. The offer is only good one time per period, per card and they track it thru your AARP card. These print out like RR do. There are new offers weekly and you should always show your AARP card before your transaction.
When you are ready to check out, here is the order in which to offer your coupons: on a vary rare occasion there will be a money off total purchase Q ($5 off a $15 purchase) and you always offer this type while your total is at its highest. Then offer your MQ, your store Q’s and lastly your RR’s Or Balance Rewards, whichever you are paying with.
Make sure to check your receipt BEFORE you leave the store, to verify that all Register Rewards, Balance Reward Points and discounts you expected are there. It is easier to correct things right after you complete the transaction, with the same cashier -than later on with different employees.
I try to alert you to good deals coming up and coupons to print to be prepared, but you need a good blog to follow for your Walgreens shopping, so try Southern Savers. She has a clickable, printable shopping list option that I love! If you want one that focuses solely on Wags, try Wild For Wags.
If you have questions or have encountered a problem, contact customer service. You can contact Walgreens corporate by completing their comment form or calling 800.289.2273.
I would remind you that learning to coupon at all the stores at once, is NOT advisable! It will be overwhelming and you will not want to continue. Choose 1 store and focus on that. Learn to coupon correctly AND effectively at that 1 store and then move on. (My personal advice is to save Walgreens for the end. Lots of little bits and pcs. that make it harder to figure out.)
I hope this helps you as you conquer shopping effectively at Walgreens. Feel free to ask questions!!