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Walgreens 101: Learning The Game

by Tara Kuczykowski on June 4, 2009 · 114 comments

walgreens-register-rewards-101I've never formally written a post on how to play the "Drugstore Game" at Walgreens, so I'd like to take a moment to introduce you to their Register Rewards program.

In many ways, this program is very similar to the CVS ExtraCare program. When you purchase certain items and/or a certain dollar amount of items, a coupon will print out that is good on your next purchase at Walgreens.

Much like CVS, to maximize your savings the key is to combine a Register Rewards producing deal or a great sale price with a manufacturer's coupon and possibly even a store coupon. This allows you to purchase items at the lowest possible price so you can build your stockpile at a minimal cost.

However, there are some important differences that you need to be aware of to take advantage of the program to its fullest:

  • Walgreens does not require the use of a store loyalty card to earn Register Rewards, aka RRs.
  • You will only earn RRs once per deal per transaction. In other words, if Excedrin is producing $2 in RRs in a given week, you must purchase each bottle in a separate transaction to earn the Register Rewards. If you purchase 3 bottles in one transaction, you would only receive $2 in RRs.
  • RRs cannot be "rolled" on like transactions. Using the Excedrin example again, you could not purchase one bottle of Excedrin and use the RRs received to purchase a second bottle. The Register Rewards will not print out when the second transaction is completed. Instead to roll RRs, you need to alternate it with another deal. So if Pantene was producing $2 in RRs as well that week, you could purchase the Excedrin, use the Excedrin RRs to purchase your Pantene, and then turn around and use the Pantene RRs to purchase the Excedrin again and so on.
  • While Register Rewards are essentially cash, the Walgreens registers treat them as manufacturer coupons. The problem with this is that Walgreens only allow you to use as many manufacturer coupons as items on the transaction. This creates a need for "filler items" if you have a coupon for every item you're purchasing and wish to pay with a Register Reward. Filler items are inexpensive items that you add to an order so you have a non-coupon item that will allow your Register Rewards to be processed.
  • There is some debate about the best order to hand over your RRs and coupons at checkout. The method that I've found to work best personally is Register Rewards first, Walgreen's store coupons second, and manufacturer's coupons last. Feel free to change it up if it's not working well for you.

Finally, a word to the wise – treat your RRs like cash. They cannot be replaced if lost. Generally Register Rewards expire two weeks from when they are generated, so watch those expiration dates!

Ready to try your hand at shopping Walgreens? Check out the Walgreens Weekly Deals where I lay out the best deals for each week along with the coupons you need to maximize your savings.

Questions? Comments? Leave them all. I'd love to create an FAQs page to help guide readers through the process of learning to shop at Walgreens, so I welcome your input.

{ 114 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lynn December 31, 2011 at 9:40 pm

the managers make up stuff to make you happy. One told me the ohter day my rewards did not print because i buy more than one item at a time. Turns out i had the wrong toothbrush. I realized and got the right one. Purchased the toothbrush ALONE and got my reward bucks. She handed it to me and gave me a evil look.

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2 Davida January 22, 2012 at 3:34 pm

I notice sometimes a price is preceded by a psa. What does that mean?
Thanks for your hard work.

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3 Kim July 21, 2013 at 9:05 am

I understand the use of RR's but I don't get the new "points" system. Could you describe how that works please. I get tht 1000 pts = $1.00 but does it come off yo total automatically when you first purchase the items giving points or do you have to ask to use it or does it drop youor total on your next purchase?

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4 donna February 10, 2014 at 8:42 am

I don't understand the points at Walgreens either. Can anyone explain that to me?

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5 Vanessa February 24, 2014 at 1:14 pm

My understanding on the points system is that you can pay for your transaction if you have at least 5,000 points($5) on your card. The cashier should ask you if you would like to use your points to pay or save your points to accumalate more. But make sure the item you are paying for with the points isn't giving you back points because you will not get back points. So you can not redeem and earn points in the same purchase. You can earn and redeem these amounts 5,000=$5 10,000=$10 18,000=$20 30,000=$35 or 40,000=$50

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6 Gail January 23, 2014 at 3:40 pm

Davida, PSA means "prices starting at" and just gives you a base amount for where the price might begin for that item and can certainly run higher, like with makeup or vitamins.

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7 Abby August 18, 2014 at 10:09 pm

Can you combine Walgreen's coupons and manufacturer coupons?

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