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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 Laura July 30, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Lindsey - I've used 3 different RRs and they scanned fine without beeping. According to your scenario, you should have been able to use the second RR. The cashier seems misinformed, and it might be worth writing Walgreens customer service about it. If he had tried to scan the second RR, it probably would have taken without beeping.

I've never been told by either Wags in my area that I can only use one RR per transaction. The only three problems I've encountered using RRs are: (1) the manufacturer+RR count cannot exceed the total number of items purchased; (2) the balance must be greater than or equal to the value of the RR (you can't use a $1 RR on a $0.99 bill - they won't even adjust them down like CVS does); and (3) the RRs for an active deal won't print if you use a RR that was produced by the same manufacturer.


2 Amy August 10, 2009 at 11:32 pm

I've received some great deals at Walgreens, but I do agree that their program could use some improvement.....Does anyone know about how Walgreens deals with returns when the item being returned is more than the amount you paid in actual cash? I used a bunch of coupons and register rewards and my Out of Pocket was $3.00, but I realized that the listerine I purchased was not the correct one for the listerine deal. I want to return it, but don't know how they deal with this????? HELP


3 wennona September 18, 2011 at 8:48 pm

A few weeks ago I bought an air freshner that didnt print out my RR. Manager told me it was because I used a coupon. so. I returned it and got my money back plus face value of coupon in cash. I then used cash only to purchase one and it still didnt print. But I got cash back for coupon so they will probably give you cash back for whatever item cost.


4 Modern Day Mom August 12, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Amy - it's pretty much YMMV. I went to return some Benadryl this week because we bought too much (a communication error on our part) ... the manager at one store refused to give me more than the amount I actually paid because I had used (2) $1/1 coupons and a $3 RR. I told her that the store will get reimbursed for the coupons and RR, but she still refused, saying that I would make a profit from the refund. Another store gave me cash back, no problem. I've also had stores insist that they have to load the amount onto a gift card. It's pretty inconsistent.


5 Katherine D. September 5, 2009 at 10:30 pm

If you want to 2 separate RR deals (i.e. buy Carefree liners for $1.99, get $1.99 RR and buy Excedrin for $x.xx, get $2 RR), do you have to ring them up separately, or can they ring them up together and have both RRs still print out?

There are a few RR deals I am thinking about doing this week, but I don't want to have to do several transactions/make several trips to do them.


6 Tara Kuczykowski September 5, 2009 at 10:32 pm

As long as they are separate deals, you can do them in the same transaction. But if say you wanted to do two of the Carefree deals in the same transaction, you'd only earn RRs on one. Does that make sense?


7 anoo September 21, 2009 at 9:33 am

i tried walgreens this first transaction...and i must say "I loveeee CVS". At Walgreens, the staff does not seem properly trained. I asked for a Healthy Savings Booklet and she said, "Its been discontinued as people are using it for the wrong reasons!!" I thought thats hard luck. My husband tried in another store and he got that! So inconsistent. I dont feel like going to that store anymore..:( I truly love CVS.


8 Jennifer September 30, 2009 at 9:45 am

I'm so discouraged with Walgreens program. I thought RR worked the same as they do at CVS, but I was slammed today with not being able to use my $25 worth of RR b/c I also had MC. I'll try it the way you mentioned next time, RR first. So frustrating.


9 Dona September 30, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Does anyone know the official policy on Register Rewards? I thought you could use 1 manufacturers coupon per item with RRs counting as a manufacturer coupon. Today I had 5 items with 2 coupons and 2 RRs and she said I could only use 1 RR per transaction. I had her void it and do 2 separate transactions but what a pain. If I have to each item separately, I'll stick with CVS.


10 ILiana November 30, 2011 at 10:59 am

Sound like some one needs to learn there policy. There is so many employees that need to read there policy.


11 Joy September 30, 2009 at 8:30 pm

My final OOP keeps ending up about $2. Can anyone tell me why? I've had two different Walgreens tell me they have to scan the MF coupons first and RR last.... could this be the reason for my OOP expense being so high? thx!


12 Concerned Walgreens employee September 30, 2009 at 11:39 pm

Walgreens cashiers are trained to ring up manufacture coupons first, and then the RR. If you have too many coupons, it will automatically void off the RR. So trying to hand them over in a different order is not going to work.
You can't get something for nothing. Its time to realize that, and stop harassing the poor employees who are just doing their jobs.


13 Joy October 1, 2009 at 9:36 am

Concerned Walgreens Employee,
I have actually worked at a Walgreens before and I understand your frustrations. Please understand that we are not trying to "get something for nothing" but utilize the program set forth by these companies to our greatest advantage within the rules. I have never "harassed an employee" and have actually helped educate some of the employees on their own guidelines. Respectfully, I believe you should take up your concerns with management in your company as opposed to the consumers. I hope that your environment gets better for you!


14 Gerri October 1, 2009 at 11:53 pm

When you do multiple transactions in order to roll your rewards, how do you do it? Do you do all transactions at once or do you go through the line, then go grab what you need for the next transaction and go through the line again?


15 Tara Kuczykowski October 2, 2009 at 9:51 am

It depends on whatever you're comfortable with, Gerri. You could have them ring up several transactions consecutively, or you could do a couple at the pharmacy and a couple at the front checkout.


16 Nola October 3, 2009 at 8:13 pm

How do you know which register rewards are good for the whole month and which are just a weekly deal?


17 Sandra October 4, 2009 at 8:25 am

It's funny that you asked the question about which RR's are for the whole month. I just was shown the answer from my favorite Walgreens employee. Sometimes the products are on endcaps in big boxes, on them are the dates that it is good for... alot end on 10/31/09. Also, if you are going the isles & you see the red & white cards in front of the products...that usually means all month. But check the dates because they may have accidently left one up. I hope that helps


18 Ashley S October 9, 2009 at 1:54 pm

I have been to Wags hundreds of times & have never had a problem with my register rewards...until today. I am completely aware that I cannot "roll" my RRs, but I can use my RRs from one deal to pay for a completely seperate deal that produces RRs (i.e. use RRs from excedrin one week to pay for candy deal the next week & earn more RRs); I have never had a problem & my new RR's have always printed out.

Well, today I went to wags & made a large purchase. I used 2 RR's (totaling $13) to pay for part of my purchase. I was expecting 3 RR's back totaling $15. Before I paid the cashier said to me, "You do know that if you use your RR's to pay for this, you will not receive any new RR's back?" I replied yes, but thought she didn't know what she was talking about because I have never had a problem. Well, she was right! I did not get any new RR's even though the RR's I paid with were not related to any of the products I purchased.

Is this a new Wags policy? Has anyone else had this problem?


19 Julie October 24, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Is there a new policy that walgreen coupons are used as manufucture coupons and can not be combine with a real manufacuter coupon? I am new to couponing. I went to 2 walgreens for the theraflu/ triamedic offer and I used one RR coupon and a walgreen coupon from the health savings coupon book and then I tried to use a manufacturer coupon but 2 stores would not let me. Oh and I also had 2 other products that I bought. They tried to ring it up but the machine would not take them. What do you think went wrong?


20 tracy w October 27, 2009 at 8:45 pm

I am fairly new at Walgreens RR too! I have been told if I have 5 items I can use only 5 "coupons" i.e., being RR and/or manufacturer coupons. So.....if I have a pack of gum for $1.00 and I have two coupons, (1 RR and 1 manuf. coupon -OR- 2 RR's) they will not take them. Your last senario with the Dove shampoo/cond bogo sale.....I counted 14 items and you had 15 coupons and RR's!!! I usually see the same girl when I check out on Mondays and she looks at me like I am a total cheapskate. Sorry babe! Gotta love those coupons! This is how I get to stay home and raise my kids - by clippin coupons and stretching my dollars!!!!


21 Paula November 2, 2009 at 8:28 pm

I got some awsome deals at WAGS in October but I have realized that my store is awful when it comes to displaying signage for sale prices and RR.

Is there a place to find an official list of register rewards from WAGS?


22 janet November 30, 2009 at 6:01 pm

If I have an $8 RR coupon can it be redeemed if I have several
items that total up to more than $8? The manager at my walgreens today told me that I would have to have an item costing more than $8 for the system to take it.


23 Nollie December 12, 2011 at 9:03 pm

Yours is a clever way of tihkning about it.


24 Laura November 30, 2009 at 6:26 pm

Janet - no, you are correct, you can use the $8 RR to purchase any combination of smaller items as long as your total is $8 or more. That's why cheap fillers like candy or pencils are nice because they allow you to use more RRs to get more $$ off your total.


25 Felicia December 9, 2009 at 1:13 am

I have had so many bad experiences at Walgreen's that I am seriously considering not going back. The employees are rude and don't know about the RR program. Very frustrating...


26 Wag employee February 1, 2010 at 8:47 pm

You peple need to treat the employees that are ringing you up with respect. Many times with the rr program there are blocks bulit in so you can't get everything for free. To all the house froues out there with your tiny eBay store that you run, be nice.


27 Mean Green Mommy February 1, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Wag employee - I think respect works both ways, and I've always been taught the customer comes first. You wouldn't have a job if it weren't for the customers shopping in your store. I've never experienced any major problems using coupons at Wags, but that's because the clerks are always pleasant and courteous, and I make sure to be pleasant and courteous in return. However, I'd probably have a different attitude if my cashier automatically assumed me to be a "house froue" with a "tiny eBay store" simply because I'm using coupons.


28 Kris February 3, 2010 at 2:58 pm

Today at Walgreen my cashier told me that you cannot use more coupons than the number of items being purchased. (?)
I was purchasing 3 packs of Energizer batteries at $2.99 each. I had 3 $.50 coupons and a $5 RR. The register accepted everything but beeped on the 3rd $.50 coupon. The cashier told me that I needed to purchase another item for my last coupon to work. So, I picked up a pack of gum so that my 3rd Energizer coupon would scan. Is this crazy??


29 kate February 3, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Crazy? Yep. lol But it IS how their system works. A RR counts as a manufacturer's coupon (because it is one) and you can't use more manufacturer's coupons than the number of items you are purchasing.


30 Donna February 4, 2010 at 11:11 pm

I just went to walgreens for the dr scholls inserts. I had a 2.00 off for the inserts and a 5.00 register reward from the thermacare from a while ago. I grabbed a bag of doughnuts for 2.00. The rewards and coupon was accepted, but my rewards didn't print out. The manager said that the rewards wouldn't print since I used rewards even tho the rewards I used were from a totally different product.


31 kate February 5, 2010 at 12:04 am

If it was from the same manufacturer, it wouldn't print out a new one, even if it wasn't the same product. But if it's not from the same manufacturer, go ahead and call Catalina and they'll make it right.


32 cindy February 10, 2010 at 6:44 pm

today a customer came into walgreens wanting to buy some items that were signed for the rr's program,she ended up getting $6.00 back after her purchase and was told clearly by the cashier and another employee how the program works and can be used on there next purchase and to watch for the experation date,the customer got rung up got her $6.00 but argued that she wanted to have it taken off that same purchase,when told it has to be used towards a new purchase she wanted to return everything,the manager did the return gave her back her money,Plus let her keep the $6.00 that she recieved in rr ,i know the store gets credit for there coupons and $6.00 doesnt seem like much,so maybe its not a big deal to some,but she had'nt even left the store .Dont you think she should have gave the $6.00 back,that seems like it was just giving the money away and when questioning the mngr. he said the rr has to be used at walgreens so we will still get our customer back,and our money back.


33 Lisa February 18, 2010 at 8:19 am

It bugs me that so many Wags employees have the attitude that you can't get stuff for nothing...I was given issues with someone who said that my RRs didn't print because my RRs would have been valued at higher than m y out of pocket amount. Turns out their stupid RR machine was malfunctioning. Returned everything and checked out at a different register and sure enough they printed! If yours aren't printed always insist they check their machinery to make sure the green light is on and that it has paper.


34 Cindy S February 25, 2010 at 1:19 am

Can I use two (2) of the same RR like the $5 theraflu from this week in one transaction if I'm going to purchase four items. Is it okay to have more than one of the same from a weekly deal? Unlike CVS, walgreens does not say one per household- it said "limit 1 coupon printed per offer. Has anyone ever done this?


35 Laura February 25, 2010 at 1:32 am

Cindy - Walgreens automatically limits deals to one per transaction unless specifically stated otherwise. If you bought all (4) TheraFlu products in one transaction, then only one $5 RR would print. You would have to split them into two transactions if you want to receive both RRs.


36 Cindy February 25, 2010 at 4:02 am

Thanks Laura, I already have 2 $5 RR from two Walgreens trips. I wanted to know if I could used them both in one transaction along with a couple fillers.


37 Laura February 25, 2010 at 10:02 am

Oh - yes, you can use both $5 RRs in the same transaction. You won't need fillers unless you plan to use other manufacturer coupons as well.


38 Alanah April 24, 2010 at 10:55 am

I'm new to the whole Walgreens RR's. Okay, I have two RR deals I want to do in the same transaction:
Tone Bodywash, SALE: $3.99
MQ: $1/1 any Tone Bodywash
RR: $3 RR wyb 1
MATH: $3.99 - $1 MQ = $2.99 - $3 RR = $0.01 overage


Stayfree, SALE: 2.99
MQ: 2.00/1
RR: 3.00 RR when you buy 1
MATH:2.99 - 2.00 MQ= .99 oop, get 3.00 RR back

So, when I go through the check out do I have the employee ring up both items and then hand him/her my coupons? Or, do I, for example, have the clerk ring up the Tone body wash, hand him/her the Tone coupon, hand the clerk the Stayfree, then hand him/her the Stayfree coupon? Does it work the same either way or does it make a difference?

Hopefully that makes sense! Thanks! : )


39 Tara Kuczykowski April 24, 2010 at 11:09 am

You can just hand over all of the coupons at the end of your transaction. It won't make a difference either way. ;)


40 Alanah April 24, 2010 at 11:17 am

Great! That makes it soooo much simpler! Thank you! :D


41 dawn May 21, 2010 at 4:08 pm

FYI - I used my Walgreens register rewards at Target yesterday and they accepted it. Figured since they say "manufacture coupon" on them I should be able to use them anywhere and it would work and it did.


42 Kathy Brown June 20, 2010 at 3:59 am

When it says you will 5.00 RR when you spend 15.00 do you have to spend 15.00 before or after coupons?Thank you.


43 Tara Kuczykowski June 20, 2010 at 10:26 am

Kathy, the $15 is before coupons -- that's how we're able to get such great deals with them!


44 Gina July 25, 2010 at 9:41 am

I realize this is an older thread but I was wondering if anyone else has tried to use the RR at Target, as Dawn stated above. I think my local Target would have a fit if I tried it...they "flag" everything! I have to add..there is a cashier at our local Target who will seperate EVERYTHING you check out! The last time I did a big shopping trip there, she seperated my purchases into 3 different transactions. She said it was because they had "limits" on some items/coupons. Is this true?


45 Heather August 21, 2010 at 6:04 pm

Walgreens get so confusing at times that I have just stuck to collecting all my RR and using them at the grocery stores near me that take them. I may pay a lot out of pocket but most of the items I get RR on are free or mm for me and it evens out then at the grocery store for me since I am blessed by Jewel and Kroger that take as many as I have. I had $80 worth one time and was able to use them all at Kroger and Jewel also takes however many I have. Much easier.


46 Vika November 3, 2010 at 12:02 am

So you can use RR at other stores??Is this true?


47 Lori February 10, 2011 at 9:22 pm

technically they are manufactures coupons and should be valid anywhere. However, I have been refused at other stores trying to use them in the past


48 Sandra November 14, 2010 at 10:12 pm

My question is does Walgreens coupon policy allow tripple coupons? Can I use two different MC & a walgreens ad coupon for one item? I know I have to check out with the same number of coupons and items. Today, I tried to use a manufactors coupon, a peelie coupon and a walgreens coupon & it didn't go thru. I was told I could only use one manufactor coupon per item.


49 Shannon January 16, 2011 at 10:39 pm

I just started couponing last week! I am totally overwhelmed, but I know the long run will be totally worth it! I went to Walgreens and the lady was so helpful! She actually re-scanned and "worked it" until it came out the way we wanted! I got my first two RR's with that purchase! I hope my future wags wxperiences will be as great!


50 Joy January 19, 2011 at 12:31 pm

what happens if you buy a filler item and later decide to return the filler item, do you lose all the RR money?


51 Lori February 10, 2011 at 9:19 pm

OK, I know that you need to have as many items as your do coupons. Today I had a total of 12 items. I had 4 coupons for $ off 2 items, 2 coupons for $ off 1 item, and 3 RR. A total of 9 coupons. Something wasn't going through, and the cashier stated it was because four of the coupons were for 2 items each. My understanding was that the limit was by physical coupon, not items that the coupons were on.


52 dee karvois February 21, 2011 at 11:20 am

HELP! I find these RR confusing. Will the RR apply when I make the purchase or is it a reward coupon that will print out for my next purchase (i.e., grocery store rewards). If it is for the next purchase, what makes them so great? Thanks.



53 Kate February 21, 2011 at 2:05 pm

They're for the next purchase, so if you don't plan on making Walgreens a regular or semi-regular stop, they may not be worth it for you. But if you can go every week or two weeks, you can use them to buy things that produce more register rewards (as long as it's not the same company that gave you the reward in the first place). So you can end up paying just tax out of pocket and getting back more register rewards.

Some Walmarts and grocery stores will accept register rewards because they are manufacturer coupons. It is worth checking this out where you live, because even if you don't make Walgreens a regular thing, you can use the coupon on your regular groceries and get the money back. =) Make sense?


54 Gerri February 22, 2011 at 9:55 am

For this week, there is the Pampers Deal and the Pantene/Aussie/Herbal Essence deal. These products are by the same manufacturer, correct? And so these deals can not be rolled onto one another, correct? Thanks for any help that you can give!


55 Olivia May 4, 2011 at 4:40 pm

So i went to Walgreens this morning to use 2 Kotex coupons along with Walgreens ad special - 2/7.00. I did receive the $2.00 RR. I went home and looked through my coupons again and I found 2 more Kotex coupons. I went back to the store, bought 2 more boxes of Kotex, presented the cashier my $2.00 RR and then my 2 $1.00 coupons. I thought I would receive another $2.00 RR coupon, but I did not. I asked the store manager what happened and he said I would not receive another RR coupon from Kimberly Clarke because I had just cashed my 1st coupon in on their product. I guess I am confused on these RR coupons. Lesson learned today. But I did get the 2 boxes of Kotex at the final price of $3.00- not bad :)


56 kristah May 15, 2011 at 4:36 pm

can you use an in-ad coupon with a manufactures coupon


57 tyedye May 20, 2011 at 8:29 am

Here's a total noob question. What difference does it make if you hand over your RR first or last?


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