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5 Steps That Will Save You Serious Money Every Time You Shop at Walgreens

How to get the most out of your Balance Rewards at Walgreens
The Walgreens Balance Rewards program is a point-based system that offers 10 points for every $1 you spend in stores and online. Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder


There’s a Walgreens on just about every busy street corner. That means they’re super convenient for those times I run out of toothpaste, toilet paper and hair care products AT THE SAME TIME.

I’ve been a Balance Rewards member for years, but I never paid much attention to how the program works. I’ve just shopped as I normally would and enjoyed the occasional surprise at the cash register.

But after noticing more frequent rewards offers, I did some digging. Now, I’ve figured out how to get the most of Balance Rewards, so I can save more money at Walgreens.

How to Maximize Your Walgreens Balance Rewards

 

How to get the most out of your Balance Rewards at Walgreens
Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

Walgreens Balance Rewards is a point-based system that offers 10 points for every $1 you spend in stores and online. You can also earn points on photo services and at the pharmacy.

You can track your points by logging in to your account or downloading the Walgreens app. You can redeem points as follows:

  • 1,000 points = $1
  • 2,000 points = $2
  • 3,000 points = $3
  • 5,000 points = $5
  • 10,000 points = $10
  • 18,000 points = $20
  • 30,000 points = $35
  • 40,000 points = $50

The best part is that you don’t have to rely solely on spending money to earn points. As a Balance Rewards member, you can also earn bonus points from paperless coupons, weekly ads and members-only perks.

Here are five ways to maximize your Balance Rewards.

1. Pay Attention to Your Receipts

How to get the most out of your Balance Rewards at Walgreens
Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

Walgreens receipts give you a summary of your rewards balance, and they’re often accompanied by Register Rewards.

Register Rewards are coupons you can use on your next purchase. Sometimes they offer savings on a specific item or type of purchase. Other times, you can earn bonus points, such as $10 worth of bonus points with the purchase of $25 or more of eligible items. Register Rewards for specific items are usually labeled with a yellow tag, and they expire after two weeks.

Another reason to pay attention to your receipts — aside from using them to score cash back through Ibotta — is to keep track of your points. While it can be fun to let your points add up without paying attention, you could miss out on points, because… well… technology.

You can see your point activity for the last 90 days in your account and your transaction history for the last year and a half.

Just remember: You can’t earn points on some products, including alcohol, tobacco and dairy.

2. Check Out the Weekly Ads

How to get the most out of your Balance Rewards at Walgreens
Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

If you don’t pay attention to the Walgreens weekly ad, you could miss out on deals and opportunities to earn bonus points.

For example, an August 2018 circular featured these offers for bonus points:

  • 3,000 bonus points ($3 reward) for spending $12 or more on participating products.
  • 5,000 bonus points ($5 reward) for spending $15 or more on participating products.
  • 10,000 bonus points ($10 reward) for spending $50 or more on participating products.

Participating products are usually within the same category — for instance, the offer featuring 5,000 bonus points included children’s or infants’ Tylenol, Benadryl, Motrin, Sudafed, Zyrtec and Desitin.

You can also find offers for bonus points and browse current sales, clearance items and online-only deals on the Walgreens site.

3. Save More With Paperless Coupons

How to get the most out of your Balance Rewards at Walgreens
Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

Walgreens rewards also offers paperless coupons, which you can find through your Balance Rewards account or in the app. These include manufacturer coupons, along with special offers for bonus points.

You can “clip” these coupons right to your Balance Rewards account, so there’s no need to print or physically clip coupons — just present your rewards card or phone number at checkout, and the coupons will be applied automatically.

As of this writing, 545 paperless coupons were available. Some of the most recent offers were for 5,000 bonus points on purchases of $25 or more and 500 bonus points on Walgreens brand bath tissue.

You can filter coupons by category and sort them by expiration date, coupon value, brand name, recommendations or most recent. You can also view and clip upcoming coupons.

Paperless coupons can also be used for online orders, as long as your Balance Rewards card is linked to your Walgreens account.

4. Earn Bonus Points With Members-Only Perks

How to get the most out of your Balance Rewards at Walgreens
Sharon Steinmann/The Penny Hoarder

Walgreens Balance Rewards also offers members-only perks, which are usually opportunities to earn more bonus points.

One recent perk offered 10 times the points on purchases of $20 or more in stores or online between Aug. 12-25. So instead of earning 10 points for every $1 you spent, you would have earned 100 points for every $1.

Another members-only perk is the Beauty Enthusiast program, which offers 5,000 points for every $50 you spend on beauty products, including cosmetics, nail care, skin care, hair care, fragrances, beauty accessories, and bath and body products.

When you opt in, you’ll immediately receive a welcome email with an offer for 20 times the regular  points. You’ll also have access to exclusive promotions and samples, a personalized beauty profile, product picks, and expert tips and tutorials.

5. Get Even More Points for Making Healthy Choices

runners compete in a race.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

This is one of my favorite things about Walgreens Balance Rewards: You can earn points just for being healthy through Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices.

What I love most is it lets me automatically earn points for doing what I was already doing — tracking my health and fitness with devices and apps such as Samsung GearFit2, MyFitnessPal and Google Fit.

Points are earned by tracking your healthy choices, including:

  • Walking, running or cycling: 20 points per mile (limit 1 mile per day).
  • Exercise: 20 points per daily log.
  • Weight: 20 points per daily log.
  • Sleep: 20 points per daily log.
  • Blood pressure: 20 points per daily log.
  • Blood glucose: 20 points per reading (limit two readings per day).
  • Nicotine replacement therapy: 20 points per daily log.

And you don’t even have to connect apps or devices to earn points for healthy choices. You can still earn points by tracking your activities right from your account on the Walgreens website or app.

But if you do connect your apps and devices, you’ll earn 250 points per app and device. Plus, you’ll earn points without really thinking about it, as long as your activity tracker and fitness apps are all connected.

The maximum amount of points for healthy choices you can earn is 1,000 per month, which is equal to an extra $1 off per month. That may not be the biggest reward, but it’s great for a little extra motivation to keep your health and fitness goals on track.

If you’re an AARP member, you can an earn 50% more points for healthy choices, along with five times the points (50 points per $1) on Walgreens brand health and wellness products. You’ll also receive 1,000 points per vaccination you get at the pharmacy. All you have to do is link your AARP membership with your Walgreens Balance Rewards account.

After putting all of these tips to the test over the last month, I’ve saved a total of $17 from coupons and earned 21,000 points — enough for a $20 reward! I’m so proud of my new money-saving habits, I might just spend that $20 reward on something I don’t even need.

OK, not really. I’m saving it for the next time I run out of all of my bear necessities AT THE SAME TIME.

Jessica Gray is an editorial assistant at The Penny Hoarder. She had “The Bear Necessities” from “The Jungle Book” stuck in her head the entire time she wrote this post.

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