How to Shop & Save at Walgreens

walgreens How to Shop & Save at Walgreens

So you want to learn how to get your toiletries for FREE at Walgreens? You’ve come to the right place!

Like at CVS, Walgreens lets you combine store incentives with coupons to get rock-bottom prices on your family’s toiletries and household cleaners.

Here’s what you need to know to get the best deals.

Register Rewards

Every week, Walgreens puts certain items on sale, as advertised in their Sunday sale circular.

The sale price is further sweetened on certain items with a Register Reward (RR). A RR is a Catalina that prints out of the cash register when you buy certain products, good for $x amount off your next purchase.

Think of the RR as cash, which you can only use at Walgreens.

For example (this is totally made up – just to give you a sense of how this works):

Dove Shampoo – $3 Each, Regularly $4.50
Buy (2) and Earn $2 Register Reward

In this example, you would pay $6 out of pocket, for something that would normally cost $9 – a savings of 33%. But then, you would have $2 to spend on your next trip to Walgreens, making your effective cost $4 – or a savings of 45%.

Note that at Walgreens, the RR is only valid for two weeks, so you don’t have much time to roll those rewards. Saving at Walgreens means going there at least every other week, otherwise you will be wasting your rewards. No one would throw away cash, so don’t throw away your Register Rewards by not using them.

(By the way, I know myself and know that biweekly shopping ‘aint going to happen on a regular basis. So, I make a point of “spending down” my RRs the same day I earn them. My savings percentages may be a bit lower, but at least I’m not stuck with wasted rewards.)

Stacking Coupons with Register Rewards

A savings of 45% is a pretty good deal, but you can do even better when you use coupons. Let’s say you have two $1 off coupons for Dove Shampoo.

You use both coupons to pay just $4 out of pocket on shampoo that would normally cost $9 – a savings of 45%. But when you add in your register rewards, your effect cost is $2 – a savings of almost 80%.

Rolling Register Rewards

A savvy couponer (which I know all KOABers are!) will take those register rewards and “roll them” – i.e. use them as tender to pay for another deal that is also offering register rewards.

Let’s say, for example, that toothbrushes are on sale for $2, regularly $3.50, plus you earn $2 in Register Rewards when you buy one – making this free after RRs.

Now even if there are no coupons for this particular sale, you still have your $2 register reward from the shampoo deal.

So you buy the toothbrush, put down the RR as tender, and pay nothing out of pocket. And then you earn another $2 in register rewards, which can again be rolled onto another deal.

If you did the shampoo deal and the toothbrush deal in two transactions, one right after the other, you would pay $4 out of pocket for two bottles of shampoo and one toothbrush, which regularly would cost $12.50. And you would have $2 in Register Rewards left to spend on your next trip.

In-Ad Coupons / Store Coupons

In addition to manufacturer coupons, Walgreens also has in-ad coupons and store coupons. The store coupons can be found in the monthly Walgreens coupon book, which is usually up at the front of the store, along with copies of the weekly ad.

In-ad coupons, as the name implies, are clipable ads that you will find in the weekly circular. In my experience, you don’t need to clip these – they have copies up at the register. But if you want to be safe, rather than sorry, have a copy of the coupons with you.

With both store and in-ad coupons, you only need to present one copy, even if you are buying more than one of the particular item. The cash register will automatically compute the right amount to deduct.

For example, if you have one Walgreens $.50 off Charmin toilet paper coupon, but are buying three packages, the cash register will deduct $1.50 from your total.

No Limits on Register Reward Sales

Unlike CVS, which limits the number of times you can purchase a particular deal, Walgreens allows you to purchase as many of the sale item as you want.

The only stipulation is that you can’t pay for a subsequent item with the register reward you earned on the {same item} previous one.

In other words, you couldn’t use the $2 Register Reward (RR) from the toothbrush to buy another toothbrush. The cash register is programmed in such a way that it won’t accept that RR as tender for your amount due.

Limit on the Number of Coupons

The biggest limitation at Walgreens is on the number of coupons you can use per transaction.

At Wags, the number of coupons you use must be equal to or less than the number of items. If you forget this, the machine WILL beep.

And, in my experience, the cashier will have no idea why the machine is beeping. He or she may even try to tell you that your coupon isn’t valid or you are buying an item that isn’t allowed by the coupon. None of this is true. You just have “too many” coupons per number of items in your order.

To remedy the beeping, just go grab a “filler” – an inexpensive item to absorb that extra coupon – and watch as the coupons go through problem-free.

The RR counts as a coupon, as do Walgreens in-ad coupons, store coupons and manufacturer coupons. Any piece of paper you hand the cashier is a coupon.

So, if you wanted to get those toothbrushes and you DID have a coupon, plus you paid with a RR, the register would beep. Two coupons, but only one product.

Final Reminder: YMMV

As with all things couponing, YMMV (your mileage may vary) when you shop at Walgreens. Those of us in Kansas City, for example, are a test market for a new loyalty card, which means our deals can vary slightly from the national deals.

Always confirm sales with your weekly circular and be prepared that sometimes things won’t go quite as you plan. Keep smiling – and keep saving – and all will be well!

I think that’s everything you need to know to start becoming a savvy saver at Walgreens, but if I missed something or you have questions, please leave a comment!

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. Thanks, Mara – this is very helpful! I just wanted to point out two things about RR’s. First, you can (at least at the Walgreens near me) use RR’s to buy the same item – you just won’t get any more RR’s out of the second transaction. Second, the limitation is not just on buying the exact same item, it’s on any item by the same manufacturer (yes, I found this out the hard way). So for example if you got 2 RR’s on a bottle of Crest mouthwash, you could use the RR’s to buy another bottle of Crest mouthwash or a Crest toothbrush, but you won’t get any additional RR’s.

    • Your are absolutely correct on the last point – only on rare occasion is does work for different products under the same brand. Wags can be extremely frustrating in this regard, b/c so much is YMMV. I’ve also had it be hit or miss whether I can even use the RR on the same product – but I’d rather “roll” it, so I don’t even bother trying that anymore.

  2. Thank you very, very much Mara. I’m going to read and reread this! WAGS drives me crazy! And as to Deb’s comments, it’s a different problem for me. If I get RR’s for Colgate toothpaste, I cannot turn around and use those RR’s for a Colgate toothbrush. Trying to set up multiple transactions is very frustrating. However, I think in my case, part of the problem may just be the cashiers. We have multiple cashiers at WAGS and CVS who admit openly that they hate couponers and they often refuse to accept our coupons and give us a really hard time.

    • I hope this helps – the key to not going nuts at Wags is to keep it simple! Unfortunately so much there is YMMV, so it can be very frustrating – especially to new couponers. :(

  3. Okay, so I just had to share my walgreens trip with you, since you inspired it. I bought a scientific calculator for my daughter (on sale) for $18, but everything else I bought totalled $10, which included: 3 packs of 2 white out bottles each, 6 pronged folders, 2 pallets of lined loose leaf paper, and 2 4-packs of expo white board markers. I only bought loss-leaders with circular coupons, plus I printed the expo white board markers coupon from your site. Of course since it is Thursday, some of the best deals were gone already, but it was really worth it! I hadn’t read about the register rewards, but I am not a Walgreens shopper. Maybe I need to become one. : ) Thanks.

    • Ima2 – you did awesome! Isn’t it amazing what you can do once you know the “simple” checks. Don’t forget to ask for rain checks when the deals are out. Wags won’t rain check the RR, but they will rain check the in-ad price.

  4. I checked the Walgreens site & didn’t find anything about signing up for RR. Do you need a walgreens card for RR or is it just a coupon?
    Thanks

    • No, you don’t need a card. There are a few test markets that have been using cards, but that will revert back January 1 (thank goodness – KC is such a test market and I’ve really disliked it!). It’s a coupon that prints out with your receipt – hold on to it, it’s like $$$.

  5. So, my complaint about Walgreens is that they told me that the RR coupons are manufacturers coupons. They won’t accept the RR coupon and a manufacturers coupon that I cut from the paper for the same item. If I understood you correctly, did you say that you can buy another item (anything-just to have an additional item) and they will accept both coupons for the same item.

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