Walgreens Wednesday: How to Shop Walgreens Part 2 of 4

If you are just tuning in, last week I started a 4 part series on how to shop Walgreens. It’s no secret that Walgreens is by far the trickiest drugstore to shop at. There are so many rules to shopping there that sometimes your head can spin! Especially if you aren’t familiar or comfortable with the in’s and outs of shopping that store. Because of this, I think many people avoid shopping Walgreens because they just don’t get it. That’s such a shame, because there are some great deal to be had and it can be super easy to shop there if you know how to play by their rules.

Last week, I talked all about the in’s and outs of Register Rewards, which is one of Walgreens ways to reward customers who buy participating items. If you missed part 1, be sure to check it out here. This week I am going to go over the other reward system that Walgreens just rolled out last month called Balance Rewards. Here is what you need to know:

Q: What are Balance Reward Points?

  • Balance Rewards are points that you earn each time you buy participating items.
  • You must be enrolled in the Walgreens store loyalty card program in order to earn points on purchases.

Q: Are there limits to how many Balance Reward points I can earn?

  • Offers are unlimited unless stated in the ad. This applies to point offers and sale prices.
  • Multiple point items can be purchased in the same transaction and multiple points will be awarded.

Q. How do I know if I earned the points I was supposed to get?

    • Points are credited immediately and can be found at the bottom of your receipt.
    • It will give you a “Points earned during this transaction” total as well as an accumulated total.
    • I always make sure I know how many points I should have earned on an order and check my receipt before I leave the store.

Q. When can I use/redeem my points?

  • Points can be redeemed in the following transaction.
  • If you wish to redeem your points in a transaction, just tell the cashier this is what you wish to do. A screen will appear on the pin pad and you make a selection of the point value you wish to redeem.
  • You can only start redeeming points in $5 increments. For example, if your total is $4 and you want to redeem 5,000 points or $5, you most certainly can do this. However, you can not roll over the extra 1,000 points you aren’t using. In this scenario, you will pay $0 OOP but will lose the extra $1 in Balance Rewards.
  • Now, this can get tricky because the system will allow you to redeem more points value than the amount you owe. See example below.
  1. Here is an example:

Total after coupons is $10.89. The option screen on the pin will allow you to do the following:

      • $10.89 for 18,000 Balance Reward Points
      • $10 for 10,000 Balance Reward Points
      • $5 for 5,000 Balance Reward Points

– Obviously in this transaction, the smartest move if you wish to redeem your points and lower your OOP, would be option #2. Then I would only owe $0.89 OOP. If I chose option #1. I would owe $0 OOP but would forfeit the additional 7,921 points. Yikes! Or, I could have chosen option #3 and owe $5.89 after point redemption.

Q.  So, what’s best? Saving my points up or redeeming them right away?

  • It’s really up to you and personal preference. My first thought when I was thinking about spending vs saving points was this: It might be best to save the points and get something high-dollar that we typically don’t have coupons for, ie: Printer Ink or maybe some Christmas, Birthday, or other gift items.
  • However, I also like to spend the least amount OOP at a time, so it’s been hard for me to pay up front. I just have to know that I have money set aside for a future purchase…and seeing those points accumulating at the bottom of the receipt helps!
  • Basically, you can spend your rewards up front (as they accumulate) and pay less out of pocket now, but forfeit the bonus $10 reward later, or you can spend more OOP up front and save your points up until you have 40,000 which will essentially give you that $10 bonus. Basically it’s whatever works best for you!
  • I personally have been saving up my points and plan to use them on something like printer ink, or Christmas presents. Items that I typically never have coupons for anyways and are usually super hard on the budget.

Q. Will my Balance Reward Points ever expire?

  • Yes, points expire three years after they are earned or if an account has been inactive for 6 months.

Q. Can I use RR on items that produce Balance Reward Points?

  • If you use RR to pay for a transaction that produces Balance Rewards, you WILL earn the points.

Q. Can I redeem Balance Reward points in a transaction that produces Balance Reward points?

  • If you use Balance Rewards to pay for a transaction, you will NOT earn any additional points for that transaction!
  • Knowing this, it would be best to use your RR to pay for transactions that produce Balance Rewards and Balance Rewards to pay for transactions that produce RR’s.

Q. Which Items can I use Balance Reward points on?

  • You can redeem points on pretty much anything in the store, except items excluded by law, which included alcohol; dairy; tobacco; stamps; phone/prepaid cards; money orders/transfers; transportation passes; lottery tickets; charitable donations; pseudoephedrine or Ephedrine products; prescriptions, health tests, contact lenses or any other pharmacy items or services that must be excluded by law as determined by Walgreens.

Can I earn points on pharmacy prescriptions?

  • Yes, you earn 500 points for every prescription you fill. Only prescriptions picked up in-store are eligible to earn points at this time.

Q. Can I earn points for online purchases at Walgreens.com?

  • Yes, you can earn points for qualifying purchases on Walgreens.com.

Q. What if my Balance Reward points don’t show up at the bottom of my receipt?

  • First you want to make sure that you handed over your loyalty card (or entered your phone number) during your transaction.
  • Second, you want to check and make sure you bought the right item(s) that were supposed to produce points.
  • Third, you want to see if the register was “offline” during your transaction.

Q. What do I do if my register was offline and I didn’t earn my points?

  • You could return the items and re-ring them on a register that is online.
  • You could have the store manager add points to your card (since they are still rolling this out and there are still some glitches, they have the ability to do this–for now).
  • You can go to Walgreens.com/Balance, register your receipt online, and your points should show up in 1 or 2 days.
  • You could also call 855-225-0400 to speak with a customer service representative. Once they verify some info from your receipt, you should see the points show up with a day or two.

What do you guys think? Do you like the new Balance Reward System? I’d love to hear!

Also, If you missed last week’s post, make sure you check out How to Shop Walgreens Part 1.

  • Jessica says:

    For the rewards to me is a little tricky. Because I did a transaction yesterday which gave 1000 points but I can not redeem right then and there you have to wait the next day to redeem. To complex if you ask me.


  • Jessica says:

    For the rewards to me is a little tricky. Because I did a transaction yesterday which gave 1000 points but I can not redeem right then and there you have to wait the next day to redeem. To complex if you ask me.#dislike

  • Jessica says:

    For the rewards to me is a little tricky. Because I did a transaction yesterday which gave 1000 points but I can not redeem right then and there you have to wait the next day to redeem. To complex if you ask me.

  • Candace says:

    With the RR program, the amount cannot be applied to tax. Does the same thing apply to balance reward points?

  • Erin says:

    I used store credit and my credit card to pay for the transaction yesterday. I did not get my points and was told that points won’t be given if I pay by store credit.

  • […] a 4 part series on how to shop Walgreens. If you missed them, be sure to check out Part 1 of 4 and Part 2 of 4 before moving […]

  • dion says:

    too many store programs and rewards to remember how systems and benefits work.

  • charie says:

    I just discovered another program at Walgreens. Sign up for their Steps with Balance Rewards program and earn more rewards for being active. Get 20 points per mile when
    you walk or run, and 20 points per daily log when you track your weight. Link your fitbit and you don’t have to log in your activities every day.

  • Mo says:

    OK people, I officially give up on Walgreens and current Balance Rewards program. As some have said there are just too many rules discourage you from using them as you don’t earn Balance Rewards if you’re redeeming them at the same transaction. And then returns and exchanges make it even more convoluted. I shop much less at Walgreens ever since they made all these changes (a couple of years ago) and now that I’ve lost over $20 in points I’m considering not shopping there at all! It’s too bad a program that’s supposed to be an incentive is actually turning into a disincentive for some. Sorry, just had to vent….

    • Josie says:

      I feel your pain, Mo! 🙁

      • Mo says:

        Thanks Josie, I appreciate the sympathy 🙂

        Now that I’ve a chance to cool off a bit, I have to chuckle at my rant; I was so frustrated that I could barely string a sentence together. I can always count on your website to clarify such things and, unfortunately, it confirmed their messed up rewards program. OK, I’m over it now (still won’t shop there)….

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