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Changes to the Walgreens Balance Rewards Program

Last Fall, Walgreens launched a new customer loyalty program called the Balance Rewards Program. Essentially, this is a program where you earn “Balance Rewards Points” for buying certain products. You can redeem these Points at a later date for in-store dollar credit. The most notable way in which the program has recently changed is this: now Points can be redeemed in other, lower increments.

If you have not yet signed up for the program, do so in a Walgreens store or sign up online. If you have already signed up online and would like to receive a physical card, you can attach your account to an actual card in the store. Every time you check out, be sure to swipe your card or enter the phone number that is attached to your Balance Rewards account.

 

To Earn Points

Each week, there will be several items listed in the weekly ad that will earn you Points. For example, earn 500 Points with the purchase of two Betty Crocker Cookie Mixes.

You can earn multiple Points in a single transaction. Certain items such as soda or bottled water do have a limit listed in the ad. Other than that, there is not a limit on how many times you can receive Points from the same promotion.

Manufacturer coupons and Register Rewards do not interfere with any Points earned. In other words, you will still earn Points when using manufacturer coupons and Register Rewards. The monthly Walgreens Savings Book coupons are the exception to this rule. They do count against your total. If you are doing a “Spend X amount of dollars, Receive X amount of Points” promotion, you need to meet the specified total before manufacturer coupons but after the monthly Walgreens coupons.

Your Balance Rewards card does not keep track of purchases. If you need to spend a certain dollar amount to receive Points, you need to reach that dollar amount in a single transaction.

At the end of your transaction, the Balance Rewards Points you earned will show up on your receipt right away! If they don’t, call Walgreens Customer Service, and they will credit the Points to your account. You can also log on to your account online and view a summary of your available Points, look up your Balance Rewards activity, and request any Points that may be missing.

 

To Redeem Points

Here is the biggest recent change. Previously, you had to have at least 5,000 Points to redeem. Now Points can be redeemed with as few as 1,000! 1,000 Points equal a $1.00 reward. 40,000 Points still equal a $50.00 reward. It is advantageous to save your points so you get more bang for your buck!

(1) 1,000 Points = $1.00
(2) 2,000 Points = $2.00
(3) 3,000 Points = $3.00
(4) 5,000 Points = $5.00
(5) 10,000 Points = $10.00
(6) 18,000 Points = $20.00
(7) 30,000 Points = $35.00
(8) 40,000 Points = $50.00

To redeem Points, follow the prompts on the debit card pad or ask your cashier.

If you are using your Balance Rewards Points reward dollars as payment in a transaction, you cannot earn additional Points. In other words, Points cannot be earned when you are paying with Points. However, you still can earn Register Rewards even if you pay with Points.

As long as you shop at Walgreens and use your card at least once every six months, your Points will not expire for three years.

You cannot redeem or earn Points on purchases of dairy, stamps, prescriptions, alcohol, tobacco, phone cards, lottery tickets, charitable donations, transportation passes, or money orders.

To read more, access the full Balance Rewards Terms and Conditions or read Walgreens’ Balance Rewards Q&A.

Summary

  • You will not earn Points in a transaction in which you redeem Points.
  • You will earn Points in a transaction in which you use Register Rewards as payment.
  • You will earn Register Rewards in a transaction in which you redeem Points.

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40 thoughts on “Changes to the Walgreens Balance Rewards Program”

  1. Laura says:

    I transferred all my prescriptions to Walgreens last December, specifically because of their new Balance Rewards program. I’m suppose to be getting 500 points for every refill. I have yet to see any points at all and have called in April and just today. They have me as not eligible but my daughter is. Funny because we are under the same insurance. I’m not part of any state, federal or government-funded healthcare program either. All I got from the last call was “you will get a call about it when they catch up with all the complaints”. I think I need to go back to my last pharmacy. I had no problem with their points program! Anyone have any advice they can give me?

  2. alexandrajessica says:

    Am I the only one who LOVES Walgreens?! I have gotten so many free items I wouldn’t be able to afford to keep on hand. I do more with the RR than the BR, and I typically roll my RR from week to week to pick up the new deals. I often pick up my newspapers with RR as well, especially if I have extra from a week of great deals on items I already use, like the Fish Oil MM this week. I will save most of those RR for the deals next week, since the RR deals this week are for lower amounts. It does take a bit of strategy to shop at Walgreens, but I find the time very rewarding. I also do not have any other drugstores in my area, so I don’t know what to compare them to! I just enjoy getting free items and feeling I’m able to treat myself, guilt-free when I would otherwise not be able to afford anything!

    • miriamel says:

      You’re not the only one. I love Walgreens too, and they are the store where I stock up on toothpaste, shampoo, etc. But, like you, I don’t have Rite Aid or CVS to compare with. And I really like the new system too. It gives me more options to roll my RR, since I can either roll them in other RR, or into points. And I like points because they last a lot longer than RR, and gain value the more of them that you save. That’s a win in my book!
      I don’t even mind the strategizing much. It’s like a game of chess. :)

    • swtmuzik says:

      it seems to me I spend more time in WALGREEN’S than anywhere else. I’m still learning how to be a couponista diva , as my husband call me, but I really love WALGREEN’S. I’ve made a few mistakes this past month during my learning process, but it’s only made me wiser ! I love coming home with a doing bag full of items I got fee or nearly free! this past month, which is my first month using coupons, I’ve spent out of pocket $43.27 for $198.89 worth of items I’ve needed! my favorite transaction was a purchase this past week for Centrum chewable grape flavored multi vitamins! I found them on the clearance rack for $2.25… we had $3/1 mq in last week’s paper! money maker! I cleared that clearance rack andmade $6!

    • I’m so glad you like Walgreens! I like it too. :)

  3. I used to love Walgreens when they had just the RR. I found that I saved a lot of money. I found with the new point system I was spending more money then I previously did. I also found navigating the system to be confusing at times. For some people it can still be a big savings for certain items. I mostly get my deals now at grocery stores, Target and Dollar Tree. I also have a pretty good stock pile so I don’t have to go after every deal. There are sometimes when a deal on a certain items is really good and I will shop at Walgreens for that deal. However, it is few and far between. For myself, do not like the new system. I wish here in Colorado we had CVS and more Rite Aid stores. The only Rite Aid stores are several miles from my house so its not worth the gas. Luckily I several grocery stores, Dollar Trees and Target close to home.

    • I’m sorry that Walgreens is confusing for you, Leah! We try to make it as easy as possible, but we certainly understand that it’s most effective to focus coupon shopping on just a few stores!

  4. Cynthia says:

    Thank you for the information. When you have a big family, like I do, these deals and rewards provide my family with items I would normally have to buy. For example, my teenage daughter has multiple health problems and takes melatonin (15mg) and a probiotic everyday. I then use these register rewards on items that I would already need and prefer to purchase items that also have points. Then, for Christmas or birthday parties I cash in my 40,000 points. I don’t see how this isn’t saving. Often when items also have a register reward they are severely marked down. Melatonin and probiotic’s aren’t cheap anywhere. Walmart is 8.00 for melatonin and 15.00 for a probiotic. It’s like getting a target gift card with purchase. We all have store preferences, but for high priced items like these walgreens is the best.

    • Maeby says:

      Agree. When they had the Culturelle deal a while back, I stocked up big time for the whole family (kids were also free after RR). I know CVS and RA also had it free after ECB/up, but they were also limit of 1, where as at Wags, its unlimited. Also, stocked up on Ultimate Fiora Probiotics, and omega 3 vits this week.

      Not to mention that Walgreens have been very generous with printing out $5/20 catalina store coupons. I used it the other week with Viva IVC and the national catalina deal to get VIVA 6pk PT for under $2 each. As well as past deals with the $5/20 or $10/35.

      They also have some amazing Sat. night points double dip, making free after points. I also love that points can cover tax (im in a pre-coupon tax state).

    • Waterproof Penguin says:

      That’s so great that you’re able to save so much for your family! It is truly saving money when you’re getting things that you normally have to buy anyway OR it’s more of a blessing if you’re now able to afford things that would otherwise put you in the poorhouse.

    • I’m so glad to hear you like Walgreens!

  5. Noemi says:

    What’s the difference between register rewards and points?

  6. ShrewdNorwalker says:

    I have had a few transactions with a zero balance using register rewards ..Still struggling to use balance rewards points correctly ….always still have to pay the tax …..

  7. Waterproof Penguin says:

    Sometimes it’s a curse when having to redeem those balance reward points. I’ve had to train myself to think of balance rewards/register rewards at Walgreens (or extra bucks at CVS or plus up rewards at Rite Aid) as actual cash, so that I don’t fool myself into thinking I got something for free twice. Most times when I’m getting “free” toothpaste or mouthwash that includes balance rewards, I have to put out money up front or roll a register reward from a previous transaction in which I paid money. Therefore, I consider the initial product that I get as being “free” or “really cheap”, and I view Walgreen’s Balance rewards as a bank account into which I’m putting money. When I go to redeem 40,000, I have to think to myself, OK, that’s $40 that I put into there, now I’m getting $10 of interest. Through all those months of building up the balance, I get used to getting things for “free”, right? Here’s the dilemma, buying $50 worth of product in any given week at Walgreens is tricky because I need to make that 40,000 points or $40 of what I consider my own money really stretch. I mean, if I had to buy $50 worth of toilet paper with no coupon or sale, I’d be gravely disappointed with just a 20% discount. Therefore, I’d have to bring in enough coupons to buy $80 worth of stuff, in order to get the extra points when redeeming 40,000 points (=$50 redeemed but $40 initial investment), making it an effective 50% discount. That should seem like a fine deal. But when I generally consider Walgreens prices about 25-50% higher in prices than when I used to shop at Walmart for such household items, then now I’m left with needing to get at least 75% off to consider my purchases “worth it”. That means needing to bring in enough coupons to get $160 worth of stuff to redeem the 40,000 points. That is a LOT of stuff to have to buy in one transaction. Since I’m “paying” with what I consider $40 of my own cash, these items can’t be just random fillers (like picking up a ton of walgreen’s cheap paper towels is not worth it to me if I like Bounty). Just something to think about on your weekly trips to Walgreen’s for “free” stuff. Because in the end, if you paid money for things you don’t use and you don’t redeem your balance reward points right, the cumulative stuff of value to you (things that you DO end up using and liking) wasn’t really free (cheaper maybe, but not free). Just curious about everyone else’s strategy for maximizing these balance reward points?

    • Guest says:

      This is exactly why I treat Walgreens like the plague and only go there when RR and Balance Rewards have nothing to do with the transaction. It’s a genius way for the company to get rid of couponers without actually banning couponers. I know there are still tons of you out there that put up with Walgreens bull shnyte and intentionally confusing deals… but I would hedge to bet that 2 out of 3 stay far far away. More for the 1/3 that stick it out I guess :)

    • Anonymous says:

      I lost you after “Sometimes it’s…”, but I sincerely appreciate your effort to explain everything to us! :)

      • Waterproof Penguin says:

        Sorry, didn’t mean to give a calculus lecture there. But it is like getting a PhD in Math just to learn how to use those darn coupons!

    • Janet says:

      I totally understand you… I don’t do much of the Register Rewards. I hate I can’t use them on milk. It says no dairy products. Milk is sometimes on sale and that would be a good time to use the RR, but I can’t. Then also I can’t use a manufacturer coupon and a RR. Maybe If it’s a GOOD deal, like what we had 2 weeks ago on the Eucerin lotion, got $8.00 RR. Then turn around and used my $8.00 RR on the coke products, buy 4 packs of cokes for $10.00. I have to make sure if I’m doing the RR is it worth it. I have to sit down and plan it out by looking into next week ad to see in what way I could use them. Do some research. Sometimes it’s too much work and I give up.
      CVS is soo much easier for me on the ECB’s… I guess everyone is different..

      • Waterproof Penguin says:

        I like CVS better too. They actual cater to couponers (see their ridiculous video online of that coupon lady with the fanny pack). I was recently told that my CVS was taking expired ECBs again so there’s even less pressure to have to roll them, but I’ve never had a problem using up ECBs in a month anyway.

    • A. Nonny Mouse says:

      I think of points and RR (and +ups and ECBS) as cash as well. however I like the point system because you can keep them for so long. Last black friday they had just started the points system and I used my saved points for all the freebies after RR deals they had. That kept my out of pocket low because I used the points to get RR which I rolled over and over then on my last transaction I spent my RR on items that earned points and am mostly saving the points for this years black friday. (yes this involved a ridiculously complicated spread sheet, plan, back up plan and back up back up plan and getting up super early to ensure they had items in stock) Mostly I don’t bother with walgreens anymore, I only go for the “free” items when they are things I use and need and don’t have in my stock pile and even then I only bother if I can roll the rewards a bunch of time to make the the deal worth it AND if I can see that sometime before the RR will expire there is going to be another deal I want to roll them with. And when there is nothing I want I get the best deals possible on donation items (food mostly, I have a budget for each months donations and I consider RR as cash so that comes out of the budget)

      • Waterproof Penguin says:

        Black friday. Good tip. I’m gonna hold out until then.

      • macheryld says:

        I have saved 41000 points. Thanks for the idea, I’ll save it for Black Friday though it’s several months away. I agree with most, CVS is a lot coupon-friendlier than Walgreens.

    • Katherine Weaver says:

      I do the same thing essentially. Usually I only buy things that have RR if they are free (or money makers) and there are two items that will roll that I need. So I sometimes make a smaller RR single item in one transaction, use that RR towards the higher priced RR item (so by this time the first item is free because I used it to bring down my purchase price of the 2nd RR item that I actually wanted), then I use the RR from that transaction to the next item, and back and forth it until I use all my coupons. Then I’m left with RR left over which I then try to turn into points because points don’t expire in as quickly as RR do. I then use the points to start the next trip I do, but I never spend more than 5 dollars in points so I accrue a bank of points too. Like after tomorrow I’ll be at 56,000, which at this point I’m left in the same predicament that you are. Spending 50 dollars of points will be tough because I see that as money I have in my budget, therefore it has to do something for me like hopefully we come up on some awesome grocery deals all in one week and knock out the points.

    • Coupon Mama says:

      I am the same way! I have actually wondered how other people handle this. I have seen brags where other people considered a price discounted when they used EB, RR or BLP w/o coupons to pay for it. I consider that “double dipping”. I only get 1 discount per EB, RR or BLP. I just use those as “store cash”. It’s so hard to find sales, coupon matchups and RR that can equal 40,000 pts. I also hate cashing them in earlier because after my calculations I noticed that you lose $0.25 per dollar when redeeming earlier than 40,000pts.. It IS quite the dilemma trying to maximize point redemption savings!

  8. Renèe Lavocat says:

    If i use my reward card and earn a register reward can i make another purchase and receive another register reward if it has a limit of 1? Does the card track when you have received register rewards?

    • Sharie Morfitt Tonsager says:

      No it keeps track

      • Renèe Lavocat says:

        bummer… It didn’t before. It’s probably part of the reason they introduced it.

        • Katherine Weaver says:

          It doesn’t keep track I roll register rewards all the time using my card each time and I get multiples no problem.

      • Actually, the Balance Rewards card does not keep track. You can earn multiple Register Rewards, as long as you only try to earn one per offer per transaction.

    • Jane says:

      Yes you can, you just have to do it in a separate transaction. The card doesn’t track your transactions. I have done this plenty of times.

    • Waterproof Penguin says:

      I believe the limit of 1 on an item that prints a register reward means that only one register reward (RR) will print out per transaction. Therefore, if you buy two items in one transaction, only one RR will print for that particular product. However, like Jane said, if you do it in separate transactions, you’ll get one RR each time. The purpose of using your walgreens card with the transaction is that it will give you the discount price for that week. For example, if a bottle of vitamins is normally $10, the Walgreens card would give you a discount so you pay $6, then the manufacturer will give you the $6 RR after the sale. While I’ve NEVER purchased anything without having my Walgreen’s card, I think technically the RR should print out anyway. You just won’t get getting the sale price so you’d have to pay $10 to begin with. Since the RR is coming from the manufacturer, I don’t think the Walgreens card will limit the number of times you can get the RR over multiple transactions. Note that this is different from the Balance reward point deals, which do have limits on them. Now I don’t know for sure, but there is a possibility that if you try to make like 20 transactions, the card could be red flagged for “excessive use”. However, that’s to keep employees from scanning their own cards for customers who don’t have a store card to get the points. A “normal” shopper or couponer shouldn’t have a problem. I’ve never had a problem with up to 4 different transactions in the same week. I’m sure somebody will correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Register Rewards work like this: you can earn one Register Reward per offer per transaction. So yes, you can earn more than one if it is in a separate transaction.