If the competition is by who has the most stores, CVS wins (but only slightly now that some CVS stores are closing). As of 2023, CVS has 9,000+ stores and Walgreens has just under 9,000. But since saving money and couponing is our number one goal, CVS is giving us more opportunities to go in-store to save.
Let’s see how the two stores match up in other areas, though …
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There are many ways to save money when shopping at either CVS or Walgreens. But when finding out which store has better money-saving benefits, it may be a toss-up that depends on your personal preferences. I like the option of earning unlimited Walgreens rewards on deals, and I also love having a store coupon book at my disposal whenever I shop at Walgreens. For these reasons alone, I may be biased when choosing a winner. But this article may help you decide which store is best at saving you money…
1. Walgreens tends to have lower everyday prices.
When comparing prices between Walgreens and CVS, it’s been a toss-up with prices being higher now than ever. As you can see from these price comparisons I found, it really depends on the items you’re searching, but Walgreens does seem to have a slight advantage on a few.
- Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Shampoo: $4.59 at CVS, $4.79 at Walgreens
- Scott toilet paper (1,000 sheets per roll, 4-pack): $5.49 at CVS, $4.99 at Walgreens
- Maybelline Falsies mascara: $10.49 at CVS, $7.79 at Walgreens
- Mucinex Sinus-Max, 20 ct: $18.49 at CVS, $21.99 at Walgreens
2. You can repeat Walgreens deals as much as you want — CVS has limits.
If you look at a CVS weekly ad, you’ll see some of the deals have limits to how many times you can cash in on that offer. Total buzzkill especially when it’s a super hot deal. Walgreens lets us live our best life and rinse and repeat the deal as many times as our heart desires.
3. CVS pays you double the rewards Walgreens does on everyday purchases.
In addition to advertised promotions on specific products, whether you shop at CVS or Walgreens, you’ll get rewards for everyday purchases.
When accumulating rewards at CVS, coupons don’t count against you — meaning that you earn them based on the pre-coupon price of the qualifying item. At Walgreens, you earn points on the price after coupons are applied (so you earn a little less).
4. Walgreens points have a longer expiration date compared to CVS ExtraBucks.
CVS ExtraBucks’ expiration is normally around 30 days. (I would be embarrassed to tell you how many ExtraBucks I’ve allowed to expire.)
Walgreens points are good for a whole year, so this gives me plenty of time to bank them and then use them when I’m good and ready.
5. CVS ExtraBucks roll from one transaction to the next — Walgreens Register Rewards do not.
When you earn CVS ExtraBucks for buying items that are part of a promotion (like shampoo), they print out at the register right after the transaction. You can then use those ExtraBucks to pay for more shampoo, and another ExtraBucks coupon will print, and so on. That’s called rolling. You can seriously use them right after receiving them and still earn when you use them.
At Walgreens, Register Rewards don’t roll. If you buy one Vitamin Water to get a Register Reward, you could use it to buy another Vitamin Water in a second transaction — but you wouldn’t get a second Register Reward. Total bummer.
6. You only have to spend 98% of the advertised minimum spend at CVS.
In order to receive a reward for a promotion at CVS, you only have to hit 98% of the actual minimum purchase. For example, if you have to spend $20 to earn a $5 reward, you technically only have to spend $19.60.
If the same promo existed at Walgreens, you’d have to spend the full $20.
7. CVS tracks your purchases, while Walgreens doesn’t.
Both stores have threshold deals weekly, like “Spend $20 on Tide, get $5 ExtraBucks” at CVS or Register Reward at Walgreens. If you’re shopping at CVS, you can hit the threshold in multiple transactions, which means you can buy one Tide here and one Tide there throughout the week until you hit the $20. This is especially nice for those pesky coupon limits that Tide tends to have.
If you’re shopping at Walgreens, you have to hit your threshold in one transaction, making it much harder if you’re following coupon limits.
Related: We can teach you how to understand the fine print on coupons.
8. CVS’ magic coupon machine beats Walgreens’ coupon book.
The first thing I do when I set foot into CVS is scan my ExtraCare card at the Coupon Center kiosk to print off all the coupons attached to my account. These coupons tend to be more personalized toward my previous purchases.
While the Walgreens coupon book can be digitally clipped to your account, I find myself using the CVS coupon center coupons more. The Walgreens coupons are the same for everyone, so no personalized coupons there.
9. Walgreens offers curbside pickup — and you can use coupons with it.
When it comes to CVS vs. Walgreens on curbside pickup, Walgreens wins. I love couponing at drugstores, but with kids in tow, it’s becoming a little hard. Walgreens rolled out curbside pickup, and it’s amazing. Plus, you can use any Walgreens digital coupons that are available in your account, too!
CVS’s curbside pickup is nonexistent, which means you can’t use CVS digital coupons at curbside either. So they lose this one by default.
Related: We found all the stores that offer curbside pickup.
10. CVS vs. Walgreens Return Policy: CVS wins with double the Walgreens return period.
CVS gives customers 60 days to return purchases, while Walgreens only has a 30-day period. You’ll need a receipt to make returns at either store, and neither store allows returns of prescriptions, contact lenses, or gift cards.
TIP: Both stores offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on their own branded merchandise, even if the product has been opened within their return period.
11. Walgreens senior discount days happen every month, but a CVS senior discount doesn’t exist.
On the first Tuesday of every month — aka Walgreens Senior Day — in-store shoppers ages 55 and up can save 20% on eligible regular-priced merchandise. The 20% savings last all week when seniors shop online using a promo code.
We searched high and low but couldn’t find an equivalent CVS senior discount.
12. CVS has slightly better deals than Walgreens.
We compared both The Krazy Coupon Lady’s CVS and Walgreens deals for one month and found that CVS edged out Walgreens when it came to average savings. For example, in the categories “beauty” and “hair care,” CVS’ savings averaged 69%, while Walgreens’ averaged just 60%. This is pretty typical throughout the store.
13. Buy discounted CVS gift cards for less than Walgreens gift cards.
14. CVS vs. Walgreens Photo Center: CVS has better customer reviews than Walgreens.
What brings CVS out on top in this category is the ability to order framed photos and wall art. CVS also has more consistently good reviews on the quality of their prints.
TIP: Both stores offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee, so if your photos don’t come out correctly, you can ask for a full refund.
15. CVS has longer receipts than Walgreens.
Let’s be honest, couponers. Longest receipt wins. End of contest.
Check out some of our other store matchups:
- Lowe’s vs. Home Depot: Who Actually Has Cheaper Prices?
- Dollar Tree vs. Dollar General: Here’s How the Two Stores Stack Up
- Ross vs. T.J.Maxx: Which Is Better for What Products?
- Sam’s Club vs. Costco: Here’s How These Wholesalers Stack Up
- Hobby Lobby vs. Joann vs. Michaels: Who Has the Best Prices?
- BJ’s vs. Costco: We Compared Their Membership Fees, Prices & Perks