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It’s a battle of CVS vs. Walgreens. CVS and Walgreens are the two biggest dogs in the pharmacy game, but which one is the best for couponers?
If the competition is by who has the most stores, CVS wins. CVS has 9,900+ stores and Walgreens has 9,000+. 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 …
Download the official The Krazy Coupon Lady app so you don’t miss any major deals on CVS or Walgreens.
1. CVS ExtraBucks roll — 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 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.
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.
2. 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 to coupon, 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. So they lose this one by default.
Related: We found all the stores that offer curbside pickup.
3. CVS and Walgreens both reward you on beauty purchases, but CVS only requires a $30 spend — Walgreens requires $50.
Walgreens’ Beauty Enthusiast Program and CVS’s ExtraCare Beauty Club are pretty similar. Both programs offer 10% savings via points or ExtraBucks. Walgreens pays a $5 reward when you spend $50 on beauty, while CVS lets you earn 10% back in ExtraBucks but only two times a year during Epic Beauty Events. At CVS, you’ll receive one free beauty item each month that you spend $30 on beauty items.
Also, if you pay with your points on Walgreens beauty items, it won’t count toward your reward.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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 much as our heart desires.
7. 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 year, so this gives me plenty of time to bank them and then use them when I’m ready.
8. 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 comes 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.
9. Walgreens has lower everyday prices.
When comparing prices between Walgreens and CVS, Walgreens usually comes out on top for having slightly lower original prices, including:
- Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Shampoo: $4.49 at CVS, $3.29 at Walgreens
- Scott toilet paper (1,000 sheets per roll, 4-pack): $5.49 at CVS, $4.99 at Walgreens
- Maybelline Falsies mascara: $10.79 at CVS, $7.79 at Walgreens
- Mucinex Sinus-Max, 20 ct: $18.49 at CVS, $13.99 at Walgreens
10. Walgreens senior discount days happen every month, but the 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.
11. CVS pays 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.
At CVS, you earn 2% of your purchase back in ExtraBucks. At Walgreens, you earn $1 for every $100 you spend (or 1%).
When accumulating rewards at CVS, coupons don’t count against you — you earn based on the pre-coupon price of the qualifying item. At Walgreens, you earn points on the price after coupons are applied.
12. 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.
13. Buy discounted CVS gift cards for less than Walgreens gift cards.
Both Raise and Gift Card Granny sell gift cards at a discount. Currently, the highest discount on CVS gift cards is 4.1%, while the Walgreens gift cards are out of stock.
14. 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.
15. CVS vs. Walgreens Photo Center: CVS has better customer reviews than Walgreens.
The prices between the Walgreens photo center and CVS photo center are basically the same. Standard 4×6 photos are $0.33 apiece at either store.
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.
16. CVS has longer receipts than Walgreens.
Let’s be honest, couponers. Longest receipt wins. End of contest.