CVS and Walgreens are the two biggest dogs in the 24-hour pharmacy game, but which one is the best for couponers?
1. CVS pays double the rewards Walgreens does on everyday purchases.
In addition to advertised promotions on specific products, both CVS and Walgreens offer rewards for everyday purchases.
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.
2. CVS ExtraBucks roll — Walgreens Register Rewards do not.
When you earn ExtraBucks for buying 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.
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.
Buy 1 Vitamin Water Energy Drink, 11.5 oz $1.00, sale price
Buy 1, Receive $1.00 Register Reward
Pay $1.00, Receive $1.00 Register Reward
Final Price: Free
3. CVS & Walgreens both pay 10% back on beauty, 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, but CVS lets you reach your rewards more quickly —paying $3 ExtraBucks for every $30 spent.
4. CVS’s 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.
It’s so much easier than trying to shuffle through the Walgreens coupon book.
5. But Walgreens has a higher quantity of coupons than CVS.
Walgreens averages 350 Load2Card coupons at any given time, including manufacturer and monthly store booklet coupons, while CVS averages only 100.
6. Shop at CVS for coupons geared toward your shopping history.
CVS will serve up coupons at the bottom of your receipt based on the items you typically buy. CVS averages about 40 unique coupons every week that will print out at the Coupon Center, depending on your shopping history.
7. CVS has slightly better deals than Walgreens.
We compared both 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’s savings averaged 69%, while Walgreens’ averaged 60%. This is pretty typical throughout the store.
8. Walgreens has lower everyday prices.
When comparing prices between Walgreens and CVS, Walgreens comes out on top for having slightly lower original prices, including:
- Maybelline Falsies mascara: $7.99 at CVS, $7.79 at Walgreens
- Advil Liqui-Gels: $0.12/piece at CVS, $0.10/piece at Walgreens
- Scott toilet paper (1000 sheets per roll 4-pack): $5.79 at CVS, $4.49 at Walgreens
- Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Shampoo: $4.49 at CVS, $3.99 at Walgreens
9. CVS will email coupons to you through ExtraCare.
CVS will send coupons straight to your inbox when you sign up for ExtraCare emails. They are usually coupons that are specifically geared toward your purchase history. Walgreens will send out emails about sales and promotions, but no special coupons.
10. Use CVS ExtraCare Pharmacy and Health Rewards to earn credits on prescriptions.
CVS offers one credit every time you fill a prescription, get a flu shot or vaccine, sign up for emails and texts, and set up an online account. Once you reach 10 credits, you get an instant $5 reward.
Walgreens doesn’t have a specific rewards club for their pharmacy, so you’ll still earn Balance Rewards like you would in the rest of the store, but nothing extra like you do at CVS. However, they do have a program called Balance Rewards for Healthy Choices where you can earn points toward your next reward by tracking your health. Here are the different ways to earn:
11. CVS gives customers 60 days to return a purchase — double the Walgreens return period.
CVS gives customers 60 days to return purchases, while Walgreens only has a 30-day period. You will need a receipt to make returns at either store, and neither store allows returns of prescriptions, contact lenses and 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.
12. Add prescription or contact lenses to your online order to get free shipping at Walgreens.
At Walgreens, you can add prescription or contact lenses onto your online order to get free shipping. Walgreens also has the option to ship to store at no charge, whereas CVS has a store pickup option, but only for in-stock items.
They both offer free shipping on orders over $35. Walgreens’ standard shipping costs $5.99, and CVS’s is comparable at $5.49.
13. Buy discounted Walgreens gift cards for less than CVS gift cards.
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. The Walgreens weekly ad is more comprehensive than CVS’s ad.
CVS almost always has ExtraBucks deals throughout the store that aren’t listed in their weekly ad, but Walgreens is usually pretty thorough and shows most deals they have going on that week.
16. Use Ibotta when shopping Walgreens.com to earn 3% cash back.
Ibotta has nearly identical rebate offers for CVS and Walgreens in-store purchases. But for online shopping, Walgreens is better.
Ibotta offers 3% cash back when you shop online at Walgreens, but they don’t offer any special deal for shopping CVS online.
17. CVS photo center has better customer reviews than Walgreens.
The prices between Walgreens and CVS are basically the same when it comes to their photo center. 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.
18. CVS has longer receipts than Walgreens.
Let’s be honest, couponers. Longest receipt wins. End of contest.