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Drugstores are a couponer’s best friend, but like any best friend, you go through good times and bad times. And although you can save a lot by using Walgreens coupons or working the CVS loyalty program, there are just some things to never buy at drugstores — because you’ll pay way too much.
I worked at CVS for more than five years and have been couponing even longer — so I can help you become more aware of which products you should avoid buying at drugstores and which items you should consider buying elsewhere. Plus, as I began comparing prices it became clear that the leading competitor in lower prices overall was Walmart.
Now, all bets are off if you’re shopping with coupons or find these items on clearance at these stores. Drugstores have limited shelf space, so they’re always having clearance sales to make room for new or seasonal products. So if you find items on a hot clearance price or have a sweet coupon stack deal, that would be the best time to purchase these items.
Otherwise, we’ve got a stout list of items you should never buy at full price from CVS or Walgreens.
For more deals and money-saving tips, download The Krazy Coupon Lady app or text DEALS to 57299.
1. Things to never buy at drugstores: Batteries, because they are are 15% more expensive at drugstores compared to Walmart.
When shopping for batteries, the best way to go is buying in bulk at large wholesale retailers, especially when you’re not stacking coupons with sales. But if you’re not a member of these wholesale clubs, we did some homework on the best place to purchase your batteries.
If you find yourself shopping in the spur of the moment at your local drugstore, you might be tempted to go for the store brands to save a few bucks. While these packs of store-brand batteries might carry a cheaper out-of-pocket price, they may actually be more expensive per battery when compared to larger name brands such as Energizer and Duracell.
When comparing prices, you can find name-brand batteries at Walmart for less than CVS store-brand batteries:
- CVS Alkaline Batteries 4-Pack is $6.29 at CVS
- Duracell Coppertop AA Batteries 4-Pack for just $5.34 at Walmart
That’s a 15% savings — or almost a whole dollar less — just by shopping at Walmart.
Even when you stack multiple savings elements on your battery purchase, you’ll might still end up paying more than you would at other retailers. Here’s an example from a past deal scenario with coupon stacking:
2. Pet food is 20% more expensive at drugstores than at Amazon or Walmart.
Things to never buy at drugstores? Pet food! When shopping for your pet foods, CVS and Walgreens might have a decent selection of name brands you might trust like 9Lives, Meow Mix, and Iams, but you’ll pay convenience-store prices for them.
Instead, Amazon, Chewy.com, and Walmart tend to offer better value when comparing prices:
- You can get a 3.5-lb bag of IAMS Proactive Health dry cat food for $14.49 at CVS, while this same bag is just $11.18 when you use Amazon Subscribe & Save — that’s a 20% savings!
- A 5-lb bag of Cesar Filet Mignon Dry Dog Food is $13.79 at Walgreens, while this same bag is $11.98 at Walmart — that’s a 13.3% savings!
Not only are you saving as much as 20%, but if you’re shopping on Amazon you won’t have to lug these bags home as they’re shipped right to your doorstep!
Related: 7 Failsafe Ways to Get Cheap Dog Food Every Time You Shop
3. Small appliances (like toasters) are up to 46% more expensive at drugstores than at Walmart.
Drugstores tend to carry select mediocre brands of small appliances and reviews are meh at best. You can get a 3-star Toastmaster 2-Slice Toaster for $18.49 at CVS, which seems like a great price, but this same toaster was way cheaper during the 2022 Black Friday sales at Kohl’s — just $2.14 after rebates.
Or, you could purchase this basic Mainstays 2-Slice Toaster for just $9.98 at Walmart, saving yourself a massive $8.51. (Plus, it has over 160 reviews with an average of 4 stars out of 5.)
4. Toys can be as much as 35% more expensive at drugstores than at Walmart (unless there’s a clearance sale).
The toy aisle at your local drugstore may be convenient, but it’s small, limited, and overpriced. If you’re looking for a wider selection of toys with more affordable prices, it might be a good idea to check out other larger retailers.
For example, the Play-Doh Dino Crew Crunchin’ T-Rex is $24.99 at CVS, while this same toy is just $15.97 at Walmart — that’s nearly a 35% savings!
The major exception to this would be when drugstores offer up clearance prices for select toys that are being discontinued or going out of season — like the 80% off toy clearance we saw at Walgreens.
Related: Your Ultimate Guide to the Clearance Sale Schedule for All the Top Stores
5. Soda & bottled water are about 30% more expensive at drugstores than at Walmart.
It might be easy to grab a case of soda from the drugstore, but they’re consistently more expensive than what you’d find at larger retailers. (Plus, due to a lack of shelf space, drugstores often have a smaller selection of these beverages, which means you may not find the size or flavor you’re looking for.)
A can of Pepsi is regularly priced as low as $0.58 per can at Walmart. That’s about $0.23 less per can versus buying at Walgreens — which amounts to nearly a 30% savings just by shopping at Walmart. In fact, Walmart was consistently cheaper across the board when purchasing these items at regular price (see chart above).
But one exception to this tip is when sodas and bottled water go on sale at drugstores, especially right before big holidays like Memorial and Labor Day. During these sales, you can sometimes find coupons in the weekly ad or discounts and rebate offers that can make it a much better time to buy these drinks. This would be the only time I would ever recommend you purchase these bulky drinks at drugstores, so be sure to check your Walgreens or CVS ads and if they’re on sale it might be a great time to stock up!
Related: Coke vs. Pepsi: Which costs more?
6. Skip salon-quality hair products (but you could save the most by buying drugstore brands instead).
If you’re looking for the top name-brand hair care products, steer clear of the drugstores if they are just regularly priced, with no sales or coupons. When you look at the store prices of some of these popular brands, you’re gonna want to go to Walmart instead of CVS or Walgreens. Here are some examples why:
- You can find Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Shampoo for $4.49 at CVS, but you’ll save 22% if you buy it at Walmart for just $3.47.
- Dove Men+Care 2-in-1 Shampoo and Conditioner is $6.99 at CVS, but this same bottle is just $4.98 at Walmart — that’s over a 28% savings!
Hair care products are regularly overpriced at drugstores. I’d never recommend you to purchase these products unless they are on sale or have high-value coupons, like what we’ve seen here:
Related: The Best Drugstore Shampoos
7. Electronics & charging cables are 25% more expensive at drugstores than Walmart or Amazon.
When it comes to electronics and charging cables, drugstores have lots of them conveniently placed at checkout — but they don’t offer the best prices. Hit up the big box stores instead. Check out these comparisons:
- The Belkin Dual 20W USB-C Wall Charger costs $19.99 at Walgreens, but a higher-quality, faster-charging unit with a bonus cable is only $14.99 at Walmart. Not only will you save 25% but you also get the charging cable!
- Or, if you need new chargers or small electronics, retailers like Amazon have the best deals and sales to save without leaving your home. For example, this Belkin Lightning to USB-A Cable costs $19.99 at Walgreens, but only $14.99 on Amazon.
By avoiding drugstores for electronics and charging cables, you can make sure you’re getting the best value for your purchase.
8. Printer ink is up to 33% more expensive at CVS and Walgreens than Walmart.
Printer ink can get costly and it always seems to run out at the most inconvenient times. If you’re trying to save money on printer ink, don’t run to your local drugstore as you will likely pay more than 30% extra. Considering these are pricier purchases that can really add up.
- The HP 61 Black Original Ink Cartridge is $27.99 at Walgreens and $32.49 at CVS, while this same ink cartridge is just $21.89 at Walmart, a 33% savings!
- Canon Pixma Printer Ink Black 240XL is $35.99 at Walgreens and $35.49 at CVS., but only $24 at Walmart — another 33% savings!
9. Over-the-counter medications are up to 38% more expensive at drugstores than Walmart.
Most of us just expect medications at drugstores to be cheaper or at least on par with other major retailers, but that’s not the case. Check out these price comparisons to see how CVS had the largest inflated prices (up 38% more than Walmart):
- Tylenol 24-ct Extra Strength Caplets are $7.29 at CVS, while they’re just $4.47 at Walmart — 38% savings!
- Vicks DayQuil & NyQuil 24-Count Liquicaps are $12.99 at CVS, which is 32% more expensive than they are at Walmart ($8.94).
- Claritin 24-Hour Allergy 10-Count Tablets are $12.79 at CVS, while this same pack is $9.82 at Walmart (23% cheaper).
In case you might be wondering, these savings also extend into the store brands. We found that CVS’s store brand version of Children’s Tylenol can be as much as 49% more expensive as Walmart’s Equate store brand version.
10. Vitamins & supplements are 26% more expensive at drugstores than Walmart.
Just like over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements can have some severe markups compared to other retailers like Walmart. On average, you can save about 26% when you shop at Walmart.
I compared prices on some common vitamins and supplements and Walmart came in with the best savings every time.
Check out these comparisons:
- Emergen-C Vitamin C 10-count costs $7.29 at CVS versus just $5.34 at Walmart — that’s a 26% savings!
- One A Day Women’s Multivitamin Gummies 80-Count costs $9.99 at CVS versus $8.98 at Walmart — that’s a 10% savings!
- Body Fortress Whey Protein Powder 1.78-lb costs $29.99 at CVS, while this same canister is just $22.98 at Walmart — a 23% savings!
11. Sunscreen is up to 35% more expensive at drugstores than Walmart.
Don’t shop at drugstores for sunblock because you can save as much as 35% at Walmart. Check out these comparisons:
- Banana Boat Sport Ultra Sunscreen SPF 50 8-oz bottle is $13.99 at CVS, while this same bottle is only $8.97 at Walmart — that’s over 35% in savings!
- Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Sunscreen 8-oz is a whopping $14.49 at CVS, while this same tube is just $9.97 at Walmart — that’s over 31% in savings!
- Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 7-oz is $13.49 at CVS, while this same bottle is $9.27 at Walmart — that’s over 31% in savings!
12. First aid supplies are up to 38% more expensive at drugstores than Walmart.
Just like with over-the-counter medications, you’ll probably be surprised to find out that first aid supplies have markups of as much as 30% at drugstores. I compared prices at both CVS and Walgreens with Walmart, and Walmart had the prices to beat:
- Band-Aid Flexible Fabric 30-ct Adhesive Bandages are $4.99 at CVS and $4.99 at Walgreens, while this same pack is only $3.58 at Walmart — that’s over a 28% savings!
- Then, this Neosporin 5-oz Antibiotic Bacitracin Ointment was $6.59 at CVS and $7.49 at Walgreens, while this same tube is just $4.64 at Walmart — that’s a 38% savings!
- Cortizone 10 Easy Relief Anti Itch with Liquid Applicator costs $6.59 at CVS and $6.99 at Walgreens, while this same bottle is only $4.86 at Walmart — that’s over a 30% savings!
13. Contact solution is as much as 14% more expensive at drugstores than Walmart.
While the price difference isn’t as big for contact solution as many of the other products on this list, every little bit helps. It’s not something you’ll just wanna buy right off the shelf at your local drugstore — not when you can get a lower price elsewhere.
For reference, check out these price comparisons:
- Opti-Free 10-oz Puremoist Contact Lens Solution is $11.79 at CVS and $12.49 at Walgreens. But this same solution is just $10.87 at Walmart — that’s nearly 13% in savings!
- Renu 12-oz Advanced Formula Contact Solution is $9.99 at CVS and $9.49 at Walgreens, while this same bottle is only $8.58 at Walmart — that’s over 14% in savings!
14. Razors are as much as 38% more expensive at drugstores than Walmart.
Razors are another item with large savings when purchased at other retailers besides drugstores. When comparing prices at various retailers, Walmart came in up to 35% cheaper and is the far and away best place to get ’em.
Here’s a look at some of the prices I compared:
- Gillette Venus ComfortGlide White Tea Women’s Razor 1 Handle + 2 Refills is $13.79 at CVS and $11.49 at Walgreens, while this same pack is just $9.97 at Walmart — that’s a 27% savings!
- Gillette Fusion5 Men’s Razor Handle and 2 Blade Refills was $13.79 at CVS and $13.29 at Walgreens, while this same pack is $12.97 at Walmart — that’s nearly 6% savings!
- Then, these Schick 12-ct Xtreme2 Disposable Razors are $10.49 at CVS and $9.29 at Walgreens, while this same pack is $6.47 at Walmart — that’s over 38% savings!
15. Feminine hygiene products are up to 30% more expensive at drugstores than Walmart.
You may think of buying feminine hygiene products on your next drugstore shopping trip but you’ll save 30% by purchasing these items at Walmart instead. That savings can really stack up over the year.
Take a look at the savings for yourself when comparing these prices:
- Always 44-ct Ultra Thin Size 1 Pads were $8.49 at CVS, while this larger 46-ct pack is just $7.97 at Walmart — that’s a 6% savings!
- Tampax Pearl 50-ct Regular Absorbency Tampons are $14.99 at CVS, while this box is just $10.47 at Walmart — that’s over a 30% savings!
16. Diapers are as much as 33% more expensive at drugstores than Walmart.
Diapers can get super costly and I always recommend purchasing these at larger bulk retailers like Costco or Sam’s Club. If you can’t make it out to these big box stores then be sure to at least make a stop at your local Walmart as they are normally about 30% cheaper than drugstores.
Check out these diaper price comparisons for yourself:
- Pampers 32-ct Swaddlers Diapers Size 1 are $13.99 at CVS and as much as $14.99 at Walgreens, while this same pack is only $9.97 at Walmart — that’s over 33% savings!
- Huggies 25-ct Little Movers Diapers Size 3 were also $13.99 at CVS and $14.99 at Walgreens, while this same pack is just $9.94 at Walmart — that’s over 33% in savings!
Related: Ways to get cheap diapers all year long.
17. Walmart has household cleaning supplies for up to 30% less than drugstores.
When shopping for household cleaning supplies, it always helps to have a larger variety and because of the smaller shelf space at drugstores, you’ll be limited on your options. Plus, you’ll likely pay 30% more for these purchases.
I compared prices and found some prime examples of the savings you can score when you buy your cleaning supplies at Walmart. For example, these
- Lysol 80-ct Disinfectant Wipes are $8.79 at Walgreens, while this canister is only $5.97 at Walmart — that’s a 32% savings!
- Clorox 24-oz Toilet Bowl Cleaner is $3.49 at Walgreens, this same cleaner is just $2.68 at Walmart — that’s a 23% savings!
18. Paper products are nearly 37% more expensive at drugstores than Walmart.
Paper products like paper towels and toilet paper can be in bulkier packaging which takes up a lot more shelf space so it’s no surprise that a lot of these are marked up at drugstores with limited shelf space. When comparing prices, I found that prices were as much as 30% higher at drugstores vs. Walmart’s everyday low prices.
Check out these comparisons:
- Bounty Select-A-Size 2-ct Double Roll Paper Towels were $8.69 at CVS, while this same pack is just $5.48 at Walmart — that’s nearly 37% in savings!
- Charmin 6-ct Mega Rolls Ultra Soft Toilet Paper was $11.99 at CVS, while this same pack is just $7.97 at Walmart — that’s over 33% in savings!
- Scott 12-ct Rolls 1,000 Sheets of Toilet Paper was $13.99 at CVS, while this same pack is only $10.68 at Walmart — that’s over 23% in savings!
19. Office supplies are nearly 56% more expensive at drugstores than Walmart.
The next time you run out of Wite-Out be sure you run to Walmart and not your local drugstore because you could be saving up to 55%! When comparing prices I realized this category has the most savings so make sure you plan ahead and buy these items at Walmart.
Check out some of these price comparisons:
- Pilot 5-ct G2 Fine Point Rolling Ball Gel Pens were $8.99 at CVS, while this same pack is only $5.88 at Walmart — that’s nearly 35% in savings!
- Expo 4-ct Dry Erase Markers Chisel Tip was $7.79 at CVS and $6.79 at Walgreens while this same pack is just $5.18 at Walmart — that’s over 33% in savings!
- BIC Wite-Out Tape is $4.49 at CVS, while this same bottle is only $1.94 at Walmart — that’s over 56% in savings!
20. Laundry detergent is up to 40% less at Walmart.
Laundry detergent coupons can be easy to find on a weekly basis, but if you find yourself shopping on a spur-of-the-moment trip then it’s definitely worth a trip to Walmart. Laundry detergent was on average almost 40% cheaper at Walmart. So unless you’re doing one of our favorite weekly coupon stacks at CVS or Walgreens, you should buy your detergent at Walmart.
Check out these price comparisons for yourself:
- Tide Plus Downy April Fresh 37-oz Liquid Laundry Detergent was $8.29 at CVS and $7.49 at Walgreens, while this same bottle is just $5.44 at Walmart — that’s 34% in savings!
- Gain + Aroma Boost 50-oz Liquid Laundry Detergent was $8.79 at CVS and $7.99 at Walgreens, while this same bottle is only $5.44 at Walmart — that’s 38% in savings!