Walgreens is my go-to store, whether I need a nail file, a prescription filled or a hard-to-find battery for one of my daughter's beloved toys. I stop at Walgreens so frequently, all of the cashiers (and one of the janitors) know me by name! All of those visits can make a dent in my wallet. Fortunately, I discovered the Walgreens Balance Rewards program. Not only is the program free to join, it saves my family a bundle on everyday purchases.

How to sign up

You can sign up for the Walgreens Balance Rewards program at the pharmacy, checkout counter, or photo kiosk of your local Walgreens store. But that's not the only way—you can also sign up online here! And the coolest part is that you don't even need a physical card to earn or redeem your points—just tell the cashier the phone number connected to your account. If you’re shopping online, just sign in to your Walgreens account to reap all of the benefits!

How to earn rewards

You can use your card to score sales prices and discounts on items both in-store and online. Just scan your card at the checkout (or log in to your Walgreens account if you’re shopping online) and you'll get the discounted price. You can also earn Balance Rewards on qualifying items, which can be cashed out as in-store credit. If you fill a prescription at Walgreens you'll earn 500 points—that's per prescription! You do have to pick up your prescription at the actual counter in order to receive your points. I learned this the hard way when I used the self-service Express Rx kiosk to get my daughter's prescription and didn't get my reward points. Here's the best part of all: you can link your family's Balance Rewards by calling (855) 225-0400! That means my entire family earns rewards that go into a joint account—whether my husband is stopping for an energy drink before work or my teenage daughter is blowing her allowance on nail polish.

How to keep track of your rewards

Your point balance will print out on the bottom of your receipt every time you make a purchase at Walgreens. But if you tend to lose receipts like me, you can check your balance online at Walgreens.com/balance. Your points will expire after three years or if your account is inactive (you haven't used it to shop online or in store) for six months.

Using your rewards

Redeeming your points is super easy. Once you've earned at least 5,000 points you qualify for a $5 reward. The more points you get, the bigger your reward will be. For example, 18,000 points equals a $20 reward. The maximum that can be redeemed in one order is 40,000 points, which is $50. When you’re ready to cash out your points, just tell the associate at checkout or follow the prompts on the pin pad at the checkout counter. The best part is you control how many points you use—whether you want to use none or all of them at once! You can also redeem your points online once you have at least 5,000 points. You'll see a prompt on the Payment Options screen to use your reward points during the checkout process.

Other ways to earn points with your rewards card

If you’re an AARP member you can link your Balance Rewards account to your AARP membership online or in the store. Once linked, you'll get five bonus points and 5,000 points whenever you spend at least $25 in-store or online each month.

You can also earn additional points by signing up for Steps with Balance Rewards, which is a program that rewards you for staying healthy and active—whether you’re running, cycling, walking, or managing your blood glucose or blood pressure levels. To start earning points, register on Walgreens.com/balance-steps and start logging your exercise. You can also earn points when you set goals or log your weight. You can even connect an app or device like Fitbit or the iHealth Wireless Activity and Sleep Tracker to automatically log your progress. You'll earn 20 points for every mile, 20 points for every weigh-in, 20 points for blood glucose or blood pressure readings, and 20 points for miscellaneous healthy activities like swimming or yoga. I find that this program keeps me super motivated—it's like getting paid to be healthy!

Walgreens Balance Rewards: The Secret to More Savings at Walgreens