Emily VanSchmus | 

Petco Just Changed Their Rewards Program: Here's How It Works

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Between food, toys, and vet bills, having a pet is expensive. Luckily, there are plenty of ways to save money at Petco. But if you want in on the savings, you’re gonna need to sign up for Petco rewards.

Petco’s rewards program recently underwent some changes, though, and the former Pals Rewards program is no longer as of Jan. 31, 2023. It’s now called Vital Care, with two tiers of membership — one is free, and one is a paid subscription. I did some digging on everything the new program offers — from the pet coupons you’ll get to the discounts you can expect on medical and grooming services.

Whether you’re an existing Petco rewards member or looking to join, here’s what to know.

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1. Petco’s free rewards program is now Petco Vital Care Core.

a woman looking at dog toys in the aisles of petco pushing a cart full of pet items

With Petco’s recently overhauled rewards program, there is now a free tier (called Vital Care Core) and a paid tier (Vital Care Premier). The paid program has a monthly subscription fee, which we’ll go into later.


2. If you already had a Petco rewards account, you’re automatically in the new program.

This means you don’t have to do anything or rejoin. If you’ve never had a Petco account, you can sign up online or through the Petco app (iOS / Android).


3. Vital Care Core membership is free, and you’ll earn 1 point per dollar spent (like 3% cash back).

a person holding up at petco receipt outside of petco

Every Petco rewards member (either the free tier or the paid tier) earns points for every purchase. Once you earn 167 points (you get 1 point per $1 spent), you’ll get a voucher for $5 in rewards. This means you earn $5 back for every $167 you spend (aka 3% cash back).

If you have the paid plan, you’ll receive additional reward dollars each month. For each dog or cat you enroll, you’ll get $15 in monthly rewards to spend at Petco. For small pets, you’ll get $5 a month in additional rewards.


4. Plus every 10th bag of dry dog or cat food is free for Petco rewards members.

For every nine bags of dry dog or cat food you purchase as a Petco rewards member (purchases of treats don’t count), you’ll earn a coupon good for one free bag of dry dog or cat food.

To use the free coupon, you’ll need to unlock it in the Petco app before you check out. And according to the fine print, you can’t stack the coupon with any other discounts or promotions.

TIP: Once you unlock your free bag of food, you’ll have 90 days to redeem it, either in store or online.


5. And every 8th grooming session is free.

A dog being groomed at Petco

Just like the nutrition perk, your grooming purchases at Petco will count toward a free session as long as you have a rewards account.

Once you buy seven grooming sessions for your cat or dog — it has to be a full-service bath or a bath with haircut to qualify — you’ll get a coupon good for one free full-service bath or a bath with haircut.

TIP: Grooming sessions at a mobile Petco groomer don’t count toward your free perk.



6. Vital Care has an optional paid membership tier that costs $19.99 a month.

a person pushing a shopping cart in petco store near large vital care sign

If you were an existing Vital Care member (their original paid rewards program), you’ll be transitioned to what is now called Vital Care Premier. You’ll have all the same benefits, and the fee will stay the same. The paid program gives you a few added perks (see the list below), plus extended expiration dates on your rewards points.

For cats and dogs, the Vital Care Premier program costs $19.99 per month for one animal. For a bird, fish, reptile, or small pet, you’ll pay $9.99 per month, per pet. If you have more than one pet, you’ll save $2 per plan when you enroll in more than one.


Added perks with the paid membership:

For cats and dogs:

  • Unlimited routine vet exams at a participating Petco vet (or $20 in rewards to put toward a vet of your choice)
  • 20% off dog grooming
  • 20% off cat litter
  • 10% off select pet food
  • $15 in Vital Care Rewards each month

For birds, fish, reptiles, or other small pets:

  • 20% off nutrition and supplies
  • 20% off new pet purchases
  • $5 in Vital Care Rewards each month


7. All members can apply Petco points toward most products and services.

a person loading up a large bag of worlds best cat litter into petco cart

Your Petco rewards dollars can be used on almost all Petco purchases. The only exceptions? You can’t use them to cover your membership fees, buy gift cards, or pay for tips or shipping.

You also can’t redeem your reward dollars at JustFoodForDogs Kitchens or third-party veterinary partners located inside a Petco store.


8. Petco points do expire, and you’ll need to shop every 90 days to keep your points.

a person pushing a petco shopping cart with dog treats in top part of cart

The bad news is that both your Petco rewards points and your reward dollars can expire. (This has always been the case.) But the good news is it’s pretty easy to keep your points.

You’ll earn points for every purchase, but you need to make at least one purchase every 90 days to keep your points. Even if you just buy a $2 treat every three months, you’ll keep your points.

Once you reach 167 points and receive your $5 reward, Vital Care Core members (the free level) have 30 days to spend that reward. Vital Care Premier members have 45 days to spend their reward money.


9. Petco rewards is not a credit card — but they DO have one of those.

Petco Pay credit card information page on a laptop next to a cat

Petco does offer their own store credit card, but it’s not required in order for you to earn points with the Petco rewards program. (Remember, you get $5 in rewards for every 167 points you earn.) But if you want to rack up rewards points faster, having the Petco credit card is definitely the key.

With the Petco Pay Credit Card, you’ll earn two Vital Care points for every $1 you spend at Petco (that gives you 6% cash back instead of the standard 3%). Plus you’ll get two points for every $3 you spend at grocery stores (that’s 2% cash back) and one point for every $3 you spend anywhere else (1% cash back).

That’s a lot of numbers, so here’s exactly how much you’d need to spend using a Petco Pay card to earn $5 in Petco rewards:

  • $83.50 at Petco or on Petco.com
  • $250.50 at the grocery store
  • $501 at any other retailer

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