Walgreens Balance Rewards Questions & Review ~ Redemeption, Mulitple Items, Etc.

I wanted to share what I learned about the Walgreens Balance Rewards program.  I’m not thrilled.

If you haven’t signed up, you can do it online or in the store.  Basically, certain products will give you points, which turn into credit you can spend at Walgreens.  (See their “fine print” for exclusions.)  See the chart above for point values.  (Currently, you can still earn Register Rewards for some items.  That is totally separate from this program and does not affect point redemption or earning points.)

Here’s what I learned today by reading program details, talking with helpful cashiers, and doing some experimenting with multiple transactions . . . (The “fine print” doesn’t cover everything below.)

1)  You can purchase as many items as you want and the points will multiply.  (They do have the right to limit you.)  So, if Product A gets you 1,000 points, buying three of Product A will get you 3,000 points.  There’s no need for multiple transactions.  They have changed this.  Each deal has a limit of one reward per transaction.  You will want to do multiple transactions, if you want to maximize your points.

2)  You will get store credit if you need to return an item you “paid” for with points.

3)  You will not earn points for a product that you normally would, if you are redeeming points or using store credit.  (I suggest paying for items that generate points in an separate transaction.)

4)  You cannot redeem partial points from the chart above.  I attempted to spend 59¢ after earning 5,000 points.  The cashier was not given the option to break it up.  I could have used it, but I would have lost the remaining $4.41 value.

5)  You can get a raincheck for the sale price, but you will not earn points when you redeem the raincheck.

In my opinion, the major flaw of Balance Rewards is the redemption.  You can’t redeem part of a reward or earn new points when you’re using your existing points.  I’m assuming you can drop down a tier if you have hit a higher redemption amount and want to redeem less, but you will always have to hit at least $5.  You also won’t want any part of that $5 to be on an item that would earn points since you will forfeit getting new points.

I don’t see myself getting into this since I normally buy only the super deals at Walgreens.  I’m assuming that the “super deals” will soon be only the Balance Rewards items.  If I want to redeem points, I won’t earn points — making a potential great deal not so great anymore.

What do you think?  Have you tried it?  Did you learn anything different or in addition to what I did?

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21 Responses to “Walgreens Balance Rewards Questions & Review ~ Redemeption, Mulitple Items, Etc.”

  • Leah says:

    How do you get a card?  I don't think I'll like it, but may give it a try a time or two.

    • Juli says:

      You can use the link above to get an account set up. I never received one in the mail, but it might still be coming?? If you want an actual card, you can sign up in the store. You don’t really need it, if you prefer to enter your phone number. That’s what I did and it will keep my wallet less cluttered!

  • Christine says:

    I signed up for the program last week but just got a card today. It creeped me out that the program has my DOB on file and tied to this program, which I noticed today when completing the enrollment. I think this program is going to be just like all the other rewards programs — you just have to use them in a way that makes sense. They are just rolling the program out, so I'm sure they will make some changes going forward. I shop there so little these days anyway — CVS is much easier and mostly hassle-free so I go there. 

    • Juli says:

      I agree with you, Christine!  I just need to evaluate how meany deals will come along that aren't point deals, that will add up to more than $5, that are worth my time and effort to redeem the points.  We'll see!  I also agree that CVS is much more simple.  I love that they give rainchecks on the ECBs also.  It takes the need to rush there away and makes it less of gamble that they'll have it in stock.  Plus, I love pulling out rainchecks when I have expiring ECBs.  Their system works well for me.  I hope this point system will be better than I anticipate!

  • cherry says:

    I was very excited about the walgreens and duane read new program…what a disappointment. There's no rewards bucks, nothing really. I signed up but will stay away from both stores. I prefer ride aid and cvs. People do not waste your time.

  • SJ says:

    My wife tried signing up for the Balance rewards card at a Walgreens store. Once she entered our home phone number, the system automatically displayed my name, address and DoB. I believe what Walgreens is doing is illegal and violation of privacy rights. First, I'd like to know how did they obtain my DoB and address. Second and most importantly, why is it there for anyone to see by simply entering my home phone number?

    • Juli says:

      I haven't noticed that and will have to look for it.  I don't know if you can contact them and ask them to remove it or not.  I hope so!  I don't remember what information I gave them (online) when I signed up.  If they asked me for my birthdate, I didn't give them the right date.  I never do, though I keep the year the same.  I'll have to watch when I put my number in next time.  I hope they're receptive, when you contact them.

      • Bill says:

        I just signed up for Balance Rewards. And they had a deal for 1,500 points with every $15.00 purchase in coca-cola so I got a total of 3000 for $30 in coke product. This was my first time using Balance Rewards they asked for my phone number and all of a sudden they had my name, address, phone number, birthdate, etc. She said "When you get a prescription filled at Walgreens they automatically have your info on their computers & cashregisters including email addresses. This have been proven bad for other stores who's computers have been hacked and your email as well as you personal computers can be hacked with viruses.

        • Juli says:

          Oh, boy!  My husband just found all these random comments that got caught in my junk mail filter.  Yours was one of them.  So sorry I didn't reply earlier . . . .

          I've heard that they are collecting personal information, to sign up.  I wasn't aware the information could be pulled from the pharmacy.  I don't use the Walgreens pharmacy and, honestly, I can't remember what information I gave them when I signed up.  I wish there was  different way to get into the program.  I'm guessing that if enough people voice their concerns, they will modify it.  You may have already done it, but it is probably worth your time to voice your concern.  I hope they make some changes!

    • Sam says:

      Have you ever had prescriptions or done photo orders at Walgreens? If so, that's why you were in the system. And as for the address you don't have to give it out…you just have to give the zip code. 

      • Juli says:

        So sorry for the late reply, but we just discovered a bunch of legit. comments in my spam folder.  :(  Anyway, I appreciate you explaining how they get the information.  It makes total sense.  I signed up online and remember very little about the whole process.  Thank you for taking the time to help us understand it!

  • LJ says:

    I just got the walgreens balance reward credit card because it had lower fees than Greendot, however, I noticed with my first use to rent a car, the charge was higher than what the merchant charged me. After I called Walgreens balance rewards debit card customer service, I was advised that
    they will add up to a 20% surcharge for each transaction and then re-credit to the account when the merchant charge is fully settled – usually 2 – 3 days..

    Looks like a nice way to generate some free loans from their unsuspecting customers.

    Doesn’t look like I’ll be a customer with them for much longer – Going back to Greendot.

    • Juli says:

      I had no idea they even provided that service. I only use my card, like most frequent shopper cards at grocery stores. Sorry for your bad experience. I would contact them and let you know your frustration . . . and, stay away from their service in the future. Sorry for a bad experience!

  • Kent says:

    I use the Walgreens Balance rewards card. I registered for it in the store. Without it, I would not shop at Walgreens for value, just for convenience of not going to a grocery store.

    Balance rewards is highly complex. The advertising is deceptive. It will say in light print 4.99 less register rewards good on next purchase $1.00 then in bold type LIKE PAYING 3.99 It’s all over their in store and Sunday flyers. But the only way you pay 3.99 is if you have rewards available. The casual buyer won’t realize until they are at the register. Then at the cashier make sure you get the the reward. 1,000 points = $1.00

    When you are ready to redeem watch out, lets say you have 42000 points worth $50. It will offer you a $5.00 reward, it’s going to cost you!! Your points balance will be 37000 but your available rewards DROPS FROM $50 to $35. No joke, that $5 DISCOUNT COST $15 !!

    Then when you redeem, and you can only redeem at Walgreens, you will only be able to redeem when you are not making a purchase earning points. So you may have to check out in two transactions. Cashiers are friendly and will do it, but in a busy store it’s a hassle.

    Find Walgreens online and you can electronically clip coupons to your balance rewards card. Usually it will deduct coupons after all your items have rung. So keep a running total of what your charge will be, if it doesn’t match check for coupons not deducted, it happens a lot.
    The cashier will adjust if you ask, but it takes a manager.

    If you can figure it out Walgreens can be a great buy. I have it down, I buy sale items with manufacturer and store coupons, on my last purchase receipt said I saved 44% off retail.

    • Juli says:

      Sounds like you have the system down. I’m not a fan, but get sucked in with some great bargains every once in awhile. I don’t wait to get to $50 since I can’t imagine wanting to spend $50 at Walgreens, at one time … ever. I spend very little, since I’m usually doing a Register Reward deal and using what I have, to earn another one. Well, I don’t do it very often anymore. If I earn one, I try to spend it in the same trip, since I don’t want to have to return in two weeks. I’m just not seeing the deals that I used to. I’m tired of the short (2 week) expiration on them and all the rules — mostly that they count them as a “coupon” and you can’t have more coupons than items, and that they won’t accept a $2 RR for $1.99, etc. CVS is so much better! They’ll also give you rainchecks for ECBS items, unlike Walgreens and Register Rewards. I guess the low stock is also a huge turn off for me. But .. like I said, every once in awhile, they’ll get me hooked again and “stuck” with a RR, that makes me return. During their Thanksgiving sale, there are plenty of bargains to lure me in! :) Keep doing what you’re doing, if you’re saving money. Glad you have the system figured out. That’s half the battle!

  • david says:

    Way too much trouble for far too few “rewards”. I ended up getting screwed out of ALL of my “points” and it upset me so badly that I will avoid Walgreens at all costs now. Thanks for nothing.

    • Juli says:

      I’m not a fan of their program either. I prefer the CVS program. If you have a CVS near you, try that. It’s much more straightforward. They don’t have points, just Extra Care Bucks (like Walgreens Register Rewards). But, they expire in a month instead of two weeks and they are much easier to redeem. There’s more on their program here.


      We do coupon match ups for CVS each week. (Some items will have printable coupons, others use Sunday newspaper coupons.)

      I’m not affiliated with Walgreens, so if you would like them to receive your feedback, be sure to visit their website.

      Hope you find the best way to save without a huge hassle!

  • Stan says:

    Hello everyone. Perhaps I should be embarrassed or feel incompetent by saying this. However, I remain confused with this ridiculous, overly detailed Balance Rewards Program. Where did such an idea like this originate from? The store manager attempted to explain how this program works (for the second time) last night and I am still unclear. She informed me that she, too, did not understand it for quite some time AND that many of the sales associates and cashiers do not understand, nor are they capable of explaining this to customers. Perhaps I should return to college and complete my Masters Program? I have so many questions that remain unanswered, still. I have read and re-read the website on the Balance Rewards Points, however, I do not find it in the least bit sensible. Furthermore, it seems to me that it’s nothing more than a scam, not to mention, quite misleading and even false advertisement. My one question to you all is once you reach 5,000 points, then we get a $5.00 discount/savings, $10 once we’ve reached 10,000 points, yes. But…. after that, what percentage are they using to come up with the discounted rates from their? I see no consistency. What am I missing? Moving on, once I get to the checkout counter, I asked for a Balance Rewards card and the cashier stood their in a daze and was confused as if he was oblivious as to what I meant. FINALLY, after asking three (3) times and even showing him a picture of the card on the front of the sale paper, he replied “What’s your phone number? You don’t need a card and I don’t have one (which is the second time this store in Alpharetta, GA) has told me this. There were 7 customers behind me in line, so I wasn’t going to hold everyone up because of his lack of knowledge. My phone number was provided, but once I got to my car, I realized from the receipt that there were no balance reward points anywhere listed on my receipt, yet there was a message reading “YOU COULD HAVE SAVED BY USING YOUR BALANCE REWARDS CARD TODAY!” I called the 800 number listed, answered their survey and left a voice mail message for someone to phone me back regarding this, but to no avail. I find this all to be, again, a scam and a very confusing means of promoting business. But even more so, I STILL DO NOT UNDERSTAND how this entire Balance Rewards Program works, whatsoever. Is there ANYONE who can explain this to me in a simple, step by step manner (polite comments would be appreciated, rather than rude, disrespectful/negative remarks…NO OFFENSE)? I’m especially confused as to how they figure what your actual percentage and discount is (going by their chart/scale, that is).

    Thank you all for listening to me babble on and on. Have a great day!

    Stan M

    • Juli says:

      First of all, I want to clarify that I don’t work for Walgreens or have any affiliation with them. I did this post three years ago, when they began their program. Since that time, I rarely shop there. Bottom line … I don’t like the “new” program. It is confusing and I want to see the savings right away, not wait for it or jump through excessive hoops.

      As far as a percentage goes, there isn’t a consistent one. They (randomly?) reward you more, if you save your points. However, for me, it doesn’t matter. You have to use all those rewards at one time and I am not going to spend $50 in Walgreens in one transaction. I’m a bargain shopper and run a bargain website. I tell you how to use coupons and sales to pay very little. I can’t imagine spending $50 at Walgreens during one visit. If I need to spend that much, I’ll go to Target or Walmart and spend $40 or less, with a smaller mark up. If I don’t … there goes my Balance Rewards “savings” that I earned by buying other overpriced products. (If you factor in the points savings, you really can get some super deals.)

      So … when I see the points I earn for a product, I consider every 1,000 worth $1, since I plan on cashing out at $5. (You have to wait until you hit that, for the first reward.) So, for the sale that starts tomorrow (link to list here: http://www.bargainbeliever.com/blog/?p=186779), this deal is on it:

      Renu Multi-Purpose Solution (12 oz) $7.99
      5,000 points when you buy 1
      $2/1 Coupons.com (link will show on website, won’t copy here)
      $2/1 printable (same as above)
      Final price: $5.99 plus 5000 points (99¢ after points)

      If you were to buy that solution, you’d pay $7.99 + tax at the register. If you printed one of the coupons we give you a link to, you’d pay $5.99 + tax. You would also get 5,000 points. You could turn around and go buy something else in the store for $5+ and use those points ($5 discount) to get it, reducing the cost of that item. To show that these deals are a good deal, we say (“.99 after points), but that savings is really coming off a future item. I use that $5 just as I would cash, so in my mind, I like to know what I’m getting the first item for and then feel like I’m paying full price for the second. (It’s NOT what you’re really doing, but what I have to think in my mind, to determine if the first product is worth it.)

      With their program, you could buy another bottle of solution (has to be a second transaction now — was changed) and earn the points again. However, you can not use the points you earned on the first bottle to “pay” for the second. Well, you can use the points, but you forfeit getting more, so it’s not wise. So, you want to use points on items that don’t generate points.

      Throw in their Register Rewards program and you have a bigger mess. Read about that here: http://www.bargainbeliever.com/blog/general/register-rewards-rr/

      In some ways, that program is even more confusing. Put them together and … mass chaos, in my opinion. But, if you learn to understand and manage the chaos, there is money to be saved.

      In all honesty, it’s just not a store I want to mess with very often. They do lure me in sometimes, but I get out of the “game” as soon as possible, when another deal comes along and I can clear out my Register Rewards (and points, sometimes, though they don’t expire in two weeks like Register Rewards, so I can wait longer.)

      As far as getting the card, I’d sign up online. That way you don’t have to hold up the line. Hopefully, that will get your phone number in the system and it will work next time. Here’s a link: https://www.walgreens.com/balancerewards/balance-rewards.jsp

      Hope this clears some stuff up for you. If not, ask a specific question again and I’ll see if I can help. Good luck! ~ Juli

  • Stan says:


    I can’t thank you enough for leaving such a detailed reply in attempting to explain this ludicrous program Walgreen’s currently uses. You actually had me on track right up until you said that if you turn around and go buy something else in the store for $5 and use those points ($5 discount)?? I’m missing something, evidently. In my mind, that is telling me that I’m receiving a $5 discount on a $5 item. I know that’s not possibly what you mean, right? I, too, am a discount/bargain shopper and would much prefer walking into Walmart (example) and seeing right away, what I’m saving. You mentioned that you don’t receive your savings at the time of purchase, which is definitely news to me, because the store manager never mentioned that to me on either occasion…so that’s good to know, yet also another confusing factor (when or how does that savings reflect?). Why would they not give me the savings then if they’re deducting those points from my balance rewards at the time of the transaction? Personally and this is my opinion, ofcourse.. I believe that CVS, Walgreen’s, Rite-Aid and all of the other small stores are simply astronomical in all of prices simply because they are charging us for the “convenience factor” ONLY. I have almost NEVER seen a bargain in Walgreen’s. Even when they run buy one/get one’s, they simply increase the price of that item (that comment, in fact, even came directly from Walgreen’s store manager last night, as she whispered it to me). Ofcourse, all of these stores do that. She said that I’d be surprised at how many customers toss items in their carts ONLY because they see the higher points, instead of looking at the actual prices, etc. and ASSUME that they are actually saving money. Unfortunately, this still continues to make me feel like some sort of idiot. Clearly, I am no nowhere close to being in your “league” of quick thinking in terms of how you are able to calculate 6 different items, figuring points, coupons, how you know when/what you are eligible to benefit from the points and so forth. I just don’t visualize their idea of what they call “a discount savings” lasting very long. However, they are a business and making money (any way, shape, fashion or form) that they may, is their only concern. I’m being redundant from my very first site comment, but this seems nothing more than misleading, which is (in my opinion) dishonesty. However, as a former Kohl’s manager, it is surprising as to how many people don’t even look or care at price tags, sales, etc. They just want to “grab and go”. Personally, I like to know I’m not being cheated or taken advantage of and Walgreen’s is the perfect example. I have contacted the corporate office and requested a call back, which I never do and yes, this is probably a petty reason to call (I know), but when I don’t understand how a business thinks in a way that they call “logical”, it will drive me nuts until I atleast can understand the formula and equation. I, ofcourse, understand your $2/1 coupon savings comment and I understand how to factor in the points with that (simple math) as I see that in their sale paper as I’m writing you. However, you’ve lost me after that comment and again, I don’t understand where they are coming up with these point figures on the chart from their website. How is one suppose to know… Oh, I don’t know what I’m trying to ask, Juli. I’m sorry. I am totally thrown off with all of this. I would never spend $50 in Walgreen’s either, by the way. Ofcourse, a bottle of shampoo would run you about $50 in that store! I will consider applying for the card, however, from all of these previous comments regarding that, it appears that they require a lot of personal information/identification and I detest giving ID numbers, etc., especially with my bank account/card being compromised twice last month.

    Thanks so very much for your input, your time and clearly, your expertise in all of this. I can certainly see that you are a sharp thinker and know how to shop strategically. Perhaps I’ll get there one day, but I don’t think I’ll get an A+ on the “Bonus Rewards Program” exam anytime soon. :)

    Take Care and Thanks Again,

    • Juli says:

      To clarify … points are earned in one transaction, but you don’t see the future points or benefit until your transaction is complete and you’ve paid. It comes later. You will pay full price at the register. You don’t save anything immediately. If you earn 5,000 points, they’ll be waiting for you to redeem another time. Next time, when the cashier sees you have 5,000 pts, you should be asked if you want to redeem the points on your purchase. You can tell them “yes” or “no.” If you don’t use them, they will continue to accumulate. If you redeem the 5,000, you get $5 off your purchase. (Pts under 5,000 aren’t worth anything.) Remember, if you are earning more points, don’t use your points to “pay” or you won’t get more.

      It’s kind of like earning a $5 Walgreens gift card for buying something and it’s there waiting for you to use next time. The $5 (5,000 pts) will come off anything you buy (may be some exclusions like alcohol, gift cards, etc — not sure). So, if your total is $10, you can redeem 5,000 pts and pay only $5. If your total is $5.25, you walk out paying $0.25. Yes, you can use $5 off $5 (not sure about tax), but you have to remember that you paid full price for the first item you bought — overpriced contact solution.

      I’m very happy with paying only $0.99 for solution, but I really didn’t. I had to fork over $5.99 + tax. I have to be good with “knowing” I’m really paying full price for whatever I’m using the $5 on, if I am thinking I only paid $0.99 for solution. I think where Walgreens benefits is in incorrect thinking, by the customer. A customer may think they got a super deal on solution, paying only $0.99. That’s not entirely correct. They leave paying $5.99, but feel good thinking that they really saved $5. Then, they come back later and feel good again, when they save $5 on their $5.25 (or whatever) purchase. It doesn’t work that way. You saved $5 one time, not two. Officially, you saved it the second time, but …. you probably wouldn’t have bought the solution in the first place. That’s why I choose to think backwards. Physically, I’m handing over more money in the beginning, but I “see” those points as my cash later. (It’s kind of like buying a $5 Walgreens gift card ahead of time.) If I “spend” that $5 on something that’s a rip off … I still feel ripped off, even if I leave paying only $0.25. I “paid” $5, from my previous “savings.” Okay, that’s very confusing and probably my twisted bargain mind. But … I’m trying to stress you don’t get the savings twice. They are promising future savings, not immediate savings. You have to return to get it. As I said, with the contact solution, you will pay full price (minus coupon, if used) at the register. The savings will come later.

      Hope some of my ramblings have helped. You seem to have a good grasp of what real savings is. I applaud you for trying to get it fully figured out and think you have every right to contact their customer service. If they can’t clearly explain it on their website, they need to be able to field questions in another way. Sorry that they aren’t returning calls. They should start sending me paychecks, since I have clarified their program for many people. I wish! :)

      Honestly, unless you shop there a lot, play their game, and enjoy the game — it’s just not worth your time, effort, and brain power. You will probably lose and be paying for the convenience you talk about.

      If you’re ready to play some mini games (some are fun, really!), check out our store lists and we’ll help you save a bunch. (CVS is much easier, but still a game.) I’m in Arizona and everything is based on AZ ads, but Walgreens, CVS, and Target are national stores and the prices will be the same by you. But, I warn you … those are the three hardest stores to master. (The grocery stores are much easier.) All those stores have special programs and hoops to jump through for savings, but …. personally, I like the challenge and the huge savings I get. It does take time and there is some learning to do, but … fun to me. Somehow, Walgreens isn’t. Mostly, it’s because of the complicated Register Rewards program. Anyway, there are incredible ways to save big, but it does take some effort and you have to count cost in time and frustration. It’s not for everyone. I understand, but …. love it for myself & helping others with the same love or a real need to save money.

      Or … head to Walmart and enjoy the simple savings! :)

      Take care!

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