Rewards programs offer deals to drug store shoppers


Walgreens just launched a new loyalty rewards program called Balance Rewards. So, along with our thrifty shopper we decided to see how the new program works and how the competition is reacting.

Walgreens drug store has long been known for its Register Rewards program -- coupons customers get back that act like cash. When you combine those with manufacturer coupons, you can really get a bargain.

Coupon expert Tiffany Ivanovsky said, "Some of the best deals you can ever, ever find are at the drug stores."

While the Register Rewards program is being phased out, extreme couponer and mother of seven kids Tiffany Ivanovsky has studied the new Walgreens program called Balance Rewards.

She said, "Take a look at their ads and you are going to notice in their ads they are going to reward you for being a member."

With the Balance Rewards program you must register your information with a loyalty card or a phone number, then you earn points based on specific purchases.

"You'll be able to earn these rewards, and then you will be able to redeem them," Ivanovsky explained.

When you earn 5,000 points, you get five bucks to redeem -- 10,000 points is 10 bucks, 18,000 points is $20, 30,000 points earns $35. You must have a card to purchase sale items.

"A few weeks from now, if you to come in and take advantage of the sales that they have in the store, you will have to have their new card," Ivanovsky cautioned.

For example, Huggies diapers are normally $11.99, but they are on sale for $8.99 with the Balance Rewards program, plus you get 1,000 points for this purchase. Not a bad deal, but Tiffany says she can do better, by combining a Walgreens coupon that's already available in the store and a coupon she found in the Sunday paper.

She said, "We are going to take $4 off, so they are going to be $4.99 a pack. You are going to get 1,000 points for that, so that's a really pretty good deal."

While we are checking out, Ivanovsky notices gum on sale for two for $2. Tiffany has a buy one, get one free coupon, making the gum a dollar for two packs. Plus she earns 1,000 points for the purchase.

"A thousand points is really a dollar and with some coupon math, we are really getting this gum for free," she said.

We noticed bigger ticket items net you a lot more points -- like soda earning 5,000 point and 10,000 points for buying several Benadryl products.

CVS pharmacy has long had a similar program. Its Extra Care rewards program offers extra bucks for everyday purchases. Currently users earn double rewards -- that's four percent back in Extra Care bucks.

The bottom line at both stores is that we did find some bargains by combining sales with coupons. If you don't use coupons, purchasing sale items and those deals that offer reward points are usually a good deal.

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