The Walgreens Balance Rewards Program

The Impact of the Balance Rewards Program on Couponers

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Walgreens Balance Rewards Program. Robert Kirk / Getty Images

Walgreens has kicked off a new customer rewards program called "Balance Rewards". Below is a compilation of how the program works, answers to frequently asked questions, a look at how it affects the existing Register Rewards program and discussion on ways couponers can maximize their savings when becoming members.

Who Qualifies?

The program is open to all US residents who are 13 years or older (in Puerto Rico the age is 14 and older).

Shoppers between 13 and 18 years old must agree that they have received permission from their parents or legal guardian to join the program. In Puerto Rico, parents must submit the application for members who are 14 to 21 years old.

The Benefits of Becoming a Member

Membership to the Balance Rewards program is free. When you become a member you will receive:

  • Special sales and member-only promotional pricing on select products.
  • Earn Balance Rewards points on qualifying purchases which can be redeemed on future purchases at participating Walgreens Drugstore, Rxpress, Duane Reade or Walgreens Pharmacy locations.
  • Access to promotions at specific stores that are not available at all Walgreens stores.

How The Program Works

Members will be offered promotions called "Point Promotions" which will award points with the purchase of specified products and services during a preset promotional time period.

All points will be posted to the Member's account within three to five days after purchase.

The points can be used to pay for future purchases.

Earning Points for Online Purchases

When ordering products with point promotions online that will be delivered to a home address, points will be earned the same as if you purchased the items in a store.

Points for products purchased online and shipped to the store will be earned after the items have been picked up from the store.

Rain Checks

Points will not be awarded to rain check items purchased after the promotional time period is has ended.

Points and Register Rewards

Points will not be earned in a transaction where Register Rewards are used.

*Note - Although this is the written policy, many couponers have stated that they received their points when they used Register Rewards in the same transaction. This policy could be regional or it could change.

Store Credits

Points will not be earned in a transaction where a store credit is used.

Purchasing Limits

Walgreens reserves the right to limit points awarded based on what would be considered reasonable household quantities. Based on what we are seeing, a reasonable quantity is three to four same items, depending on the product.

Returns and Exchanges

If you redeem points on a purchase that you later return or exchange, the amount of points that you used will be deducted from your account.

Redeeming Points

Points can be used or saved. When you decide to redeem points, they will be converted to Redemption Dollars and deducted from your purchase. The Redemption Dollars are broken down in the following way:

  • 5,000 points = $5
  • 10,000 points = $10
  • 18,000 points = $20
  • 30,000 points = $35
  • 40,000 points = $50

Redemption Dollars will not be paid out in cash or store credit.

This means that your purchase should be the same or more than the amount of points you plan to redeem. If you purchase is $8 you would not want to redeem 10,000 points for $10 in Redemption Dollars because you will not receive cash back or store credit for the $2 difference.

Redemption Dollars may not be used for the purchase of the following: dairy, liquor, tobacco, stamps, phone/pre-paid/gift cards, money orders, money transfers, transportation passes, charitable donations, prescriptions, pseudoephedrine or ephedrine products, immunizations, health tests or other health care items or services, Prescription Savings Club membership fee, Take Care Clinic services.

Member Activity

Points must be earned or redeemed within six consecutive months in order to remain active in the program.

Inactive members lose all points that they have accumulated.

For active Members, all Balance Rewards Points expire on a rolling 36-month basis.

Register Rewards

Now for the good news. The Register Rewards program has not been discontinued. To learn how to use Register Rewards, read the article "Maximizing Your Savings st Walgreens".

Tips About Using the New Balance Rewards Program

As with any new program, there will be many questions that have not been covered in the program outline. Also, because Walgreens has multiple locations across the country, not all Walgreens' employees will be trained identically to deal with all the different scenarios of using register rewards, coupons and earning balance points.

This is true even when contacting corporate for answers. I received different answers from different people.

With that in mind, here is what I've learned so far although be prepared that your Walgreens may not follow the same procedures.

Most Walgreens will not require that you have the actual Balance Rewards card during your purchase ​if you supply them with your phone number and it is the same phone number that you registered with your card when you enrolled.

Currently, you can use Register Rewards to purchase items that offer Balance Rewards, and still earn the Balance Rewards points.

You can also use Balance Rewards points to purchase items offering Register Rewards and still receive the Register Rewards.

You cannot roll your Balance Rewards meaning, you cannot use Balance Rewards points to purchase items offering Balance Rewards and still receive the Balance Rewards points.

Most all qualifiers offering Balance Rewards will have a set limit as to how many you buy. You will receive Balance Rewards points on each item you buy until you reach the limit. After that, you will not earn additional Balance Reward points on the item even if you shop at another store or at a later date.

If the Balance Rewards includes a purchase requirement (Example - $15 of Balance Reward items earns 5,000 points) you can mix the items as long as they all qualify for Bonus Rewards.

Bottom Line

The new Balance Rewards program seems to be a way to get the majority of Walgreen shoppers, who are not couponers, into a program that will entice them to become frequent shoppers.

Although the program went through a fairly intensive trial period in certain regions of the country, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. We should all be prepared to see the program make adjustments before official policies will be posted.

If the program continues based on the tips I posted above, it should be a success to both couponers and non-couponers. We will just have to wait and see the final design.