A lot of people run to their local drugstore for a last minute snack, or for a quick trip to grab a few items, but drugstores can be very expensive if you don’t know how to shop the sales! However, once you learn to shop the sales at drugstores, combined with loyalty cards, coupons, promotions, and rebate offers, you can find great bargains and even end up getting some things for free!
Don’t Shop at a Drugstore at the Last Minute
The worst time to shop at a drugstore is at the last minute! Don’t wait until you run out of something to decide you need to run to the drugstore to get it. Their normal prices are sometimes double what they are at Walmart! The items that you buy at a drugstore are shelf stable, like toothpaste, so you can stock up when an item is on sale, rather than buying it at an exorbitant price when you run out of it. I have a whole cupboard full of shampoo, conditioner and body wash. My family uses it, and when a need arises in our church or community, I have plenty to share. You can also see if homeless shelters, senior centers, women’s resource centers, or food banks have a need for these items. So, besides stocking up for yourself, you can help others too!
Shop at a Drugstore According to Sales
In my post, How To Compare Grocery Store Prices, I talk about how to keep track of the prices and sales so that you know when a bargain is really a good deal. You can use that same method for shopping at a drugstore. You can use couponmom.com to help you find the best prices every week. She even has a Drugstore Deals section to help you find those bargains. I usually save 75 – 90% when I shop at a drugstore using these tips! It’s best to just start shopping at one drugstore until you get used to shopping this way. Once you’ve mastered one store, you can then start shopping at the other drugstores close to you as well. It’s better to shop at stores close by because you’ll get credits from one trip that you can use on your next trip, and you’d be more motivated to redeem them if you don’t have to far to go.
Look at weekly sales circulars. My drugstore circulars come every week in the Sunday newspaper. You can also find them online, on the stores’ websites. The circulars show the featured sales, buy one get one free deals, rebates, and other promotions. They sometimes even include store coupons in them, which can be combined with manufacturer’s coupons.
Use those store coupons. You can find the store coupons in the weekly sales circulars, in a kiosk at the store, on the bottom of your receipt from your purchase at the store, on their website, from their email newsletter or in a catalog at the store. The coupons are for store-brand and name-brand items. When you combine these coupons with a manufacturer’s coupon, you can get an item for a really low price, and sometimes even for free! I usually purchase my prescriptions first, so I can use those coupons on that receipt for whatever else I’m going to buy in the store.
Use coupons with buy one get one free deals. Drugstores often offer buy one get one free, or buy one get one half off. When you add store coupons and manufacturer’s coupons to these deals, you can end up getting multiple items for a really low price, and often for free. You can use both coupons on each item you purchase, so that’s part of why I get 2 Sunday papers. Since I can use multiple coupons on these great deals, the cost of the extra newspaper pays for itself with the deals I get.
Rebates are worth it. Nowadays, rebates are much easier to take advantage of. It’s rare that you have to fill anything out anymore and mail it in. CVS and Walgreens have automatic rebates that print out after your purchase. Rite Aid has a rebate program that lets you submit the information online. The Coupon Mom says that about half of her drugstore savings comes from rebate programs. So, it’s definitely worth trying it.
Coupons can be used on trial sizes. You wouldn’t normally buy a trial size item, unless you’re going on vacation, since their unit price is often high, but with coupons, you can get them for free. Drugstores usually carry a lot of trial size items because they know their shoppers are there looking for convenience. Just remember to carefully read the coupon and make sure it says it’s good on any size. These items are also really good for donations because a lot of charities prefer the trial-size items. A lady that I used to go to church with, is a huge advocate for the homeless, and she is always asking people for trial-size items to bring on her weekly trips to visit the homeless in her area. The items are small enough for them to carry wherever they go.
Sometimes you can get coupons for transferring prescriptions. This is why most of our prescriptions are filled at CVS. They had a great deal if we transferred our prescriptions there, we got a gift card(I don’t remember for how much, it’s been awhile). Usually it’s for a pretty good amount, like $20. Some stores will even redeem the transfer offers from other stores, if you transfer to their store instead.
It pays to be part of the membership program. The membership programs usually come with a card, but you don’t have to carry it with you. You can just enter your phone number and you’ll still get the great deals. A lot of the drugstore deals are only available if you’re part of their program, and it doesn’t cost anything to join, so it’s worth it. You don’t even have to fill out a paper anymore, you can just enter some basic information in the machine where you pay, or the cashier can enter it on his/her register. There are also some programs for seniors; my parents take advantage of these.
How Drugstore Deals Work at CVS
This is where I shop most often because it’s the closest to my house, it only takes 25 minutes to walk there, and that’s where most of our prescriptions are. Plus, the cashiers there are really friendly and have enjoyed watching my kids grow up.
Get an ExtraCare card. Once you get a card from the store, register it online. They will send you an email to welcome you and give you great coupons to use on your next shopping trip. Periodically, they will also send you coupons and offers through the mail. The great thing about those, is they’re related to what you buy most often.
Automatic Extra Bucks rewards earnings. Every time you shop in a CVS store or online at cvs.com, you are earning 2% of your total nonprescription purchases. This amount accumulates in your Extra Bucks account. Every quarter, they’ll give you an Extra Bucks reward coupon for that amount, which you can use in the stores or online. The coupon will print at the bottom of your receipt whenever you shop after the quarter has ended, or you can get it from cvs.com. There’s also an Extra Bucks reward program for prescriptions. You earn $1 for every 2 prescriptions filled.
Earn Extra Bucks from the deals you take advantage of. In the weekly circulars, you’ll see that several items, besides being on sale, also qualify for Extra Bucks rewards. As with all deals, make sure you really read the details of the deal so that you purchase the right amount of the right item. When you purchase those items, you’ll get extra bucks printed at the bottom of your receipt. You can use those the next time you shop to help pay for your shopping trip. They’re only good for one month after you earn them, so make sure you use them before they expire; otherwise it will be like you’re throwing away money.
Combine coupons with Extra Bucks. If you combine coupons with extra bucks, you can actually get “paid” to buy an item. The Coupon Mom gives an example of purchasing toothpaste using a $1 coupon and a $3.49 Extra Bucks reward. So, essentially you only paid $2.49 for the item, but got back $3.49!
Use coupons wisely. If you have a CVS coupon that has a minimum purchase requirement, make sure you give that to your cashier to ring up before any additional coupons, so that way you don’t go below that minimum purchase requirement before using the coupon.
Different ways to buy with Extra Bucks. I like to plan ahead and break up my shopping into separate orders. I calculate the sales items to figure out which way I can use the deals to pay the least. I will pay for a sales item and combine it with a coupon and an extra bucks reward from my previous shopping trip. Then, I’ll give the cashier my next set of items, and pay those with coupons and the extra bucks reward I just earned from my first purchase – and so on. Buying my items this way often results in paying barely anything for several items. Several times, the only thing I’ve had to pay for, was the tax. By the way, there used to be some blogs that had $5 CVS challenges where you see how many items you can buy at CVS for a total of $5. Using my method is the best way to meet that challenge.
Use Extra Bucks at the end. Make sure you give the cashier your ExtraCare card before she rings up any purchases, so it will take off the amounts of each item on sale. Then, hand her your coupons. At the end, hand her your Extra Bucks so that way you only use the amount you need and can save the rest for next time. Also, be careful to not use Extra Bucks if the amount left to pay is less than the extra bucks you have, because you won’t get a refund. You’ll just lose those extra bucks.
How Drugstore Deals Work at Walgreens and Rite Aid
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Walgreens also has a loyalty card and their rewards are called Register Rewards. You get coupons off future purchases when you buy qualifying items. You can also combine coupons with these rewards to end up paying barely anything for what you purchase.
Rite Aid has rebates and a special savings program for seniors. They also have special offers on their website.
I used to purchase things from Walgreens when my daughter was at dance, because I could just walk down to the drugstore while she was in class. However, that was about 4 years ago, so I’m not as familiar with their rewards program anymore. I’ve also never shopped at Rite Aid, so I don’t know anything more about their offers either.
You can find more details about both of these drugstores’ deals and how they work from The Coupon Mom’s Guide to Cutting Your Grocery Bills in Half. That’s where I learned how to shop so well and purchase things for almost nothing, or to even get them for free!
So, I think it’s definitely worth it for you to start out at your favorite local drugstore and see how well you can do by taking advantage of all the deals. When you combine the deals offered in the weekly circular with coupons, and the various rewards offered, you’ll find out how much fun it is to shop and save! The people in line behind you will be amazed and will want to learn how you did it!
What’s your favorite drugstore to shop at? Have you got any good deals at them? I would love to hear about it.