Saturday, August 22, 2009

Walgreen's 101

If you are new to Walgreens (a.k.a. Wags) shopping, there are a few things you probably have questions about, so I will do my best to answer them here. If I don't answer your question, feel free to leave a comment (which might help others who have the same questions as you) or click the "email me" link on the right side-bar.

At Walgreen's it is possible to often get FREE or close-to-free items using their "Register Rewards" (RR) program. It is free and you don't need to sign up for anything. This is simply a "rebate" type program. You pay, out-of-pocket for a particular item, (or sometimes a certain number of a particular item, or certain dollar amount of a particular brand/item/etc), then receive a catalina coupon for a certain $ amount that you can use on a future visit for anything in the store, same as CASH.

(Register Rewards)

Some register reward deals run all month, others for a week. You can find out what the register reward deals are by looking at the Walgreen's weekly circular (that comes in the Sunday paper or they have these at the front of the store) or by finding the red tags stuck to the shelf under qualifying items. Most of these deals are advertised, but sometimes they are not and can only be found at the store. Click HERE to view current Walgreens deals where I list these deals for you and tell you which coupons you'll need.

There are a few catches when it comes to RR's. First, there are a few items that you cannot use them on, such as milk, stamps, gift cards, etc. Secondly, you cannot use a RR from one deal on more of the same deal to get another RR. For example, if you buy a Snickers for $1 and get a $1 RR, you cannot turn around and buy another Snickers and get another RR. You can use it to pay for the Snickers, but another RR will not print. You CAN, however, use the RR from the Snickers to buy another item that qualifies for a RR and it will still print. So, for example, you can use the $1RR from the Snickers to pay for a box of Ritz for $2 that gives you a $2RR and the $2RR for the Ritz will still print. By rolling register rewards on other register reward items each week, you will spend the least out of pocket and get the most bang for your buck! One of the keys to my saving so much at Walgreens is that I have built up a large "stash" of Walgreens RR's. When I first started shopping at Walgreens I paid a bit more out of pocket because I didn't roll my RR's as much. I just kind of collected them. Now, at any given time I usually have about $50 worth of RR's in my purse to use on my week's purchases. By doing this, I generally never spend more than $5 MAX (actual cash out-of-pocket) at Walgreens each week (except for in tax of course) because I always have RR's to use. You DO have to make sure that your total dollar amount for your purchase (after coupons) is equal to or greater than the value of your register reward. So, if you were buying the Snickers for $1 to get the $1 RR, and you wanted to pay with the $2RR for the Ritz, you would have to find another item or some inexpensive filler items to get your total up to the $2 mark so that you can use the $2 RR.

Another thing to note about using coupons at Walgreen's is that they often put out store coupons (that are in the weekly circular) that you can "stack" with a manufacturer coupon which can give you GREAT savings! For example, say Starbuck's Frappucinos are regularly $2.99/ea at Walgrens, but in the ad there is a coupon that makes Starbuck's Frappucino 2/$3 (or $1.50/ea) but now you also have a coupon for $1/1 from a previous coupon insert, you can use both the store coupon and the manufacturer coupon to now make them $.50/ea! Pretty nifty, huh? But make sure that the store coupon gets scanned, or you will not get it for the advertised coupon price!

One thing to note about stacking the coupons is that it is always best to give the cashier the manufacturer coupons before handing them the store coupons. A lot of times the register will complain and beep on you for some reason or another if you do it the other way around, so save yourself the headache and just get in the habit of handing the manufacturer coupons over first!

Also, if there is ever a time when a coupon or combo of a store and manufacturer coupon amount is over the cost of the item (for example, you have a $1.50/1 coupon for an item that is priced at $1.25) the register will beep and won't allow you to do it. The cashier must manually adjust the price of the item to be equal to that of the coupon so that the register will allow it. Don't let the cashier tell you that the coupon cannot be used. Their policy states that they are to adjust the coupon value down. If need be, ask to speak to a manager and they should be aware of their own coupon policy that states that this is allowed, but this is not always the case! Sometimes cashiers and managers are actually a bit misinformed about their own coupon policy, so it is a good idea to print out their coupon policy and carry it with you to the store in case there are any disputes. You can find a copy of the policy by doing a google search. (I do not have one posted on my site because I have not personally written to or spoken with anyone from Walgreens and do not want to put false information on my blog by accident.)

Lastly, when using coupons at Walgreen's there is a little catch that can be a major pain have to have as many items in your transaction as you have manufacturer coupons for, including RR's! If you have 5 items and 5 manufacturer coupons, you will not be able to pay with a register reward (as these are manufacturer coupons). So...if I had 5 items and a coupon for each item, in order to use two register rewards to pay for the items, I would have to find two "filler" items to put in my order for the register to allow me to use them. In that case I would find two super inexpensive items (i.e. clearance item, small candy, pencil, etc--nothing over $.40) so that I would be able to use my register rewards to pay. However, if I had 5 items and 4 coupons, but one of the coupons was $x.xx off of two items, you may want to have a filler item ready, just in case. I have had varying experiences with this one. Sometimes the coupon attaches to both items and so it considers it as if I have a coupon for each item already and won't allow me to use the RR. Sometimes it just comes off as one total coupon and I CAN use an RR to pay. Just keep this in mind when getting ready to hand over your stack of coupons. Make sure you will be able to use them all and allow extra items for any RR's you want to use.

A few notes:

Not all Walgreens are the same. Each manager gets to use their own discretion on some things, such as some weeks when there is a HOT item that is flying off the shelves, sometimes they will choose to limit how many you can buy. However, you may walk into another Walgreens and there is NO limit. Some stores will let you do more than one transaction at a time, others won't. YMMV.

If you are doing more than one transaction, be one and then if there's someone behind you let them go in between before you do your next transaction.

It really comes down to PRACTICE! I shopped Walgreens for a lot of weeks before I truly felt like I'd perfected it (though I wouldn't call it that because I still mess up occasionally). You will pay more than you should have a few times and you'll probably wind up making returns a few times, too, because you messed up. You'll accidentally pay for an item with a register reward from the same item that you bought earlier in the week so another RR won't print. (In that case, you can ask them to cancel the order and redo it and this time just don't pay with your RR. My store has never had a problem letting me) You'll get done ringing up and one of your RR's won't scan because you accidentally forgot to get a filler item (and you'll be forced to grab some small item near the register that you don't really want) or you miscounted and didn't have enough filler items. Believe me...the possibilities are endless. Lol. I've done them ALL! But, I learned from it each time and now I'm practically a pro. :) You can be too! Just don't give up and always learn from your mistakes and eventually you'll walk in with confidence and walk out having only spent a few cents. :) Here is an example of one of my Walgreens shopping trips:

For the above items, I only spent $.52 plus tax! PLUS, when all was said and done I still have $26 in RR's to add to my "stash." I simply used register rewards that I earned on the previous week's sale to pay for items that, in turn, gave me MORE register rewards this week (what we call "rolling" your register rewards). I continue to do this each week and continue to score great deals!

Hopefully this answers any of your questions...if not, let me know!


  1. Should you have the cashier scan the RR first then any additional manufacturer’s coupons? The register beeped when I tried it the other way around. I had 1 coupon (1.50 off) for 2 items and tried to pay with a RR leaving a balance of $1.71 OOP. When he scanned the RR first then the coupon it stopped beeping. Was this most likely a ratio scenario or is there also a certain order with RR then manufacturer's coupons? Thanks. :)

  2. Well, the first thing that comes to mind as you say this is was your total $1.71 before tax or was that the total amount including tax? If that included your tax, then you may not have been up to $1.50 BEFORE tax (ie. say your OOP was $1.47, but then you had tax of $.24) and therefore you wouldn't be able to use your RR because you didn't have a high enough total. Make sense? If, in fact the $1.71 was your BEFORE tax amount, then it very well could have been a coupon:item ratio thing. As in the Walgreens 101 post, I have had varying experiences with using a coupon that is an amount off of TWO items. Sometimes it counts as just one single coupon, sometimes it attaches to both items so it's still as if you have a coupon for EACH item.

    In general, I think you should be able to hand the coupons and RR's to the cashier in any order and they should be able to scan them in any order. If the register beeps then that is your signal that something isn't quite right, whether it be that your coupon:item ratio isn't right or your total isn't high enough before taxes to use it.

    It's hard to say for sure what happened in your scenario, but at least it worked the other way around! In general, I almost always get an ADDITIONAL filler item in my transactions so that I have one more item than I do coupons (unless I'm already purchasing items in my transaction that don't have coupons to go with them) just in case. It's worth the $.10-$.20 to me to not have to worry about missing my ratio! :) Any way, hope that helps at least a little!


Feel free to leave a comment! :)