Tuesday, September 28, 2010

How to Shop for Free at Walgreens

Compared to Shopping for Free at CVS, Walgreens is a whole other beast.  Now, don't get me wrong, there are a lot of great deals and free items that you can get at Walgreens, but it takes a lot more planning and dedication than CVS.  I realize that all of the following information will probably seem confusing and overwhelming at first.  Trust me, when I first starting reading about shopping at Walgreens, I was thinking: What!?!?  It really is not that hard to master shopping at Walgreens, and all this information will be second nature to you before you know it. 

In some ways Walgreen's program is similar to the one at CVS but there are definitely a number of differences.  For starters:  Walgreens has Register Rewards for some items that print out of a Catalina machine next to the register. This is what a Catalina machine looks like:
 Here are some examples of Register Rewards:
 A Register Reward (RR) is a special Walgreen's coupon from a manufacturer that will will print out if you purchase certain items.  Items that have a R.R. tied to them are almost always advertised in the weekly circular.  Sometimes R.R. deals are only valid for one week, and sometimes they last all month long.
  • Register Rewards are only good for about a week and a half, so it takes some planning to make sure that you use them before they expire. 
  • Register Rewards have similar exclusions as ECBs at CVS, such as:  tobacco, alcohol, money orders, and stamps, among others.  I actually just read on a R.R. that I have right now, that they also exclude Dairy.  
Register Rewards have a number of rules associated with them:
  • At Walgreens, you can not use more coupons in a transaction than the number of items that you are purchasing - the register will not allow it.  This may not seem like a problem, except that Register Rewards are considered "manufacturer coupons" at Walgreens.  That does not mean that you have to use them to purchase something from the same company that they printed out for.  It just means that they count toward your coupon-to-item ratio when you are making a purchase.  For example:  If you are purchasing 3 items for which you have a coupon for each, and you wish to help pay for these items with a R.R. as well, you can't unless you purchase more items.  
    • This is where "fillers" come in.  A filler is a cheap item that you may buy to have more items in your order and allow you to use R.R.s to help pay for your purchases.  Sometimes Walgreens has inexpensive candy or items like pencils or pens that work well as fillers.
  • At Walgreens a R.R. will only print out once for each separate Register Reward deal that you purchase.  If you buy (1) Pantene product on sale for $4 with a $4 Register Reward back, and (1) Tylenol product on sale for $3 with a $3 Register Reward back, you will get back both your $4 R.R. and your $3 R.R.  However, if you instead buy (2) Pantene products that are on sale for $4 each with a $4 R.R. back, only (1) $4 R.R. will print out at the register.
  • Another Register Reward rule is that if you use a R.R. to purchase another of the same Register Reward deals, a new Register Reward will not print out.  You can use Register Rewards to pay for more R.R. deals and get new ones to print out, but they have to be from totally different companies altogether.  For example:  
    • If you have a Register Reward that you received for buying a Gillette Razor, and you want to use it to pay for a Register Reward deal for some Pantene Shampoo, a new Register Reward will not print out, because both Gillette and Pantene are manufacturered by Proctor and Gamble.
    • However, if you have that same Register Reward from purchasing a Gillette razor, and you wish to use it to help pay for a Register Reward deal for Coke, then a new R.R. will print out because Gillette and Coke are made by different companies.
    • The Register Reward will usually say on it what company it is from.  It might say:  Thank you for purchasing Proctor and Gamble products, or something similar.
  • When you are paying for a purchase with Register Rewards, your purchase subtotal must be equal to or more than the R.R.s you are using or the register will beep and it will not allow you to use them.  
  • As crazy as it sounds, the order in which your cashier scans your manufacturer and Walgreens coupons does matter.  When you are using Walgreens coupons (other than Register Rewards), they do not count toward your coupon-to-item ratio as long as you hand them over to the cashier in the correct order of:
    • First:  Register Rewards
    • Second:  Manufacturer Coupons
    • Third:  Walgreens Store Coupons
If your coupons are not scanned in this order, then your manufacturer coupons may beep, and the cashier won't let you use them.  Unlike many stores, where if a coupon won't go through and they manually take off the amount of the coupon, cashiers at Walgreens will not do that.  Unfortunately, if a coupon beeps, it's pretty much tough luck, and you don't get to use it.  If this happens, sometimes a manager may be able to help you, but not always.
  • You can use a B1G1 coupon at Walgreens on a B1G1 sale and get both items for free, but some cashiers at Walgreens are not as friendly about this as they are at CVS.
  • You can stack Walgreens coupons along with manufacturer coupons, just remember to give them in the right order.
  • Often, Walgreens coupon book coupons are for a certain amount off a specific item.  Such as one for $1 off Huggies wipes.  If you buy 2 tubs of Huggies wipes, then using that coupon once, will take off $2.
Walgreens Store coupons can be found in several different locations:
  • Inside the weekly circular.  You do have to have the cashier either scan these coupons or manually enter the coupon number in order to receive the discount price.
  • Inside the monthly Walgreen's coupon booklets found at the front of the store usually right with the weekly ads.
  • Sometimes online on the Walgreens website.
  • Occasionally inside of special Walgreen's magazines in the pharmacy area. 

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