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How to Use Walgreens Register Rewards – Save Money & Get Free Items

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I have a veritable gold mine of groceries and toiletries sitting on a street corner just a few blocks from where I live. It’s called Walgreens, and nearly every time I leave the store, I do so with numerous free items in my bag.

This is possible because I’ve learned how to use the Walgreens Register Rewards program effectively. Once you understand the basics of this program, you too will be able to maximize the savings.

What Are Walgreens Register Rewards?

When you shop at Walgreens and purchase certain products using your Walgreens rewards card, you occasionally receive a coupon with your receipt. That coupon is a Register Reward (RR). Generally, such RRs will allow you to “save $2 off your next purchase at Walgreens.” This works similarly to an instant rebate, except you must apply it to your next purchase, rather than realizing the savings immediately.

For example, if you have a $2.00 RR and see that a 12-pack of soda is on sale for $2.50, you can purchase it for only $0.50 plus tax. And here’s the best part: You don’t have to guess at which products will earn you a RR when you buy them. Walgreens discloses this information in their weekly ads so you can know what to buy before you walk in the door.

Recently, Walgreens advertised a four-ounce tube of Colgate Total Advance Toothpaste for $3.00, which earned a $3.00 RR. Though you must spend the $3.00 up-front, you essentially are earning free toothpaste by receiving an equivalent value coupon in return.

Each week, Walgreens offers items that generously give Register Rewards in increments of $1.00, $2.00, $3.00, $4.00, $5.00, and sometimes even $10.00 or more.

walgreens register rewards

Program Limitations – Policy & Rules

Register Rewards do come with a handful of limitations:

  • RRs Have an Expiration Date. Walgreens Register Rewards have a 15-day expiration date from the moment they are printed. This means that you either have to “roll” them into another deal or flat-out spend them. If you don’t, you will lose them.
  • You Cannot Receive RRs for Purchasing One Item Twice. If you just received a $3.00 RR by purchasing a tube of Colgate toothpaste, you can buy another Colgate Toothpaste with your reward – however, you will not receive another RR coupon. The Register Reward Program tracks which items were purchased. However, you can roll the reward into the purchase of a different product offering RRs, for which you will receive a coupon. This shopping technique is how you make the most of these deals.
  • You Cannot Get a Raincheck on Register Rewards Items. If an item produces a Register Reward, Walgreens will not issue a raincheck for that item per company policy. This means that if the item is out of stock, it’s because others took advantage of the deal before you did. Try another Walgreens or arrive earlier for the next great deal.
  • You May Be Restricted by Coupon Count Limits. Because RRs are considered “manufacturer coupons,” you can run into a situation in which you have fewer items than you have coupons. When this happens, the register will reject them. For example, if you want to buy one $4.00 item and have two $2.00 RRs, the register will not accept both rewards because you only have one item and two coupons. In these cases, you will want to buy a cheap filler item to increase the number of items you are buying. At the register there are plenty of impulse items that will do the job, such as a $0.39 pencil or a $0.19 caramel. If you have to spend a few extra cents so that the register will accept a second $2.00 reward coupon, so be it.

Free Items and Money Makers

Often, the products for which Walgreens offers Register Rewards are the very same products for which manufacturers issue coupons in your Sunday paper and online. This is a situation you can easily take advantage of.

Suppose a four-ounce tube of Colgate Total Advance Toothpaste costs $3.00 and returns a $3.00 RR. If you have a $0.75 manufacturer’s coupon, you only need to pay $2.25 out-of-pocket. When you consider the $3.00 RR coupon you receive in return, you are essentially getting the toothpaste for free and earning an additional $0.75.

You can also use “buy one, get one free” coupons to earn even more. For instance, say you purchase two Nescafé Instant Singles, which cost $2.00 each. If you have a coupon for a free second package, you only need to spend $2.00 out-of-pocket, rather than $4.00. If you receive a $3.00 RR coupon in return, you’ve actually earned a dollar.

Each week, there are deals where you can get free items and earn money back. Just keep your eyes out for items you purchase regularly that return the most Register Rewards, and, if possible, combine them with discount coupons.

smiling woman paying her ec cardRolling Your RRs

When you spend your RRs on items that return more RRs, you are rolling your rewards, a simple tactic that could allow you to spend very little out-of-pocket and collect free items all month long.

Follow the strategy outlined in the following example:

  1. You buy a tube of Colgate toothpaste and spend $3.00 out-of-pocket and get back $3.00 in Register Rewards.
  2. You spend your $3.00 RR plus $2.00 cash on saline nasal mist that costs $5.00, which returns $5.00 Register Rewards.
  3. You then take your $5.00 RR and no cash and get another tube of Colgate toothpaste and some St. Joseph’s Aspirin, receiving a $3.00 RR for the Colgate and a $2.00 RR for the aspirin.

You have now spent only $5.00 total, but have received two tubes of Colgate toothpastes, saline mist, some aspirin, and you still have a $2.00 and a $3.00 Register Reward left.

You can take those RRs and work the above scenario again and again. The Register Rewards you get with each purchase are used in the next purchase to earn additional rewards. You can theoretically roll your rewards forever.

Final Word

Walgreens Register Rewards are as good as cash in your pocket. I never leave Walgreens without having used or collected new ones. The rewards I currently hold have been rolled so many times that I can’t remember the original purchase that started it all.

To take better advantage of this program, use your standard manufacturer coupons on the same items and lower your out-of-pocket cost. This often turns most deals into money-makers, which means you’re essentially getting paid to take products off the shelf.

Have you used Walgreens Register Rewards? What has your experience been like?

David Bibby
David Bibby currently lives in Palm Bay, FL with his wife Catherine and two daughters. David is a Christian, writer, and programmer. He became interested in personal finance at age 20 while working for a credit union. He owns and operates numerous websites on topics ranging from finances to marriage help.

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