How to Game the System and Save Big at CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid

When looking for savings, shopping at big name drugstores used to be a no-no.

But CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid have useful rewards programs that, when used right, can help you get the most bang out of your buck. Here's a list of useful tricks to maximize savings at these three big name drugstores.

1. CVS

The receipts from CVS can be so long that they inspire Halloween costumes. However, when it comes to savings, those paper coupons are just the tip of the iceberg.

The most important step is to sign up for the ExtraCare Rewards program online or in-store to receive 2% cash back on purchases made throughout a quarter.

Follow these tips to maximize your ExtraCare Rewards savings:

  • Opt-in to receive mailers and emails, because CVS sends out coupons ranging from $5 off a $20 purchase to 35% off the total purchase.
  • If you have an iPhone or Android smartphone, download the CVS mobile app and connect your ExtraCare Rewards card to receive a $3 coupon. The app is also a great way to store most of your CVS coupons in digital form. CVS sometimes surprises app users with additional ExtraBucks Rewards.
  • Enroll in the ExtraCare Beauty Club and you'll receive a 10% coupon immediately. You'll also receive a $5 ExtraBucks Rewards for every $50 spent on qualifying beauty purchases and $3 ExtraBucks rewards on your birthday.
  • Individuals with diabetes can enroll in the ExtraCare Advantage for Diabetes program for double ExtraBucks Rewards on over 100 qualifying products.
  • Through Veterans Advantage, active members of the U.S. armed forces, veterans, and their family members can receive 20% off coupons to use in-store, and 20% off and free shipping codes to use online.
  • The ExtraCare Pharmacy & Health Rewards program gets you a $5 Pharmacy and Health ExtraBucks Rewards by filling 10 prescriptions at CVS. Completing certain tasks, such as adding email or text alerts for refill notifications, also counts towards that goal.
  • Print out special deals at the CVS site, check for additional coupons at the in-store coupon centers, and bring manufacturer coupons that you clipped in other places.

Now that's how you stack savings on top of savings!

2. Walgreens

Through the Balance Rewards Program, you can accumulate points and redeem them for a discount on your purchases. Here is a table of redemption values:

  • 5,000 points = $5.00
  • 10,000 points = $10.00
  • 18,000 points = $20.00
  • 30,000 points = $35.00
  • 40,000 points = $50.00

As you can see, it pays to wait a bit to redeem your points.

To maximize your Balance Rewards points:

  • Enroll your Balance Rewards card at the Walgreens site. That way you can activate the Everyday Points perk and earn 10 points per $1 spent at Walgreens on almost everything.
  • Receive 100 points per 30-day prescription, including those covered by Medicare and Medicaid, and 300 points per 90-day prescription. You can also earn points through your children and pet prescription purchases.
  • Get 100 points per immunization received at Walgreens.
  • Download the Walgreens mobile app (available for Apple, Android, and Windows Phone devices) to clip digital coupons and additional Balance Rewards offers.

However, you can earn Balance Rewards points without spending any money at all.

Walgreens truly lives up to its slogan "At the corner of happy and healthy" by rewarding you for healthy behaviors. Through 13 smartphone apps, such as Runkeeper and GenieMD, and 32 devices, such as FitBit Flex and Withings Blood Pressure Monitor, you can earn points by keeping logs of fitness and weight, and tracking your blood pressure, glucose level, sleep, or pulse. By making healthy choices, you can accumulate:

  • Up to 1,000 points per month for walking, running or cycling sessions;
  • Up to 600 points per month for other fitness activities;
  • Up to 600 points per month for weigh-ins;
  • Up to 600 points per month for blood pressure readings;
  • Up to 1,200 points per month for blood glucose readings; and
  • Up to 600 points per month for nicotine replacement therapies.

Getting some extra cash can be a great motivation to stick to your health goals.

3. Rite Aid

You probably have heard the news online or on TV — Rite Aid is the only drugstore chain that participates in the Plenti membership rewards program. By merging its wellness+ Programs with Plenti, Rite Aid lets you earn points not only through your purchases in-store, but also through everyday purchases at Plenti partners, such as AT&T, Macy's, Hulu, and Mobil.

Here are the basics of the wellness+ Program with Plenti:

  • You get one point per $1 spent on eligible products.
  • Boost your points with partner offers, such as earning 500 points when you sign up for AT&T's paperless billing, and 10 times points on qualifying non-fuel purchase at a participating Exxon or Mobil-branded service station.
  • Once you reach a 200 points balance, you can start using your points for savings at checkout at Ride Aid.
  • Every 100 points gets you at least $1 in savings.

If you're a frequent shopper at Rite Aid you can quickly rack up points.

  • Spending $20 on a particular brand of baby food gets you 500 points.
  • Spending $50 on eligible purchases in a single online transaction at gets you 1,000 points.
  • Rite Aid is pushing its Plenti partnership by providing promo codes (e.g. promo code PLENTI got you $10 off and free shipping on online purchases of $50 or more until 6/27/15).
  • Follow Rite Aid on Facebook for additional coupons.

Keeping true to its "With us, it's personal" motto, Rite Aid provides a series of personalized wellness+ programs.

  • wellness65+: Created for seniors age 65 and over, this program provides a 20% discount on purchases every Wednesday, free pharmacist consultation, and series of monthly activities.
  • wellness+ for Diabetes: Receive discounts on diabetes products and access to diabetes specialists online or over the phone.
  • wellness+ Allergy: Earn 2,000 Plenti points every time you spend $75 on select OTC allergy products.

What other tricks do you use to maximize savings at these big name drugstores?

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