Frugal Living: Figuring Out Walgreens’ New Coupon Rewards Program

By ERIN TURNER

Saturday ushered in the new season of fall. The change of seasons tend to be a little bittersweet for me as I say a fond farewell to the things I love about each season but eagerly embrace the new qualities of the coming season.

The start of a new season sometimes is very confusing and frustrating as I try to hang on to the things of the previous season…such as trying to eek out one last time of wearing flip-flops on a crisp, cool fall day. I’m hopeful at the beginning of the day that things will still feel like they did in August but then I get mad because my toes are cold all day long. Finally, the point comes where I fully accept the new season and immerse myself into all of its glory. That means packing away the flip-flops and getting excited about wearing boots!

This week I had a double whammy of this “seasonal tug-o-war”. With the start of autumn on September 22, I had to face the reality that my flip-flop days are numbered…I see it in the changing of the leaves on the trees. But I also had similar feelings as I learned about Walgreens’ new loyalty program called Balance Rewards. I have long loved Walgreens for their wonderful couponing environment and the amount of savings I get by shopping there and also that I don’t have to carry a member card in order to get the lowest price.

Starting September 16, the nation-wide pharmacy Walgreens began a shopper loyalty program, where customers have to register for the free membership and present a card at each shopping trip in order to get the weekly savings. As you shop at Walgreens you earn points based on the items you buy. Here is a breakdown of what you earn:

Walgreens CouponsEarned Points are converted into Redemption Dollars in five (5)tiers:

  • (1) 5,000 points = $5
  • (2) 10,000 points = $10
  • (3) 18,000 points = $20
  • (4) 30,000 points = $35
  • (5) 40,000 points = $50

Redemption Dollars will not be paid out in cash or Store Credit.

The biggest bummer of the new loyalty program for couponers is that you can’t use Redemption dollars to purchase any items that have redemption points attached to it. So, basically the idea of rolling your rewards is null and void with this new program. That is one of the biggest drawbacks of the new program.

Now, there have been lots of rumors and speculation about Walgreens ending their beloved Register Rewards program.

At this time, the company has maintained that they will continue the program for the “foreseeable future.” But many of the couponing gurus around the country are fairly confident that Walgreens will begin phasing out the Register Reward program eventually. The Register Rewards is a coupon program whereas the Balance Rewards is a loyalty membership program.

I have not had a chance to sign-up for the program or to start investigating its pros and cons. But many of my trusted coupon blogging friends were surprisingly pleased this last week with some of the deals they were getting. Many of them said it may not be such a negative change.

The obstacle most of us have to face is embracing the change whole-heartedly and bidding a fond farewell to the Walgreens shopping we all had become accustomed to in the past. The face of couponing has changed significantly in the last three or four years and, since there is a greater portion of American consumers using coupons, companies are now having to adjust their promotions in order to keep up and still make a dollar or two.

This means we, as couponers, will continue to see changes like they are making at Walgreens and Albertsons (the disappearance of double coupons!). Many people will fold in the face of change and give up on couponing but it’s important to adapt and embrace the change and seek out the benefits of the change.

Just like the changing seasons, if we don’t adapt and immerse ourselves in the current season, we miss the beauty of it and all it has to offer. I can’t imagine missing out on the beauty of the first snowfall, the fresh smell of apple blossoms in the spring, the crickets singing on a hot summer night,
or the leaves turning a crimson red in the fall!

I’m sad to see the changes in couponing but for everything there is a season! So, I will be signing up for the Balance Rewards program and immersing myself to learn all the ways it can benefit my household and my pocketbook! Won’t you join me?

Have you tried out Walgreens new rewards program this week? If so, tell us what you think and if you had any luck saving some cash!

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Erin’s got tons of tips for saving money, couponing, and sticking to a budget in her blog archive. And be sure to check out the Missoula Save it Club.

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Erin Eisenman-Turner is proud to be a native Missoulian. Along with her husband and three sons, they raise chickens, pigs, rabbits, and vegetables at Turner Family Farms in the Orchard Homes area. When the farm chores are done, the coupons clipped, and the blog written, you can find Erin exploring Montana, collecting antiques, and trying to maintain a well-run, happy, and organized home for her family.

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