Today’s question is from Michelle:
I have been easing into couponing slowly, but the drugstores have intimidated me. It just seems so much more complex than couponing at other stores. I think I am ready to try one of them. Which drugstore has the best deals? Which is easiest to figure out? -Michelle
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I’ve shopped and live near a Rite-aid and Walgreens so i have experienced all three. Rite-Aid has the worst employees(of course you may have the best employees at yours). So, if you do decide to go to Rite-Aid definitely take the coupon policy with you.
CVS is the easiest and best, in my opinion.
Good luck and don’t worry you’ll get better and score some great deals 🙂
I prefer Walgreens. I have tried CVS but could not seem to get into the swing of saving money there. Also since Walgreens is only a mile from my home and CVS is about ten miles away Walgreen’s is just so much more convenient. I really like our cashiers at my Walgreens, they work with you to save money and get excited to see how much you can save.
No question about it – CVS is the absolute best! In all the years I’ve been shopping there I have never had any problems with coupons, extra bucks, etc. whereas with Walgreens I can count on a problem of some kind almost every week! You can use as many extra bucks as you want at CVS so if you buy a $10 item and have several extra bucks which add up to $10 you can use all of them. Walgreens limits the number of coupons you can use; if you buy 3 items you can only use 3 coupons or register rewards. I have never not had the CVS extra bucks print out; at Walgreens if the register rewards don’t print like they are supposed to, they will tell you tough luck! You have longer to use the extra bucks than the register rewards and even if they expire they will usually take them. They give you the full value of a “free” item coupon so if an item is $4 and the coupon is for $4.99, you will get the full amount subtracted! With sales, coupons and extra bucks I regularly get free toothpaste, shampoo, etc. which I take to the local food bank. No doubt about it, CVS over Walgreens any day!
i agree! i HATE that #coupons=#items policy at Walgreens. Makes it so much more difficult and requires you to buy filler items you may not need or want.
Jessica W says
I like walgreens. I also think it’s easier. although I had stopped awhile before they implemented their point system. on occasion I still drive out that way and I just look at what deals are going on that week here on this site before I go. but I encourage u to read MSM 101 on whichever drug store u pick. I’d say I don’t much like rite aid in general so I’d start w Wags or CVS.
I wholeheartedly agree that CVS is the best! We used to have a RiteAid and a Walgreen’s in our town. I would make a trip (or two) to both each week with good success. RiteAid has gone out of business leaving only Walgreen’s. I finally ventured into CVS when activities for the kids brought us near one. The employees have always been very helpful, positive, and are not anti-couponing. I was hesitant to earn any ECBs but with a month to use them, I have never had a problem with them expiring. It’s so nice to shop where the clerks don’t frown at you because you are using a coupon or want to do two transactions. I can’t say enough good things about the CVS stores in our area.
Sometimes I felt like I was doing something illegal when I went to Walgreen’s using coupons and register rewards and my total was less than one dollar (that didn’t happen very often). I rarely shop there anymore and avoid register rewards like the plague because there are so many restrictions on them. My heart would start beating fast as I would sit in the car and make sure that I didn’t have too many coupons/register rewards for the number of items I was intending to buy. There are a few things that I buy there, but I don’t feel like it is worth the effort to play their game.
I also agree that if you are new, try just one store. . .very slowly. You have to learn/understand their system and feel confident that you are not going to waste money by either the ECB/UP/RR expiring before you use it or purchasing something you don’t really need.
Dee Wolters says
I have access to CVS and Walgreens only. Cannot speak about riteaid. I like CVS. I think their ECB system is easy to use and they honor coupons well. Wal greens is just a bit more complicated! I get frustrated with their policy of one coupon per item. I usually can plan my transaction at home, but then get to the store and they are out of something and it does not work. CVS takes manufactures coupons and the few store coupons printed from their web site, along with coupons from the kiosk. A couple times I year I don’t find deals for a couple of weeks and have ECB that will expire, and use them on a non sale item that I need for the stock pile.
I agree that CVS has the best and the simplest rewards program. Walgreen’s can be confusing, but in my area it often has the cheapest prices on eggs and milk as an added bonus.
I agree with all the positive comments about CVS. Just a quick note, your first trip may seem a little more expensive since you will not have any extra bucks to use, but after that first visit you will be really surprised at how low your costs are!
We only have Rite Aid and Walgreens. I think Rite Aid is awesome but it has taken me six months to get really good at it. I can get tons of stuff for free now by rolling my Up rewards into deals that generate more Up rewards. I stack Rite Aid’s in ad, Facebook, or Video Values coupons with manufacturer’s coupons.
A lot of bloggers will detail exactly how to do transactions so once you pick a store, google coupon blogs plus the store’s name and try one very simple transaction for one item with only a little money out of pocket.
Don’t expect yourself to be like one of the awesome shopping trips that are featured here. Like anything else, it just takes practice to gain confidence.
Sarah E@Theteacherswife says
CVS is by far my favorite drugstore (haven’t tried Rite Aid, but have tried Walgreens numerous times only to get frustrated)! I have found better deals at CVS b/c I can combine coupons I get via email with ECB deals and sales. I think their system is by far the easiest to learn! 🙂
all I have is a Rite Aid. When I used to live in a place which had the big 3 drugstores, I preferred CVS. Now that my only option is Rite Aid, I’ve made it work, but there are less deals to be had. I went today and their summer clearance was 75% off and I scored some good stuff. Bubbles for 37 cents and a baseball bat and ball for $1.25. 🙂
Brett Marie says
In my experience I have found that CVS is the easiest and least OOP. I shop solely to provide for my family, not for reselling, donating, etc. I like that with CVS you don’t have to worry about fillers and adding more items (and therefore cost) onto your transactions. Also, I love that their ECB’s (essentially cvs money) have a 30 day expiration. For me, the longer the expiration, the better as sometimes I might not be able to make it to the drugstores more than once a month. Most of your CVS store coupons will come from the red coupon machine or an email. Every now and then they will have some type of printable store coupon, but not often. For me, the less coupons I have to clip, the better. Good luck!
I only have Rite Aid and Walgreens to choose from, I wish I was lucky enough to have CVS! Between the two I do have, Rite Aid wins. I live right down the street from one off two 24 hr stores in the metro area and is staffed by the friendliest people. There were a couple of rude ones that disliked coupons but I rarely go during the time they work.
The Walgreens has ok people, they don’t really understand how to use coupons nor do they care enough to listen to you. Out of the 7 or so times I’ve been there, I only had one good experience.
I get my UP rewards from Rite Aid printed out at the bottom of my receipt, which anyone can have, just ask the cashier. I didn’t even know that was an option before I was told by the cashier. I haven’t had a problem with their coupon policy yet except for the coupon that had pictures of hair dye but didn’t specify the item, just the brand.
Walgreens still confuses me… register rewards… balance program…. filters… ah! I don’t have time to figure out all out.
Still wishing I had a CVS
I don’t think it matters that much, at least as regards deals. We have CVS and Walgreens, and both have good deals throughout the year. I think CVS is a little easier to figure out in the beginning. But I shop at Walgreens almost exclusively because it is much closer (and on my way to lots of things we do every week). Definitely start with just one — it’s too much to try to figure everything out at once!
My choices are CVS and Walgreens, we don’t have a Rite Aid or anything else around here. I prefer Walgreens, but I’m biased. I used to work there. I understand the coupons, points, register rewards, etc. way better than CVS. This summer I used both stores and I think CVS may be easier, but you can’t get as many items since the limit is usually one, whereas you can check out multiple times at Walgreens to get more register rewards for the same item (ie: buy 5 tubes of toothpaste and get 5 register rewards instead of just 1 at CVS). Walgreens Register Rewards are good for 2 wks, CVS ECB’s are good for a month so you have a lot more time to use them/wait for a deal you want to use them on.
Krafty Momma says
I love CVS! It took me a bit of work, but now I’m getting personal care items for really cheap!
If you are beginning to coupon, choose ONE drugstore. You may miss other deals, but ultimately I found I saved money because I was able to keep track of just one store better than multiple stores.
Jamie Rohrbaugh says
I like CVS just because it’s easier. I stopped couponing a long time ago and my husband took over. My husband totally gets CVS and checks out the deals almost every week! He always finds great stuff, and we don’t have the hassles we used to have at Walgreens or Rite Aid. The clerks in our local area CVS stores always seem to be nicer than the ones at Walgreens and Rite Aid too. I think it’s the company culture.
CVS! I only have CVS and Walgreens to choose from, but I never could get into the hang of Walgreens. Their coupon policy requiring filler items was really annoying, and their old Register Rewards expired too quickly (2 weeks). Now that have the Balance Rewards card with points, and I honestly know next to nothing about it. I don’t bother.
CVS is great because the policy is more straightforward – no filler items required to match the number of coupons you have. Their Extra Care Bucks are good for an entire month. They offer many special coupons via email or via their website (tied to your card), which make good deals even better. They are definitely my favorite for personal hygiene (toothpaste, shampoo, etc) deals!
Sarah E@Theteacherswife says
Cindy K says
We don’t have a Walgreen, but I think CVS is the best. It’s coupon policy hasn’t changes a whole lot and it is very straight forward. The CVS money prints out at the bottom of your receipt so you can use it like a Coupon. The usage period, before expiration, is longer than Rite Aid. You can use the CVS money right away. If I can’t roll the CVS money into next week’s deal, I can usually find CVS sales to be reasonable to buy.
Rite Aid money can’t be used until the following day. Rite Aid has no coupon to lose, but you have to have the original receipt to tell you what rewards you have and when it expires. So that if you have a $2 reward and a $5 and you spent $4.99, only the $2 is applied and you have to pay an additional $2.99 out of pocket. The cashier can’t tell you that you have a $5 reward to use or when it will expire. I think it usually expires in 2 weeks. When Rite Aid started to have these rewards, the majority of the products is on sale only because of getting the rewards otherwise you pay premium for the products. I think it has gotten better now, but I’ve stopped shopping at Rite Aid because of all these changes.
You can ask the cashier to have your +UP rewards printed at the bottom of your receipt instead of being loaded to your card. This gives you more control over how and when to use them.
Need A Nap2 says
I agree CVS is easier and more forgiving for starting out! Usually the cashiers will help you, example – rolling ECBs. They’re nice about separating transactions. Watch the dates on ECBs though, most are a month but some extra earners (Beauty Club, quarterly earnings) are shorter.
I like CVS best too, because you get so many extras, like store coupons, and tons of ways to earn ECBs (ECB = store reward program). If you look at the sale flyers each week, CVS may look a little uninspiring but when you factor in all the extras you can get some great deals. I have been having a $10 per week stockpiling challenge on my blog and most of my participants favor CVS (http://momsbyheart.net/category/stockpiling/)
I prefer CVS over Walgreens. CVS allows 1 month vs 2 wks for their reward certificates and the points system at Walgreens seems hard for me. You can’t use points if you will earn points so it makes it complicated plus you have to use the points in $5 increments which makes it a pain. Plus CVS is better on their rainchecks – they NEVER expire! Most of them will also take expired Extra Care Bucks (depends on the manager, but I’ve had about a 90% success rate). Also CVS will give typically give you the full value of a coupon – for example a coupon for a free item up to $4.99 and the item only costs $4.00, they will ring it through and you get the $.99 extra for other items. 🙂
We don’t have Rite Aid in our area.
CVS is the easiest and the most forgiving as you’re getting into the swing of couponing. They limit the number of things you can get per week, so you don’t have to compete with someone getting all 300 bottles of sale shampoo before you get there, and their ExtraBucks rewards are really easy to use. You do have to go semi-regularly – at least once a month or so – or the rewards will expire and you’ll lose any benefit you had from shopping there :-\ They also have some of the best coupon policies – you can stack one of their own coupons with a manufacturer coupon, they’ll give rainchecks with unlimited expiration dates for sale prices, and they’ll stack a “buy one get one free” coupon with a “buy one get one free” sale to give you both items free! The other really big plus is that it’s possible to get items “better than free” on occasion, because their rewards system is through ExtraBucks for next time instead of just cash back at the till. That means sometimes you can get something for $3 after coupons and get $5 ExtraBucks from the deal – a net gain 🙂 (Most places which just do coupons will top out at “free.”)
That said, their non-sale prices are almost never as good as your local grocery store’s, and you have to be really watchful on things like toilet paper and paper towels because their fantastic prices are often on slightly smaller package sizes than you find elsewhere. (Might be 12 rolls of single-ply TP instead of the normal “fancy” kind, for example.) Their snacks and food items, when on sale, are sometimes comparable to the grocery store – but often grocery stores will have store coupons for those same things which CVS won’t take. Also, a lot of “get this item free” coupons have a price cap on the item, and CVS’s prices are usually higher than what comes “free” – so you may have a coupon for a “free” box of Kleenex (up to $1.19) but CVS’s regular price may be $1.29. So you end up paying ten cents – not a big deal, usually, but something to be aware of.
I like CVS best (we have Walgreens and Rite Aid too so i can compare). CVS’s program prints out exactly how many extrabucks you have like a coupon instead of the points being listed on the receipt like Walgreens. For a beginner, i would do CVS. Also at least here, there are more CVS stores so if someone decides to clear the shelves, i can go to another one to try.