One of the reasons why I absolutely love drugstore beauty is not only the fact that the products are budget-friendly to begin with, but the retailers make it so easy for us to save even more on our go-tos. With readily available coupons, sales and rewards programs, you can really maximize your savings. But which store has the best drugstore rewards program and coupons? It definitely depends on your spending habits and what kind of savings you prefer, like percent off vs. dollar off or instant usable coupons vs. saving up points.
In this post, I’m going to be reviewing four large retailers from the US so you can decide for yourself which drugstore rewards program one seems like the best deal depending on your preferences.
Cash Back Coupons
CVS is often the butt of the joke when it comes to their longer-than-life receipts. But, you have to admit that you do get a lot of chances to save because of the attached coupons! I just wish there was a way to select which coupons you’re actually interested in for the sake of saving trees!
But, I digress. The CVS program rewards you 2% back on every purchase in ExtraBucks. This doesn’t add up to much per purchase, though. You will most likely be earning the majority of your ExtraBucks during promotions that reward you with bonus ExtraBucks on select products or categories. For example, you might see a promotion along the lines of “Spend $10 on hair care and get $3 ExtraBucks.”
Here’s a fun tip: You actually only need to spend 98% of the required threshold in a promotion to earn the ExtraBuck reward. Don’t ask me why, it’s just how their registers work. For example, if a promotion states that you need to spend $10 to earn your reward, you actually only need the total to ring up $9.80 and you’ll still get the coupon.
It’s important to know that ExtraBucks are automatically printed after your purchase on those long receipts or coupons you print out at the kiosk. You can also check your ExtraBucks rewards online in case you missed them or threw away your receipt, and load them to your card digitally. ExtraBucks expire 3 weeks after they’re issued.
If you’re not buying products that earn you a set amount of ExtraBucks on a specific purchase, you’ll get a quarterly ExtraBucks reward that print after January 1st, April 1st, July 1st and October 1st as follows:
$25-$49.99 spent = $0.50 ExtraBucks Reward
$50-$74.99 spent = $1 ExtraBucks Reward
$75-$99.99 spent = $1.50 ExtraBucks Reward
ExtraBucks can basically be used just like money— they can be combined, used with sales and other coupons, and you can use as many as you want in one transaction. Having an account will also give you access to the in-store sales and coupons no matter how much you spend. Be sure to head to the in-store coupon kiosk for instant savings for each trip.
For extra savings on beauty specifically, there is a separate membership called the extracare BeautyClub. This will earn you $3 ExtraBucks for every $30 you spend on beauty. Other exclusive rewards include a birthday gift and exclusive sales. You can enroll in BeautyClub online and link it to your card so you don’t miss out on the savings.
Walgreens Balance Rewards (Duane Reade in some areas)
Points for Dollar Off Coupons
Just by opening a Walgreens Balance Rewards card, you’ll be eligible for all in-store sales. You also get access to the paperless coupons, which you can “clip” to your card to use at checkout.
At Walgreens, you get rewarded for your purchases in points. You get 10 points per $1 on almost everything for each purchase. There are bonus points on featured products each week in conjunction with sales. You can also earn 100 points per 30-day prescription you get through a Walgreens pharmacy, 300 points per 90-day prescription and 100 points per immunization. Walgreens runs promotions every now and again for 5x everyday points to earn more.
There’s also a feature where you can link your Balance Rewards account to select health apps and devices, and earn points by tracking healthy habits. If you’re already tracking your activity using your phone or a wearable tracker, this is a really easy way to rack up extra points without spending a dime.
Redeeming points for dollar rewards follows the key below:
1,000 pt = $1
2,000 pt = $2
3,000 pt = $3
5,000 pt = $5
10,000 pt = $10
18,000 pt = $20
30,000 pt = $35
40,000 pt =$50
The maximum amount of points that can be redeemed in one purchase is 40,000 for a $50 reward. Points expire one year after they’re earned or if an account has been inactive (you haven’t used your card in store or online) for 6 months. So, remember to use your phone number, physical card or mobile app for each purchase!
Rite Aid Wellness+ Rewards
Points for Ongoing Percent Off
The Wellness+ Rewards program runs on points as well. You earn 1 wellness+ point for every dollar spent on non-prescription purchases, and up to 25 wellness+ points for every prescription filled. For seniors age 65+, you also get access to 20% off on welness65+ Wednesdays by being a member.
You collect wellness+ points to raise your “status,” which determines what kind of savings you can take advantage of according to the below:
Bronze (0-100 pt): Get weekly ad pricing and save with Load2Card coupons.
Silver (500 pt): 10% off almost the entire store for a year.
Gold (1,000 pt): 20% off almost the entire store for a year.
You can also earn Wellness+ BonusCash rewards, which are digital coupons earned during specific promotions throughout the store and online that load automatically to your card. They expire 60 days after you earn them.
I’ve personally noticed that the Rite Aids near me when I lived in California had the best members-only sales on beauty specifically. There was always a 40% off, BOGO 50% off or even BOGO Free for an entire brand or beauty category running weekly. These sales were exclusive to members, so you’ll already be eligible for awesome savings just by signing up without having to raise your status.
Ulta Beauty Ultamate Rewards
Points for Dollar Off Coupons
While not an actual drugstore, many people visit Ulta Beauty as their one-stop-shop for all things beauty, including drugstore brands. However, since Ulta Beauty also carries more expensive makeup, tools, and beauty supplies, there’s a chance at racking up points a little more quickly than your typical drugstore run.
It’s important to note that the Ultamate Rewards membership is different than the Ultimate Rewards Credit Card. If you combine the credit card with your regular membership though, you can get even more savings.
Ultamate Rewards run on points, earning 1 for every $1 spent. Platinum members (those who spend $450 in a calendar year) earn 1.25 points for every $1. Diamond members (those who spend $1200 in a calendar year) earn 1.5 points for every $1. You can earn points on products or beauty services in-store and online, and they often run special bonus-point offers.
Points can be redeemed on anything in-store (including prestige items, which their coupons rarely cover) once you hit the following thresholds:
100 pt = $3 off
500 pt = $17.50 off
750 pt = $30 off
1000 pt = $50 off
2000 pt = $125 off
Members get free birthday gifts plus 2x points on purchases during your birthday month, and exclusive 20% off coupons via email. Platinum and Diamond members also get an extra $10 birthday coupon. Diamond members get an annual $25 beauty services gift card.
Ultamate Rewards points expire at the end of the quarter one year after after the date they’re earned. However, if you reach and maintain Platinum or Diamond status, your points will never expire. You can track your points at the bottom of every receipt or online in your account. They’re also pretty good about sending reminder emails about how many points you have.
Also… you can pretty much always get a $3.50 off $10 coupon to print off the store’s homepage.
In the end, there’s no reason you shouldn’t be a member of all programs listed here if they are in your area. There might be some brands that are only available at certain stores, or perhaps a store that’s not necessarily your “go-to” is having an unbeatable sale. But, where you spend the most money should be with the program you feel will reward you the most.