If you're looking for ways to save money, store rewards programs can help you stretch your budget dollars a bit further. Most chain pharmacies and big-box stores offer some type of shopper rewards program to reward loyal customers. We selected a few of the most popular ones; this is how they work.
Walgreen’s & Duane Reade
Balance Rewards: Until recently, Walgreen’s used a combination of Register Rewards, which offered a certain amount off your next purchase when you bought certain items, and rebates. Duane Reade stores used FlexRewards. The stores ended Register Rewards and FlexRewards in September, 2012 and moved to the Balance Rewards card instead. The Balance Rewards program allows shoppers to earn points for filling prescriptions, buying merchandise and get additional discounts on select items. Redeem points for a discount. You must have a minimum of 5,000 points before redeeming. 5,000 points = $5.00 discount.
The bottom line: The Balance Rewards program doesn’t seem to offer as much money back for your spending as Register Rewards offered. However, since Walgreen’s has done away with the previous program, it is worth signing up for the new card and taking advantage of what savings you can.
ExtraCare: The little red ExtraCare card has remained much the same for a number of years now. Each week, CVS lists items in its ad circular that are worth a certain number of ExtraBucks. You may use manufacturer coupons in conjunction with ExtraBucks rewards to maximize savings. In addition, if ExtraCare members join the beauty club, they will also receive $5 ExtraBucks for every $50 spent on beauty items. Earn $1 in ExtraBucks for every 2 prescriptions filled and 1% on everyday purchases. In addition, the ExtraCare card can be scanned at the ExtraCare Coupon Center located near the front of most stores for additional coupons and offers.
The bottom line: With the ExtraCare Rewards Program, what you see is what you get. You’ll know exactly how much money you can save, so there aren’t any surprises.
Wellness and UP Rewards: Rite Aids Wellness and the UP Rewards are intertwined. You must have a Wellness card to take advantage of UP Reward offers. An UP Reward is a dollar amount earned for purchasing certain items. For example, you might get a $1.00 UP printed on your receipt for buying a particular brand of shampoo. That $1.00 UP can be used on any non-prescription purchase. You will also need your Wellness card to get a discount on sale items. Once you’ve purchased a certain amount in a year, you get a percentage off your entire order. The percentage varies, depending upon how much you’ve spent, but you can get up to 20% off non-prescription purchases.
Earn 1 point for every $1.00 spent on non-prescriptions and 25 points for every prescription filled. When you reach 125 points, get a one-time, 10% off shopping coupon. Reach 500 points and you’ll receive 10% off everyday purchases and get a free health screening. Reach 1,000 points and you’ll earn 20% off everyday purchases.
The bottom line: The Wellness program offers some unique benefits, such as the free health screenings. The UP Rewards allow cardholders to save even more on purchases, especially when combined with coupons and in-store sales.
Shop Your Way Rewards: K-mart shoppers can sign up for a rewards card to earn discounts on purchases made online and in-store. The red card is swiped at check-out (or the number input online). Members can also use a registered phone number or e-mail to pull up their rewards card. You’ll earn points with each purchase. Every 1,000 points are worth a $1.00 discount at the register on eligible items.
The Kmart website indicates that shoppers earn about 10 points for every dollar spent. However, there are special promotions, sales and days when points are doubled. Also, if you pay with your Sears credit card, you can earn additional points.
The bottom line: If you already shop at K-mart, combining coupons and the rewards program can add up to even more savings. If you hate clipping coupons and keeping track of what products offer the best point advantages, then this rewards program can become time consuming.
REDcard: Target’s REDcard is also a credit card, but the savings to Target shoppers are a bit more consistent. Right off the top, REDcard holders will get an extra 5% off shopping orders every day. As an added bonus, when you order from Target’s website and pay with your REDcard, you’ll also get free shipping.
Pharmacy Rewards: In addition to the REDcard, Target also offers a pharmacy rewards program. When you fill five prescriptions, you’ll receive a 5% off shopping coupon. This coupon can be stacked with the REDcard’s 5% off discount.
The bottom line: Although the REDcard is another credit card/rewards offer, gaining 5% off can add up to big savings in the course of a year. The ability to stack coupons and the pharmacy discount with the everyday 5% offer will allow consumers to save even more.
Walmart Credit Card: Walmart doesn’t offer a rewards card per se, but you will receive rewards by using either the Walmart Credit Card or Walmart Discover card to make purchases at Walmart and elsewhere. Knock down those high gas pump prices by saving 15 cents a gallon at Walmart fuel centers. Need a cash advance? Don’t pay a premium just to get an advance. Instead, make a purchase at Walmart with your card and get a free cash advance (interest rates still apply to any unpaid balances). The Walmart Discover card offers 1% cash back on all purchases. Both cards have no annual fee. Also, look for 18 months same as cash offers on these two cards. These buy now and pay later offers can come in handy during the holiday shopping season.
The bottom line: This is a credit card and you will have to pay it off each month or face high interest rates. The biggest advantage of a Walmart credit card is the discount you’ll get at Walmart gas stations, so if you’re good with credit cards, then this might be a good card for you.
Note: Some Walmart stores offer a rewards program for teachers. Check with your local store’s management to see if it is available in your area. This program selects a school and gives $50 gift cards to teachers so they can purchase classroom supplies.