This post will be really long but hopefully it will help so bare with me! I am still learning myself how Walgreens works! There is a lot to learn but if you can learn the right system you can find a lot of really good deals while shopping there and often be able to get things for free or almost free every week. I am going to try and explain the best I can on how Walgreens works and I will first start off by explaining the different programs they have to help you save money.
Easy Saver Catalog: Also known as ESC. The ESC is a little booklet that is found at the front of the store usually next to the store ads and can be found sporadically throughout the store as well. There are two types of coupons in this booklet. In the first half of the booklet there are in-store coupons that can only be used at Walgreens, they are called "Instant Value Coupons" or IVC and the last half of the ESC are all of the monthly rebates for Walgreens. All of these coupons can be used throughout the entire month.
The coupons in the first half of the ESC are the Instant Value Coupons (IVC) and can only be used at Walgreens, but the cool thing about them is that they can be "stacked" or combined with other Manufacturer Coupons or MC's. So you can use more than one coupon for an item. This works the best when you wait for an item to come on sale then use an IVC coupon as well as a MC to get the best deal on the item. This is called "stacking" in the coupon world.
The later half of the Easy Saver Catalog is where Walgreens's rebates for the month can be found. Every month Walgreens puts out a few items that are COMPLETELY FREE after Mail-in-Rebate and are free throughout the entire rebate period. Then there are items that you will get a rebate for but it will not be the entire purchase price. However, since you haven't used any coupons when you initially buy the product you can still use Manufacturer coupons as well as the Instant Value Coupons to pay very little for the item and then you can go and claim the rebate on the item for the FULL amount that is allowed. This is where a lot of people make money off of products. They buy things for cheaper than the rebate amount and then get the full rebate on it!
There are two ways to claim your rebate. The first way and I think the easiest way is to enter your receipts online at www.walgreens.com. Click on "Claim Rebates" then you will need to register or log on if you are already a member. Click the "Start/add receipt" link for the appropriate rebate period, click on all the boxes that apply to the products you just purchased and then press "Continue." You will then have to enter in the receipt number and click "Save Receipt" so SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS. If it is not the end of the rebate period select "save and return later" because you can only send in for one rebate each rebate period. The second way to claim your rebate is to fill out the rebate form in the Easy Saver Catalog booklet. The form can be found in the middle of the book and it will instruct you on how to fill it out and where to send the form.
After you have filled out your information and you want to receive your rebate there are two ways you can receive your money. First, you can just have them send you a check which they will send you one Lump Sum check for all the rebate items for the month instead of lots of little rebate checks. The second way you can choose to receive your rebate is by having Walgreens put your rebate onto a gift card. This is the best way in my opinion and I'll tell you why. When you have your money put onto the Walgreens gift card you will not only receive your rebate more quickly, but Walgreens will also give you a 10% bonus for each rebate item you purchased. So you will be making more money off of each item you purchased. If you plan to be going to Walgreens even semi-frequently I think this is the best way to get your rebate. But, if you want to just get your check in the mail so you can do whatever you want with the rebate that is fine as well.
It usually take 4-6 weeks to get your check or gift card your first time but if you already have a gift card that you want to have reloaded, it only takes 2-3 weeks to receive your rebate. They will send you a postcard in the mail letting you know that they have reloaded your card.
Onto the next program to help you save money
Register Rewards: Every week when you buy certain products in the weekly ads a Register Reward also known as RR will print at the end of your transaction. RR are coupons that you can use on your NEXT order. Usually the RR will say something like "$5 off your next shopping order." These RR usually expire within a couple of weeks so make sure you are watching the expiration dates on them. These are a great way pay for future purchases so your Out of Pocket (oop) is lower.
Here is an example of how Register Rewards work:
A couple of weeks ago there was a Diaper Deal going on at Walgreens. The deal was if you buy 3 packs of diapers priced at $5.99 each then you would get a $5 RR back. I was able to buy 3 packs of diapers for around $18 and then I used 2 different coupons an IVC coupon and a MC to get my price down to around $4 for all three packs of diapers and then I received a $5 RR when I was done. So in the end I paid $4 oop but received $5 back meaning I made about a $1 off of the 3 packs of diapers.
One thing to note about RR. To use the diaper example again, I bought 9 packs of diapers one time when going to the store but I wanted the $5 RR to kick out of the machine. In order for this to work I had to buy 3 packs of diapers in 3 different transactions so I got $15 in RR for all the diapers. In order for this to work Walgreens will not allow you to get RR from using RR. In other words you CANNOT buy 3 packs of diapers and then use your $5 RR to pay for the next 3 packs of diapers and still receive your second $5 RR. You CAN still use your RR to pay for more diapers but the machine will NOT print out another RR so save your RR for a different product than diapers! Does that make Sense?
The last form of coupons for Walgreens are,
In-ad coupons or 7 day coupons: These are the coupons that are inside of Walgreens weekly ads. You will need to clip them out of the ad and give them to the cashier. You CAN combine an Instant Value Coupon (IVC) or Manufacturer coupon with a 7 day coupon to get even better savings.
Those are all the forms of coupons that can be used at Walgreen and how they all work. Hopefully this helps all of you out there understand how to better shop at Walgreens to your advantage.
A few other tidbits and tips about Walgreens:
Make a list of what you are going to get at Walgreens and the estimated price of what it should all cost.
Make sure you get your RR if you have earned them. Sometimes there is a glitch an one won't print out. Kindly ask the cashier to re-ring your items up or ask for your RR to be put onto a gift card.
Check your receipt before you drive home. I hate getting all the way home and then notice that something is wrong. You worked hard to get your discounted items so make sure your receipt is right.
You CANNOT have more coupons than you do products. In other words you CANNOT have 11 coupons and only 10 products in your cart. The computer will have a glitch and not allow it. Register Rewards are considered coupons with this rule. So if you have more coupons than you do items you need to pick up a "Filler" item, a small piece of candy or cheap item so that you have the same amount or more items than you do coupons.
Don't hand all your coupons to the cashier at once. Hand them over one at a time or give them in batches. The best way for all of your coupons to work without having to have the cashier override the system is have everything rung up by the cashier and then give him your RR if you have any and then your Manufacturer coupons and then your store coupons.
SAVE YOUR RECEIPTS! If you are suppose to get a rebate on something and you lose your receipt you are out of luck for those items. You have to have your receipt to get your rebate.
Okay I know that was ALOT of information to take in about Walgreens but don't get overwhelmed. Start small! Get whatever completely free rebate items there are for the month and start from there. Soon you will be able to have enough on your gift card every month that you can keep paying for your items each week with your gift card and you can just keep replenishing it every month so you have hardly any out of pocket expenses when going to Walgreens.
Good luck! If you have any questions about Walgreens please leave me a comment and I'll be happy to answer them.