Thursday, October 04, 2012

Walgreens Balance Rewards vs. CVS Extrabucks

Now that Walgreens has been operating their Balance Rewards program for a few weeks, let's compare it with CVS' Extra Bucks program.  In a nutshell, they are loyalty and savings programs from major drug store chains.

Store OnlineStoreExclusionsRatePayoutRedemption AmountExpiration
CVSYESYESSame2% of PurchasesQuarterlyMinimum $.5045 Days
WalgreensYESYESSameVariable PointsAt Points Threshold5000 = $5, 10000=$10 18000=$20 30000=$35 40000=$503 Years (with activity) or 6 months (without)

Bottom line: while it will vary how often you shop at each store to rack up points or rebates, of course, it appears that you will earn rewards faster at Walgreens, given that points can be redeemed more often than quarterly, and be able to keep those earnings (rebates, if you will) longer before they expire, than CVS.  Since Walgreens' program is still really new, and granted, a lot of people still don't even know Extra Bucks works, it might be some time for it really catches on.

A couple of other pluses for Walgreens is that you can still earn Register Rewards for select purchases.  As with special Extra Bucks deals on say toothpaste, you can both earn points and Register Rewards (basically $ off coupons) on select purchases.  In other words, stackable savings!  Combine those with standard coupons and you are really protecting your wallet.  

I have only used the Balance Rewards for a bit but actually haven't earned any points yet (restricted purchases), so I am curious as to when I will start to rack up points.  As with loyalty programs in general, I am pretty excited when I can get something in return for what I am spending anyway.