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Be Careful When Redeeming Your Walgreen's Balance Rewards

Walgreen's Balance RewardsThere’s no doubt about it, Balance Rewards are a super incentive to spend your money at Walgreen’s. I mean, they’re basically paying you to shop, right? Now, everybody knows how to earn those balance rewards. It’s easy. You just buy stuff. But here’s something you probably didn’t know about redeeming them:

You can not earn points and redeem points in the same transaction.

In other words – You can’t use your existing Rewards points to earn more Rewards points.  So let’s say you walk into Walgreen’s with 30,000 points on your card, which equals $35. You decide to buy $30 worth of mix and match vitamins because this week Walgreen will give you 10,000 Rewards points for each $30 vitamin purchase. AND… you want to use the points you already have on your card to make the purchase. In this scenario it would seem that you’d leave the store with 15,000 points on your card and $30 worth of vitamins that didn’t cost you a cent. But that’s not the way it works. Under Walgreen’s Balance Rewards policy you can not redeem points and earn points in the same transaction.

You Have Two Options

Before cashing you out the cashier will ask you if you want to redeem your Rewards points. If you say yes – The cashier will apply any or all of you points toward your purchase and you’ll forfeit the points you could have earned with that purchase. If you say no – You’ll pay the cashier with cash and your card will be credited with any new Rewards points your earned in this transaction.

Two More Reasons To Be Cautious with Balance Rewards

Don’t get dazzled by Rewards points. First, we’ve talked before about those bloggers who tell you about “moneymakers.” (Read our post: Two Coupon Blogs We Don’t Like and Why we Don’t Like ‘Em.) If you have to spend $20 to earn 2,000 Rewards points, then you’ve still had to spend money out of your own pocket. Yes, you “earned” the equivalent of $2 but you can only spend it in that store – at some date in the future. You are not going to walk out of that store with the item and $3.02 cash in your pocket.  Second – There’s a reason stores offer you reward “points” instead of dollars. That big, flashy “1,000 POINTS!” sign gets your attention way better than it would if it said, “$1.” Just look at all those zeroes! How many times have you purchased something you don’t really need or want (sometimes at an outrageously high price) because you saw all those zeroes and thought, “Wow! I’ll make 1,000 points just for buying this little doo-dad? I’ll take 10!”  It’s only when you get home that you realize you just shelled out $60 – right out of your wallet – and you made a measly $10 that you can only use on your next purchase in that same store.


  • You have to spend real money to earn Balance Rewards
  • 1,000 Balance Rewards only equals $1
  • Any points you earn on this purchase can only be used on your next purchase (which means you have to come back again and spend more money – get it?)

So let’s be careful out there.  We’re all for these rewards points and we use them ourselves.  Just be aware that they’re not actually a “reward” for shopping in the store, they’re a promotional gimmick used by the stores to increase sales.  If those reward points weren’t bringing in more money for the store they wouldn’t be passing them out.  And that “more money” is coming out of your pocket, so spend it wisely.  

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