How To Get Free Stuff By Using Drug Store Rebates (CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens)
Published 2/29/08 (Modified 3/8/11)
Now why would anyone want to spend money at a drug store chain like CVS, Rite Aid, or Walgreens to begin with? Looking at their store prices, it's clear everything is ridiculously overpriced compared to that offered at supermarkets. The reason why you would shop there - for the amazing drug store rebate deals that they offer (no, it's not a scam). If you can learn to take advantage of drug store rebates, you will find yourself getting a lot of free stuff for your money and winding up with merchandise whose total retail value greatly surpasses what you spent out of pocket.
Ever since I discovered and started actively using drug store rebates, my frugal living life has been transformed for the better. No longer am I paying shocking $3-4 dollars prices for ordinary household items like a roll of toothpaste. I'm not even resorting to generic store brands either. I'm simply taking advantage of the many store rebate deals offered by well known drug store franchises like CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens. Most of these major chains offer great rebates and deals, usually published weekly or monthly.
Supermarkets Offer Coupons and Discounts, But Drug Stores Offer Them Plus Rebate Store Credit
It's the bonus store credit offers that truly make drug store rebates so special. By taking advantage of these rebate deals and promotions, I've been able to consistently and regularly buy items at pennies on the dollar and continuously roll free rebate money from one month to the next. This drug store rebate flipping game (as some like to call it) covers most drug store products like shampoos, detergents, toothpaste, razors, toilet paper, over-the-counter drugs, tampons, and even frozen pizzas. It works by having the customer put up some initial starter money to purchase several items that provide store credit rebates. Let me demonstrate how it works with the addition of a coupon:
Let's say you buy $20 worth of products that offer $10 worth of store reward rebates. Let's assume that you also have a $5 manufacturer's coupon that can reduce your out of pocket cost to $15. In turn, you can use the $10 store rebate to purchase anything else in the store, including other items that offer additional rebates, such as $10 worth of shampoo, offering $5 in store rebates. That $5 can yet again purchase something offering $1 in store rebate for example. Thus your original $15 out of pocket cost (reduced by the manufacturer's coupon) has netted you the potential of $36 worth of merchandise.
Most of the time, other than the initial seed money to start the process, all I ever pay is the sales tax - that's it. Because most drug stores take manufacturer coupons, by combining coupons and store rebates, you can sometimes even come out on top - earning a net profit and have a store like CVS actually pay you for the product. If you make your drug store purchases using reward credit cards that provide up to 5% cash back, you have the potential to save and earn even more. This drug store rebate game has been around for some time and many savvy savers and spenders have been taking advantage of these programs for years. By following a stockpiling strategy and building up a supply of heavily discounted household items over time, you'll never have to spend a lot of money on such items again. It's not uncommon for drug store rebate gamers to score $200 worth of products over a span of a few months for as low as $10. With some persistence and flexibility, it's very doable.
Why Drug Stores Are Willing To Offer Rebates For Practically Free Merchandise
CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens, and many of the other major national drug store chains not only advertise store sales and accept coupons like most supermarkets do, but they also have lucrative rebate and loyalty programs. These drug stores are willing to offer the great store rebates because it's a proven way to lure bargain minded shoppers into their stores. Despite having to pay money back to qualified customers, rebates are profitable for drug stores because historical statistics and trends have shown that only a small percentage of shoppers actually buy the rebate products and follow through on the rebate redemption procedure to claim their rebate money. Most shoppers usually end up stashing their receipts into their pockets, later misplacing them, or letting the rebate receipt end up in the washing machine. If you're absent minded and not willing to follow through with store rebate redemption instructions, it won't work for you. But if you're ready to roll up your sleeves and do a little receipt micro managing, anyone can take advantage of drug store rebate deals, as long as they know how.
Before You Attempt To Play The Drug Store Game, Here Are Some Helpful Rebate Guidelines and Tips To Remember
- You will need to provide some initial startup seed money to get the drug store rebate game going. It may only be a few bucks but you will need to spent your own money from the start. But once you buy a rebate qualified product, you can roll over the redeemed rebate money into further purchases for other rebated items. Thus, the train of free items continues so long as you focus on rolling rebate items into another.
- Be sure to read the specific rebate terms very carefully. For example, if the rebate offer expressly lists Crest Nature's Expression toothpaste, you won't be able to use it for Crest Extra Whitening. Rebate terms are usually carefully worded and specific in regards to brand and size, so please scrutinize in detail when you examine the terms and conditions. Discern the effective dates. Certain rebate offers are only applicable on particular weeks or months. Some are limit the item to one per customer, while others may allow five for example. After all, the store doesn't really want to give customers free money so it's going to make it tough for them to successfully go through the redemption process. Be detail oriented and you'll be able to beat them at their own game.
- You will need to apply for the drug store's loyalty card program. Generally, each person in a household is entitled to one card. If you have several adults in your household, be sure to sign them up to maximize your rebate opportunities. Usually, rebate terms that stipulate one item per customer mean one item per card holder.
- Remember not to unnecessarily buy products you have no intention of using. You are no longer saving money if you're buying products you don't need or have no plans of ever using. Only hoard and stockpile random household items if you have every intention of putting them to use in the near future.
- The drug store rebate game works best if you conveniently live near a major drug store branch. There's no point driving tens or hundreds of miles away just to save a few rebate dollars. Location and convenience are important factors when choosing which or how many drug store rebate programs you will participate in.
- If you want to save even more money, learn to practice stacking, where you combine coupons, rebates, and store sales together. Try to take advantage of manufacturer coupons that can be found in your weekly Sunday newspaper, or from in-store coupon books. If you're too busy to clip coupons, check out an online coupon service like The Coupon Clippers. For a small handling fee each, they will send you the targeted brand coupons of your choice. Not a bad solution for lazy people. Even with the small handling fee, you still end up on top in terms of product savings.
- To take full advantage of drug store rebates, you need to be flexible in what brands you want to use. Your favorite brand may not always be one of the lucky rebate items. For example, if you can develop a non-preference for toothpaste brands like Crest, Colgate, Aquafresh, Arm and Hammer, or Sensodyne, you will be able to stockpile better.
The Big Three Drug Stores - CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens
1) CVS - Extra Care Bucks - (Weekly Store Ads) - To find out what items offer CVS Extra Care Bucks (ECB), you will need to take a look each Sunday when the weekly store ads renew. CVS's rebate program is the best and simply requires you to scan your loyalty card everytime you make a purchase. They are unique in that they offer the Extra Care Bucks as store credit immediately rather than requiring you to clumsily mail receipts in. The store rebate coupon is printed out at the bottom of your store receipt whenever you purchase a rebate item. There is no rebate waiting period anymore. They are available to you right away and you can immediately turn around and flip them into yet another product, potentially yielding even more Extra Care Bucks. You can use them on almost anything in the store, although prescriptions, alcohol, tobacco, lottery, stamps, gift cards, and money orders are excluded. CVS also offers you 2% back in the form of Extra Care Bucks for all of your purchases, with the same product exclusions. The 2% Extra Bucks rewards are added to your account quarterly.
Your rebate point information can be easily accessed through your online CVS account via their website. If you want to save up your Extra Care Bucks, you can do so and later print them out at home through your CVS online account or later visit the store and request a printout. Keep in mind that Extra Care Bucks do expire and the expiration dates are usually indicated on your receipt. With CVS, you will want to seriously consider signing up for their email list. Once on their list, they occasionally send you coupons for dollars off certain purchases that you can print out and use in their stores. Currently, CVS is offering a $4 off a $20 purchase coupon when you update you email address or join their Extra Care program.
2) Rite Aid - Single Check Rebates - (Weekly Circular) - At the start of each month, Rite Aid publishes a booklet, viewable online, in which it highlights the rewards/rebate offers for the month. Rite Aid offers a traditional rebate program in which customers have to request rebates by providing receipt information to redeem. However, here is the best part - Rite Aid offers an easy and no brainer way for customers to request rebates online rather than having to manually mail them in through snail mail. Another great feature is the ability to instantly view all monthly featured rebate products on their website through the Rebate Plus section. You can always view your rebate balance online as well.
3) Walgreens - Easy Saver Catalog - (Weekly Ad) - Walgreens publishes their Easy Saver rebate deals in their monthly rebate booklet where they list products with rebate promotions including items that are free after rebate. They also offer Register Rewards every now and then, which operates similar to that of CVS Extra Care Bucks in that you can use the printed coupons for free products on your next purchase for qualifying items.
Like Rite Aid, Walgreens offers the traditional rebate program where customers have to take the initiative to submit in rebate claim information. Walgreens does offer the ability to submit your rebate receipts online to a limited number of states. The majority though will have to submit their receipts manually via regular postal mail, which is sort of a bummer. To redeem your rebates you need to mail in a claims form. Walgreens limits this rebate submission to one time per promotional month. Thus, don't send in all of your rebate receipts until the end of the month or you'll have to delay your additional request until the following month.
Walgreens does offer an additional rebate redemption bonus in the form of an extra 10% on top of your rebate request if you accept your rebate in the form of a Walgreens gift card. Obviously, you'll want to pick this more attractive option rather than cash. With the gift card bonus, you can then continue to roll the money into another set of drug store purchases. If you play your cards right, the new purchases will allow you to earn and redeem further rebates as well.