A cornerstone among drugstore food chains, Walgreens has 8,175 locations across the country, with 76 percent of Americans living within five miles of one, according to the company. The store offers solid products at competitive pricing, plus a robust loyalty rewards program, making it a go-to stop for prescription filling, beauty products and photo printing.
We asked experts to share their shopping tips for finding the best deals at Walgreens — and how to spot the worst deals so you can steer clear. Here's what they had to say.
10 Best Walgreens Deals
Want to look your best, but don’t want to pay top dollar for makeup? “Be on the lookout for designer makeup swaps at Walgreens,” said Kerry Sherin of Offers.com. The drugstore offers numerous makeup products comparable to items you might find at higher prices at Sephora and other stores.
2. Over-the-Counter Medications
Got a headache? Don’t make it worse with high-priced aspirin. Teri Gault, author of "Shop Smart, Save More," said Walgreens is a great choice for over-the-counter medication savings. And the generic counterparts of the name brands are even better deals. “They often run buy-one-get-one-free sales on them,” she said.
3. Pantry Items Like Cereal
You might not think of Walgreens as a great spot to pick up staples like cereal, peanut butter and other pantry items, but Gault said it’s surprising what you can do at the store with a few coupons. "I have been successful in asking if I can use two coupons and get the deal twice," she said. "So, instead of a limit of three cans of salmon for $1.99, I got six."
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4. Paper Products
Saving money on paper towels, napkins, tissues and more can be really nice. Perhaps that’s why the Walgreens brand of these products is called Nice! and is a great deal, said Gault. “Nice! brand paper products are good quality and frequently go on sale for 99 cents,” she said. Examples include Nice! storage, freezer or sandwich bags, paper plates and napkins.
5. Photo Printing
If you want to print a few photos, create photo books and more, Gault recommended Walgreens as a way of getting top quality at a great price.
"Walgreens has my personal favorite photo services," she said. "I've ordered prints online super cheap and picked them up within an hour. I also used their online tools to design books and photo albums at great savings, and I’m always happy with the result."
For example, you can print normal, 4-by-6-inch photos at Walgreens for 19 cents each. And if you print over 100 photos, the price drops to just 15 cents each. Additionally, aspiring travelers can print passport shots for a mere $7.44.
6. Holiday Gifts
Sure, your spouse and kids get big holiday gifts, but what about the clients, co-workers and friends you have to buy for? Try Walgreens. Gault said the drugstore has some good deals on small gifts and stocking stuffers.
Walgreens, for example, sells fragrance, makeup and lotion gift sets at affordable prices. A Burt's Bees Hand Repair Gift Set sells for $12.99 on Walgreens.com, and a five-piece Versace fragrance set goes for $50. High-quality chocolate boxes also regularly cost $10 or less.
7. Contact Lenses
Seeing clearly is important, but it doesn’t have to be painfully expensive, said savings expert Jeanette Pavini of Coupons.com. “Walgreens has extremely competitive prices on contact lenses, especially when you combine it with a coupon code from Coupons.com," she said.
Currently, Walgreens offers a box of FreshLook ONE-DAY lenses for $16.99. The same box costs $18.99 at 1800contacts.
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8. Canned Foods
Stocking up on canned foods when they’re on sale is smart, and Walgreens is a good spot for it, said Pavini. “The key is to check out Walgreens' weekly ad and shop for what’s on sale," she said. "For example, Progresso soup was on sale for four for $5. We combined it with a $1 off coupon on four cans from Coupons.com to bring the price down to $1 per can."
9. Vitamins and Supplements
If you do your homework, shopping at Walgreens for vitamins and supplements can keep your wallet as healthy as your body. “Look for buy-one-get-one-free deals on vitamins,” said Pavini. The drugstore also has a rewards program with a lot of earning potential, she added.
“For example, spend $25 on certain prenatal supplements and get 10,000 rewards points. That’s $10 in rewards you can use on your next purchase,” she said.
10. Laundry Detergent
The cost of washing can pile up as fast as the laundry itself, so it helps to catch a break on laundry detergent. Gault said Walgreens is a good place for that. Specifically, she recommends waiting for rebates and in-store Walgreens coupons.
“I also prefer the smaller [detergent] containers over club store size because they’re easier to handle and store,” said Gault.
Additionally, you can save money by buying generic laundry detergents instead of the name brands.
10 Worst Walgreens Deals
Batteries are pricey, and Pavini said you won’t find many opportunities to save at Walgreens. “Though Walgreens had several battery deals [in their] ad, the price was still significantly more than when you bought batteries at a warehouse club,” she said. So, look for deals at Costco or Sam's Club to stock up.
2. Gift Wrap
Spend the money on the gift, not the bag or wrapping paper that it comes in. To do that, you might want to avoid Walgreens, said Pavini. According to her, you will typically pay a premium for gift bags, bows and wrapping paper at Walgreens.
“You don’t want a $10 gift to turn into a $20 one simply because of wrapping supplies," she said. "One of the best places to find a bargain on wrapping paper is at designer discount stores."
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Looking for some new stemware for that big holiday party? Or maybe some Tupperware for the leftovers? Don’t look to Walgreens, said Lindsay Sakraida, director of content marketing at DealNews. She said most housewares found at Walgreens will be much more expensive than at stores like Target or Walmart.
4. ‘As Seen On TV’ Items
We've all heard the commercials: A cheesy voice says, “Wait, there’s more! Buy in the next 10 seconds, and you’ll get not one, but 52 hairdryers for the same price!” While these "As Seen on TV" items can save you money, don't be tempted to purchase them at Walgreens without comparing prices at Amazon first. According to Sakraida, the online retailer is more likely to offer a discount on these types of items.
Just like those expensive batteries that power them, most electronics found at Walgreens are going to be pricey, said Sakraida. As an added insult, they’ll likely be low quality. So, unless you need one of these items right away, she suggests going online to find much better deals on tech.
6. Cleaning Products
Cleaning supplies from Clorox to Simple Green are likely to cost you more at Walgreens, said Sherin. "Drugstores consistently charge more for items like these, and you will be paying more for these than at the big box stores," she said.
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You’re better off quenching your thirst for Coke, Sprite and other sugary drinks at the grocery store than at Walgreens, said Gault. Walgreens and other drugstores rarely have deals, and supermarkets offer better regular prices and run specials all the time. So, they’re virtually always a better bet for soft drinks.
8. Spatulas, Strainers and Spoons
When it’s time to replace any of your kitchen gadgets, Walgreens and other drugstores are not the place to do it, said Gault. Drugstores know that if you’re buying items there, it’s probably for convenience or an urgent need. So, prices are high on everything from wine and bottle openers to knives and whisks.
9. Holiday Decorations
Walgreens might not be the best place to get your home into the holiday spirit, said Gault. You could save on holiday decorations after the holiday, but not right before, when drugstores like Walgreens will be more expensive than discount stores like Kmart, T.J.Maxx and Ross, she explained.
10. Small Appliances
When it’s time for a new mixer or coffeemaker, Walgreens might be convenient, but it likely won’t be a great deal maker, said Regina Conway, consumer expert for SlickDeals. She said rather than hit drugstores for these and other small appliances, try Walmart or Target — especially during Black Friday.