- Walgreens is one of the most well-known pharmacy and drugstore chains in the country.
- With over 88 million Balance Rewards members, Walgreens has garnered a reputation as an affordable shopping destination for everyday household goods and prescription medications.
- But there are a handful of items like diapers, soft drinks, and cleaning wipes that should be avoided when looking for the best deals.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
In fact, with more than 9,500 stores across America, 78% of the US population lives within five miles of a Walgreens or a Walgreens-owned drugstore, according to the company.
With its 88 million Balance Rewards members, Walgreens has become a hotspot for quick and convenient shopping while customers drop off and pick up prescriptions. But while stock-up prices and rewards points help customers save at Walgreens, it’s not the best place to shop for every necessity.
With that in mind, here are 16 products to buy at Walgreens – and 15 more you should probably buy somewhere else.
Batteries can be a quick and easy grab from your local drugstore, and luckily, Walgreens is a great place to stock up. According to CBS News, a 2009 Consumer Reports battery brand test found that Walgreens AA batteries performed much better than CVS alkaline batteries.
Skip: Generic prescription drugs
- Reuters/Mohammad Khursheed
Believe it or not, drugstores like Walgreens are not the best place to save on prescription drugs. In fact, a 2013 Consumer Reports study found that Walgreens Lexapro prescription prices were considerably higher than the prices at Costco.
If you’ve got a headache, Walgreens is a great place to pick up your next bottle of Advil. Karen Bennett, a Cheat Sheet money and career author, compared the prices of over-the-counter medications at CVS and Walgreens and found that Walgreens was a clear winner in most categories.
Skip: Diapers and baby wipes
- JOEL SAGET/AFP/Getty Images
Buying diapers and baby wipes at Walgreens won’t get you the best bargain. CVS was found to have better deals on diapers and baby wipes than Walgreens and Rite Aid in a June 2019 price comparison.
Grabbing some snacks from Walgreens won’t break the bank. According to the Krazy Coupon Lady, the drugstore often has sales and buy-one, get-one deals that can beat out grocery store prices.
Skip: Peanut butter
- Photosiber/Getty Images
Grocery items such as peanut butter, on the other hand, are not a smart pick-up from Walgreens. A price comparison from thekitchn.com found that Skippy natural creamy peanut butter at Walgreens was $0.30 more than at CVS.
- Jeffrey Greenberg/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
With salon products getting more expensive, combining coupons with sales at Walgreens can help get hair-care products for much less. According to the CheatSheet.com, a price comparison of shampoo found that Walgreens had more savings than at CVS.
Buy: Body wash
- Business Insider/Jessica Tyler
Skip: Soft drinks
Soft drinks, on the other hand, are best to avoid buying at Walgreens. Lauren Hamer from CheatSheet.com said “grocery stores run regular deals on (soft drinks) and shoppers who stock up when the time is right could save much more money in the long run.”
Skip: Toilet paper
Try not to stock up on toilet paper at Walgreens either. A Business Insider price comparison found that a 12-pack of Charmin toilet paper was over $2 more at Walgreens than at Walmart.
Buy: Walgreens Nice!-brand tissues
Nice! is a Walgreens exclusive brand that is typically found on sale. Right now, a three-pack of 160 facial tissues is only $3 online. This means each tissue is only a fraction of a cent.
Skip: Paper towels
Paper towels are another necessity that’s best to skip at Walgreens. A Consumer Reports test recommended CVS-brand Big Quilts for its ability to scrub and hold water and found that CVS’s normal price for Bounty paper towels was significantly better than at Walgreens.
- Business Insider/Jessica Tyler
While Walgreens may not have the most high-quality or extensive makeup selection, there are often great finds for a discounted price.
April Timko, a marketing director who frequents Walgreens, told Reader’s Digest she sees orange discount tags on makeup as an opportunity to experiment with different shades and kinds of products she’s on the fence about without wasting money.
Skip: Clorox cleaning wipes
To get the best bang for your buck on cleaning supplies, Walgreens is not the best place to buy. Business Insider found a 35-count of Clorox cleaning wipes at Walmart for $2.48 and at Walgreens for $3.59.
Buy: Gift cards
- Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
While a $20 gift card is going to be $20 just about anywhere, purchasing at Walgreens can earn you rewards points and discounts to use in the future. Walgreens’ Balance Rewards earns you points on purchases, which customers can trade in for future gift certificates.
Skip: Pet supplies
- YASUYOSHI CHIBA/AFP/GettyImages
Mark-ups on pet supplies are common in drugstores like Walgreens, so it’s best to avoid buying. The Grocery Game CEO Teri Gault told GoBankingRates that safe and long-lasting pet food and supplies are best bought at Walmart or Target instead.
- Business Insider/Jessica Tyler
Walgreens offers great deals on vitamins, so be sure to stock up next time you visit. A recent special on Nature Made vitamins earned Balance Rewards members who spent $30 a bonus of 5,000 points and $5 off a future purchase.
Skip: Photo prints
- Getty Images
While Walgreens has competitive prices to CVS and Walmart for its photo printing, the Krazy Coupon Lady reported that CVS is the better place to purchase photo prints due to more favorable reviews and the ability to order framed photos and wall art.
Buy: Equal sweetener
- Richard Levine/Corbis via Getty Images
Walgreens has frequent sales on Equal sweetener, so be sure to keep an eye out for it.
By combining Ibotta’s 3% back offer with an Equal coupon, the Krazy Coupon Lady reports stock-up prices at only $0.50 and sometimes free.
Skip: Enfamil infant formula
Buy: Contact lenses
- Marco Verch/Flickr
Purchasing your contact lenses at Walgreens can earn you some great deals. At Walgreens, purchasing contact lenses online earns customers free shipping. There’s also a 20% discount off all contact lenses through December 31, 2019.
Skip: Wrapping paper
“You don’t want a $10 gift to turn into a $20 one simply because of wrapping supplies,” said savings expert Jeanette Pavini of Coupons.com. According to Pavini, customers typically pay a premium at Walgreens for these types of items. To avoid this, Pavini suggests shopping at designer discount stores for the best bargain.
While sunscreen is often expensive, with the right timing and coupons you can save much more at Walgreens than at a warehouse store, according to Jackie Warrick, chief savings officer at CouponCabin.com. Instead of buying in bulk and wasting, products with an expiration date like sunscreen are best bought in smaller amounts for cheap.
Skip: Disposable razors
- Howard Gao / Shutterstock.com
If you’re not interested in paying premiums on disposable razors, it’s best to avoid buying at Walgreens. Pavini told GoBankingRates.com that a three-pack of Venus disposable razors at Walmart was $6.97, while drugstore prices such as Walgreens were almost twice as much at $12.99.
Buy: Flu shot
Next time you visit Walgreens, consider getting a flu shot. At Walgreens, a life-saving vaccine is provided to a child in a developing country for each flu shot purchased. Additionally, for each immunization administered from September 1, 2019, to January 21, 2020, Walgreens donates $0.23 to the United Nations foundation.
Skip: Maruchan ramen noodle soup
Ramen noodle soup is known as a cheap meal, but you won’t get the best bang for your buck if you buy at Walgreens.
Sales on these items are rare at drugstores, according to the Krazy Coupon Lady, who reported a single package of Maruchan for $0.49 at Walgreens but only $0.25 at Walmart.
Buy: Progresso canned soup
Walgreens’ weekly ad often features amazing deals on Progresso canned soup. With a four-for-$5 discount combined with a $1 off coupon, savings expert Pavini reported buying Progresso soup for only $1 a can at Walgreens.
Skip: Laundry detergent
Buy: Crest mouthwash
- Gary Cameron/Reuters
Consider buying Crest-brand mouthwash next time you pay a visit to Walgreens. According to the Krazy Coupon Lady, combining rebates and rewards like Ibotta’s 3% cash-back offer with Walgreens can result in free Crest mouthwash.
Like razors, soap is best to avoid buying at Walgreens. One report found Walgreens charges roughly 40% more on the same basket of goods, and consumables such as soap reportedly have the highest premium.
- Flickr/Luke Jones
Candy is another product commonly featured on sale with Walgreens’ weekly ad. Keep an eye out for an additional free bag of candy with a $1.99 purchase.