Drugstore sticker shock—on everything from prescriptions to toilet paper—is a very real thing for many of us. But there are plenty of ways you can save big at your favorite drugstore.
Use the Welcome Wagon. If you move to a new apartment or home, the Welcome Wagon will send you discounts and coupons from local businesses, including pharmacies and drugstores, to help you save some dough. You can sign up for this service online.
Don’t buy these things at drugstores. Items that you go through quickly—like diapers, pet food, plastic baggies and toilet paper—are often cheaper when bought in bulk at a wholesale club. “In a pinch” items—like charcoal, travel cups and beach gear—will be less expensive at a big box store like Walmart or Target. And while that wall of gift cards might look intriguing, opt instead to buy discounted gift cards on a site like GiftCardGranny.com* or Raise.com.
Use coupons and get cash back. Check out sites like Rakuten.com for coupons and cash-back offers at drugstores. You can enter the name of the pharmacy to view available savings and shop online right from their sites. Rakuten also has free browser extensions, which, once installed, will automatically alert you to available savings as you browse online. “I really like getting cash back for things I was going to purchase anyway,” Kathy Lee, who runs the site the Baby Boomer Super Saver, says of why she uses sites like these.
Sign up for the rewards programs. Most major drugstore chains like CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid have rewards programs that are free to join and give members access to exclusive discounts. “Simply swipe your rewards card or enter your phone number at checkout and earn points for your purchases, which will rack up to savings,” says Cameron Huddleston, a family finance expert for Carefull, a new service for financial caregivers. Huddleston adds that members also often receive special pricing, personalized offers and coupons.
Shop around for prescription drugs. Prescription drugs can cost dramatically different prices at different drugstores. “Don’t overlook the pharmacies at warehouse clubs and other types of discounters, as they may have better prices on medications,” says Robin Saks Frankel, a personal finance expert and credit cards analyst of Forbes Advisor. “Costco, Sam’s Club and BJ’s Wholesale Club all allow non-members to use their pharmacy services.”
You should also consider a service like GoodRx.com to find the pharmacy with the lowest prices on the prescription drugs you take, says Huddleston. “Just type in the name of the drug and you’ll see a list of pharmacies near you and the price they charge for the drug,” she says. GoodRx offers coupon codes for some prescriptions. However, don’t assume that an online-only service will always be cheaper than a brick-and-mortar store, says Lee. “Always compare the cost of prescription drugs at the pharmacy drugstore versus a prescription service, like Express Scripts,” she says.
Try the mail-order option for your drugs. “Don’t forget to ask the drugstore about a mail-order option. With mail-order prescriptions, you usually get a three-month supply of your recurring prescriptions. So not only will you save money, you’ll save time since you won’t have to go in-person every month to pick up your script,” explains Dr. Brynna Connor, the health care ambassador at NorthWestPharmacy.com.
Millie content is licensed from Dotdash Meredith, publisher of Millie, Real Simple, InStyle, Investopedia, The Balance and more.
Trae Bodge is a lifestyle journalist and shopping expert with a passion for helping people save money.
*The author of this article is a freelance paid partner of Couponcabin.com and GiftCardGranny.com.