If you’ve been saving up Balance Rewards loyalty points in order to earn big discounts at Walgreens, you might want to start using them. Walgreens is planning to introduce changes that will make Balance Rewards points less valuable, and redeemable for smaller discounts.

Images of what are said to be Walgreens internal memos posted by store employees began circulating online a few days ago. And while Walgreens isn’t commenting in detail about the memos’ contents, it’s not disputing them, and it’s acknowledging some of the changes that are said to be on the way.

“Starting 11/4, the Balance Rewards program is simplifying redemption, making every 1,000 points = $1 of rewards,” the memos read. Plus, the memos go on, there will be a new “5,000 point ($5) maximum redemption per transaction”.

Let’s unpack those changes one by one.

Currently, Balance Rewards is a tiered system in which points become more valuable as you accumulate them. For every dollar you spend, you earn 10 points, plus there are opportunities to earn bonus points for buying various promoted products. Every 1,000 points will get you $1 off a purchase – so if you choose to redeem 10,000 points at once, for example, you can get $10 off a single transaction. But if you choose to save up your points instead of using them right away, it takes only 18,000 points instead of 20,000 to earn $20 off. 30,000 points will get you $35 off, and 40,000 points will give you a maximum $50 discount.

Effective in November, though, those tiers will be eliminated. “Customers find the existing escalated tiers confusing,” the memos read. “Over 80% of our high value customers are unaware of the escalated tiers. Less than 2% of active Balance Rewards members are redeeming at escalated tiers.”

So if you’re carrying a rewards balance of tens of thousands of points, you’d better use them before November 4th. Otherwise, your points’ value will be slashed by up to 20%, once 40,000 points is worth a mere $40 instead of $50.


Another reason to use up your points if you have a lot of them – the second change indicated in the memos, namely the 90% reduction in the total discount you can get in a single transaction. You’ll only be able to redeem a maximum 5,000 points at a time for a maximum $5 discount, down from the current $50 maximum.

While the memos state that customers will be informed of the changes beginning October 2nd, and asks that “no communication be shared with customer(s) prior to 10/2,” Walgreens confirmed most of the changes in response to customer questions on its Facebook page: “Members will receive notification in October that Balance Rewards will move to a more simplified five-tier redemption structure with a new redemption limit of 5,000 points per transaction.”

Many customers, naturally, aren’t happy about the changes.

“You are going to be losing tons of business if you all do this. I use my points on a regular basis and $50 at a time,” one shopper complained on Walgreens’ Facebook page. “Do you really think anyone will care about building points if they can only be redeemed $5 at a time?” another asked. “I’ve bought things that give 10,000 points in one transaction, so when the new rules go into effect I can’t even use them in the next transaction because you’re limiting to 5,000?” a third commenter offered. Another wondered how Walgreens can get away with devaluing points that have already been awarded: “I spent money at Walgreens knowing the points we would receive and the redemption value of those points. How is Walgreens allowed to change the terms of point redemption AFTER the points are earned?”

The changes are the latest to be made to Balance Rewards, which was introduced back in 2012. Until last year, unused points were good for up to three years, but that was changed so they now expire after just one year. “We believe the new policy will incent customers to redeem their points more frequently and lead to more engagement with the program,” a Walgreens spokesperson told Coupons in the News at the time.

That’s the exact same rationale Walgreens is using for the latest changes. “Simplifying the redemption levels will encourage customers to make more frequent redemptions and drive more consistent engagement with the program,” the current memos state.

Walgreens management had previously hinted that more changes were on the way for Balance Rewards’ nearly 90 million active users. “We’re still working to simplify the program,” Walgreens’ Co-Chief Operating Officer Alex Gourlay said earlier this year.

So if “simplifying” means reducing points’ value, and reducing the amount of discount you can get at one time, since customers apparently find it all too “confusing” – it appears Walgreens has succeeded. If “simplifying” means driving deal-seekers away – judging by customers’ reactions so far, it appears Walgreens may have succeeded there, too.


  1. My phone number ais in someone ekses name and zip is wrong need fix it

    • Yes! This happens all the time and someone uses my points and they just say well they were used this day in such and such state! Obviously not me I don’t live there! I punch in my number and the associate asks me if my name is “several other names not my own! Wtheck!

  2. Class Action Lawsuit! I was unaware of this scam!

    • I will be shopping at CVS now and never again at Walgreen’s once I get my 11,000 remaining points used. Two transactions of $5.00 purchases ought to do it. I was just informed today by the cashier we are limited to $5.00 per transaction. Won’t shop there anymore. CVS is just across the street and they don’t sell cigarettes – I like that! Shame on you Walgreen’s for trying to justify this corporate greed as “Simplification of the rewards program”. Do you think we’re stupid??

      • I just got an email that Walgreens is going back to its old rewards system starting May 5th. Guess they realized their error and how many customers they lost.

      • They are mistaken, depending on the amount of the purchase . If it is a 50.00 purchase and you have 50.00 in register rewards, then you can use it all. I am an employee of Walgreens, so I definitely know their rewards policies.

  3. I won’t be shopping at Walgreens anymore. They’ve proven beyond a doubt that they’re just another greedy corporation that doesn’t care about its customers. Well their customers are their lifeblood. I guess they’ll figure that out when they go out of business.

  4. Oh wow – talk about insult to injury…

    Anyone else received their Balance Rewards “here are some highlights from 2018” email yet? Just got mine today.

    First it congratulates me for being a member since 2012. Yippee. Loyalty is it’s own reward. NOT!!!

    Then in the summary it reminds me that I have only saved “$15.00 from redeeming 15,000 points.” – and that was 5,000 points at a time.

    If they had not screwed the program that line would have read “$50.00 from redeeming 40,000 points.” Still have over 30,000 points and I don’t give a damn if they expire.

    What??? No mention of the big highlight from 2018??? Shafting your customers who were following the Balance Rewards rules – until you changed them with no notice? Yeah – highlight this…

    The other part of the summary reminds you of all the money you saved by SPENDING money on promos and coupon items.

    I think I’m going to keep that e-mail. When the 2019 version rolls around I’ll forward them both to corporate to show them how much I am no longer “saving” – because I am no longer spending. Maybe then they will get a clue – but I’m not betting on it.

    • We’re in the process of moving all of our prescriptions to CVS, because the points system change, was the last straw for us. Walgreens is not good for our community, as they have become greedy corporate moneygrubbers.

  5. I personally have been saving my points all year to be able to use them for Christmas shopping. You know kinda the reward for shopping at Walgreens to begin with! I always visited with the manager and an associate and talked about the points we were saving and the items we purchase with the points. NEVER have I received word that this was changing,, NEVER! So to make matters worst, I just spent 2 hours Christmas shopping,, cart full of items only to have the cashier tell me I could only use $5 per transaction! I have over $100 rewards points saved! Lucky I said something before she rung up my purchase,, I left my full cart with her and walked out the door! I personally think the points after the said date should be subject to the change.. but any before should be allowed as it was. If not.. bye bye Walgreens!!

  6. Totally agree, never heard about this change until it was already implemented. I was so upset, had been stacking up the points and purposely stocking up on items to earn bonus points only to be told I could no longer redeem my $50 in one purchase, plus now my points are worth way less then what they were. I kind of wish I could go back and and return all the items I bought with this expectation. Am I upset yes, however I will use up my points and then shop elsewhere. I am not a noise maker but I find you make the loudest sounds with your wallet, specifically when it leaves the door and never comes back. I used to be a CVS customer and was tempted away by Walgreens points program. Now I can return to the CVS closer to me, and will likely give my prescriptions to our local pharmacy. Goodluck Walgreens, you will need it!

  7. I went in to Walgreens on Veterans Day to buy some Culturelle for my granddaughter, who has stomach issues, because I saw that it was on sale, and I had enough points for a $50 reward. Imagine my shock when I had everything rung up at the register, told her I wanted to use my $50 reward, and she said no; changes had been made and I could only redeem $5 at a time now. I said, “Are you kidding me??” I paid for it all and left, FUMING. I have never been so mad in all my life. I’m definitely going to go in there one day, buy fifteen $5 items, have them ring it all up separately using $5 of my rewards each time, and then never go back!

    • This change is TOTAL BS. I was never notified of the change and have over 160000 points that I should have been able to use in 4 transactions for $200 in savings–which is what I intended to do on their next 20% off day. I saved my points up to buy perfumes for Christmas gifts. They now have made that impossible. I understand programs change–but They should have grandfathered points earned prior to the change to the old system–or if not, they should have at least given notice to customers to give us time to use our points I’m beyond pissed off and will use my points $5 at a time until gone and then will never shop at Walgreens again. This is NOT how you treat loyal customers.

      • This is terrible!! No email, No signs! How is this fair when today at Walgreen’s I earned over ten thousand rewards. Was cashing out and the cashier said I could only redeem five worth. I will be pulling my families prescriptions out of Walgreen now. I will make one more trip and divide my order into 18 orders to use all my point!! That should hold up a register for at least 30 minutes. Then will not Shop in the Palm City, Florida anymore!! Debbie

  8. The company should have made the policy clear and gave a longer grace period. Your going to have a lot of unhappy people.

  9. For all of you that got stuck with a large amount of devalued points, I recommend doing what I just did. I clogged up the checkout line by asking that my entire purchase be split up into separate transactions that totaled just over $5 each so I could exhaust my points and never shop there again. I had $100 in points so that ended up in about 18 transactions and took almost 20 minutes. “I see 3” blasted over the intercom the entire time. Screw you Walgreens!

    • Good for you. That took some guts. I too will no longer shop Walgreens. Hard to believe this old company would make such a poor business decision. They will not make more money, but less.

      • Our Walgreens won’t ring up purchases in multiple transactions. We have $100 in rewards as of date. We saved them for a reason- Holidays. Shame on Walgreens. The employees are not happy about it either. I was told to have customers flood corporate with their disapproval on the new system.

    • I am a beauty consultant in a walgreen store. I actually ENCOURAGE customers to split their transactions in order to use more of their points. I have no problem helping them with this at my register. The points belong to customer who earned them and they should be able to use them as best they can. Also, I don’t understand how a Walgreens store can refuse to conduct multiple transactions. My store would never refuse to do so. We just get additional help when necessary.

  10. Just now learning of this!. The last email I remember gettting from Walgreens regarding Balance rewards, was a week or so ago congratulating me of my new total of $70 in rewards. Now today I see this. I also do not think that I got a notice of this change in advance.
    We buy approximately 5-8 prescriptions per month at Walgreens and LOTS of store items .I would say I have been spending several thousands of dollars per year at Walgreens. I will now make a whole lot of 1-2 item purchases in the near future to use my rewards up at $5 per transaction, so as not to lose what I earned…. BUT I am also now looking at moving all our prescriptions, and therefore also the monthly store purchases to CVS.

  11. I receive regular emails from Walgreens, but never received any notice about this change. I just happened to see it on the web site today when I went to check my points. I was 1000 points away from the $50 reward, which I have now lost. I will use my points and then will no longer shop at Walgreens, because I feel they cheated me. I don’t give my business to companies that cheat me.

  12. Did anyone recieve ADVANCE notification of this change in the U.S. mail?

    I was planning to spend a $50 reward on Senior Tuesday (Nov. 6 2018). I looked at my coupons from Walgreens Balance Rewards that had come in the mailbox the day before on Monday, Nov. 5. This was the first I had heard of the changes that took place Nov. 4. Not only did I get the notification a day AFTER the change, but the mailer was marked, “POSTMASTER: DELIVER BETWEEN NOV 5 – NOV 8”. In other words, WALGREENS clearly didn’t want customers to have this information until it was too late for valued customers to make use of their rewards at the value they had believed they had earned them. Their mailer detailed their new Balance Reward guidelines, emphasizing that they have added a 4000 pt/ $4.00 tier. At closer observation, I realized I could no longer get my $50 reward for 40,000 points, thus losing $10 in value. This was not emphasized. Also, in order to spend 40,000 points, I would have to make 8 purchases, using 5,000 points each time. Don’t waste my time WALGREENS, you are NOT worth it.

    To put salt on the wound, it occurred to me a conversation I had with the clerk the month before. I had over 36,000 points on account. I was spending over $100. She asked if I wanted to use a reward. I happily said, “no thanks, this one will put me over the $50 mark…I’ll use it next time”. Well, now that won’t happen! It would have been nice for a heads-up from the clerk.

    Here’s the thing, WALGREENS, if you didn’t want your customers to make use of one of the most awesome reward programs out there, then why offer it? Or did you just assume your customers weren’t smart enough to benefit from the top tiers. Maybe you are not smart enough to do simple math, WALGREENS.. Take the numbers you made off of the customers that spent the most money in your stores. Then, add up the amounts spent by those who have earned the most rewards. Yup, the numbers match. Now, multiply by the number of people your best customers will complain to. And, subtract the customers and their money from any future transactions with you business. It’s a huge number. But, you will be happy to know that you will keep all those people that stop in for a candy bar or a magazine stills shopping with you.

    In my fury over this, I called the phone number for Balance Rewards Customer Service. I would encourage any of you to do so 1-855-225-9225. They aren’t much help really, but it will give you a chance to blow off some steam. After you have exhausted the first person, ask for the escalation team, then the floor supervisor. He fancies himself well versed in reading you the part of the program terms and agreement where it states they can change their program at any time. This, I do not dispute. I may not like the new program, but so be it. Problem is, they took my money and I earned my points PRIOR to the change. They cannot RETROACTIVELY deny me what I earned. I suggested they deduct 40,000 points from my account and send me a $50 Walgeens gift card so they could right the wrong they have done, but they refused, stating he can’t do that.

    So, finally I asked for the address where I can write to someone who actually CAN provide customer service. He gave me the address below. I asked if that’s where their legal team is located. He said he didn’t know. I suggested he find out, he may need it.

    If you would like to voice a complaint, then write to the address below. Or, just call the guy I talked to. He was kind enough to give me his direct phone number:
    1-786-362-8239. He’s there 3:30-midnight.

    Please write to:
    Walgreens Customer Relations
    200 Wilmot Rd.
    Mailstop 2253
    Deerfield, IL 60015

  13. I would encourage any dissatisfied customer to file a complaint with their state’s Attorney General’s Office. I’m new to the rewards program and just made 50, only to be told I can only redeem 5 bucks. What bullshit! I’m on disability and that 50 bucks was going to buy Christmas gifts. Apparently, Walgreens has been in trouble before with their rewards program. There are tons of legal actions documented on Google. Walgreens corporate team is incredibly stupid to implement this new policy. Offering bonus points with a purchase of 20 or more give incentive for consumers to shop Walgreens. At this point, I will spend down my points and go back to CVS. I never have issues there.

  14. I’m done with them after I use my 30,000 balance rewards. What a unabashed way to screw any dedicated customers you have left. Boycott the B-strds!

  15. As far as I’m concerned, Walgreens just stole $75 from me. Sorry, but I don’t deal with thieves!

  16. The last email I received from Walgreens was congrats, I had reached 50,000 pts. Extremely disfunctional and hopefully, internal heads will roll. My bigger question is how did Walgreens get to 90 million members with next to no participation? I think they pulled all the initial members for its rewards program from their highly confidential prescription portal. When the program started, our account was in my then 11 year old daughters name. We filled all her prescriptions there at that time. I would think some law firm would start a class action lawsuit against Walgreens and pay all 90 million rewards members dearly for sharing presribers contact info with their rewards department. So done with Walgreens!

  17. I am so fried about this. I only discovered it today by accident when I had to look up some prescription history info on the Walgreens app. After I had my “What the hell???” moment I called the phone number on my balance rewards card and was told they had been sending out e-mail notifications about this change for several months. Sorry but – no – Walgreens has NOT sent out multiple e-malis notifying me (or probably anyone else) about this change in terms. Lotsa e-mails to a 60 year old dude telling me about beauty product sales? Yeah – those I get all the frikkin’ time. But any e-mail telling me – oh, I don’t know – something obvious in the header like “Important changes coming to balance rewards”? Yeah – no. Not one mentioning anything about balance rewards changes.

    Another site posted an image of a whopper size sign about this in a Walgreens window. We were in our Walgreens just in the last 2 weeks and there was no signage about this anywhere.

    I have 40,000 points I was going to use on a high dollar ticket item. (I must be one of those weirdo 2%’ers because that’s what I have always done with the points redemption.) Now I have about 30,000 points that are going to expire in rapid fire succession due to holiday spending done LAST year.

    Looks like I’m about to buy 10 bags of pistachios with my points – one transaction at a time. Bet the cashiers are going to love what people will have to do to use their points before they expire.

    Walgreens sucks.

  18. Walgreens sent a mailer with points awards and never mentioned the Nov. 4 deadline. It felt as though Walgreens was trying to catch everyone with several points. Not very professional coming from a major corporation. Not only was I forced to use only 5000 point redemption the mailer points coupons would not work with the redemption. Very disappointed in the greed. CVS still has a great points system. You know where I will be shopping from now on.

  19. I will never shop at Walgreens again. So slimy

  20. I’ve been a Walgreens customer for years and ONLY have prescriptions at Walgreens (over 10 monthly). I am switching all of my prescriptions and will never shop at Walgreens again.

  21. I was holding over 100,000 points last Senior Day and went in and picked up a few items. I went back Wednesday, and only then was I told about the changes to the program.

    As a result, I was denied the chance to spend my points on goods I bought at a 20% discount, because the changes take effect next Senior Day.

    Over this past month I’ve transferred all 14 of my prescriptions elsewhere. I also bought a couple of items using $50 worth of points for each. I then returned them and got $50 gift cards back.

    Henceforth, I’ll only shop at Walgreens for loss leader items and items marked down for clearance.

  22. I shop at Walgreens primarily for cosmetics and hair care products, among other things. Walgreens prices are HIGHER than other stores for such items (i.e. Target, Walmart, CVS). However, I’d still shop there for these items, knowing there was a point-earning incentive and would often save until I had $35 or $50 worth to redeem. Knowing their prices are higher than other stores and only being able to redeem $5 at a time – I will not be shopping at Walgreens after these changes go into effect.

  23. I save up my points and then use them to buy Christmas presents for Toys for Tots and other charities during the holidays. I’ll still donate toys to these worthy causes, but they won’t be from toys purchased at Walgreens.

    I’ve already transferred one of my prescriptions to another pharmacy and will not be using the Walgreens pharmacy anymore.

    Between the bathroom policy (No, we haven’t forgotten despite your wishing we would.), the long lines at the pharmacy, and this change to the Rewards program, that’ll do it for me and Walgreens. Time for me to sign up for CVS Extra Bucks.

  24. In all reality, Walgreens has our money from the points we customers accumulate from the products we bought. We should be able to use these points any way we would like! I have over 100,000 points and I’m going to use them before 11/4! After that, I won’t be shopping at Walgreens much anymore. I’m sick of companies deciding for the customer what we can and cannot do! Who decided this? Some young punk who has no idea what freedom really is? By restricting us of what we buy with the points, will only make them be losers in the long run! I’m done with Walgreens!

  25. I spent a lot of money at Walgreens since rewards program started, buying things there that I would normally pick up with my groceries just to save with the rewards. Now I’ll just save by staying out of there and do my one-stop shopping where I buy my groceries. They have most everything the Walgreens has anyway. I won’t shop there to redeem $5.00.

  26. I have been a loyal Walgreen’s shopper for many years and have been a member the rewards program since it was started. I feel very disheartened that Walgreens executives are cutting this program down basically nothing. Changes in the Rewards program make it not really even worth pulling out the card, giving the phone number, or pulling into the parking lot! Walgreen’s prices are high unless something is on sale, and being able to use the rewards points helped to offset the prices to make them more affordable. I sometimes even bought items I didn’t yet need because there were rewards points earned for the purchase. The change in the rewards program it has me doubting the worth of shopping at a store that does not value its customers or employees. A new chapter will begin-without Walgreens

  27. Walgreens is engaging in such HORRIBLE customer relations—It’s similar to airlines devaluing the value of its miles, but at least the airlines give you about 10 months notice of changes. Walgreens is barely giving us four WEEKS! I’ll check out CVS as another commenter stated that CVS’s rewards program may be better.

  28. I’ve been playing CVS against Walgreens for awhile and Walgreens usually comes out on top. But now, CVS and their Extrabucks are winning my money. It’s nothing to have $10-$20 in Extrabucks to spend on my purchases on any given month based on purchasing things I would buy anyway and always on sale (and with coupons). I like the way CVS allows stacking coupons and applying Extrabucks. They even just give me $2 Extrabucks evey month just to use on anything $2 or more. I’ll just go in and get a drink or gum for the car.

  29. Pooh on your changes to make Balance Rewards (BR) more cumbersome. If I can only redeem $5 max at once, what is the point? Stingy nickle and diming. But surely some VP got a bonus because of this! It’s all about paying less to increase your already outrageous margins. Look, you used to have 24 hour pharmacy, but that’s pared down (inconvenient)! I can buy Rx cheaper without insurance at Walmart than with insurance in your store. The wait is the same. Everything else is more expensive and there’s less selection. So at the end of the day, what value is your company?

  30. Pingback: CAMBIOS EN LA BALANCE REWARD DE WALGREENS - Wanda Gisela...el Blog

  31. I think that Walgreens is doing a huge disservice to their loyal customers. I may have ti take n y business some place else.

  32. I am one of those who got in when the Balance Rewards was introduced. It was a lot simpler to earn and redeem it then so many couponers became BR millionaires in no time. But since they started changing the rules, I began spending my BRs 40K pts at a time for non perishable goods like toilet paper, paper towel, aluminum foil, Dawn, etc. I’m glad I got in when the going was good and got out way before the CEOs that took over further damaged the original BR.

  33. I haven’t done any WG Register Rewards or Balance Rewards offers in over a year (I rarely go there at all). Also haven’t been to Rite Aid since they got rid of Plenti.

  34. This is just another way for WALGREENS SUITS to not give out anymore than they can get away with… all our customers like getting the rewards, and then using them to get something that they normally would not buy. Keep up the good work SUITS, keep making our job harder. You need to come into the stores and have the customers yell at YOU!!. I know that will never happen SMH. You guys implement changes (FOR THE GOOD OF THE COMPANY) yeah right…its all about how you can get slave work for slave wages, but I’m sure that when you guys get your YEARLY BONUS , it makes you have a great big smile on your face
    But make sure that the people that no longer get them, think that it is made up in some other way.
    . You are
    nuts. A person can not support a family on the wages that has been CAPPED. Because it would take away from your BONUSES.. you dont5even want to get me started. I’ve been with this company for over 27 years…. it wasn’t anything like it back then. I know MR WALGREENS would be trying to get to the SUITS , and teach them how he WANTED to run this BUSINESS. But that’s just what it is now… it was more family oriented, employee oriented. Thats5what his vision was with his PHARMACYS. more customer oriented, not us having to read OFF a paper the greeting and good byes. BE WELL.
    . That was a joke, we got written up for not saying it to every customer, we got I intimated by the store mgr that we WILL BE FIRED. They have no clue what our customers are going thru. But make sure they hear us ALWAYS SAYING BE WELL. To the woman who just lost her husband to a lenghtly battle with cancer, to the mother who has decided to have her children go into foster care so she can check into a mental facility for het family’s sake…
    BUT BE WELL, so we don’t get fired, and not able to work our 2 jobs , just to KEEP THE LIGHTS ON AT HOME. I’m too tired to go on anymore… if you want to contact me, and discuss this in length. My name is Sharon Davis (Frye) I had to work too much to help pay the bills, so now we are getting divorced.

  35. Walgreens is a convenient place to get almost anything, but I’ve never been encouraged by their so-called ‘rewards’ program. It’s slow, and it has restrictions that make you have to read a bunch of small print. I’ve never found myself shopping there because I want ‘rewards points’. So keep it, restrict it, shred it, who cares anyway? Apparently not the guys in the suits.

    • Your rewards system in any other terms,SUX I have been loyal to your store for quite a while. Now all the points I took a long time to accumulate are going to be reduced. I also was told I could only use $5 a time unless I redeem them all at once? Really. You are pissing off a lot of your good customers, alot. I believe I will be taking my business back to CVS. At least there coupon system is cut and dry, and not under handing lies. You are going to find your way of Kmart. Gone. Even they weren’t deceitful. I hope this,for your sake, can be cleared up before it’s to late. No one likes a big scheming cooperation.

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