I went shopping at Walgreens yesterday to snag a few great deals and test out the new Balance Reward Program. Overall things went very smoothly with only a few minor gliches. Here are a few things I learned from my experience:
- Offers are unlimited unless stated in the ad. This applies to point offers and sale prices. I have a feeling that after this soft launch and after people use the new system for a few weeks, that they will start to limit Balance Reward deals much like CVS has limits attached to the card.
- Multiple point items can be purchased in the same transaction and multiple points will be awarded.
- Points are credited immediately and can be used in the following transaction (unless the system is “offline” which in this case you will have to register your receipt online and your points should show up in 1 or 2 days — the register was “offline” for one of my transactions yesterday and my points have not shown up yet. I plan to give it a couple more days before I call).
- If you wish to redeem your points in a transaction, just tell the cashier this is what you wish to do. A screen will appear on the pin pad and you make a selection of the point value you wish to redeem.
- Now, this can get tricky because the system will allow you to redeem more points value than the amount you owe. See example below.
Here is an example of one of my transactions yesterday:
My total after coupons was $10.89. The option screen on the pin pad said I could redeem the following:
- $10.89 for 18,000 Balance Reward Points
- $10 for 10,000 Balance Reward Points
- $5 for 5,000 Balance Reward Points
– Obviously in this transaction, the smartest move if you wish to redeem your points and lower your OOP, would be option #2. Then I would only owe $0.89 OOP. If I chose option #1. I would owe $0 OOP but would forfeit the additional 7,921 points. Yikes! Or, I could have chosen option #3 and owe $5.89 after point redemption.
- You can only start redeeming points in $5 increments. For example, if your total is $4 and you want to redeem 5,000 points or $5, you most certainly can do this. However, you can not roll over the extra 1,000 points you aren’t using. In this scenario, you will pay $0 OOP but will lose the extra $1 in Balance Rewards.
- Knowing this, I really like the $50 for 40,000 points becuase essentially it’s like getting a free $10, however, I can’t remember the last time I spent $50 after coupons. Essentially you could redeem less, (in $5 increments) but then your rewards aren’t worth as much, so what was the point in saving them up? An example of this would be if your total was $10 after coupons. Say you have 40,000 points ($50) and you decide to redeem 10,000 of them ($10) to pay $0 for your transaction. You could certainly do that, but then you would be left with 30,000 points ($35) and they are no longer worth as much. You essentailly forfeited an additional $5 in points for partially redeeming as opposed to redeeming all at once.
- If you use Balance Rewards to pay for a transaction, you will NOT earn any additional points for that transaction!
- If you use RR to pay for a transaction that produces Balance Rewards, you WILL earn the points.
- Knowing this, it would be best to use your RR to pay for transactions that produce Balance Rewards and Balance Rewards to pay for transactions that produce RR’s. I am hoping the RR will stay around for awhile so we can continue to flip them like this.
- My first thought when I was thinking about spending vs saving points was this: It might be best to save the points and get something high-dollar that we typically don’t have coupons for, ie: Printer Ink or maybe some Christmas, Birthday, or other gift items.
- However, I also like to spend the least amount OOP at a time, so it is going to be really hard for me to pay upfront. I just have to know that I have money set aside for a future purchase…and seeing those points accumulating at the bottom of the receipt helps!
- Basically, you can spend your rewards up front (as they accumulate) and pay less out of pocket now, but forfeit the bonus $10 reward later, or you can spend more OOP up front and save your points up until you have 40,000 which will essentially give you that $10 bonus. Basically it’s whatever works best for you!
Did anyone else brave the first day of shopping with the new Balance Reward program? How did you like it? Did your transactions run smoothly? I’d love to hear your experiences!