Save Big With Drugstore Rebates and Rewards

Stephen B. of Maryland sets up computer networks for people. He buys a lot of equipment eligible for a lot of rebates. He's a friendly, funny guy but he is serious about getting his rebate money. Stephen says he has never failed to get a rebate returned to him because he always registers his rebate application online. Guerilla Grocery Shoppers can do the same with pricey grocery items.

Here are some Web sites that list rebate offers, let you apply for them and then track their progress. Some are geared toward groceries, others toward electronics.

www.RebateTracker.com

www.RebatesHQ.com

www.TheRebateTracker.com

www.RebateTrack.com

Rewards

Rewards programs are easier to take advantage of than rebate offers because you don't have to apply. I define rewards programs as those that give you a store credit for making certain purchases. Your credit is usually in the form of a register receipt. The key is to vigilantly use the credits you receive this month to make your purchases next month. Don't let them expire on you like I sometimes do. Duh!

Rules for Walgreen's and CVS

At Walgreen's, the bonanza continues with "Register Rewards." These usually take the form of a buy X and get Y deal, like spend $30 and get $5 in Register Rewards. These Register Rewards are a credit that you can use on your next shopping trip. They spit out of the register when you make your purchase. You don't have to do anything special to get them. All you have to do is pay attention to make sure you use them. Walgreen's Register Rewards do expire, so keep track of the date.

A couple of rules you should know about:

1.One reward per item: You're only allowed to use one Register Reward for each thing you purchase. So if you are buying a $10 makeup item, you would not be able to apply both a $3 and a $2 Register Reward to it.

2.No change: You do not get change back when you spend a Register Rewards credit. So, for maximum impact, you should buy something that is just a tiny bit more expensive than your Register Reward.

If this is possible, CVS Rewards are even more over-the-top than the Walgreen's ones. Savvy shoppers report cutting their drugstore costs 75-percent by learning the ins and outs of CVS offers. CVS calls its rewards "Extra Care Bucks." Like at Walgreen's, they print out at the end of your receipt. A CVS Extra Care reward is almost as good as cash on your next visit to CVS. Guerilla Grocery Shoppers who use these Extra Care Bucks strategically can get loads of merchandise for free or even earn money back.

There are three ways to get Extra Care Bucks:

1. First, CVS gives you a reward of two percent of your spending each quarter. You don't have to be a regular. As long as you have a CVS Extra Care card, you can earn this credit.

2. The second way is to take advantage of offers listed in the monthly CVS Extra Care catalog. For example, one frequent offer is buy $20 worth of products and get $10 in Extra Care Bucks.

3. The third method is to buy specific products advertised in the Extra Care catalog that are eligible for an Extra Care Bucks reward. For example, the offer could be that if you buy a four-pack of GE lightbulbs for $4.99, you will be awarded $2 in Extra Care Bucks.

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