By the end of this week, you'll be able to use the full features of the new myWalgreens loyalty program at all 9,000-plus Walgreens stores in the U.S., after customer signup officially began Nov. 5.
Not quite sure what myWalgreens is, exactly? For one thing, it’s an upgrade and replacement of Balance® Rewards, which Walgreens is soon retiring after more than eight years, along with associated programs such as Beauty Enthusiast and Balance Rewards for healthy choices.
But this goes far beyond a simple repackaging.
“We set out to redesign our loyalty benefits, but myWalgreens is so much broader than just a new loyalty program,” says Janna Gray, senior manager for Walgreens’ customer engagement strategy and platform. “What we’ve done, really, is create a free personalized digital platform for customers – a program for ‘the one and only you’ that transitions away from Balance Rewards while adding several new supporting features that you can use in your own way to give you a unique Walgreens experience.”
With Gray lighting the way, here are some must-knows about myWalgreens as it fully launches this week:
1. You have some time to make the transition.
Let’s get this out of the way first: If you’re a current Balance Rewards member, you have until Jan. 31, 2021, to convert your Balance Rewards account to a myWalgreens account. There are three places you can do this: online at myWalgreens.com, through the Walgreens mobile app or in a Walgreens store with help from a team member.
“When you do this migration, the value of all your existing Balance Rewards points will carry forward into your new myWalgreens account the following day,” says Gray. “But if you don’t enroll in myWalgreens by Jan. 31, your Balance Rewards account will simply be deactivated, and you’ll lose any rewards you had and won’t have access to sales prices and promotions for myWalgreens members.”
2. Points are replaced by percentages – and it’s way simpler.
Through Balance Rewards, customers earned 10 points per $1 spent on most Walgreens purchases and could redeem these points on later purchases at the rate of $1 per 1,000 points accrued. With the introduction of myWalgreens, points are no longer being awarded. Instead, there’s a new and less complicated currency: Walgreens Cash rewards. Here’s how it works:
- Members earn 1 percent in Walgreens Cash rewards on most eligible purchases in store and online. This includes pharmacy prescriptions and services in all states but Arkansas, New Jersey and New York. That 1 percent is the same rewards value previously received through Balance Rewards.
- Members earn 5 percent in Walgreens Cash rewards on Walgreens-branded items, meaning health essentials, beauty supplies, vitamins and other products that bear the Walgreens logo or script. (Brands such as Nice!, Complete Home, Finest Nutrition and No7, which don’t carry the Walgreens logo or script, don’t qualify.) This is an advantage Balance Rewards didn’t have.
- Additional Walgreens Cash rewards also can be earned through special offers or by completing healthy activities through myWalgreens Health Goals, a rebranded version of Balance Rewards for healthy choices.
- Instead of having to calculate points-to-dollars, you simply redeem your Walgreens Cash rewards in dollar increments of $1, $2, $3, $4, $5, $10, $20 or $50. For example, if you have $6.67 in rewards on your myWalgreens account, you can knock $5 off the total price of your purchase, with $1.67 in rewards left over for later. You can redeem up to $50 per transaction, and up to $100 a day, and you have one year from the date the rewards are earned to use them, with no limit on how much you can build up.
- Note: You must have an email address assigned to your myWalgreens account in order to redeem Walgreens Cash rewards and use other myWalgreens features.
3. The mobile app gives you the fullest experience.
Although you can access many components of myWalgreens through myWalgreens.com, the Walgreens mobile app is where the most convenient tools reside, says Gray. If you don’t have the app already, you can download it for free from the App Store or Google Play. If you already have it installed, make sure you have the latest update, which incorporates the myWalgreens platform.
“Once you’re enrolled in myWalgreens, the new features and functionality will be front and center on the home screen of the app in a carousel of tiles,” says Gray. “This includes personalized digital offers just for you. There’s also a dashboard where you can manage your preferences, update information, see your Walgreens Cash rewards and more.
“For most customers, the mobile app is your myWalgreens experience. Meanwhile, all the existing functionality of the app remains intact in a navigation menu at the bottom of your home screen. So you can still do all the things you could do before, like manage your prescriptions and refills, submit photo orders, shop for products or search Find Care to locate nearby healthcare services.”
4. You can go completely no-contact at checkout.
Within myWalgreens on the app are two new features, the Wallet and digital receipts, which members can opt into separately at no cost. With the Wallet, you select your payment source for a purchase (the app can store up to 10 credit cards), plus any clipped coupons or Walgreens Cash rewards you wish to use. If you’re a Walgreens team member, your employee discount is also added. The app then generates a bar code linked to your account that the store cashier scans right off your device. Sale prices are automatically applied.
“What this means is you no longer are required to type in your phone number on a keypad and go through that process, as you were previously under Balance Rewards,” says Gray. “Everything is embedded in this one barcode. You literally just hold your phone up for the team member at checkout.”
Digital receipts are exactly that, with copies stored in your myWalgreens dashboard. That means no mile-long paper receipts handed to you, unlike at other retail pharmacies (wink). If you decide you want paper receipts again, you can opt back out of the digital receipts feature by turning it off in your account settings.
A touchless experience has never been more desired or important than it is in 2020.
“The coronavirus definitely accelerated this idea,” Gray says. “We were getting a lot of feedback that people didn’t want to be touching the PIN pad. These features eliminate the need for customers to be in direct contact with machines and other people, and it’s also a lot easier and quicker for them to get through the checkout process.”
5. You can help those less fortunate with your rewards.
For the first time, Walgreens customers can now donate their accrued loyalty rewards to a charitable organization instead of using them toward their own purchases. Walgreens will have a charity designated for these donations within myWalgreens at any given time, starting with Comic Relief, the organization behind Red Nose Day, and followed by Vitamin Angels this winter. Walgreens anticipates changing the organization about once per quarter to support partners with whom we have strong relationships. In the future, you may also be able to donate to national and local charities of your choice.
“As a myWalgreens member, you’re able to simply choose the amount you want to donate in whole dollar increments and click through,” Gray says. “And once you donate, it’ll show up in your account summary so you can track how much you gave over time.”
6. You’ll see environmental and health info specific to where you live.
In addition to the aforementioned tools, plus personalized offers based on your shopping habits, the myWalgreens carousel in the app will include alerts for your region, such as a spike in COVID-19 cases, an increase in flu activity or a high pollen count.
“This will help you get a real sense of what’s impacting your community, and how Walgreens can be of service to you in these areas,” says Gray. “Not all customers will see the same thing, because it’s going to be based on who you are and where you are. For example, UV warnings might not appear for a customer in Illinois in the middle of winter, but for someone in Arizona, you could see those types of messages.”
7. Don’t forget about Pickup.
This on-demand service – the first of its kind for Walgreens – isn’t exclusive to myWalgreens members, but it’s easy to access if you’re already using the mobile app for other myWalgreens features and perks. Customers on Walgreens.com and the app can see real-time inventory counts for retail products at Walgreens stores. With this information, you can complete an order choosing “Pickup” (in-store, curbside or drive-thru), and your chosen store will have the order ready in as little as 30 minutes.
In-store and curbside pickup are convenient, but the drive-thru option goes even further by allowing you to access both “sides” of Walgreens in one swoop.
“We began offering drive-thru pickup for a small selection of front-of-store items when COVID-19 first hit,” says Gray. “The Pickup program builds on this by making the selection of items much broader. While you’re driving through to get a prescription, you can also be picking up many other items you need from your neighborhood Walgreens.”
For more on myWalgreens, be sure to read the FAQs, as well as program terms and conditions, at the bottom of the myWalgreens.com homepage.