Que Pasa USA by Mystic Angel
October 2012
1IKEA Regrets Women Erased From Saudi Catalog
2Kentucky restaurant shut down after roadkill found in kitchen
3Life-Saving Secrets from Surgeons
4After the debate debacle for Obama, we’ll find out if we have a race
5Romney Goes On Offense, Pays For It In First Wave Of Fact Checks
6It's the Great Pumpkin Spice Latte Shortage, Starbucks fans
7This can’t be safe: Virginia Tech player finds scissors on the field (VIDEO)
81 Man Dead of a Heart Attack, 3 Arrested After Hotel Wedding Brawl in City of Brotherly Love
9Jerry Sandusky sentenced to 30 to 60 years in prison on 45 counts of child molestation
10Heaven is real, says neurosurgeon who claims to have visited the afterlife
11Giant 'mystery eyeball' discovered on South Florida beach
12Groundbreaking study: Aronia, curcumin extracts effectively kill brain cancer cell line Learn more:
13Body found in Colorado is that of missing girl Jessica Ridgeway, authorities confirm
14 52 Things You Can Do for Transgender Equality
15Florida's giant eyeball mystery solved: It belonged to a swordfish
16Fungal Meningitis Outbreak: Who's At Risk?
17Penn State cheerleader’s fall and brain injury brings campus together in prayer
18Face-Off: CVS vs. Walgreens
19Does Romney Have an In-Law Problem?
20Biden Says Crying Baby Knows What Romney Win Would Bring
21Mass shooting reported in Wisconsin: 7 hospitalized, suspect remains at large, police say
22What Obama and Romney will say about Libya, China and Iran—and what’s the truth
23FACT CHECK: Flunking geography, history
24Richard Mourdock Isn't Alone: Politicians Weigh In On Rape (VIDEO)
251 dead, 4 hospitalized in car crash (VIDEO)
26Tax Policy Center in Spotlight for Its Romney Study
27Women who knew 'cannibal cop' worried they were on his 'cook list'
28‘Slut-Shamed’ Staten Island Teen Tweets ‘I Give Up’ Before Jumping In Front of Subway Train
29Eastern US braces for dangerous superstorm
30President Obama Vs Mitt Romney On Hurricane Sandy
31Paralympian Josh Sundquist has best Halloween costume ever
Face-Off: CVS vs. Walgreens
October 18, 2012

Retail giant Walgreens has nearly 8,000 locations in the U.S., and CVS has approximately 7,400.

With so many stores nationwide, it’s no surprise that both chains are raking in sales. CVS rang in $107 billion in revenue in 2011, compared to Walgreens’ $72 billion, according to the latest Fortune 500 report. But when it comes to the consumer, which drugstore is cheaper?

I recently set out to compare prices at both drugstores. Then I also factored in prices at big-box retailer Walmart and online merchant Drugstore.com, which was acquired by Walgreens in 2011 but offers different prices on many items. Here’s what I found:

1. Over-the-counter drugs

Considering drugstores have the word drugs in their name, you would think they’d be the cheapest on over-the-counter medicines. But I found a better deal elsewhere on an 80-count package of Advil Liqui-Gels.

Drugstore prices:

Walgreens – $10.99
CVS – $10.99

Compared to:

Walmart – $7.97
Drugstore.com – $12.59

Walgreens and CVS tied; Walmart came out on top.

2. Personal care

I buy most of my personal care items at drugstores because I usually don’t realize I need Q-tips or body wash until I’m completely out, and the drugstore is my closest option. I had no idea if they were the best deal, so I chose a 24-ounce bottle of Dove Go Fresh body wash for comparison. Turns out, I’ve been wasting money for years.

Drugstore prices:

Walgreens – $7.49
CVS – $7.19

Compared to:

Walmart – $5.00
Drugstore.com – $8.99

CVS provided a better price than Walgreens, but by only 30 cents. Again, Walmart topped them both, offering the product for more than $2 less.

3. Paper products

Personally, I think toilet paper, paper towels, and napkins are expensive everywhere. But as it turns out, I could have gotten a better deal if I had bought that 12-pack of Charmin Basic somewhere else.

Drugstore prices:

Walgreens – $7.99
CVS – $8.39

Compared to:

Walmart – $5.97
Drugstore.com – $7.99

Walgreens beat CVS by a mere 40 cents, and Walmart again was the smarter buy.

4. Cleaning supplies

I use a mixture of white vinegar and water to clean almost everything in my house, with one exception: I buy cleaning wipes for quick cleaning jobs. So I picked up a 35-count package of Clorox Cleaning Wipes.

Drugstore prices:

Walgreens – $3.59
CVS – $3.69

Compared to:

Walmart – $2.48
Drugstore.com – $3.99

Walgreens offered a slightly better deal than CVS, but Walmart once again had the lowest price by far.

5. Health bars and snacks

To finish off my shopping experiment, I reached for a box of health bars – specifically, a six-count box of Slim-Fast 3-2-1 Plan Peanut Butter Crunch Time snack bars.

Drugstore prices:

Walgreens – $4.49
CVS – $4.99

Compared to:

Walmart – $3.87
Drugstore.com – $4.49

Walgreens offered the bars for 50 cents less than CVS, but Walmart again beat them both.

Bottom line? Based on the product sampling that I chose, Walgreens was cheaper on three items, CVS on one, and they tied on one. But the two drugstores’ pricing never varied more than 50 cents. The real takeaways: Head to Walmart for major savings, and don’t use Drugstore.com.

Of course, there will always be times when convenience trumps price. So when you do find yourself roaming the aisles of either drugstore chain, use these tips to lower the cost:

Sign up for the rewards card. Both CVS and Walgreens have a rewards card. Use it and you’ll get special sales prices, earn rewards, and get coupons, such as a $5-off-any-purchase coupon via email.
Use store coupons. CVS and Walgreens both offer in-store coupons, something not offered by retailers like Walmart. You can find them in weekly circulars, on their website, on their smartphone apps, and by scanning your rewards card in the store. Last week, for example, I scanned my CVS ExtraCare card and got $0.50 off any one Dove product.
Shop the sales. Both drugstores run weekly sales. You can pick up a copy in the Sunday edition of your local newspaper, view it on their websites, or see what’s on sale through the apps. Some sales end up being really good deals.
Stack sales with in-store coupons. In most cases, you can use the in-store coupons on sale-priced items. For example, say CVS had Dove body wash on sale for 25 percent off. That would bring the regular retail price ($7.19) down to $5.39. If I stacked that with my 50-cents-off coupon, my final price would be $4.89.
Stock up on rewards. Walgreens’ new Balance Rewards lets you earn points on purchases, which you can then cash in for gift certificates. With CVS’s ExtraCare card you can earn ExtraBucks, which are also good toward a future purchase. Check both drugstores’ weekly ads for special deals that earn more than the usual points and stock up. For example, recently Walgreens ran a special on Nature Made Vitamins. If you spent $30, you could earn 5,000 reward points, which you could redeem for $5 off a future purchase.

Finally, don’t forget to check our deals page, where Karla Bowsher keeps an eye out for deals on CVS’s and Walgreens’ sites.

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