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Drugstore.com vs. Traditional Drugstores

By (view all posts by CreditCardForum)
at 10:58AM Saturday February 5, 2011
under Shop Smarter

Like most Americans, I spend a ton of money at drugstores...everything from prescriptions to Kleenex and everything in between. For years my go-to drugstore was CVS--I liked the savings I got with their Extra Bucks program. A few months ago, however, I decided to try something new and take advantage of the Drugstore.com coupons for new customers and boy, am I glad I did!

Here's why:

Reason #1: You don't pay inflated prices
Whether you shop at CVS, Walgreens, or Rite Aid, one thing I'm sure you have noticed is that their prices are inflated on most items.

For example, the shampoo and conditioner I buy (John Frieda Frizz-Ease) costs $6.49 per bottle. Compare this to Drugstore.com, where the normal price is $5.99. True, once in a while CVS does put it on sale, but during the past three years the biggest discount I have seen them give on it is $1 off, so I am still paying $5.49. Meanwhile on my last two orders from Drugstore.com, all John Frieda products were 20% off so I only paid $4.79 per bottle...that's cheaper than what I've ever paid at CVS!

To me, it seems that the only way to pay a fair price at the traditional brick and mortar drugstores is if you buy something on sale. But what I like about Drugstore.com is that they start with low prices in the first place and sometimes even offer sale/discounts on top of their already low prices!

Reason #2: You save time

It seems that every pharmacy I've been to during the last few years, I would always have to wait in line to drop off or pickup my prescriptions. Heck, I even remember one time I waited in line 21 minutes (yes, I watched the clock because it was that agonizing) just to pick up my prescription that was ready to go.

Now as the old saying goes...time is money. If you're missing work because you're busy standing in line at the pharmacy, in theory you are losing money. Fortunately, Drugstore.com solves that problem--you get your prescriptions delivered to your door. No waiting, no hassling around.

Reason #3: 5% Cashback Bonuses


Being that I own a site all about credit card reviews, I'm constantly on top of the reward programs. A few years ago, the Citi Dividend Platinum Select and Chase Cash Plus both gave 5% cash back at drugstores all year long--these were an amazing deal! Unfortunately, they phased out those 5% cash back credit cards around 2006 and 2007.

There are a few other credit cards that give 5% cash back but they come with caps, tiers and other rules. For example, the Discover More does give 5% at drugstores, but for 2011 they only give that for just one month out of the entire year. The AmEx Blue Cash gives 5% but only after your total annual spending exceeds $6,500. Conclusion? Credit card rewards are rarely worthwhile for shopping at drugstores, but since Drugstore.com has a rewards program where earn you a 5% cashback bonus quarterly on all purchases.

Reason #4: You can buy those embarrassing things in private


Let's face it, at one time or another we all make a purchase at the drugstore that's a little bit embarrassing. As an example, let me tell you a little situation I encountered last year (this is before I started using Drugstore.com):

I was in a bad car accident at the age of 18 and among my many injuries was a torn colon. It healed up fine but years later, I was having cramping issues and my doctor realized that I was never given a colonoscopy afterward to ensure scar tissue didn't form. I think you know where this story is going...

So I was at CVS buying the supplies for my colonoscopy: laxatives, enema and the prescription. All things incredibly embarrassing to buy, especially when you are in your twenties! I'm waiting in the checkout line and lo and behold, my crush is behind me and taps my shoulder to say "Hi." I tried to explain my purchases, but it was very awkward and in hindsight what I said didn't even sound plausible.

Of course, if I had bought these things on Drugstore.com that would have never happened!

Reason #5: You get outrageously generous coupons

I saved the best reason for last...the coupons! When it comes to online shopping, I am a coupon fanatic and typically only buy from the retailers that offer them. Drugstore.com is notorious for offering great promotions, especially for new customers. In fact, I encourage everyone to buy from them at least once for that reason alone, because the promotions you get as a new customer are simply too good to pass up.

Michael is the founder of CreditCardForum.com, which is a social community for credit card reviews.