CVS or Walgreens: Which Is the Best 24 Hour Pharmacy?

The 24-hour pharmacy is one of the great all-day inventions. Its easy accessibility and convenience make it a perfect fit for the person looking for anything from medication to a quick bag of chips on the fly.

When you think of pharmacies, you probably think about the giants: CVS and Walgreens. And though most people think of the two as completely interchangeable, there are real differences between the two brands.

So we decided to take a look at Walgreens and CVS for a battle of the pharmacies.

Before going further, all readers should be aware that both CVS and Walgreens are giant companies.

That means if you really want to know which one is better for you, you should consider more than just an overall look at the companies and examine the stores closest to you.

24 Hour Pharmacy Battle: Rewards and Everyday Savings

Rewards programs are the bread and butter of most stores. So when it comes to CVS and Walgreens, which has the better program?

Well, in this battle, CVS has the clear edge for a few reasons.

First, CVS offers a convenient and easy to use the app to track your purchases, along with more rewards opportunities.

And with CVS customers being able to save twice as much per dollar spent as Walgreens customers, the store provides real options for everyday savings.

Because of this, CVS has the clear edge over Walgreens when it comes to rewards and everyday savings.


A 24-hour pharmacy is only useful if you’re looking for an open store near you. The store three towns over will not help you if you urgently need a pharmacy at 3 AM.

As with the last round, CVS has the clear edge over Walgreens when it comes to pharmacy locations.

Walgreens has 8,175 pharmacies located within the United States, whereas CVS has over 9600.


Though most people don’t go to a pharmacy for food, if you’re looking for a quick bite to eat you could really do worse than Walgreens.

Walgreens stocks fresh fruits and vegetables along with dairy and snack products.

Though CVS also sells food, most CVS stores stick to selling frozen foods, canned goods, and snacks.

Walgreens has also dedicated its food storage to social service.

It has announced plans to increase the number of healthy foods offered by the chain in food deserts, or areas with no nearby and accessible grocery stores or sources of healthy food.

So, because of fresh fruits, vegetables, and a commitment to making sure no American goes to bed hungry, Walgreens has the edge when it comes to food selection.


In 2014, CVS stopped selling cigarettes and tobacco products at all of its locations in the United States. The rationale was that places that are considered pharmacies should probably not sell flammable carcinogenic.

This was a sensible move, but Walgreens decided it disagreed with the decision.

Cigarettes and cigars are still sold at Walgreens locations across the United States, meaning that smokers looking to grab a quick pack or a lighter in the middle of the night can really only go to Walgreens.

Walgreens’ decision to keep selling tobacco has been controversial.

So, in terms of the ability to buy cigarettes, Walgreens has an obvious edge over any CVS location in the United States. That being said, smoking is also incredibly dangerous and you should probably quit.


When considering the availability of alcohol at any 24-hour pharmacy, customers should first realize that laws vary from state to state.

In some states, alcohol can only be sold in liquor stores or bars. In states where alcohol may be sold in pharmacies or convenience stores, the latest time you can buy it may change.

In some states, the maximum time for alcohol sales may be 1 AM. In Alaska, there is no state “last call” time. Understanding how laws change state-by-state is essential to buying alcohol at a 24-hour pharmacy.

Walgreens sells both beer and wine in applicable states.

Though some CVS locations also allow liquor sales, the reason Walgreens has the edge in this category is knowing what to expect. There is an inventory of available liquor products on the Walgreens website.

CVS does not have this advantage, meaning that Walgreens has a clear edge over CVS when it comes to booze.

Pharmacy Hours

It may be called a 24-hour pharmacy, and that certainly is true of the store, but it isn’t always true of the pharmacy section of the store.

Most Walgreens locations are open 24 hours per day. However, pharmacy hours vary both from state to state and store to store.

That means you need to call the store ahead of time to make sure you can get the medicine you need when you need it.

Like Walgreens, CVS also has stores that vary in hours from location-to-location.

In the case of CVS, it seems like more limited hours are likely to occur at rural and suburban locations.

This means CVS shoppers should, like their Walgreens shopping counterparts, consider their community and call their local pharmacy before showing up unaware of the hours.

In both cases, don’t think that just because it’s a 24-hour pharmacy, it’s open 24 hours per day. Staffing needs, community hours, and the business climate of a town can drastically change what these hours end up being.

That being said, it looks like this round is a tie between the two brands.


In some areas, like rewards and food inventory, one company has an advantage over the others.

These areas are usually matters of corporate policy and can be predicted.

But most of what you need when looking for a 24-hour pharmacy can’t be predicted. You need help to know what exactly a CVS or Walgreens location is like in your community.

That’s where we come in.

Along with other services, we help customers find where there is an open Walgreens or CVS near them.

We also do it for free. So if you’re looking for convenient 24-hour options near you, let us help!

Find your prescription card and start saving today!