Walgreens has supported NFC payments for a number of years, even when other retailers were trying to fight it. They are taking it a step further by becoming the first retail store to support their loyalty card via NFC on Android Pay. There are many stores that support managing their loyalty/rewards cards in Android Pay, but Walgreens is notable for being the first to support their card via NFC. Walgreen's Balance Rewards program works exactly how you would expect - purchasing items earns points, which you can then spend in-store.

Instead of showing the actual Rewards card at checkout, you can now simply tap your phone on the PIN pad. You still have to pay for your purchase by either using Android Pay again or using another payment method, but it saves you from carrying another card around.

It's not clear when exactly this functionality went live. Android Pay 1.4 was released back in June, adding support for future loyalty cards. The cached version of Google's loyalty program support page (last updated August 15) mentions Walgreens. More than likely, support for the loyalty program started rolling out recently, and only today Walgreens is formally announcing it.

The only other NFC loyalty card supported in Android Pay is 'My Coke Rewards,' which only works at select Coca-Cola vending machines.

This post has been updated to better explain that Walgreens is the first retailer to support loyalty cards/rewards via NFC. There are many stores and companies that support managing their loyalty card in Android Pay, but Walgreens is the first to support using it via NFC.

Press Release

DEERFIELD, Ill.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Walgreens Balance® Rewards members can now seamlessly apply their loyalty account at checkout through Android Pay, furthering the convenience of earning and redeeming points and expanding the company’s portfolio of unified mobile payments solutions. This latest integration gives the more than 85 million active Balance Rewards members, many of whom use Android devices, another easy, secure and private way to earn and use loyalty points in-store, and eliminates the need to separately scan or enter their Balance Rewards card.

“We’re proud to have been the first retailer to integrate our loyalty program with the two leading mobile payment providers, and to give our customers another channel for greater access, choice and convenience with our loyalty program.”

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“We’re continually looking at ways to enhance the customer experience through innovative and forward-thinking technologies,” said Abhi Dhar, Walgreens senior vice president and chief information officer. “We’re proud to have been the first retailer to integrate our loyalty program with the two leading mobile payment providers, and to give our customers another channel for greater access, choice and convenience with our loyalty program.”

To get the most out of purchases, users can add their Balance Rewards card information to the Android Pay app downloaded on Google Play. Before payment, members simply hold their Android device near the PIN pad and the appropriate rewards information is applied. To checkout, members then hold their Android device again near the PIN pad for payment. Android Pay is easy to set up and users will continue to receive all of the rewards and benefits offered by credit and debit cards.

“We want to make in-store payments simpler for everyone, so we've worked with Walgreens to implement Balance Rewards with Android Pay in their stores nationwide – giving customers instant, frictionless access to their loyalty card when they pay,” said Pali Bhat, Google senior director, product management. “Now, Walgreens customers can speed through the entire checkout process in as few as two taps with their Android phones.”

Android Pay is one of the many convenient payment options at the nearly 8,200 Walgreens stores nationwide. Customers can pay for purchases with most standard credit and debit cards, EMV chip credit cards and other mobile wallets. Balance Rewards integration with Apple Pay is also offered.