How Do Prescription Discount Cards Work?

Are you concerned about the high cost of prescription medicine and looking for ways to save on medical costs, even if you have health care insurance?
By Truia Ralph
Updated Dec 4, 2022
An elderly woman receiving medication from her pharmacist.
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If so, you are not alone. It is estimated that 1 in 4 Americans are struggling to pay for their medication and with the rising costs of living, more people are trying to find ways to cut costs. 

Prescription discount cards, also known as RxCards, might be a good way to save on the costs associated with prescription or chronic medications. 

In fact, prescription discount cards were instituted by third-party companies to assist financially struggling Americans to afford expensive prescription medication.

Before you take the plunge, however, first find out how these cards can help you keep the cost of prescription medicine down and if it is a good option for you.

What Is A Prescription Discount Card?

A prescription discount card helps you save on prescription medications at participating pharmacies. 

Both brand medications and their generic equivalents are covered.

The cards are produced by third-party companies. When you sign up for a prescription discount card, most companies will provide it either as a physical card, or a digital card that is stored in a mobile app. 

Remember -

A prescription discount card is not health insurance, but merely a way of getting a discount on your prescription medication even if you already have health insurance.

Here are examples of the physical drug discount card from GoodRx and the mobile app from ScriptSave WellRx.

Good Rx Card

source: goodrx

ScriptSave App

source: wellrx

What Is The Difference Between A Prescription Discount Card and A Prescription Coupon?

A prescription discount card comes from a third-party company, while a prescription coupon is issued by the pharmaceutical company that makes a specific drug brand. 

A prescription coupon is also known as a drug discount coupon, co-pay coupon, or co-pay assistance program.

Remember -

A pharmaceutical company is an organization that manufactures and sells drugs.

A big advantage of a prescription discount card is that it doesn’t have to be used at a certain time for the discount to be valid and these cards are available to everyone.

In contrast, prescription coupons, also known as drug discount coupons, can only be used to buy the specific drug mentioned on the coupon and there are several other drawbacks:

  • Limited refills: You can only use them for a limited number of times to refill your prescription.

  • Excludes Medicare patients: People with Medicare or Medicaid cannot use most coupons.

  • Higher cash price: Generic drugs are often a lot cheaper than the brand-name drugs for which the coupons are issued.

  • Short-term solution: Prescription coupons are only available for a limited time.

Who are ideal candidates for a Prescription Discount Card?

Drug discount cards benefit people who are struggling to afford prescription medicine.

These cards are ideal for people who have no health insurance, or are on health insurance plans with high deductibles, co-pays, or limited drug formularies.

According to some statistics, at least 49% of Americans use prescription discount cards.

Moreover, companies that supply these cards claim that cardholders can save up to 80% on their purchases.

Remember -

  • A deductible is the amount you pay each year for covered prescription medications before your insurance plan starts to pay. After meeting the deductible, you will often pay coinsurance, also known as a co-pay.

  • A co-pay, short for co-payment, is a fixed amount that you will pay toward the cost of a prescription drug. This means you will pay a portion of the cost of the drug, while your health insurer will pay the remaining balance.

  • A drug formulary is a list of generic and brand-name prescription drugs covered by your health plan.

How Much Does A Prescription Discount Card Cost?

Most companies that provide prescription discount cards through their drug discount programs offer free sign-up.

Some examples of prescription discount companies that don’t charge for their prescription discount cards include:

  • LowerMyRx.

  • ScriptSave WellRx.

  • GoodRx.

  • RxSaver.

  • SingleCare.

  • Blink Health.

  • Optum Perks.

What Are The Pros And Cons Of Prescription Discount Cards?

Every discount program has its benefits and limitations. There are some drawbacks with prescription discount cards, but the benefits often outweigh the limitations.


✅ Generally, the pharmacy benefits manager (PBM) will negotiate the best price for a drug at the pharmacy. This means that in addition to an already discounted drug price, you can get further savings on your prescription prices with a prescription discount card.

✅ Allows you to save on medication even if you have a health insurance plan or are on Medicare. 

✅ There is no age limit. You can get instant savings on your prescription medication no matter how young or old you are. Even children as young as 13 years can get these cards.

✅ Most prescription discount cards are free. This means that you can only stand to gain by having one.

✅ Prescription discount cards are easy to use. Whether you have the physical card or the mobile app, you just need to show the pharmacist your card when choosing your prescription medications. 


❌ Each card offers savings at different pharmacies, which means that getting the maximum discount can be time-consuming.

❌ Your personal health information could be sold to other companies. This may happen if you have chosen one of the companies that ask for your details when you sign up.

❌ Formularies are limited at each prescription drug discount company. This means that you won’t get discounts on all the drugs you need, or that you could end up paying more with a drug discount card for your prescription drugs than the cash price for alternative brands.  

❌ Most discount drug cards only work at participating pharmacies. This means that your card will not work at every pharmacy that you go to.

How Do You Use A Prescription Discount Card?

Prescription discount cards are easy to use. 

Some prescription discount card providers do issue physical cards, or allow you to print your card yourself. Most of them, though, prefer you to use a mobile app as the prescription discount card. 

To receive your discount you will need to:

✔️ Download the mobile app: Get the mobile app on iTunes or the Google App Store.

✔️ Search for medication discounts: Use the app to see which medications you can get discounts for at participating pharmacies.

✔️ Download your coupon: Enter the name, strength, and quantity of your medication and download your coupon.

✔️ Locate your pharmacy: Choose a pharmacy that is offering your medication at a discounted price.

✔️ Show your pharmacist the coupon: At the pharmacy counter, show the pharmacist your coupon and pay for your reduced-cost medication.

Can You Use Prescription Discount Cards With Medicare And Health Insurance?

People that are covered by Medicare Part A or Part B, or have a private health insurance plan, can use a prescription discount card. 

In other words, a drug discount card can be used if you are part of a Medicare program and choose to pay out-of-pocket for your prescription instead of using your drug plan (such as Medicare Part D).

Using your prescription discount card with Medicare.

Prescription discount cards are a good alternative to lower Medicare drug costs. 

Keep in mind though, that discount drug coupons, which are offered by pharmaceutical companies, are different from prescription discount cards and cannot be used with Medicare Part D coverage. 

One reason for this is to make sure that there is no preferential treatment or kickbacks between Medicare and drug companies. 

 Prescription discount cards, on the other hand, are provided by independent companies that do not have any affiliation with a particular drug company.  

Using your prescription discount card with health insurance.

If you have health insurance, you may use a prescription discount card. There are two options you can use when getting your prescription medications. 

  1. You can opt to pay the co-pay that the health insurance company needs you to pay and then the health care insurance premium that you pay every month will cover the rest of the cost. 

  2. You can opt not to choose the health care co-pay, but instead pay the full price of the medicine in cash, minus the discount from your prescription discount card.

When you are at the participating pharmacy, you will need to compare the price of the co-pay with the cash price of the drug with the prescription discount card, before you decide which option to choose. 

How to choose the best prescription discount card.

Getting your prescription discount card is an easy process. The most challenging part will be deciding on which prescription discount program is best for your needs. 

We’ve mentioned a few potential companies in this article, but you can also ask your pharmacist or doctor about which company they would recommend.

Consider these questions before you choose your prescription discount program:

  • Do you have to provide your personal details when signing up?

  • How big is the discount card provider’s network of pharmacies?

  • Is their program free of charge?

  • Does their program cover families, or individuals only?

  • Do they offer a physical card as well as a mobile app?

  • Do they cover all drugs or a limited selection?

  • What discounts do they typically offer?

  • How easy is it to use their mobile app?

  • Does your doctor or pharmacist recommend them?

  • Do their discount coupons expire?

Once you’ve decided which prescription discount program is best, you will need to:

  • Visit their website: Be sure to read all the information provided on their website.

  • Sign up: If necessary, sign up for their service (be wary if at this stage you have to provide a lot of personal and health information. Some companies sell this information to other companies).  

  • Download the mobile app: Check that their mobile app is available on iTunes or the Google Play Store.

  • Get a physical card: Download and print, or order a card to be mailed to you. This is in case your phone isn’t working and you need to use your card.

Once you have a physical card or have downloaded the mobile app from a discount card provider, you are set up to qualify for the discounts on your medication.

Our Final Verdict.

The right prescription discount card is a great way to save on prescription medicine, regardless of whether you have health insurance or not.

When you sign up, be wary of prescription discount programs that ask you for your personal and health information as this information could be sold to marketing companies.  

If you don’t have any health coverage, such as Medicare Part D or health insurance, prescription discount cards can be a great way to save money on your prescriptions. Just be sure to check if your selected program is compatible with your insurance or not.

When it comes to paying for your prescription medication there is no discount grouping allowed. 

In other words, you need to choose either Medicare Part D or a drug discount program, but you can’t use both to increase or combine discounts for medications.

Savings from using the prescription discount card are not constant and will most likely differ every time you have to fill your prescription.

This can be a problem for anyone who needs to fill their prescription monthly.

Discount prescription cards offer discounts on brand and generic medicine. Check with your doctor to see if it is possible for you to switch between brand and generic medicine depending on where the discount applies.  

Generally speaking, it is definitely worth investigating a prescription discount program to help you save on your prescription costs. If the program is free to use, you can only benefit. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Prescription Discount Cards.

Is a prescription discount card the same as a drug discount coupon?

Unlike prescription discount cards, which have no affiliation to drug companies, drug discount coupons are issued by the drug companies themselves. 

There has been a lot of debate around the distribution and use of drug discount coupons, as these coupons could signal preferential treatment to the pharmacies and the drug companies themselves. 

The question of why the drug should not simply be listed at the pharmacy at a lower price has also been raised.

Are prescription discount cards legit?

Prescription discount cards are completely legitimate. 

Always research which company has the highest ratings, along with the largest pharmacy network and the biggest discounts. 

Can you use a discount card with Medicare Part D?

Yes. You can use a prescription discount card with both Medicare Part D and your health insurance plan. 

You will be able to weigh up the cost-benefit between paying cash and using the discount on the card, or paying the co-pay required by your insurance company. 

How much do prescription discount cards cost?

Prescription discount cards are usually available free of charge. When companies do charge for their cards, it is generally linked to increased savings and other membership benefits. 

Do you need more information or help?

You can reach us at 1-888-912-2132 or send an email to to get assistance from one of our trained consultants about your prescription discount card options.