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How do prescription discount cards work?

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What is it?Who is eligible?SavingsSummary
Prescription discount cards can save you money on your medications. You can use the card at a pharmacy for a discount on most prescriptions.
Medically reviewed by Alisha D. Sellers, BS Pharmacy, PharmD
Written by Lily Frew
Updated on

When a doctor prescribes medication, it’s important to take it as advised to help manage your condition and feel better as soon as possible.

These prescriptions can often mean an unwanted expense, especially if you have a chronic condition involving long-term medication.

But there are ways you can save on these drug costs — one option is using a prescription discount card. This is where a third party has agreed on discounts with pharmacies and provides these cards to pass the savings on to you.

Knowing more about discount cards and who can use them can help you feel more confident about finding the best savings for your prescription medications.

What is a prescription discount card?

An older person smiling and taking a prescription from a pharmacist. They have recently found out how prescription discount cards work.
Photography by RgStudio/Getty Images

According to 2021 statistics, people in the United States have the highest prescription drug costs in the world.

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A 2019 poll in the U.S. noted that a quarter of adult respondents found it difficult to afford their prescriptions, with 29% reporting that they didn’t take their medications as prescribed due to cost.

Prescription discount cards are free and might help lower your costs. You can show a prescription discount card at a pharmacy to receive a discount on both branded or generic medications. You can keep it in your wallet or use a mobile app to save your Optum Perks discount card or check offers.

You should be able to use the card at any pharmacy, including CVS, Walmart, and Walgreens. With Optum Perks, you can also compare specific drug prices online at different pharmacies to find the best offer in your area.

Discount cards, including the Optum Perks Discount Card, are provided by a third-party company, not the pharmacy or the drug manufacturers. This company negotiates drug discounts with pharmacies, and every time someone uses a discount card, the pharmacy pays the company.

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Who can use them?

Any adult can use prescription discount cards, regardless of the number of medications they need.

You don’t need insurance to use them, but you can’t use them at the same time, so the cost isn’t affecting your deductible or out-of-pocket maximum.

You may need to consider which option offers the most benefit to you: Prescription discount cards may be most beneficial for people without insurance, but you can still use them if you have an insurance plan.

Polling finds that people who take four or more prescription drugs each month have the most difficulty paying for their medications. A prescription discount card may be a suitable option in these cases, as there’s no limit to the number of medications you can use it for.

How much can I save?

The amount you can save on prescription drugs varies between pharmacies and discount cards. The savings can even be different day by day. For example, the Optum Perks Discount Card can save you up to 80% on your prescription medications. Some offer discounts of up to 85%.

But, it’s helpful to note that drug prices can change anytime and vary in different pharmacies. Also, online prices may differ when you visit the pharmacy in person.


The high costs of prescriptions can cause problems for many people, especially if you take regular multiple medications.

Prescription discount cards are one solution that can help you save on your medications. These are free to use for any adult, and you don’t need insurance. But be aware that you can’t use them alongside insurance — you can only use one or the other.

The amount you can save with a prescription discount card will vary, especially as drug costs can vary widely, but you might be able to save up to 85%.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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