Updated on May 1, 2017
$12 Passport Photos At CVS / Walgreens = RIP OFF
Do you ever feel ripped off after paying about $12 for a passport photo at CVS, Walgreens, or Duane Reade? After all, I can print one photo for about 50 cents. They are taking your photo so it makes sense that it costs extra. However, if you want a second set of passport photos, they charge another $12, even though they don't need to take another photo.
Sometimes you need additional passport photos for visas or applications – and going to the pharmacy each time can be expensive and time consuming, especially in crowded New York City. I waited more than 30 minutes for the CVS employee to take and print the photo because there were 2 very slow customers ahead of me. I also never saw any coupons available!
When I needed another set of passport photos for my Vietnam tourist visa, I decided I would not repeat my last mistake. Read about how I visited 4 counties in Asia using miles and points.
3 Better + Cheaper Alternatives:
- Passport Booth (iOS) or (Android) – A free and easy to use app. Just take your passport photo and email it to yourself for free. You will have a 4×6 image that has two 2×2 passport photos. Print it cheaply at your local pharmacy or at home, cut carefully, and you'll have 2 passport photos for pennies each. See this price comparison of the cheapest places to print your passport photos. If you don't feel like taking a trip to the pharmacy, you can have 2 photos mailed to you for $5.96.
- ID PhotoPrint – Another good option. It looks a bit dated but works well. After you take your photo, you can email yourself a 4×6 picture that has six pictures. Similar as above, print the photo cheaply at your local pharmacy or at home. This app will also mail you the photos but the price is a bit higher: $6.95 for 2 photos.
- epassportphoto.com – This is a website, not an app. It offers a similar free do it yourself tool, or you can have your photo delivered for $7.99 (2 photos) or $11.99 (8 photos) to your home or local CVS / Walgreens which has an extra “printing fee” (i.e. I believe the same fee as if you print your own photo). I used their free tool and the picture came out acceptable despite looking a little bit stretched. I printed the photo at my local pharmacy and used it to obtain my Vietnam Tourist Visa. This was probably not something I would use for a passport but I didn't spend much time tinkering with the software to get a better quality image. The first two options are cheaper and better.
Honorable Mention: The free US Dept of State Template Tool allows you to upload your photo then print it at home or at the drugstore. The problem I had was that the photo could not be printed easily in the official passport photo size. You will need one or more 2×2 images on a 4×6 size photo because that is the standard size which costs almost nothing to print at a pharmacy. I wasn't able to figure out to get that done. That means there are shadows behind me which will not work for passport photos.
IMPORTANT NOTE: With all of these do it yourself tools, it is up to the you to make sure you have a good quality photo. Some of the most important things are to make sure you have a white background and good lighting that won't cash shadows. I have tried these apps in different locations and sometimes its difficult to find a clean white background and good light.
Don't forget to get a no foreign transaction fee credit card to save on fees while traveling. You can travel international for free like I do with miles and points by signing up for airline credit cards and hotel credit cards. I wrote about how I did my free 20 day honeymoon to 4 countries in Asia…while flying business class and staying in luxury hotels. It's really not that hard.
After learning about these tools, I probably never use the pharmacy photo service again. What do you think of these apps? Is there anything that would make them better?