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?
If you have a friend that knows photoshop, they can crop your picture into a 2×2 and get 6 on a 4×6 picture. 6 pictures for 19 cents – can’t beat that!
Yep – I’m sure its very easy for someone who knows photoshop 🙂
Reward Boss – I AGREE with you!!!!
Just got 6 2*2 photos on a 4*6 sheet for 17 cents at Walgreens 😛
I’d be careful! Time now It all sounds easy enough but are those pictures accepted when they aren’t taken at a passport photo Center? I work with passports and I’ve heard so many times those pictures are denied but I’d love to hear what your experiences are for my own knowledge base.
It has worked for so many people. If you follow instructions and make sure your photo meets the passport requirements listed online, you should not have a problem. I’ve also heard of photos taken at at pharmacy being rejected because the employees often don’t really care and take a bad photo.
Some levels of AAA memberships offer 2 free passport size pictures per year. Costco also has them for less than half of $12 at a drug store.
In AAA (with basic membership) only $5 for two pictures.
AAA’s prices depend on a couple things 1) what type of membership you have and 2) your location.
I’ve compared many different places to get your photos printed which you can see here. In New York, for example, if you have a basic membership, its $8 for 2 pics and $12 for non members. And you’ll need to trek down to their location while they are open, so that may not be so convenient for some.
AAA Classic members are charged $8.00 per set.
AAA Plus members can receive two sets free per membership year.
AAA Premier members can receive unlimited sets.
Current AAA website does not indicate the fee for non-members.
Some AAA websites do show both member and non-member rates – just depends on your area. For example, the NY AAA Website shows it:
The ID PhotoPrint app does not require you to crop anything – it automatically places six 2×2 photos on the picture once you take a picture with the app. I just did it; now all I need to do is request one 4×6 print from any photo service. That is so much cheaper and easier!
You have to watch the photo requirements carefully for passports but in many countries there are passport machines all over. I know I saw a ton of them in France recently.
Good point! I would much prefer to use a passport machine than the pharmacies here.
If you’re visiting a country where standard of living isn’t as high as the USA/Europe, then it’s quite cheap to get a passport photo there.
Another place to get cheap passport photos is at the NY Times travel show in NYC last month. They had a booth where you can get a free passport photo!
What I’ve done is normally take a photo of myself using a tripod and a white background with good lighting. I don’t have photoshop but just used screenshots on my iMac to make it roughly 2×2, and then print it out on my printer on photo paper. Nice, easy, and cheap. Just make sure the proportions are correct (nose to bottom of pic; shoulder to shoulder, etc.) It’s definitely more work but I save $9. 😉
You said “I probably will not ever use the pharmacy service again (except maybe to renew my passport.”
You can renew a passport at a pharmacy? Which one(s)
good catch, post updated.
I used epassportphoto.com recently for both and my wife’s passport. The free option was so easy to use and worked great. I printed the photos at a local store that I use to print my photos and it just cost me the regular price of a 4X6 inch photo. I always see people going to CVS and Walgreens for passport photos. It was easier, faster, and the picture came out better using epassportphoto.com
You can use OddPrints.com to print your own passport photos for free. There’s absolutely no watermark or ads or login nonsense.
Photos can also be ordered for a $0.83
Matt, what’s the final price including shipping in the US? Your website says “A 6″×4″ print costs just £0.50 plus shipping at £2.99 regardless of order size”. Is there a different price for the US?
Ahh, good spot. In the US the prints are $0.83 and shipping is a flat $4.99. (we have professional labs in the US, UK and Australia)
By default, the settings are to put two 2″ passport photos on each 6×4″ print. You can actually tweak the margins so that you can squeeze six 2″ photos on each print although it’s harder to cut out and might get clipped etc.
Or you can just use the site to download images ready to print at 6×4 for free and print at a local CSV/Walgreens etc. The site is designed to be easy to use on a mobile as well so no need to install an app.
I run OddPrints on my own so it feels good to help people avoid getting ripped off by the big companies 😉
ps. I hope this isn’t too spammy!
I just tried it out – uploaded an image, and downloaded a file with two 2×2 images for free. If you can fit 6 pics, maybe you can add a preset for that. Getting 6 passport pics would provide a lot more value (thought most people don’t need that many).
In practice, most labs will enlarge the image slightly due to bleed margins. In some cases this can ruin all 6 photos… !
AAA will take the photo and print them for free for members.
Thanks – according to the AAA website, you would need one of the higher levels of membership to get the free passport photos. If you have the basic (lowest) membership, you still have to pay. http://www.ny.aaa.com/Travel/Destinations/International-Travel/Passports.aspx
I had passport pictures taken at AS A a few years ago and checked in saying I was going to get my free passport pictures. I repeated that to someone in travel and then waited quite a while. Then I was advised it wasn’t free. I was not happy because I told them what I was expecting and had to wait a long time. They ended up taking them for free, but I had such a sour look on my face I knew I wouldn’t use them.
What do you mean by “AS” – is that a store?
Sam’s Club [w/membership] – $5
They take the photo and print out two 2x2s.
The process took 10min, start to finish.
Appreciate the update. I have Sam’s listed on my in-store price comparison here.
I tried printing at CVS and the machine blocked my passport photos. the clerk said that it was a new policy not to allow printing of passport photos unless photo was taken at CVS.
Did you bring in the 4×6 photo on a memory stick and load it on their machine? Did you actually select passport photo?
Hi, this happen to me also.
CVS blocked my passport photo. I had it in a memory stick with other pictures and the passport photo was the only photo that show a ‘error loading’ message with not even a preview, when printing regular pics.
I am going to try to send it thru the website to see if that works…
I think that has a better chance of working as its probably a different system. Pls let us know if it works.
It works on the website but Walgreens cut out my 4 by 6 into passport photos when I picked it up. They want to charge me $13+.
I checked alot of sites to include brick and mortar. Didn’t want to pay even $4-$5 for 1 set of prints. Used the passport website template, took about 50 photos, measured, took it to FedEx and they fixed the 2X2 printing/reshaping problem (tried to copy and print from Word) I was having to print at Walmart and finally completed this task after 8 hours and $0.63 later for 2 pictures each of 2 people.
Will do this for now on.
I rather spent the money and let the professionals to take it in 10 minutes. You can easily earn the money working that 8 hours already, lmfao…
Depends where you live I think…but it’s rarely only 10 minutes if you factor in travel and waiting time at the store. In NYC, you’ll be waiting for the person to take your photo then wait again to pay.
I totally understand, maybe 1 hour maximum.
But that 8 hours he spent is just unacceptable imo. Time is valuable, it’s not worth it to waste 8 hours just to save that little money.
Thank you so much! You saved me a couple of bucks, it was so easy!
Glad you found it useful!
Cvs and Walgreens still charge $12 or $13 to print pictures even if they do not take them. Very frustrating!
Did you bring in a picture and ask them to “print a passport photo”? I suggest you submit your photo online for in-store pickup. If you print a 4×6 print, they should not give a problem. You can always tell them its not a passport photo – its a photo for work or school, or something else. That’s really their business what the photo is for.
They said they had to put in a special code to get a 2×2 as that was not a choice
Ok you are not printing a 2×2 photo. You are printing a 4×6 which happens to have two 2×2 pictures on it which you can cut out yourself. I’m still not sure if you brought the picture into the store and asked them to print it or if you uploaded it yourself while at home then came to pick it up. It is better to do it from home then just pick up the print which should be ready in an envelope waiting for you without any questions and the cost should be ~30cents or whatever they charge for 1 4×6 print.
Nope, it depends on which Walgreens you go to. I ordered 4×6 online and they cut it out, put in passport book and trying to charge me passport price. It wouldn’t be a problem if I can just pay online.
Interesting. I would just tell them that I ordered a 4×6 print and need it exactly like that. I find it very strange that they think they can charge $13+ for a picture that they only printed but didn’t take. I understand charging a higher price when you have to take the picture, print, and cut it.
I just used the Passport Booth (first option). My husband downloaded the app to his iPad. I stood against a white wall and he took the picture. He then e-mailed it to me. I put the photo on a thumb drive and took it to Walmart. Made one 4 x 6 inch print with two 2″square photos on it. Cut one out with an X-Acto knife measuring to make sure I had a good 2″ square. Cost .30 cents. Came out great! Thanks for the article!!
I just used the Passport Photo Editor app today. Very easy app to use! Followed the prompts, then at the end, you can create a 4×6 print. I saved the 4×6 print to my computer and ordered it online from Walmart 1-hour photo. Went to the pickup counter, paid 27 cents, no questions asked. So glad I found your website to learn of these cheap options!
Plus $4 for the app.
The app is free, not $4.
Why are y’all so cheap? $12 big deal!
$12 x several family members can add up, plus the hassle of going out to get it. It could be a couple bucks vs $100 for some people.
And not everybody is in NYC, where you drop a $20 bill in the street and contemplate whether or not to pick it up!
12$ where? I am a AAA PLUS member and now they charge 8$ plus!!!! There is nothing free anymore! I was jacked.. like what is so great about being a member for 16 years if I can’t 1 pic for free every 10 years?
at a pharmacy, or more than $12 pp. AAA passport photo prices vary by region, but you still need to take a trip there and wait in line, etc. That’s why I prefer to just do it myself. Well I think you probably signed up for AAA for some reason other than the passport photo benefits, right?
I currently need 20 copies of a passport photo to take with me because I am moving to the UAE. Please tell me how me not wanting to spend $130 is being cheap?
🙂 makes me wonder how GaryNYC found my article in the first place.
Your thinking is Cheap GaryNYC 🙂
12 x 5 for my family
Extended family travel to UK do the maths
$12 is a lot a money when you have to multiply that by 10 photos for several family members!
I like taking my time choosing my own picture from home, since it will be used for 10 years. It’s not just about the $12
Fantastic – thank you so much! I’ve done some myself but it took a lot more app than the easy Passport Booth app!
Sadly the FREE app cost me $8 and change! Passport booth……
I hadn’t realized since it’s advertised “free” but will contact app as well…
Just so you’re aware
Hi Jenn, both apps I mentioned are free to email the photo. Once you have the photo you can print at home or at a pharmacy for about a quarter. You only pay in the apps if want a print mailed to you. The price is 5.96 or 6.95 (depending on which app you use) and only increases if you request more copies of your photo. Make sense?
I have one passport sized photo left from applying for a visa to the UAE. I was now told I need 10-20 copies of a passport sized photo to bring in hand with me when I arrive. I tired using the apps and the quality of the photo is not the best. Is there a way to get a better quality photo when you already have the photo you need or should I just take an entirely new picture with the app?
I would try taking a new photo with the app and print many copies for cheap at the pharmacy. You will then have the digital copy (4×6) which you can bring as many as you wish anytime you want in the future. I’m guessing you don’t have a digital copy, right? You can try scanning the pic and importing it to a template but this many not come out nice and is a hassle most would want to avoid. It could end up wasting hours if you’re not familiar and the result may still be crap.
Thanks for the expeditious reply. I went ahead and took the picture using the app and chose the 2×2 option under the standard size setting. I clicked print more copies and chose the 4×6 option. I now see there are 6 copies on the 4×6 photo. Is that right? I thought there were only supposed to be 2 copies on the photo. I guess I will have to print to see what the true size of the photos are.
Which app and which phone are you using – iPhone or Android?
I typed in id photo print in my android and the app that came up is called “Passport ID Photo Maker Studio”
6 images on a 4×6 may result in some of pics being thrown out because they printers need a little space on the edges in case the printer moves a little bit up or down. You should still have a couple good ones but depends on the printer. Or try one of the apps I suggested.
I ended up using 2 different apps, one of which was the passport booth app you suggested. They both printed 6 2×2 images on a 4×6 photograph. Thanks again for all of your help!
Okay So Ive printed the photos for 35cents but how do I get the I swear this to be the true likeness of stamp on the back?
Does the country you live in require it? If so, can reply with the link so I can take a look?
Countersigning passport applications and photos – GOV.UK
Your countersignatory should write the following on the back of one photo: ‘I certify that this is a true likeness of [title and full name of adult or child who is getting the passport].’ They must add their signature and the date under the statement. You don’t have to sign or date the photos yourself.
Just got half a dozen passport sized photos for under a dollar using step one(app then pharmacy 4 X 6 printing). Awesome!
The problem I have is that every picture I take is grainy, pixelated and low quality. I can’t get my Galaxy s5 to take good pictures so I’m afraid they would reject the visa application.
I suggest using a newer phone or borrow a friend’s iPhone.
Thanks God for the internet, and for information like that to can help us save so much! It’s absurd how much they charge for a simple passport pic. I just used the cool app you suggested and send the pic to be printed at a CVS close to my house – I even had a 50% coupon and I’m paying only $0.16 for the 4×6 pic. I really really appreciate this post! Thanks so much, The Reward Boss, you rock!!
Great article!! You’ve just saved me about 49 bucks after getting 4 new passports for the family! Thank you for the great idea and I’ll do my part to spread this article around.
Glad to hear it!!