This is a simple guide to shopping at CVS for those who are unsure of how this whole CVS thing works!
CVS Extra Care Card:
CVS has a loyalty card called an Extra Care Card that you use every time you shop there. Let me repeat: EVERY TIME you shop there. There are some sale items that will only scan at the sale price if you use your card. You also earn 2% back on all your purchases. CVS Extra Care cards are FREE and limited to one per person. You can pick one up the next time you are in a CVS or you can sign up for one online and have it mailed to you. If you get one at the store make sure to register it online. CVS occasionally sends emails with printable coupons for card-holders.
Extra Care Coupons:
There are Red Price Scanners near the front of the store. When you go into CVS the first thing you should do is go to the scanner and scan your Extra Care Card. It will print CVS Store Coupons. These coupons can be used on items that you are also using a manufacturer coupon on. CVS allows the use of one CVS coupon (the store is giving the discount) and one manufacturer coupon (the manufacturer is giving the discount and will reimburse the store) per item.
Extra Care Bucks “ECBs”:
Extra Care Bucks, aka ECBs, are like CVS money or instant rebates. When you buy an item advertised as earning extra bucks you will pay for the item and then the ECBs will print at the bottom of your receipt. You cut these off and keep them like cash. Then the next time you buy something at CVS you can use your ECBs to pay for it. Example:
In the ad: Buy Chips at $4 and receive $2 ECBS.
Buy Chips – pay $4
Receive $2 ECBs on receipt
Next visit – Buy Diapers $8.99
give the cashier your $2 ECBs
Now pay $6.99
The best way to maximize your ECBs is to “roll” them. Buy something that earns ECBs then use those ECBs to buy something else that earns ECBs. This way you make an initial cash purchase and then use CVS money for all future purchases. Now, don’t waste ECBs! You cannot use a $10 ecb on an $8 purchase and keep the $2. Your purchase must be equal to or greater than (before tax) the ECB amount. You will not get cash back and your ECBs will not be carried over. ECBs can be used on anything in the store except the usual exclusions (Prescriptions, tobacco, stamps, etc.).
In addition to the weekly ECBs that you earn for buying advertised products, you earn quarterly ECBs. CVS gives 2% back on all your purchases! So, every 3 months you will get an ECB for 2% of what you spent at CVS that quarter. If you spend $100 in one quarter then you will get a $2 ECB. Occasionally CVS issues Triple ECB coupons. You scan it once and it will triple your quarterly earnings from that point until the quarter is over. So, once you scan it you will start earning 6% back on all your purchases. The triple ECB coupon is not for the Weekly ECBs that you earn.
Every week CVS puts out a circular with deals that are good for one week. There are regular sale items and there are ECB deals. ECB deals usually are the ones you want to look at for saving money. Though there are some good non-ECB deals too! With ECB deals you have the opportunity to maximize your savings! For one deal you can use a manufacturer’s coupon, a CVS coupon AND earn ECBs! Example:
Deal in Ad: Buy Colgate Toothpaste at $2.99 and earn $2 in ECBs
You have a $1 off Colgate Toothpaste coupon that you got when you scanned your CVS card.
You also have a $1 off Colgate Toothpaste coupon that you printed off the Internet.
So, buy Colgate Toothpaste at $2.99
Use $1 CVS coupon.
Use $1 Manufacturer’s coupon.
Earn $2 ECBs…a $1.01 profit!
So, even if you don’t use Colgate toothpaste, it is still worth it to do this deal because you now have $1 more than you had before to use on something that you need. You can always donate your freebies! ECB deals always have limits so read the fine print! Underneath the deal in the ad it will say “Limit x per household.” If it is limit 1 then it means that if you buy more than one then you will only get extra bucks for the first one you purchase.
There are also some ECB deals that require you to buy multiple items. You do not have to buy all the items at one time. You just have to purchase them before the sale period is over. Once you buy all the qualifying items or reach the dollar amount required then your ECBs will print.
Each month CVS puts out an Extra Value Book with ECB deals that are good all month long. Some of these deals are featured in the weekly ads. Make sure to pay attention to the limits. If it is limit one in the monthly ad and is featured in the weekly ad at limit one that means it is limit one for the whole month. You don’t get to buy it when it is in the weekly ad and then buy it again later in the month. You will only get ECBs for the first one you purchase.
CVS occasionally sends out $/$$ coupons. They are typically $4/$20, $5/$30, or $10/$50. That means if you buy $20 worth of merchandise (price BEFORE manufacturer’s coupons!) then you can use the coupon to get $4 off your total. You can use one per order and you can use all other coupons and ECBs in addition.
When shopping at CVS it is best to give your coupons in this order: $/$$, manufacturer & CVS coupons, ECBs. This way there is no confusion over whether your total meets the $/$$ requirements and you also can make sure your total is high enough to use your ECBs effectively.
My CVS Deals Posts:
CVS deals are generally the same in all states (double check your ad though). You can find the weekly CVS Coupon Match-Ups HERE.
If you have any CVS shopping tips, feel free to share!