February 21, 2008

A Guide for Shopping at CVS

Extra Care Card
  • Get an Extra Care Card (by mail or at the store). You'll get a card immediately if you apply in the store. This is the key to saving at CVS.
  • Register your Extra Care Card on CVS's website. Occasionally they will email you coupons and maybe even a birthday gift!

Extra Care Bucks
  • Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) are like CVS money or instant rebates. They are printed at the end of your receipt. They are like CVS money, do not throw them away or lose them.
  • Extra Care Bucks expire 30 days from the date they were printed.
  • ECBs are attached to your card so no one else can use them. If you lose them, in most cases, they cannot be replaced.
Getting Deals at CVS
  • Look for items that are "free" after Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) or items that give you back ECBs.
  • If you pay less for a free item (by using a coupon) than the ECBs you get back you will be "making money".
  • You can also get an item just plain free by combining ECB deals and coupons.
  • Note the limit for each deal. Most are a limit of one or two per card total (not per day). With limits of two or more, you can get the limit in the same transaction or in separate transactions in the same sale period since the card keeps track. The ECBs will be printed together for deals with a limit of more than one. (Ex: Get $2 ECBs back on a product with a limit of 2. Get both in the same transaction and you will get one $4 ECB. Get one at a time you will get two $2 ECBs.)
  • Use the ECBs you earned during your last CVS trip to buy more items the next time that will earn you even more ECBs. This is called "rolling". If you keep up this cycle, you will eventually pay very little out of pocket at CVS. At CVS (unlike Walgreens) you can roll the ECBs on the same product or deal multiple times (if there is a limit of more than one).
  • Earn $1 ECB for every 2 prescriptions you buy (shop around for prescription prices) and earn 2% back on every purchase (the goal is to spend so little that you won't get much back!).
Coupon Use at CVS
  • CVS offers store coupons from the red box at the front of the store, on their website (click on "In-Store Coupons" in the upper right hand corner), and via email.
  • CVS store coupons can be “stacked” or used WITH a manufacturers coupon.
  • Occasionally there will be a store coupon AND a manufacturer coupon AND an ECB offer at the same time. Combine all three for BIG savings!
  • Some sites will "share" CVS store coupons that are intended for certain customers only, please use only legitimate coupons that were sent to you directly. Fraudulent coupon use will make it harder to get good deals in the future.
  • CVS accepts competitor's coupons, including prescription transfer coupons. A free gift card at CVS can get you a lot of great deals.
At the Store
  • Go to the Red Coupon Box at the front of the store and scan your card for CVS coupons. You will also occasionally get coupon on the end of your receipt.
  • Match the items you are buying to the ad. ECB deals are for certain products only. Observe the limits (unless you hear otherwise or check your receipt).
  • When you check out don’t forget to give them your card!
  • Give them any coupons you have in this order: 1) CVS coupons 2) manufacturers coupons 3) any Extra Care Bucks you may have 4) money. Hopefully not much money!

A Few Beginner’s Tips:
  • At first you will have to spend a little to save a little. It will be worth it if you stick with it!
  • Be prepared to change your list when you get to the store since sometimes they are out of items. If they are out of an item you want, request a raincheck.
  • Check your receipt to make sure you got all the ECBs that you were expecting.
When you have been shopping awhile:
  • Consider breaking up your order into more than one transaction to lower your out of pocket costs by using one transactions ECBs to pay for the next. CVS knows customers do this so do not feel bad about using this strategy. If there is a line behind you, you may want to step to the side for a minute to be polite.
  • Sometimes, although it seems strange, it will benefit you to buy things you DON'T need. If they will "pay" you $2 to buy something it is worth getting even if you don't need it. You can use the $2 to buy something you DO need and then donate or sell the item you don't need.
CVS Vocabulary:
ECBs=Extra Care Bucks
OOP=out of pocket
IP=internet printable (coupon)
MC=manufacturers coupon
rolling=using ECBs to pay for products that generate more ECBs
stacking=use more than one coupon/sale for the same item
overage=the amount you "make" over what you spent
filler=item(s) you buy to increase your total so you can use an ECB or coupon
$/$$ (or $X off $X)=generic for any type of coupon that gives $X off a purchase amount of $


Example #1--FREE AFTER ECBs:
Buy one Children's Advil for $5.79 get $5.79 ECBs (aka FREE)

Children's Advil is on sale for $5.79 but use a $1 off coupon and pay $4.79 for the Advil and still get $5.79 ECBs....you "earned" a $1!
IMPORTANT -- Any item that is already free after ECBs will be a money maker if you use a coupon.

Example #3--FREE with ECBs and COUPON:
Colgate toothpaste is on sale for $2.99 and you get $2 ECBs back making the final price $.99 but use $1 off coupon and you will get the item free.
IMPORTANT -- If ECBs back plus coupon exceeds the price the item is free or a money maker.

Buy 1 Crest toothpaste for $2.49 get $1.50 ECBs.
Use $0.75 off coupon and get the toothpaste for $0.24

Example #5--BUY $10 get $5 ECBs and SIMILAR BUY $X GET $X DEALS:
Buy $10 worth of Colgate products get $5 ECBs back (products will be listed in the ad)
2 toothpastes ($2.50 each)
1 deodorant ($2.99)
1 body wash ($2.99)

NOW subtract coupons:
-$1 off one toothpaste
-$1.50 off the other toothpaste
-$1 off the body wash
-$.75 off the deodorant
plus get $5 back in ECBs
FINAL TOTAL= $1.73 for all

Example #7--Combine a Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) sale with a Buy One Get One (BOGO) coupon:
Buy 2 Lifesavers candy in the bag on sale for buy one at $1.99 get one free
Use a BOGO coupon and get both free!
(The store sale pays for one and the store coupon pays for another)

Example #8--Combine a Buy One Get One Free (BOGO) sale with coupons
Buy 2 Pert Plus on sale for buy one at $3.99 get one free
Use two $2 off coupons and get both free!

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