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@MeganNye published this article
If you’re a Drugstore Game fanatic, you know that the major arenas for savings are Walgreens, Rite Aid, and CVS. To make the game even more challenging, savvy shoppers have to adopt to dramatically different savings programs and policies at each store. (Check out Dealspotr’s definitive guides to couponing at Walgreens and Rite Aid.)
If you’re craving information on how to land big savings at CVS, here’s the ultimate guide you need.
Get your ExtraCare card.
Sign up in store or online to get your very own CVS ExtraCare card (one per household). ExtraCare is a free rewards program that furnishes you with tons of ways to save.
By signing up, you’re automatically eligible for the ExtraCare savings advertised in weekly circulars. ExtraCare E-mails will start to land in your inbox. Plus, you’ll find ExtraSavings coupons on the CVS website, appended to your register receipts, and printed from the in-store ExtraCare Coupon Center.
Frugal shoppers everywhere love one of the best perks of ExtraCare – the ExtraBucks program.
Reap the rewards of ExtraBucks.
ExtraBucks were formerly known as ExtraCare Bucks, so most couponers still refer to them as ECBs. ECBs are CVS rewards that work like cash. You earn them when you take advantage of weekly and monthly ExtraBucks deals, and they print at the bottom of your receipt after purchase. ECBs are typically good for several weeks after issue, but be sure to use them before they expire.
In addition to earning ExtraBucks from featured deals, you earn a lump sum of ECBs every three months based on your everyday purchases. These Quarterly ExtraBucks are sent to your card four times per year (starting on January 1st) and get you 2% in ECBs for each CVS purchase you make. (Exclusions apply.)
You can also earn ExtraBucks after signing up for the ExtraCare Pharmacy & Health Rewards program and filling prescriptions, and getting vaccinated at CVS, and more. Plus, earn additional ECBs for buying beauty products through the free ExtraBucks Beauty Club.
Learn the limitations (and secrets) of the ExtraBucks program.
ECBs are linked directly to your ExtraCare card account. As a result, you can’t use someone else’s ECBs. The linkage also means that you can take advantage of a particular deal until your card hits the advertised limit.
Suppose that CVS advertises a $1 ECB when you purchase a $2 Dawndish soap. If the limit for this offer is three, you’ll only be able to pick up three soaps (and get $3 in ECBs) before your card doesn’t net you any more Dawn ECBs.
Unlike the Walgreens Register Rewards program, which counts the Register Rewards coupons in the total coupon count, CVS ExtraBucks are treated like cash. That means that you’re not limited to how many ECBs you can use per item or per transaction at the register. If you have 3 ECB coupons, you can use them toward the purchase of a single item and still use a manufacturer’s coupon on that item!
Here are a few ExtraBucks secrets:
First, ExtraBucks are earned based upon your pre-coupon total, not your final purchase amount. Let’s say CVS will give you a $5 ECB if you buy $10 of Maybelline products in a single transaction. Now suppose you have a coupon for $2 off any Maybelline lipstick. If you pick up $10 of Maybelline lipsticks but only pay $8 because of your coupon, you’ll still get your $5 ECB reward. In effect, you pay only $3 for $10 of makeup.
Second, you technically only need to spend 98% of the specified total to get your ECBs. If your your Maybelline pre-coupon total is only $9.80, your receipt will still print out with your $5 ECB!
Roll your ECBs.
Unlike Walgreens, which prevents rewards double-dipping, at CVS you can roll your rewards on the same item.
Suppose CVS will give you a $3 ECB when you buy two $2-boxes ofPuffs tissues. Check out with your two boxes, pay $4, and get your $3 ECB on your receipt. Unless CVS limits you to only one round of this deal, you can now turn around and use your Puffs ECB to buy more Puffs. In your next transaction, buy two $2-boxes of Puffs, hand the cashier your $3 ECB, and pay only $1 out of pocket.
Keep on rolling!
Love the ExtraCare Coupon Center.
If you walk into a CVS, you’ll quickly spot a vibrant red kiosk.
The ExtraCare Coupon Center is a magical device that prints personalized coupons for you, just for being an ExtraCare card-carrying shopper. The kiosk updates its supply of coupons for you each week and customizes its offerings based on your typical CVS purchases. Tap into your bounty of free coupons by scanning your ExtraCare card, entering your ExtraCare card number, or entering your phone number.
The Coupon Center is more than just a coupon-giving genie. If you’ve loaded coupons to your ExtraCare Card with the CVS Send to Card feature, you can also print a summary of coupons currently on your card. Plus, you can scan any in-store item for an instant price check.
Here’s a little-known secret: Scan your card more than once! Generally, you can scan multiple times a day – and get great savings – before the kiosk tells you to try again tomorrow.
Grab the CVS Pharmacy app.
If you want to get special access to savings, download the CVS Pharmacy app to your smartphone.
You get an immediate payoff in the form of an ECB bonus just for downloading the app and linking your ExtraCare card. Then, you’ll be able to tap into app-only deals, coupons, and alerts when rewards are expiring soon.
In addition to saving with the app, you can use it to expedite your prescription refill and pick-up process, order same-day prints from your phone, and access MinuteClinic wait times while having the app hold your place in line for you.
Request a rain check.
Has this happened to you? You head into your drugstore ready to cash in on an amazing weekly deal . . . only to find that the shelf has been totally cleared of your product. At Walgreens that would be the end of the story, but Rite Aid takes pity you.
When your item is sold out, have a CVS employee issue you a rain check. You’ll be able to come back to enjoy the sale price later with your rain check in hand.
Plus, there’s an amazing bonus. If that product would have gotten you some ECBs during the week of the rain check issue date, you’ll still get your ECBs when you buy the item with your rain check at a later date!
Keep on couponing.
CVS is a couponer-friendly place, so start stacking!
Like most stores, CVS lets you apply one manufactuer’s coupon (MFR) and one store coupon per purchase item. Remember that ExtraBucks are not considered coupons, so you can use as many of those as you would like when checking out. Be sure to familiarize yourself with the latest CVS coupon policy before you hit the store.
Looking for even more coupons? When you sign up to receive ExtraCare E-mails, you have the option of printing coupons or using the CVS Send to Card feature. (You can always print these coupons later by visiting the ExtraCare Coupon Center.) If you do choose to load the offers to your card, your cashier will ask you at checkout if you want those deals applied to your purchase.
Be aware that, like Rite Aid, CVS does not double coupons. Your purchase total will reflect a deduction equal only to the face value of each of your coupons.
However, once you’re armed with your MFR coupons, your CVS coupons, your ExtraBucks, and an eye for good sale prices, you can easily score items for free or even make money by purchasing them! If you want someone else to do the coupons-to-sales matching work for you, check out a site that spells out your best deals each week.
So there you have it. Head to your local CVS to pick up your ExtraCare card, hug the ExtraCare Coupon Center, and start racking up the savings!