May 02, 2011

How to Shop & Save at CVS

Before  I started couponing, I, like many others, assumed that shopping at CVS (or any other drugstore) was overly expensive.  However, when in store sales, CVS's loyalty program (ECB's) & coupons are combined & used correctly, you can save SO MUCH money! Here is a breakdown of what you'll need to know in order to maximize your savings at CVS.

What is CVS's Loyalty Program?
  • ExtraCare Bucks (ECB's)
    • In order to earn ECB's, you will need to obtain an ExtraCare card. You can sign up for an ExtraCare card when you create an online account. If you already have an account, sign in and go to the ExtraCare page, and follow the instructions to Get a Card now(your card will be mailed to you). Or visit your local CVS/pharmacy store and get a Free ExtraCare card on the spot.
    • There is a red coupon kiosk in stores that prints additional coupons when you scan your ExtraCare card.
What are ExtraCare Bucks (ECB's)?
  • ECB's print at the bottom of your receipt after you purchase an item that is part of a current ECB deal.  ECB's do not work like traditional coupons & do not decrease the prices of items. Instead, they reward you after your purchase,  which can then be used on your very next purchase. 
    • For example
      •  You purchase a $4.99 item that was advertised as "Free after ECB's"(You will actually have to pay out of pocket the first time) 
      • Receive $4.99 in ECB's on the bottom of your receipt.
      • You now have $4.99 worth of ECB's that you can use in store (basically making the item you purchased free).
  • ECB's can be used “like cash” on most items sold at CVS. Be careful with your ECBs. If they are lost or destroyed CVS may not be willing reset them and even if you do get lucky, they will come back as one large ECB (which can be difficult to roll). The register tape CVS uses can turn completely black if left in the heat, making your ECBs unusable.
What is 'Rolling ECB's'?
  • Rolling ECBs means you use the ECBs you have already earned to buy items that will give you more ECBs. The purpose of this is to make sure you always have ECBs to spend at CVS so you will spend less money out of pocket. As long as the offer's limit is more than 1, you can technically “roll”  one Extra Care Buck reward into the next item transaction.
    • For example: 
      • There is a limit of 2 on a deal of deodorant.  You buy 1 deodorant for $2 and receive a $2 ECB.  You can then buy the second deodorant and use the $2 ECB's from the first purchase to pay for the second deodorant and still receive another $2 ECB's!
How Will You Know Which Items are Associated with ECB Deals?
  • CVS runs weekly and monthly Extra Care Bucks deals. Weekly deals are advertised in the weekly store ad and the monthly deals should be identified shelf tags throughout the store, but many items will not be advertised. In that case, you can use coupon forums, like We Use Coupons to find a list of monthly deals.
How do I use my ECBs?
  • ECBs cannot be used to pay for prescriptions, gift cards, tobacco products, alcohol, stamps, and milk. Most of these 'rules's, however,  depend on your local store.
How many ECBs can I use per transaction?
  • As many as you would like. But, the register will most likely stop accepting them if it will cause your pre-tax total to become negative.
Can I Buy Something for $3 & Pay With a $4 ECB?
  • Technically, yes. But don't because you will be losing money! Instead, try to find an item that will cover the difference.But remember, ECB's cannot cover tax.
Can I Buy Something, Use a Manufacturer's Coupon & Use ECB's to Pay for It?
  • Yes! That's the wonderful thing about shopping at CVS-
    • Here's an example:
      • You purchase 1 deodorant, priced at $2 offering $2 ECB's back
      • Use $1/1 manufacturer's coupon
      • Final Cost= $1
      • You still receive the full $2 ECB's even though you only paid $1-so you basically made money!
A Few Tips:
  • Always purchase the same amount of items equal to your ECB’s , or a little more. Like I mentioned earlier, you can technically pay for $2 worth of items with $3 in ECB's but you are losing money that way and that's just silly. Who wants to lose money?  So make sure you find a few small items to cover the difference. 
  • If you are using a $ off $$ type of coupon, make sure you plan for a few different plans, just in case your store is out of something.  
  • At checkout, give the cashier a $ off  $$ (ex: $4 off $20) coupon first before you give her the manufacturers coupons.
 If you still have any questions, feel free to email me!

Thanks to SlickDeals for a few of these frequently asked questions/answers!

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