Tell Me How Tuesday – CVS 101

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We continue the Tell Me How Tuesday series of Coupons 101. Check out previous posts:

This weeks topic: Drugstores – CVS 101

This may be hard to believe, but you can save hundreds of dollars by shopping at drugstores. Now, I used to only get my prescriptions at drugstores as their everyday prices are typically much higher than grocery or superstores – except for milk, as I have been noticing lately.

If you know how to play the game, and understand all the rules, you should be able to get loads of items need for you family really cheap and close to FREE. For example, once you get into it, you will quickly realize you should NEVER pay for toothpaste again.

You will see posts on my blog each week that highlight deals at CVS, Walgreensand Rite Aid. We will get to all if them, but this week is CVS.

CVS/pharmacy is a pharmacy and convenience store chain . CVS is the largest pharmacy chain in the United States, with approximately 6,200 stores across 38 states.The initials once stood for “Consumer Value Stores”, but CEO Tom Ryan has said he now considers it to stand for “Convenience, Value, and Service.

Locate a CVS near you by using the CVS Store Finder
This may seem obvious, especially where I live since you cannot leave the house and NOT bump into one. There are literally 5 CVS’s with in a 5 mile radius of my house – probably more!

How do I contact CVS?
Phone number: 1-800-SHOP-CVS

Extra Care Program:
It is CVS’s rewards program. Click here for CVS’s official Extra Care FAQ. You can request a card online or ask for one from a cashier in the store. If you request one online it will take several days to arrive. Some stores have cards laying out on tables that you can freely take. In order to put your information on the card you will need to sign up online with the card number. If you do not have an ExtraCare Card, YOU WANT TO SIGN UP TO GET ONE NOW! MAKE SURE YOU REGISTER YOUR CARD and request to receive emails!

Can I have more than 1 ExtraCare Card? – NO, but other family members can have separate cards. Keep in mind that all rewards and extrabucks are tied to a specific card so you cannot use someone elses extra bucks.

Use your ExtraCare Card EVERY TIME you go to CVS! You will earn 2% back with every purchase in-store and online at CVS/pharmacy and earn 1 Extra Buck for every 2 prescriptions purchased in-store and online at CVS/pharmacy. Every 3 months your Extra Bucks will print on your store register receipt, or visit CVS/pharmacy online to print your Extra Bucks. You will see Extra Bucks abbreviated as ECB’s or EB’s in blog posts!

Scan your CVS card at the price check kiosk EVERYTIME you go to CVS. They print out coupons – sometimes for products, sometimes $5/$25!!

CVS pays you to shop with offering you Extra Care Bucks (ECB’s) on weekly deals. There are also Monthly ECB Offers (a book with monthly offers and Clipfree coupons can be found near the register). When you make a purchase for an item that is offering ECB’s, you will see the ECB print at the bottom of your receipt as soon as you have met the requirements for the offer. You do not have to purchase all items in one transaction. As soon as all items are purchased during the promotion period, the extra bucks will print. Check your receipts and verify that all ECBs you earned printed correctly. It’s much easier to have issues resolved before you leave the store, but CVS Customer Care is generally very helpful as well.

ExtraCare Bucks can be used “like cash” on most items sold at CVS. Be careful with your ECBs. If they are lost or destroyed customer service may not be willing reset them. Also, the register tape is heat sensitive, so do not leave in the heat! You can also use real manufacturer’s (MFG) coupons with ECB’s to reduce you out-of-pocket (OOP) expense. ECB’s expire just like MFG coupons so use ‘em or lose ‘em! (Though many CVS will honor expired ECB’s, I would not push it)

CVS Store Coupons
CVS has money-saving coupons (or CVS $ off $$ Coupons) they email customers. These are tied to your specific ExtraCare Card and they have expiration dates.
In order to maximize your savings (and to avoid annoying beeps at the register), use your coupons in this order: CVS $ off $$ Coupons, MFG coupons, ECB’s.

You’ll need to pick up a weekly store ad, as well as a monthly store ad. You can also find the weekly deals with coupon match-ups on Maven of Savin every week. I also try to post scenarios each week. You do need to be careful with the weekly ads, as they can vary between locations.

Rolling ECB’s
Rolling ECBs means using 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 “real” money OOP.

This can be accomplished weekly by using MULTIPLE TRANSACTIONS. Cashiers typically do not mind doing multiple transactions, but be aware of how busy the store is and conscious of the line forming behind you.

Here is what I mean by ROLLING your ECB’s:
transaction 1: Buy ITEM X and use store and mfg coupons and pay. Get ECB’s.
transaction 2: Buy ITEM Y and use store & Mfg coupons AND use ECB’s from previous transaction. Get ECB’s
transaction 3: Buy ITEM Z and use store & mfg coupons AND use ECB’s from previous transaction

Doing this minimizes the amount of REAL money or oop (out-of-pocket) expense you have. Keep in mind that if you purchase something for $4 and try to pay with $5 ECB’s, they will let you, but you lose the $1 overage. You do not get any “change” from ECB’s. Throw in a candy bar if you need to.

I post scenarios weekly and also link to the $5 Challenge where bloggers are challenged to develop scenarios each week that require less than $5 oop (out-of-pocket).

CVS Coupon Policy – updated Feb 2012

CVS/pharmacy coupons (ExtraBucks® Rewards and ExtraCare® Coupons) and Third Party Manufacturer Coupons are accepted in our retail stores in accordance with the following guidelines:

  • CVS/pharmacy does not accept expired coupons.
  • Coupons cannot be exchanged for cash or gift cards.
  • Third Party Manufacturer coupons are issued by a third party and sales tax may be charged on pre-coupon price.
  • CVS/pharmacy does not accept coupons for items not carried in our stores.
  • CVS/pharmacy only accepts ExtraBucks Rewards applicable to the ExtraCare card offered at time of purchase.
  • CVS/pharmacy does not currently accept coupon bar code images displayed on a Smartphone, iPhone, Droid etc.
  • The total value of the coupons may not exceed the value of the transaction. Sales tax must be paid, if required by state law.
  • Certain CVS/pharmacy coupons may be subject to state sales tax rules similar to Third Party Manufacturer Coupons and sales tax may be charged on pre-coupon price
  • Language at the bottom of CVS/pharmacy coupons provides specific coupon acceptance rules.
  • Any coupon offer not covered in these guidelines may be accepted at the discretion of CVS management.

Sale Items

  • CVS/pharmacy will accept manufacturer coupons for an item that is on sale.
  • CVS/pharmacy will not accept percent off coupons for an item that is on sale.
  • In the event that any item’s price is less than the value of the coupon, CVS/pharmacy will only accept the coupon only to the price of the item.CVS/pharmacy does not provide cash back in exchange for any coupons.

Multiple Coupons

  • CVS/pharmacy accepts one manufacturer coupon and applicable CVS/pharmacy coupon(s) per item, unless prohibited by either coupon offer.
  • There is no limit to the number of ExtraBucks Rewards that may be used in a transaction as long as it does not exceed the transaction total.
  • The number of manufacturer coupons used in a transaction may not exceed the number of items in the transaction.
  • The coupon amount will be reduced if it exceeds the value of the itemafter other discounts or coupons are applied. (For example, a $5.00 coupon for a $4.99 item will result in a $4.99 coupon value).
  • CVS/pharmacy accepts multiple identical coupons for multiple qualifying items as long as there is sufficient stock to satisfy other customers, unless a limit is specified. Management reserves the right to limit the quantity of items purchased.
  • CVS/pharmacy reserves the right to process coupons in any order.
  • CVS/pharmacy accepts multiple Dollar off Transaction coupons (e.g. $3 off $15) in one transaction if they apply
      Ex. Customer may use two 3 off $15 coupons if they are purchasing over $30.00

Buy One, Get One Free Coupons

  • Sales tax must be paid for any Buy One, Get One Free coupon offer, if required by applicable state laws.
  • Two coupons may be used on a Buy One, Get One Free promotion as long as it does not exceed the item total
      Ex. Suave Shampoo is on sale for $2.00 Buy One, Get One Free and the customer is purchasing two shampoos; customer may use two coupons for $1.00 each and pay the applicable tax.
  • Buy One, Get One Free promotions may be combined with Buy One, Get One Free Coupons. Customers are responsible for paying applicable tax
      Ex. Suave Shampoo is on sale for $2.00 BOGO and customer has a MFG coupon for Suave BOGO. Customer will receive both items for free but will need to pay any applicable tax.

Internet/Print at Home Coupons

  • CVS/pharmacy accepts internet/print at home coupons that include a barcode.
  • CVS/pharmacy will not accept reproductions or rebates

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS, please ask so I can improve this post!!
I would also recommend heading to slickdeals FAQ‘s!


  1. I am still kinda new to shopping at CVS. If the ad says limit 2, will the register stop printing ECB after I reached my limit of 2?

    Thank You.

  2. When in CVS today one of the sales people told me to swipe my key tag twice at the coupon kiosk. She said it will usually give you two different sets of coupons (one with each swipe). I ended up with 4 coupons, one of which was for a “greenbag tag” which when you use it 4 times gives you more ECBs. Happy shopping to everyone!

    • This is true, scanning your card twice at the kiosk is smart. At least a couple of times a month CVS will give “free” coupons for “new” items they are rolling out (like a new type of potato chip), and sometimes if you dont scan your card twice you miss those coupons.
      (former employee)

  3. Question: For the CVS deals that are buy $ (a certain amt) and get ECBs back…is that total for before coupons or after coupons? For ex. if the deal is buy $15 and get $5 ECBs back, is the $15 for pre-coupon total or post-coupon total?

  4. The $15 you would have to spend would be BEFORE you submit the coupons. I’ve been doing this for a couple of years and that’s always been the case. That’s how you can get the OOP really low.

  5. Great guidelines! Thank you for your work!

    Question: Can you roll your ECB from transcaction 1 into transaction 2 and still get ECB from transaction 2, if you are bying the same item and the promotion limit is 2?

    For example This week there is:

    Listerine 3.99 (GET 2ECB)
    Transaction 1 – Buyi Listerine – Pay 3.99 – get 2ECB
    Transaction 2 – Buy Listerine – Use 2ECB from Tran.1, Pay 1.99
    DO I STILL GET 2 ECB from transaction 2?

    Thank you!

  6. Great Description of CVS. (I am a former employee)
    One other thing that I did not see that you write about that can make a HUGE difference at CVS is getting rainchecks when n item is on sale.
    At CVS rainchecks NEVER expire and can be used in combination with other sales
    For example: Cvs runs a sale for tuna for 50 cents, they were out of tuna so you get a raincheck for ten cans of tuna for 50 cents each ($5.00).
    You keep the raincheck and see that the same tuna is now on sale for buy one get one free, With your raincheck, you get ten cans of tuna for 50 cents each and you get buy one get one free. So in this scenerio you would get 10 cans of tuns for $2.50.

    • One Other thing I forgot to mention that also saves you a lot of money. If you have not already, SIGN UP FOR THE BEAUTY CLUB.
      It is free, you dont have to do anything to sign up, they just scan your CVS card, scan a beauty barcode, and you are on it.
      Beauty Club Benefits
      it adds your purchases in
      Skincare, Suncare, Haircare and cosmetics.
      That is a lot of stuff! (skincare does include razors and shaving cream!)
      Everytime you reach 50 dollars, you get 5 extrabucks!!

    • I should have been more clear about the raincheck, instead of assuming everyone would know. A raincheck is given if the product is out of stock during the sale. Rainchecks never expire, and can be used in combination with other sales. (the computer automatically does it).
      CVS sales go from Sunday to Saturday, so shopping at a CVS on a Saturday night would increase your chances of finding the product “out of stock” in which getting a rain check would be possible.

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