How To Coupon and Shop at CVS- A Complete Beginner’s How-To Guide!

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how to shop CVS

CVS is one of the easiest stores to shop. The biggest thing about CVS is having one of their loyalty cards known as an ExtraCare card. This card keeps record of what you buy, what rewards you have received how close you are to receiving other rewards, as well as providing you with the sale price of the item. Without the card, items do not ring up on sale or generate rewards for that matter. If you do not have a card, the very first thing you must do is apply for the ExtraCare card. You can order one directly from CVS.com or you can simply ask your cashier for an application. It is free!

Once you have your card, head to CVS.com and sign up for an account making sure to provide your email address for special coupons such as $4 off $20 purchase of 20% off your entire purchase simply for signing up!

cvs beauty club

Once you have an account created, register for the Beauty Club as well. For every $50 worth of beauty products you buy (which includes cosmetics, fragrances, hair care, skin care, beauty tools, nail care, hair appliances and hair accessories) you will receive Five dollars in ExtraCare Bucks (*Note: Sometimes they run Beauty Bucks specials such as “Spend $30 earn $3 ExtraCare bucks instead). The $50 (or $30 threshold) is calculated before coupons! As soon as you are registered, you will receive a 10% off shopping pass as well as exclusive emails with coupons. Also, on your birthday, you will receive a $3 ExtraCare Buck.

cvs pharmacy rewards

Lastly, sign up for the new ExtraCare Pharmacy and Health Care Rewards Program. For every 10 prescriptions you fill, you will earn $5 Extra-Care buck. Each prescription is considered a credit. Here is how you can earn credits toward even more ExtraCare Bucks:

  • Fill a new prescription = 1 credit
  • Refill a prescription = 1 credit
  • Fill/refill a 90 day prescription = 3 credits
  • Get a flu shot or vaccination = 1 credit
  • Add CVS’ Online Prescription Management = 3 credits
  • Sign up for CVS text alerts = 1 credit
  • Sign up for Refill Reminder emails from CVS.com, 1 = credit

cvs quarterly ExtraCare Bucks

With your card now activated, you earn 2% back on all your purchases in store or online which CVS will give this to you in the form of an ExtraCare Buck quarterly throughout the year. Also, you will begin to get exclusive emails with savings that you can either print or simply send the reward to your CVS card.

Lastly, there is also a CVS app for your smartphone where you can scan your CVS card and save it directly to your phone, scan a prescription barcode to request a refill and view the weekly sales ad to make a shopping list! Oh, and did I mention there are also exclusive app-only CVS coupons in there too?

Most people consider a drug store to be more expensive to shop at than a wholesale/big box store. But, if you take advantage of a stores incentive program, you can score tons of items for practically nothing! CVS uses a program called ExtraCare bucks. ExtraCare bucks print out on the bottom of your receipt when you make a qualifying purchase and are just like cash inside the store. They can be used to purchase just about anything except alcohol, cigarettes, lottery, money orders, postage stamps, gift cards and pre-paid cards.

CVS offers a weekly sales circular/flyer where they provide you with information about which items are on sale during the select sales week and which items will generate an ExtraCare buck or ECB for short. CVS sales run from Sunday to Saturday night. Items that generate these ECBs are items we are looking to purchase. For example, Colgate toothpaste is on sale for $3.99 and if you buy that item you will receive a $3.99 ECB. Without a coupon, that item is already essentially free. You are paying $3.99 but the cashier will hand you back $3.99 in ExtraCare Bucks at the end of your transaction. Combine that sale with a manufacturer’s coupon for $1.00 off any Colgate toothpaste. Now, you have a transaction that has become a $1 money maker!

Colgate toothpaste: $3.99
Colgate coupon -$1.00
Pay out of pocket (OOP) $2.99
Receive $3.99 ECB
CVS has now paid you $1 to walk out of their store with a tube of toothpaste!

Week to week, new items will be featured in the sales flyers. You can use your ECBs to pay for items week to week. The next week, I can use the $3.99 ECB from the Colgate to buy a Venus razor that may be on sale and generate an ECB.

For example:
Venus Razor: $7.99 (giving back a $5 ECB)
Venus coupon -$3.00
ECB from purchasing Colgate last week: -$3.99
Pay $1.00 + Receive $5.00 ECB!
You just made another $1.01.

That is called rolling your ECBs. Once you build up enough ExtraCare bucks, you will no longer need to pay money out of pocket besides some change or a few dollars. You simply keep using the ECBs you earn one week to pay for the items you want to purchase the next week.

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Now that your card is all set, and you understand how to roll your ECBs, you are ready to shop. The first thing you should do when walking into the store is look for the “Magic Coupon Center”. It is a big red machine located near the front of the store usually in the beauty section. (If you cannot find it, just ask your cashier for help) Scan your ExtraCare card at the machine and not only will it print out CVS store coupons which can be combined with manufacturer’s coupons (this is called stacking), but also your earned Beauty Club Rewards. You may receive a purchase based coupon which CVS may send to your email address or it will print from the coupon center. These coupons are for $3 off $15 purchase, $4 off $20 or a $5 off $25 purchase. CVS coupons are known as CRTs or cash register tape.

Once you are ready to check out, make sure to hand over your Extra-Care card first. This ensures that the items you bought will ring up on sale. As with any other store, there is also a certain way to hand over your coupons.

A percentage coupon is the first coupon to hand over followed by any purchase based coupon such as a $5 off $25 then your store and manufacturer coupons, and lastly any ECBs that you may have. ExtraCare Bucks are good for 3 weeks after issued. These coupons are linked to your card and can only be used in conjunction with that card.

If you use a coupon not issued to your card, once scanned, the register will inform the cashier that the coupon was not issued to that card and they will not accept it. Also, ECBs can be entered in manually for a lower amount than they were issued for. For example, your total bill comes to $4.50 and you have a $5 ECB. You can still pay with that ECB and the cashier can adjust the price down, so you lose 50 cents but you pay nothing for your transaction. You cannot receive change back from an ECB. Cashiers also have the ability to print ECBs that may have not printed on your receipt. For example, you buy the specified toothbrush in the ad for $2.99 and you should receive a $2 ECB but it does not print. The cashier can take the flyer and your card, and print it out for you on the spot.

Lastly, you do not need to buy all the products for a certain deal in one transaction or even in one day. As long as you purchase the correct items with your card, your receipt will keep track of it and once you hit the deal (within the advertised sales week) your ECB will automatically print out!

Taking advantage of all these great incentives can really help save you and your family a bunch of money! And, you may not ever look at a drug store the same way again. It is a great place to shop, a great place to save money, and a great place to stock up on a bunch of items!


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