Friday, January 7, 2011

CVS for Newbies

The whole drugstore deals can be confusing but CVS has one of the best rewards programs of any store.  It it even possible to make money by shopping at CVS.  Starting here you can read how to get started shopping at CVS and making the most of their deals.

How do I get started?
You will need to sign up for an Extra Care Card.  This can be done on or you may sign up in a store.  I will be easiest to sign up in store as you will be able to use your card immediately.  If you choose to sign up online, it will take approximately two weeks to receive your card.

What are Extra Care Bucks?
ECB (Extra Care Bucks) are "coupons" that print out at the end of your receipts that can be used just like money in store purchase anything (no gift-cards, stamps, prescriptions, or other excluded items).  You will receive the ECB, or Extra Care Bucks, when you purchase items from the ad that state "buy x, get y in ECB."  You will receive ECB based on the item price or number regardless of coupon usage.  You don't have to purchase all of the items in one transaction to get the ECB, as they will be kept track of on the bottom of your receipt. 

How do I shop CVS?
Before you do any shopping always go the kiosk and scan your card.  Coupons will print out for you to use in store, it is not uncommon to score cheap and free deals with these coupons.

What types of coupons can I use at CVS?
 CVS accepts manufacturer coupons as well as store coupons. You may use 1 of each per item that you purchase. For prescription purchases, CVS will honor competitor coupons as well.

Where can I find store coupons?
CVS store coupons can be acquired several ways:
  • Email: When you register your CVS card at, you will periodically receive store coupons via email, such as $4 off your $20 purchase and others.
  • CVS Price Scanner Machine (in-store): Simply scan your CVS card at the price scanner machine in your store and coupons will print out the side for you to tear off and use. These are completely random coupons and everyone seems to get different selections.
  • CVS Reinventing Beauty Magazine: This is a magazine put out by CVS and can usually be found in the magazine racks or near the cash registers. It costs $.99 and contains multiple CVS and manufacturer coupons inside.
  • Clip-Free Monthly Coupon Booklet: You do not need to clip the coupons in this booklet in order to receive the savings, but you will need to have your cashier scan your CVS card! These booklets are usually found near the weekly fliers in-store.
How do I save the most money?
You can achieve this by reducing your total amount spend out of pocket (OOP) with CVS dollar off coupons (ex. $3 off a $15 purchase), CVS item coupons, and manufacturer coupons.  You can actually "stack" one CVS store coupon and one manufacturer coupon per item, and use both in conjunction with a $/$$ coupon.  If there is a ECB rewards on buying these particular products it will print out at the end of the transaction.

What is rolling your ECBs?
Once you have mastered the art of earning a profit on ECBs, you'll want to move on to learning how to "roll" them, which is just another way of saying that you're using them to pay for items that earn more ECBs thus greatly reducing your OOP spending.  Learning how to effectively roll your ECBs will save you the most money in the long run. 

What is the most effective way to check out?
Often it is most effecting to do multiple transactions in one trip, so I group each transaction and organize my coupons before approaching the cashier so as to make checking out as efficient as possible.  There are a couple of reasons for doing multiple transactions.  One is to maxamize your savings from $/$$ CVS coupons when they're available.  For example, if you have a $2/$10 purchase coupon, it makes more sense to do multiple transactions as close to $10 so you can get $2 off each one.  A second reason would be to roll your ECBs that print from one transaction and use them to pay for your next transaction to minimize your actual OOP expenses. 

What is the proper order to present coupons?
When you are ready to check out, first make sure the cashier scans your Extra Care Card.  Then it's important that you present your coupons in exactly this order to maximize your savings- CVS dollar of transactions coupons, CVSECBs.  Presenting coupons in this order could effect your OOP.


  1. Can you only use one ECB per transaction or can you stack them. Let's say I am buying $10 worth of merchandise and I have a $5 ECB, a $2 ECB, and a $3 ECB. Can I use them all at once to make the transaction free or can I only use one per purchase? Thanks!

  2. You can stack them...since they are just like money you can use as many as you want on a transaction. CVS is much more easy going in that sense compared to Walgreens