How to Maximize Your Savings at CVS

Posted December 5, 2012 at 10:43 am December 27, 2013 12:30 pm


You can save a lot of money at CVS just by signing up for a few savings programs. Plus, I’ll fill you in on all the tips and tricks you need to maximize your savings. Before we start, you should familiarize yourself with the CVS Coupon Policy. Here are a few other important CVS factoids that you should know:

  • CVS does not accept competitors’ coupons or match competitors’ prices.
  • CVS ads typically run from a Sunday to a Saturday. Sometimes two separate ads run in the same week. One may run from Sunday to Wednesday and another may run Thursday to Saturday. The dates for the current ad will always be shown on the front of the CVS flyer. Be sure to pay attention to these dates so you don’t miss out on any sales!
  • Some CVS stores will actually give you the Sunday sale price on Saturday afternoons. You can always ask at your store to see if the sale prices are updated in the system yet. This is typically done after the shelf tags have been changed. You can also check by taking a product to the price scanner to see if it’s on sale. Employing this strategy during busy times of the year decreases the likelihood of the item being out of stock.
  • Most stores have limited inventory, so you can find a larger selection online. But online shopping doesn’t always mean that products will be cheaper. This is due to added costs such as shipping. So, if you do shop online, make sure that you utilize CVS coupon codes.

CVS ExtraCare
The free CVS loyalty program is called ExtraCare; having an ExtraCare card is the single most important way to save at CVS. With this card you’ll earn Extra Care Bucks Rewards (ECBs), which are equivalent to CVS money. If you aren’t a member, just head over to your local CVS and sign up – you’ll get your ExtraCare card on the spot! Or click here to sign up for the program online. You’ll be able to print out a temporary card to use for two weeks until your card arrives in the mail.

The first thing you’ll want to do when you have your ExtraCare card is to register it online. Click “Create an Account” at the top of the page. After you’ve signed up, you’ll get a coupon for $4.00 off a $20.00 purchase. Make sure to sign up for email updates because CVS typically emails coupons to cardholders on a weekly basis. You may get a coupon for a set amount off your total purchase, e.g. $5.00 off a $20.00 purchase. Keep in mind that you can use other CVS cash register tape coupons (CRTs), on top of this type of coupon, along with manufacturer coupons for maximum savings. You can print out your ECBs online or in-store at the ExtraCare Coupon center or at the register. They will print at whichever place you scan your card first. ECBs expire one month from the day they are issued.

You’ll be earning 2% back from your purchases each quarter, which is given back to you in the form of ECBs, as outlined below.

  • $0 to $24.99 purchase – 0 ECBs
  • $25.00 to $49.99 purchase – $0.50 in ECBs
  • $50.00 to $74.99 purchase – $1.00 in ECBs
  • If you spend $75.00 to $99.99 you’ll earn $1.50 in ECBs

When you use ECBs, be sure that you’re not giving the cashier more than the total value of your order. You won’t get change back to offset the difference; you will forfeit any unused value of the ECBs. So if your total order is $19.50 and you have $20.00 in ECBs, you won’t get $.50 back in change or store credit.

Quarterly Rewards Schedule:

  • January 1st: You’ll receive ECBs for purchases made from October 1 – December 31.
  • April 1st: You’ll receive ECBs for purchases made from January 1st – March 31.
  • July 1st: You’ll receive ECBs for purchases made from April 1st – June 30.
  • October 1st: You’ll receive ECBs for purchases made from July 1st – September 30.

Note: The amount that is used to calculate your ECBs per quarter is what you’ve spent after coupons, not the full price, so if you become a super saving machine at CVS, your quarterly ECBs may be minimal. Don’t fret – you’ll be scoring lots of the weekly ECB deals while you save!

Rain Checks
If an item from the sale flyer is out of stock, you may be able to get a rain check. The store also may substitute another product at their discretion instead of offering a rain check. If you get a rain check, attach it to the original sales ad for that item so you remember exactly which product you need and if you’ll be earning ECBs with your purchase. Let the cashier know which item you have a rain check for because they need to manually print the applicable ECBs. Note: CVS rain checks never expire.

Spending Threshold
When you’re getting one of the sales that require you to purchase a set amount of a specific brand, you do not need to purchase everything in one transaction. For example, in the ad it states that if you purchase $10.00 worth of specific products you’ll get $3.00 back in ECBs. You can purchase any amount towards the $10.00 threshold and it will be shown on the bottom of your receipt. When you go back you can purchase the remaining amount needed towards the $10.00 and you will still get the $3.00 in ECBs.

Beauty Club
Sign up for Beauty Club with your ExtraCare card number here. A 10% off beauty shopping pass will be available to you immediately after you enroll online. You’ll also receive Beauty Club emails with exclusive coupons, tips and new product information. Note: This 10% off sales pass does exclude sales items.

  • You’ll receive $5.00 in ECBs for every $50.00 you spend on beauty products. Keep in mind that you don’t need to spend $50.00 in one transaction to get your $5.00 in ECBs Rewards. Each purchase counts towards your $50.00 threshold, which will be reflected on your receipt within two days of your purchase. The receipt also states how much more you need to spend to get the reward. You can also check your current balance for the Beauty Club in your online account.
  • Keep in mind that your Beauty Club balance reward will be reset on the last day of each year. Don’t forfeit credit towards your next ECBs offer if you’re close to the $50.00 mark. If you have $45.00 already, then you only need to spend another $5.00 to get your next $5.00 ECB reward. This would be a no-brainer since you’ll get your $5.00 right back in the form of ECBs.
  • On your birthday, you’ll receive $3.00 in ECBs via email. To receive this, you must sign up to receive emails and enter your birthday. – Is this just if you’re in the Beauty Club? Or just if you have the Extra Care card?
  • The items that qualify towards Beauty Club purchases are cosmetics, fragrances, hair accessories, hair appliances, hair care, hair color and skin care products. Travel and trial size items do not count toward the $50.00 threshold.
  • CVS want you to be 100% satisfied with your beauty product purchases and will refund 100% of your purchase. Just bring the product (open or unopened) to the store with your receipt or online invoice and you’ll get 100% of your money back, no questions asked.
  • You’ll also receive additional coupons for products via email and by mail. For example, you may get a free meter after using a manufacturer coupon and rebate. Just be sure to sign up for this specific program.

Cash Register Tape Coupons (CRTs)
The first thing you should do when you get to CVS is go straight to the ExtraCare Coupon Center. It is functions as a price checker. Every time you shop, you’ll want to scan your ExtraCare Card because you’ll receive coupons printed on cash register tape (CRTs).

A few other things you should know:

  • You can typically scan your card up to two or three times per day. The machine will flash a message letting you know you’ve printed all your offers for the day. The Coupon Center is updated with new offers at the beginning of each week. You may get coupons for CVS brand items or name brand products – it’s always exciting to see what the machine will give you!
  • You are the only one that can use this coupon since your ExtraCare card number is printed on the CRT. The register won’t accept a CRT with a number that doesn’t match your card.
  • Coupons that you print from the Coupon Center will expire two weeks from the day you printed them.
  • To increase your savings, you can also “stack” these CRTs with a manufacturer’s coupon. For example, you can stack a CRT for $.50 off name brand toothpaste with a $1.00 manufacturer’s coupon for the same brand of toothpaste, for a total savings of $1.50. This is especially nice when the brand is also on sale.

CVS Advisor
If you like to give input, you may want to sign up to become a CVS Advisor. Click here to sign up – it’s free and rewarding! Just fill out a brief survey and you’ll receive a $3.00 ECBs reward to print upon completion.

Deal of the Day
CVS also offers a Deal of the Day, either online or online and in store. You can expect deeply discounted merchandise from just about every department.

ExtraCare Advantage for Diabetes
Sign up with your ExtraCare card number here and you’ll get access to some great benefits. As a member you’ll earn double ECBs rewards on more than 100 products, including test strips and monitors. Plus, instead of earning the regular 2% back in ECBs, you’ll get 4% on these specific items.

Prescription Rewards
Each quarter, you will also be given a $1.00 ECBs reward for every two prescriptions that you fill. The ECBs rewards on prescriptions are limited to $50.00 per year per card. Note: You can’t use the ECBs on your prescriptions. This also excludes pharmacy items that are paid for in whole or in part by state and/ or federal health care programs and prescriptions purchased in New Jersey and New York.

margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 140px;Rolling Transactions
Now that you’re officially a CVS supersaver, you’re ready to start rolling your transactions. When you earn ECBs from one transaction, you will be rolling them into your second transaction. Here are a few examples to help you understand how to roll transactions. Once you get the hang of it, rolling transactions is a beautiful thing for your wallet!

Listering Cool Mint 500ml

  • Sale price $2.99
  • $2.00 in ECBs back
  • Manufacturer coupon (MQ): $1.00 off

U by Kotex Barely There liners

  • 18 ct $1.49
  • $1.00 in ECBs back
  • MQ: $.25 off

Chex Mix

  • $1.99
  • $1.00 in ECBs back
  • MQ: $.50 off

Two Kleenex Slim Pack facial tissue 3-packs

  • $1.00
  • $1.00 in ECBs back

1.25L bottle of Coke

  • Sale price $.99
  • $.99 in ECBs back

Speed Stick or Lady Speed Stick

  • Sale price $2.99
  • $2.00 in ECBs back

Subtotal before coupons: $11.45
MQs: $1.75
Total: $9.70
ECBs: $7.99

Transaction #2
Nips candy

  • Sale price $.88
  • $.88 in ECBs back

L’Oreal lip or nail products:

  • $10.00
  • $3.00 in ECBs back
  • MQ: (2) $1.00 off L’Oreal Paris products

Subtotal before coupons: $10.88
MQs: $2.00
Total: $8.88
Use $7.99 in ECBs from Transaction #1
Pay $.89
ECBs back: $3.00

Veterans Advantage Program
If you have this membership card (separate from any CVS program) you can save an additional 10% on your orders. Click here to find out more about the program and save $20.00 on the membership fee ($20.00 savings offered until 12/31/12.)

Weekly Store Ad
You can also earn ECBs on the various promotions that are advertised in the weekly store ad. Some of these sale items will actually end up being free if you use ECBs and coupons together. For example, a name brand razor is on sale (with your ExtraCare card) for $9.00 this week. You have a $4.00 manufacturer’s coupon and you’ll get $5.00 in ECBs back. This makes this razor essentially free! The limit for each ECB reward is listed, along with the item, in the sale flyer each week. The limit is typically between one and five offers per card, per household, per week.

Now that you know all the ways you can save at CVS, make sure to put them into practice correctly.

  1. Hand the cashier your ExtraCare card.
  2. Cashier needs to scan one item.
  3. Give the cashier your Green Bag Tag.
  4. Cashier will ring up all of your products.
  5. Give the cashier your coupons in this order:
    • Any CVS dollar or percentage off coupons.
    • CVS coupons that you got in the mail, magazines or the Coupon Center.
    • Manufacturer coupons (make sure none of them are expired).
    • ExtraCare Bucks.
  6. Watch the savings add up.

Congratulations – you are now a CVS expert shopper and saver!