CVS is one of my favorite places to shop. They have great deals, easy to understand rewards, a nice store layout and the best employees around! Anything you need, they are more than happy to help.
Read this guide, follow us on savingthepiggy.com, and if you still have questions, just ask!
1. Get your Extra Care Card
CVS, in my opinion, has one of the best loyalty programs: Extra Care Rewards. The first step in the program is to apply for an Extra Care membership and get an Extra Care Card that you attach to your keychain or carry in your wallet. This can be done online or in the store. If you go to the store, you will receive your card right away versus waiting up to two weeks to get it in the mail. However, you will still need to go online to sign up for email benefits. We’ll discuss that in a bit.
The Extra Care card is required to accumulate rewards, receive any sale prices and all of the Extra Care Buck offers. See #2 to learn about Extra Care Bucks.
2. Extra Care Program (why I love CVS!)
Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) are like gift certificates to spend on your next CVS purchase (not including tobacco, alcohol, lottery, gift cards, prescriptions, postage stamps, and a few others). Every week, ECB deals will be advertised in the weekly ad. The deal requires you to purchase a certain product and then a certain amount of ECBs will be printed in the form of a coupon at the bottom of your receipt. These items come with limits on the number of ECBs you may receive. Usually one per card, but sometimes, up to five.
Occasionally there will be FREE after Extra Care Bucks items advertised. This means you pay a certain amount for in item and receive that same amount back in the form of Extra Care Bucks. Even better, if you have a manufacturer coupon for the item, this deal becomes a moneymaker!
The Extra Care Program also rewards you with 2% cash back (in the form of Extra Care Bucks) on every purchase. This will print at the end of your receipt at the end of every quarter. Now, this is 2% of your actual out of pocket expense so, if you are really good, this won’t be too much. However, free money is free money!
You can also earn one Extra Care Buck for every two prescriptions purchased.
Additionally, if you sign up for email updates, you will be eligible for other bonus offers and coupons!
Note: Extra Care Bucks DO eventually expire, usually a month after issue. So, don’t hang onto them too long!
3. CRTs and the “Magic Coupon Machine”
CRTs refer to Coupon Register Tape coupons that print with your receipt or from the “Magic Coupon Machine”. The “Magic Coupon Machine” is the red price scanner located at the front of the store. By printing the coupons from the machine rather than waiting for them to print on your receipt, you can use them on your current shopping trip as opposed to having to come back later. These coupons are often produced according to your shopping habits, so you may not get all of the coupons that other shoppers do. These coupons are also card specific meaning that you cannot use the coupons another shopper prints and you can’t leave yours for another shopper to use.
4. Green Bag Tag
This is a card or tag that you can purchase at the front counter for $0.99. Loop it around any reusable bag and present it (and the bag) with each purchase. You will earn $1.00 Extra Care Buck every 4th visit! You can use any re-usable bag or plastic bag from a previous trip or just carry the items out without a bag and still get credit. For this reason, I keep my tag looped around my purse strap.
5. Rolling ECBs (shopping for free)
What on earth does “rolling” your extra care bucks mean? It means that you’ll be able to purchase new Extra Care Buck deals on a regular basis while paying for them with ECB earned from previous purchases! This means you’ll be spending little to NO money out of pocket (OOP)! Combine that with manufactures coupons and you may end up making money! Let me show you how.
CVS has Colgate is on sale for $2.00, and it will generate a $1.00 ECB with the purchase of one. Plus, you have a $1.00/1 manufacturer coupon. You end up paying only $1.00 out of pocket and receiving a $1.00 ECB!
The following week, Combos on sale for $2.00, and it will generate a $2.00 ECB with the purchase of one. Plus, you have a $1.00/1 manufacturer coupon. You end up with a (pre-tax) total of $1.00 that you use last week’s ECB to pay for and receive a $2.00 ECB while paying nothing out of pocket!
6. Stacking Coupons
The term stacking refers to using more than one coupon for one product. Can this really be done? You bet! You may use one manufacturer coupon, and one CVS store coupon. These store coupons include the CRTs that print at the end of your receipt or from the “Magic Coupon Machine”, printable coupons found on the CVS website and in various magazine (including the CVS Reinventing Beauty Magazine sold quarterly).
Additionally, CVS will often offer money off a certain purchase amount such as $5 off a $25 purchase. These are also store coupons and can be used before any other coupons to really lower your out of pocket (OOP) expense. These coupons generally come as an email so make sure to register your Extra Care card (if you got it in the store) and sign up for email updates.
Note: CVS will NOT accept manufacturer coupons with another retailer’s logo.
When checking out, you will want to scan your card, then use the money-off store coupons first (i.e. $5 off $25), followed by CVS store product coupons and manufacturer coupons, and using Extra Care Bucks last. Any balance at this point would be paid out of pocket and hopefully will be very little!
Note: Our local CVS will not allow ECBs in excess of the pre-tax purchase price. In other words, you can’t pay the sales tax with coupons. Also, the total of all product coupons cannot exceed the purchase price of that product. The cash register will reduce your coupon to the allowed amount. There is no “Cash Back” allowed.
8. Rain Checks
If a regularly carried product is out of stock, CVS will issue a rain check, including for items that generate Extra Care Bucks. Rain checks do not expire AND will extend the expiration date of any CVS store coupons. Make sure to ask for these!
Now, go use your new CVS knowledge to get out there and start Saving the Piggy!