In my opinion, CVS is the easiest store to work with. It is a favorite of many couponers because they are incredibly generous with their policies and in issuing coupons. CVS also has a very positive reputation for being coupon-friendly and they have excellent customer service.
If you are a Walgreens shopper you will want to forget all the issues with Register Rewards as the CVS rewards program has none of the headaches that Walgreen’s program has.
The first thing you need when you start shopping at CVS is an Extracare card. You can request one online HERE or get it instantly in store.
You will also want to bring your own bag to CVS and look for the Green Bag Tags- get those for .99 in store and scan it every time you shop at the cash register. On every 4th visit you will get a $1 ECB! (That is basically .25 for each time you shop with a reusable tote!)
Each time you visit CVS you will want to head over to the coupon scanner (the majority of stores will have these but some do not) and scan your card. You should have coupons print out- continue to scan until the screen tells you no more coupons are available. These are either store coupons (such as a $2 off $10 purchase) or they can be coupons for products (called CRTs) such as .99 off Planters Peanuts.
What kind of coupons does CVS accept?
CVS accepts manufacturer coupons (including printables) and their own in store coupons (CRTs). They also issue $/$$ coupons such as $5/20. You can stack all three coupons to make for a great deal! To use a $/$$ coupon the total amount is calculated PRECOUPON and you will want to give that coupon to the cashier first. You can use one CRT and one manufacturer coupon per item.
What does the Extracare Card do?
Well the Extracare card is how you get your ECBs (more on those later) so you want this each and every time you shop! You can get one card for each person in your household. CVS enforces limits on many sale items- so if an item is limited to 1 per person, your card will keep track of how many you purchase. Some people have multiple cards but keep in mind any ECBs or store $/$$ coupons are tied to that card only. If you have a card and earn $5 in ECBs plus you get a $5/15 coupon at the coupon scanner than you can only redeem those coupons by using your own Extracare card- not a card from someone else in your household!
What are ECBs?
In short they are Extracare bucks- sometimes referred to as EBs. They are little coupons that print for a dollar amount at the bottom of your receipt (providing you used your Extracare card!) The ECBs can be used in store on virtually any item CVS carries- with a few exceptions such as lottery tickets and gift cards.
ECBs have an expiration date and just like coupons, once they expire they do not have any value. The wonderful thing about ECBs is that you can use them in addition to manufacturer coupons, store coupons, and $/$$ coupons to pay almost nothing out of pocket. They can also be adjusted down- so if you have a $1 ECB and want a .99 item, the cashier can adjust the ECB down to .99 and you pay nothing. (You will not get cash back on ECBs they are for store merchandise only.)
So to illustrate how wonderful CVS is- here is a sample scenario:
Huggies Diapers 2/$10- Get $5 ECB back.
So you might buy 2 packs at $10= $20
Use $5/20 CVS coupon = $15.00
Use (2) $2/1 Huggies coupons = $11.00
Use $1/1 CVS CRT coupon for Huggies = $10.00
Subtotal: $10.00. Now if you have $10 in ECBs, use those and you pay 0.
Remember if an item qualifies for an ECB you can use it on your next transaction. Also an ECB purchase requirement- say spend $10 on Crest and get $5 ECB- the $10 purchase requirement is calculated BEFORE coupons. You can also verify an ECB will print by going to the price scanner and scanning the item.
You will want to register your account online once you get your card HERE.
How Do I Get CVS Store Coupons?
Most commonly you will see $5/15, $4/20 or $5/20 store coupons. Now these are a goldmine because remember you can stack them with manufacturer coupons, other CVS coupons (CRTs) AND ECB deals! There are a few ways to get the store coupons:
1. Register your card with CVS and be sure to use an email you check regularly! I get coupons from them via email a few times a month.
2.By scanning your card in store (via the coupon machine I already mentioned) or at the bottom of your receipt.
3. In various publications or online. Every so often a coupon will come up in a newspaper or they might come up online in various ways. Basically you want as many as you can get and they do tend to have just a few days before expiration.
Typically the coupons are one per customer.
What is a Moneymaker and Can I Really Gets Things Free?
You will notice on my weekly matchups I sometimes reference moneymakers and free items. Are they really free? YES! Do you walk out making money? Sort of! Here are some examples to better explain:
Now here is an example- the ad states that Oust is $3.99 with a $3 ECB back- making the final price .99. Now don’t be confused- you won’t pay .99 you will pay $3.99 and you will get a $3 ECB for the next time you shop. If you had a $1 coupon for Oust than this item would be “free” because you would pay $2.99 after coupon and you would get $3 ECBs back. You always want to note the limits on each ECB deal- in this case the limit is 3. So you can buy 3 and you will get $3 ECB for each. So this turns into a moneymaker if you happen to have a Buy One Get One Free coupon for Oust. Since the limit is 3, you can buy two- use your BOGO coupon and you will pay $3.99. You will actually get $6 ECB back ($3 for each Oust) which makes this a $2.01 “moneymaker” because you have a little profit in ECBs.
What’s the Bottom Line to Success at CVS?
The bottom line is to continue to “roll” your ECBs from week to week. By using coupons (CRTs, Manufacturer and CVS coupons) you can frequently get your cost down- then use ECBs to pay for the balance and you will hopefully get more ECBS for the next time to spend. You want to continue recycling ECBs- so pay one week for your balance in ECBs and hopefully generate more ECBs to use next time!
What if my ECBS don’t print?
You can contact CVS directly and provide the information on your receipt. They will then add the ECBs to your card and they will print when you go into the store (within 24-48 hrs) and scan your card. Store managers can also print ECBs for you.