Learning to CVS

CVS extracare card

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.

cvs bag tag

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!)

CVS kiosk

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:

CVS oust

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.


  1. Abby says

    Hello! Thank you so much for this info…this is great stuff :)

    I have a question…with your example on getting the huggies…I saw that you used 2 manufacturers coupons…can you use more than one on one item? :)

    Thank you!!!

  2. Laurie says

    Abby, she purchased 2 packs of huggies in the exampl. So she used one coupon for each pack of huggies. I hope this helps.

  3. maritza says

    I have a question, I lost my ECB’s ( the actual one’s from the receipt) and when I signed up for an online account with them I was able to see what ECB’s I had on file. I sure enough my lost ECB’c were there and I was able to print them from home. Is this ok I hope I don’t have a hard time. I plan to call the corporate office before I go lust to make sure.

  4. Charlene says

    Maritza, it is perfectly fine to do that! The only way you will have issues is if you find the lost originals and try to sneak and use those on top of the ones you printed 😉

  5. Michelle says

    I have a question on the ECB’s. I have $13 of ECB to use, can I use the $13 of ECB’s on items that in turn I will get more ECB’s, then turn around in same visit and use those ECB’s from previous transaction, so I can get more free stuff? That sounds really confusing..haha

  6. Charlene says

    Michelle, yes! Just pay attention to the limits on items. They have limits on almost every ECB item you purchase.

  7. Tara says

    I have a quick ECB questio. Can I use my ECB from the Shick Razor for another Shick Razor in my next purchase? or is it like WAGS where u cannot roll onto the same item u got the ECB for in the first place? TIA!

  8. Charlene says

    Tara- double check but pretty sure it is a limit of one on that offer. You could use it but you will pay $4.

  9. Karla says

    I’m new at couponing so I just have a quick question to be sure I understand. If I go to cvs for this week sales, for example 1.99 papermate pens I will not get this item free but I will get 1.99 ecb for next visit correct?

  10. Charlene says

    That’s right Karla. You will pay $1.99 total and the next time you can use the $1.99 ECB like cash. The idea is to pay cash the first time and then keep using those ECBs to pay for your next trip and on and on. You can use the ECB the same day just ask for a separate transaction.

  11. Eve Eikenberry says

    Say I want to purchase a larger item but only that one item and I have ECBs. Am I only allowed to use one? like at WAGS?

  12. Amelia says

    Is it CVS that accepts competitor coupons? If so, do you know how that works (can I bring it a target coupon and if so, is it considered a store coupon or a manufacturer coupon)?
    Thank you

  13. Eva says

    I have found I spend more at cvs than I do at krogers. Krogers doubles the value of the coupon up to a $1. I also have found that the cvs system is confusing to me. For example:
    I spend $49 got $9 in ECB’s and then turned around and spend $5 with they are still getting my money. They have earned $5 of the $9 back.
    At krogers I saved $115.00 and some odd change. I was getting crest toothpaste and brushes free. Or paying 99 cents for some items. I got man body soap for $1 and shaving cream for women and men free, but really got money back. It was on sale for 69 cents and I had a 50 cent coupon so that was doubled.
    I personally just like krogers better.
    Question, why don’t I see any help for kroger stores on here. They are out dated.

  14. Charlene says

    Eva I don’t understand what the question is. What help are you looking for on Kroger? I post the deals each and every week so nothing is outdated unless you are viewing old posts?

    If you are spending $49 in one transaction at CVS that is a considerable amount. The trick to drugstores is smaller purchases so you can keep rolling your ECBs or RR or +Ups.

  15. Eva says


    I have done this a few weeks and used coupons etc and haven’t came ahead. I have read the learn hose cvs works, but still haven’t came ahead.

    When I look at the ebsite for krogers (which I may be looking I. The wrong place) I didnt find any updates. Is there someplace I need to look?
    Oh and thanks for commenting back.

  16. Charlene says

    I would suggest sticking to the store you are happy with. If you feel like you are spending too much at CVS there is probably no need to shop there? I don’t know where you are looking for Kroger but when I click on “stores” in the upper right corner of my blog and then Kroger I can see the current deals which start 9/4.


    So that is as current as it gets.

  17. Julia says

    I work as a CVS beauty advisor and I always use these shopping tricks mentioned here and in addition to my employee discount, most of the time I pay next to nothing for hair care, makeup, and various other things I buy on a regular basis. Although CVS tends to be a little more expensive than Walmart or Target-esque stores, the EBs and coupons and pretty good sales make up for it and then some! The trick to the extrabucks on CVS’s part is simply to get the customer to keep coming back and buying more things, but because the EBs are basically free CVS money you aren’t being ripped off. Also if you buy a lot of beauty products at CVS join the Beauty Club!! Its free and you get $5 in EBs for every $50 spent on beauty (haircare, skincare, makeup…anything in the beauty aisles) and it also applies to the beauty spending you have accumulated even before joining! I must get $5 EB at least once a week now that I am a Beauty Club member. Totally worth it.

  18. sandy says

    What I would like to know it you use Android ecoupon can you use a manufacter coupon as well

  19. Marilee says

    Did you ever find out if you can use the ECBs on the same item you got them from on your next purchase of the same item? I hope that isn’t confusing… like the question Tara asked in June of 2011

  20. Charlene says


    Yes you can roll them no problem. You just need to be sure that you check the limits. If there is a limit of 2 for example, you can buy item #1 and get an ECB and use that to pay for the same item and get another ECB. If you were to buy a third, your ECB wouldn’t print because the limit was 2.

  21. Karen says

    Sandy, CVS currently does not accept electronic or Android coupons.

    Lyssa, The limits are per sale item. On the ads it’s generally found under the description of the item as “Limit __ per household” It’s a limit on the number of times you can get ECB (or sale prices) on that specific item.

  22. morgan says

    love this website it was very helpful thanks alot i am a new couponer and just starting to learn the basics and tips and guidelines i need to know in order to get all kinds of stuff!!!! Couponing is right up my alley lol because i am great at math and i love to shop!!!!!!!! love it thanks again for the tips looking foward to visiting again to print coupons so i can save!!!!!


  1. […] If you don’t have a CVS bag tag this is your week! Spend .99 and get a .99 ECB back! Read about this HERE. […]

  2. […] 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 […]

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