Shopping at CVS

CVS Shopping

My Notes, Not Official Policy

YMMV

Note:  I’ve recently added a few updates to this page, and put them in red so you can spot them easily.

This is what took me six months, multiple transactions and much checking around on various places on the web to figure out. You’ll eventually figure it all out, maybe sooner than I did, but if you’d like to hit the ground running, read on.

If this seems daunting, remember, you can apply all or none of the principles.  You choose what you want to buy at what cost you wish to spend.  Any savings is great, and you can‘t go wrong with that!  Maximizing savings, however, is even better.  I always use I heart CVS and Carrie Roche’s Pocket Your Dollars to help me find savings.

CVS sales, discounts and awards will mostly center around their Extra Care Card.

  • The few offers that don’t will be covered below.

Get a CVS account and an Extra Care Account:

  • In order to take advantage of the CVS card, you will need to register it.

Register Your Card Online:

  • Even if you picked it up at the store, add your email address through their online offer so that you get your first email with a coupon for $4.00 off $20.00.
  • It can be a little confusing, so first get your card and go to CVS.com. Sign up for your CVS account. Then you’ll attach your extra care card by signing up for emails and offers. This is where the offer is to get the $4.00 off $20.00 promotion. You can then go to the little CVS card on their homepage and look at your Extra Care account (not the same as the CVS account) and make sure it is filled out correctly. Click on Card Information and then scroll down to the bottom where it will say “update card information,” click on that and put in your address, phone number, etc. (This is where you will check to make sure you are getting email offers from Extra Care.))

With the Extra Care Card, You can Save Several Ways: 

  • You will get email offers for a certain amount of money off a certain dollar amount spent, for example, $5.00 off $25.00, or a certain percentage off your bill. There’s more on leveraging this savings below. You can now choose on most of the offers to print, use online or send to your card.
  • Use the card to get the advertised sales discount, including sales that return Extra Bucks. (Extra Bucks are generally printed on the bottom of your receipt and can be used like cash, with a few exceptions.) You will not get many pf the sales discounts without using the card.
  • Use it to earn 2% back on most purchases every quarter. (A coupon spits out of the machine on the first day of each month following the quarter, or you can print it from their website.)
  • Use it to get $1.00 back on every two prescriptions you have filled. (This is added to the two percent and comes in the same coupon as above.)
  • Scan your card at their “coupon spitter outer” when you visit the store.  CVS will issue coupons for additional money off store brand specials, name brand products, seasonal items or $ off $ spend coupons. I generally swipe my card every time I visit, with the exception, below.
  • Exception: The only time I won’t scan my card is when I know they will be giving me a time sensitive coupon that I don’t want to use within a few days – for example: According to I heart CVS, Aussie Hair products will be on sale next week, and I‘ve already looked online and am aware that one of the four coupons I will get from the scanner is going to be for Aussie Hair products. I don‘t want to scan my card on Sunday and have the coupon for Aussie expire before the product comes up on sale the following week. In this particular case, I‘ll wait until later in the week, say Friday or Saturday and scan the card.
  • Just a note on the coupon spitter outer: Some stores will allow you to scan more than once, or until all the offers have been reached, others only once in 24 hours. I heart CVS has information on what available coupons can come out of the spitter outer.
  • When your card is registered, you will get email offers and these are often coupons for $ off $.  You‘ll get occasional specials, offers and coupons in the email, as well, that you wouldn‘t get otherwise.
  • You may get offers and coupons in the mail. I’ve gotten several recently, but they are far and few between.
  • You will also get an occasional coupon printed on the bottom of your receipt.
  • You’ll be able to get a green tag and use it instead of a bag.  They cost $.99, and now and then there will be a coupon or special from the coupon spitter outer that will allow you to get one for less.  Bring in your own bag, cloth or not, or forego using one altogether.  When you scan the tag, you get an Extra Buck for every four scans. It doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up. (If you stop in the store once per week, that’s $13.00 in a year.) Figure this in your calculations as a quarter per scan.  These do not seem to be tied a particular card, meaning you can get one and use it no matter what card you use, but the credit will always go to the card it is registered to.

Things to Know about the Extra Care Card:

  • You can tie an Extra Care Card either online or personally at the pharmacy to your pharmacy account. If you don’t do this, you won’t get the $1.00 back for every two prescriptions.  However, the pharmacy account is separate from the Extra Care Card, so if you choose to use one Extra Care Card for the whole family for prescriptions, you may do so, even if other people you fill prescriptions for have their own card. For instance, I do most all of the shopping, picking up and paying for my son’s prescriptions even though he has his own card. I use my card for both of our prescriptions. This makes it much easier when I’m picking up multiple prescriptions for both of us. Update, I now generally fill most of my prescriptions at Costco…
  • If, for any reason, you don’t get an offer or email from CVS for a while, call up the customer service and make sure they have you down for all available offers. We didn’t get any for a while, and the customer care person I spoke with said that they had me checked off as “no offers.”  When I had checked on their website prior to the call, it had clearly showed that I was signed up for offers. Scroll down to contact information for their number; also on their website.

Things to Know about Extra Bucks:

  • Extra Bucks (Ebs, or sometimes Extra Care Bucks, or ECBs) are the coupons issued on the bottom of your receipt as part of a CVS sales promotion, earned quarterly as a part of the 2% back, swipes from your green card or $1.00 off every two prescriptions filled.
  • They generally expire about a month after issuance. Store managers have some leeway in how long they will take these – the manager of the store I shop at will take them for up to another month.  An employee from another store said they will only take them until the printed expiration date – and when I mentioned the store I usually go to takes them longer said he wanted to know what store that was! If you can’t use them at one store because they’ve expired, try another store.
  • They are tied to a particular card.  If you try to use them on another card, they will beep and not go through.
  • If your EB does not print, and a store has to manually override and print it out, it will come out with the store’s card number printed on it but will be tied to your card. If your card is registered, it will have your name, but if not it won‘t say. If you try to use it with another card it will not work.  Keep track of what Extra Bucks go with what card.
  • I’ve never tried to use expired Extra Bucks at Cub, one of the grocery stores that normally accepts expired coupons from other stores, but Cub is owned by the same company that owns Kroger.  My daughter uses hers at Kroger all the time, so there is a possibility.

Getting the Most from your Extra Bucks:

  • Treat the Extra Bucks as cash! Especially if you’ve bought items you wouldn’t have normally bought to get a dollar amount for a $ off $ deal or roll your bucks, those Ebs represent your hard earned money. If you spend them willy nilly on items you wouldn’t normally buy, you’ve just negated your savings.
  • Ebs must be used in their total amount, so do not use an eb for a dollar amount that is over your total payment due. They can, however, be adjusted down, although you may be losing money on this.
  • Ebs will not cover your tax, so you will always need to pay something.

There are certain items you can’t buy with EBs:

  • Things you can’t buy with or can’t earn Ebs on:  Alcohol, tobacco, prescriptions, gift cards, money orders, lottery, stamps, prepaid cards, or pay for tax (in most cases.)
  • Just a note on Ebs – I have on occasion bought an item that you can’t pay for with Ebs along with items that are allowable. In that case, some of the excess Eb amount that I used for a qualified purchase ‘flowed” onto the purchased items, reducing my out of pocket cost.
  • The pharmacy seems, in particular, not willing to let this happen, but the front of the store will often let it go. Here’s an example, my total purchase was $8.00 and I bought a package of stamps on top of that. I gave them a $10.00 eb, and paid less out of pocket for the stamps, because that $2.00 “flowed” over to the stamp amount.

Things to Know about Coupons from the Coupon Spitter Outer and Ones Printed on the Bottom of Your Receipt:

  • You’ll here a lot about the coupon spitter outer when you look at sites about CVS. Scan your card and it will spit out the Extra Bucks you’ve earned quarterly and various other coupons, for discounts, free products or what are called ‘dollar off dollar’ offers.  An example of this would be “between Sept 30 and Oct 4, spend $20.00 and get $4.00 off. These vary in amounts, the best I’ve seen is $5.00 off $15.00, the least value one I’ve seen was $4.00 off $40.00.
  • Each offer is printed with the last four digits of your card number, and if your card is registered, with your name.
  • That being said, some people report you can use an offer for $ off a product issued for one card on another card. I have never tried this, so I cannot confirm it.
  • I do know that $ off $ coupons will ONLY work for the card they are tied to.

How to buy/save at CVS – Successful Strategies:

Be aware that many sale priced items are going to be gone early in the week:

  • Early bird gets the worm, but sometimes it can be to your advantage to get a raincheck, see below.

Take advantage of all offers for $ off $ and consider the percentage off offers.  This is one of the key ways you’ll save at CVS:  

  • You’ll get these in emails and at the Coupon Spitter Outer.)
  • You’ll probably have to put out money at first, and since CVS doesn’t use Ebs to pay for tax, and you may need to keep paying small amounts, but you’ll get a lot of bang for your Extra Buck.
  • Look for items (generally there are several every week, and if you get rain checks on money makers or free items when they come up, you‘ll always have a couple of offers available) that allow you to buy products for free or near free, with or without a coupon, to help you get to your dollar amount on the $ off $ coupons without putting out too much of your own money.
  • Sometimes these items may not be things that you’d use – they are simply going to be a way to get to the $20, $30 or $40 amount. If this s the case, be sure to donate them to someone who can use them. (This is why you sometimes see couponers with photos of items they got for free and you wonder what on earth incented them to get all that stuff…sometimes odd items allow you to spend no money.)
  • Here’s an example:  I’d like to buy Hallowe’en candy. I have a $4.00 off $20.00 coupon from the coupon spitter outer. I don’t need $20.00 worth of candy, I really only need 4 packages, and they are on sale for $4.00 each. I have a coupon for $1.00 off 3 packages of candy. That sits me at a total of $12.00, with $1.00 off, so I’ll need to spend $11.00, and won’t get to use my $ off $ coupon. But look: razors are on sale for $8.97 with an offer of $5.00 back on an extra care buck. I also have a $4.00 coupon for the razor.  If I buy the candy AND the razor (even if I don’t need the razors) I will spend $20.97. I will use my $4.00 and $1.00 coupon, and the $4.00 off $20.00 coupon. I’ll spend $11.97. I will then get the $5.00 EB back for buying the razor, so the total for the transaction is $6.97. Essentially, then the candy cost me $1.74 a bag, and the razor is a bonus, simply helping me to boost my dollar amount to hit that $20.00 mark so I could take advantage of the $5.00 off $20. I just spent less and got more.

Generally, you’ll want to take advantage of the many “free” items offered, even when you don’t need that particular item at that time and you’ll never have to pay for many items again.

  • These offers are usually stated something like this:  “Buy dulcolax for $8.97, get $8.97 EB back.   In some instances, with a coupon, they may actually make you “money.”
  • Sometimes these offers might be “Ben Gay $7.99, get $4.00 EB,” so they don’t necessarily ‘look’ free until you consider that you have a $5.00 coupon for Ben Gay.
  • Sometimes there will be rebates on items, making them free, or making them free with EB and/or coupons.
  • That being said, use some logic in this, and don’t buy items just because they are free; you’ll still have to pay tax on them – the one exception is mentioned above, when you need free items to boost your spend to the amount you need to reach for $ off $ items.
  • If it is an item you’ll need or use, remember the strategy of buying low – chances are you’ll need it before it goes “free” again, or know someone who might. If you can keep stocked up, there are many items you’ll never need to pay for again.
  • You can also work these offers to your advantage with rain checks, more detail on that below.
  • These offers are a great way, too, to ‘roll’ your EBs – if you haven’t used them and they are ready to expire, and there is nothing you need to buy, ‘trade’ them out for a free item with EBs and get new EBs. That keeps the money ‘rolling’ without more out of pocket expenditure.

Take advantage of “money makers” to offset the cost of items you’d like to have but can’t get for free: 

  • For instance, you’d like to buy mouthwash for $3.99 and have a $1.00 coupon. Dulcolax is on sale for $7.99, you have a $4.00 coupon, and you’ll get $6.00 back in Ebs. Since you’ll “make” $2.00 on the Dulcolax, that “money maker” will help offset the $2.99 you put out for the mouthwash.
  • Donate the Dulcolax if you’ll never use it; it’s served it’s purpose in just deducting your cost.

Shop regularly and keep “rolling” your Ebs:

  • Buy an item or several that generate ebs and then use those ebs to buy items the next week and so on, so your out of pocket spending always stays very low.
  • I quite often shop at times when they aren’t busy, and will sometimes ask to do a multiple transaction so I can immediately roll the bucks. Other times, I might take my products to the car and come back in and do two shops back to back.
  • This is taking the money you put out and making it work for you more than once!

Watch for groupings of items on sales with large EB offers:

  • There are usually two different scenarios when you’ll see offers like this. The first is a particular brand, and the offer will read something like “Buy 5 Garnier Fructise products, get $10 in EB.”  The second is generally by manufacturer, for instance, “Spend $20.00 on the products below, get $5.00 EB.” The products in this case may be multiple items, laundry detergent, toilet paper, kleenex, air freshener.” These are often seen on P & G items.
  • This is a great example of a time you will need multiple coupons. Apply your coupons to those sales prices in order to get the best prices. It is generally to your advantage to pick out the items that have the higher value coupons.
  • These sales can be picked over early, be sure to ask for rainchecks, or if you need to buy in order to use coupons, decide if it is worthwhile to pick up a different item and exchange it later when they are in stock again.
  • Sometimes you’ll find you have a high value coupon for one of the items that will lower the total cost considerably, and that item may not be something you might normally think of buying.  Consider carefully whether or not it might be to your advantage to buy that product anyway. (Of course, sometimes it will be something you do want!)

Here’s an example:  The offer is “Buy $25.00 worth of items, get $10.00 back,” and you have an email offer for $5.00 off $25.00. Charmin is on sale ($10.00) and you have have three 25 cent coupons. If you bought three Charmins and used the $ off $ coupon, and the 25 cent coupons, you’d pay $14.75 after factoring in the EB, which works out to 29 cents a roll.

The offer also includes air freshener, and you feel it’s frivolous, and don’t normally buy them, but they are $2.50 each, and you do have a couple of $2.00 coupons. If you bought only 2 Charmin and added in the 2 air fresheners, you’d reach the $25.00 target, use the $5.00 off coupon, 2 25 cent coupons and 2 $2.00 coupons. The total after factoring those and the EBs in is $6.25.  Since you didn’t want the air freshener, just consider it a bonus for free, and the tp costs you 20 cents a roll.

Watch for groupings of items on sale with large EB offers and items within that sale that have their OWN EB offer! 

  • Here’s a perfect example:  Buy $20.00 worth of Nivea body wash, get $5.00 back. Buy Nivea Men’s Active 3 for $4.99, get $4.99 EB back.
  • Okay, so you’re a female and have little use for Nivea Men, but consider if this offer will save you money overall. The Nivea Men was a heavily promoted item and had a $2.50 coupon, and by using it to get to the overall $20.00, you’ll pay less by buying more, even if you buy the Men’s product and give it away!  In this case, the Nivea Men was a money maker.
  • Sometimes rain check items can work very well in these offers, more on that later.

Groupings and Clearance:

  • On some of the sales for groups of items, you may find items on the clearance shelf, especially if the sale is for some of the high end beauty items.  Occasionally, the ad will specifically state no clearance items.

Keep stocked up on items you need, so you never have to pay full price.

  • Most health and beauty,personal items, cleaning, first aid items and over the counter items have quite a long shelf life, so try to have enough of any one product you regularly use so you only buy when an item hits a rock bottom price.
  • Allow adequate storage space, check your expiration dates and rotate your stock.
  • Donate if it looks like you’ll not be able to use the product within it’s life…no sense in letting anything go to waste, and you’ve just donated a high value product that someone will get good use out of that cost you very little.

Watch for rebates that will allow you to buy products and get money back. 

  • Check under “Rebates” for more information.
  • There are a surprising amount of rebates out there, especially on new products, products that are fairly new and not doing so well in sales, and a lot of health and beauty rebates.

Consider ordering ahead for sales groupings that have really great prices:

  • You will sometimes want to make certain that you can buy a product in order to use coupons that may be expiring, or if there is a rebate you want to take advantage of and the items must be purchased by a certain date.
  • You can also order coupons ahead for these types of sales by watching sites like I heart CVS so you’ll be certain to have the coupons you need.  More on this under “Taking it to the Next level, below.
  • Most CVS need a full week before the sales start to get the product in before the sale.
  • If the best prices mean you have to buy more of a product than you feel you might use, consider splitting the cost and items with a friend and/or using them for gifts.

Know your ads, and know that not all products that are included in a sale are necessarily marked.

  • Don’t look at all the tags, and be disappointed because the one you want is not on sale – CVS will sometimes put tags here and there, so know your ad.
  • CVS will also start their sales on Saturday, instead of Sunday, and end them on Saturday, so if you shop Saturday, it can be particularly confusing.
  • Similarly, on many sales, especially groupings of buy one get one free or 50% off, you can buy different products of the same brand or even different products of different brands.  Read the ad carefully.

Don’t forget that you are taxed at the full dollar amount for items you buy, and that costs you money. 

  • If your goal is to save the most money you can, you need to keep in mind that even free items have some cost…you might be getting hundreds of dollars worth of products for next to nothing, but your tax may add up to more than your previous budget!

Get a green tag and use it!  

  • $.25 cents a scan doesn’t sound like much, but if you shop at all regularly it adds up faster than you might think, and it is better for the environment.

Don’t buy items that aren’t on sale at CVS:

  • You’ll find their general pricing is often higher than other stores.

Check your receipt, and save them:

  • Before you leave the store is best, or at the very least when you get to your car.
  • Make sure all your coupons have been applied and that you have the Ebs you should have.
  • Save those receipts, too.  You’ll feel sick the first time you realized you threw away an EB, and you may need them for rebates, to refer back to on limits, or to put in a survey.
  • You may want them later for numbers crunching or to decide if you want to take advantage of a sale.  Is the price really good?  What did I pay for the product last time?

CVS will issue rain checks, both for sale priced products and EB offers:

  • They do not expire.
  • It is a good idea to check them and make sure they are filled out correctly, with the amount of the item, the sales amount, the eb amount and code that generates the eb. You will need all this information to get the sale when you go back, and sometimes you’ll run across a clerk that does not know how to do this or fills them out improperly.
  • It never hurts to take the ad and staple it to the rain check.
  • Definitely get a rain check if you’d like to take advantage of a sale and the product is picked over.

Work the Rain Checks/Sales/Purchases to your Advantage:

  • First of all, if you are wanting to make sure you can use a coupon for $ off $ and need to get to a specific amount and are figuring on sales items to get there, make sure you shop early in the week. CVS will generally run out of many of their free after EB items very early in the week, and money makers go particularly fast.
  • If, however, you’d like to get the item on sale but don’t have a coupon, you can shop later in the week: if they are out of the item then, they’ll give you the rain check and you can hold on to it until you get the coupon.
  • You can also combine rain check offers with other items that might be on sale under a later promotion.
  • Conversely, if you have a great coupon that is due to expire (either a manufacturer’s coupon or a CVS coupon) and wish to apply it to a sale, but they are already sold out of the items you want, you could pick up a color or item you don’t necessarily want and exchange it for the one you do want, later.

Example:  Olay Regenerist pens were on sale for $18.99, get 6 Ebs back. Later in the month, Olay Moisturizers were on sale, buy 2 get $12.00 ebs back. The coupons available were $3.00 off Olay moisturizer and “buy 2 Olay Moisturizers, get one Regenerist pen free.” By getting a rain check on the pen and buying it at the same time as the moisturizer, the deal was much better, saving you additional money. Done separately, you would have paid $35.97 (after the ebs were subtracted.)  Done together, you would pay $16.94. (Even better, because I bought over $50.00 worth of Olay products, I got a $15.00 rebate from P&G.) I paid $1.94 for two moisturizers and a pen. See Rebates, below.

  • Just a note, when you use a rain check generating an eb, you may be able to exceed your eb limit for a card with that rain check. This gets into a shady area here, but let’s say you have a rain check on a promotion for a particular amount, say buy $20.00 worth of Garnier Fructis, get $10.00 back. You’ve got a rain check, and then stopped in the store later that week, and they had the product, so you bought the items. If you were to use the rain check anyway, at some point after the sale (but not during the sale) you may be able to take advantage of the same promotion again without the card beeping that you’ve reached your limit.

Take it to the “Next Level”

Use product coupon matching sites like I heart CVS to help you find the best deals (There are others, as well, I’m just not as familiar with them):

  • I heart CVS is a site where products are matched with coupons and you can view the ads for several weeks ahead.  There is an I heart Wags site also.
  • You’ll be able to make an informed decision on whether to buy now or wait for the next sale.
  • You’ll be able to check for coupons on upcoming sales, first your own stash, of course, and then any “clickable” coupons. This will increase your chances of getting manufacturer’s coupons before they are overwhelmed and pull them, and will also help you decide whether to print a coupon you might find now or later. You can generally only get two prints from a coupon – somehow they know, possibly from IP address, and most of them are limited.  Some are reset often, others never, so you don’t want to print them and waste them by letting them expire without a sale.
  • If you don’t have coupons, you can check their coupon database by clicking on the pink (or blue) “DB.” If there are coupons available you want, you can order them from several sites. I personally like “Coupons by Dede,” and my daughter has had great success with “Coupon Clippers.” It does take about a week for them to get to Minnesota, but the cost is nominal.  I’ll sit down in an evening and quickly scan through future ads, and make a list of the coupons I want, and then order them all at once.

Check out Pocket your Dollars by Carrie Roche: 

  • She matches sale prices with coupons as well, and has quite a different format from the I heart CVS. There is a great clickable feature to print lists, and a discussion forum for CVS as well as the other stores she covers.
  • Her CVS forum is usually up and running on Saturday.

Use the Sunday Coupon Preview:

  • It comes out every Thursday and lists coupons that will be in your Sunday paper, and that can help you decide how many papers you need to buy for the upcoming sales.
  • It can help you decide, too, if you should buy the early editions of the Sunday paper so that you can apply those coupons to the last day/first day Saturday sales. (Sometimes these editions do not have all the coupons.)
  • Since P&G coupons are always published the last Sunday of the month, with the right knowledge and timing, you might be able to use both sets of coupons on a sale at CVS that coincides with the coupon insert.

Rebates:

  • 1st of all, save your receipts! You usually won’t be able to take advantage of any of these offers if you do not have the original sales receipt. (I have a small cardboard file box I picked up at Office Max; I fold my receipts and put them in order.
  • Copy the receipts you send in for rebates and notate what the offer is.
  • If you know there is more than one offer you’d like to take advantage of, ask for a separate receipt at the counter. Sometimes the manufacturer will honor a copy of a receipt if you explain you’ve sent the original in on another offer, sometimes they won’t.
  • At the same time there are rebates, there are often high dollar coupons, and great sales so even including tax, time and mailings they can be worthwhile money makers.
  • Generally on Rebates, you’ll need the UPC. I don’t open my packages until I’m ready to use, unless, of course, there is a coupon in the package.
  • You’ll often find that heavily promoted items may have a rebate attached. I look for these on new brands or products (Try me free) or on items in heavy competition.
  • You’ll see rebates a lot on children’s medicines, heartburn products, new products, or even on products you’ve never heard of. P & G beauty products often have rebates (Olay, Pantene, Razors) and so does Neutrogena, Aveeno, and Johnson and Johnson and many others.
  • Certain brands often have rebates or offers. Check your coupon sites, check your manufacturer sites. P & G generally has a quarterly offer for a coupon book if you send in receipts showing you’ve bought a certain dollar amount (usually $50.00) in products. There are generally high dollar coupons in these booklets. On many of these, you only need the UPC number from the item or package, not the actual UPC itself.

One of the Best Times to Look for Good Sales:

  • On the last Sunday of every month, you’ll find most manufacturers that issue coupons (which will expire at the end of the following month) will often also have coupons out there that are due to expire at the end of the current month.  Sometimes CVS will have sales that coincide with these coupons and you can basically mix and match from two different sets of coupons, giving you a little bit of added advantage.  P&G does this all the time.

CVS Coupon policy:  

This is what I‘ve found, some of this is borrowed from Pocket Your Dollars and/or I heart CVS, and is not CVS’s “official coupon policy“:

  • CVS will honor one manufacturer’s coupon per item and one CVS coupon per item. Read my General Notes on Coupons at the end of this, as well.
  • BOGO:  If they have a sale that is buy one get one free (BOGO) they will accept a BOGO coupon and you will get both items for free. You may be able to actually use a coupon for money off the first item, then give them your BOGO coupon. Make sure you have other items to buy for the excess to roll over, if there is any, as they won’t give you money back. You can also use two coupons for money off on a BOGO sale.
  • BOGO50%:  If there is a sale like this, you can use two coupons. Again, any excess will roll to other items you are buying. For instance, Bic razors are $4.99 and they are on a special buy one, get one 50 percent off. You have two $3.00 coupons. Your total will be $7.50, you’ll get $6.00 off, so in essence, the second coupon for the second item would exceed the product value ($2.50), but you’ll get the full amount off your total bill. If you have a BOGO coupon and apply it to the BOGO50% sale, CVS will charge you full price for the first item, 50 percent for the second, and then remove the full price item with the coupon. Again, you may be able to use a second coupon on this transaction, but only if the second coupon is for money off.
  • If questioned by a clerk on either BOGO or BOGO50% off, and they want to adjust down the amount of your BOGO or $ off coupon, gently remind them they will be sending in the coupon for the full amount to the manufacturer and getting reimbursed that amount from the manufacturer plus the handling fee. (It’s only 8 cents handling fee, but it sounds better if you don’t mention that.)
  • Some, but not all CVS’s will take a manufacturer’s coupon several days past the expiration.  Ask before you shop.
  • Some, but not all CVS’s will take a similar coupon, as long as it works at the cash register, and especially if they advertise the product, but don’t have it. Again, ask before you shop.

Limits:

  • Sales limits are generally mentioned in the ad, and your receipt will normally reflect those limits, stating “limit reached.” However, some of the advertised limits are not real limits, and you will be able to take advantage of the offer more than once. Check your receipt, and if there is not a “limit reached” notation it means the offer is an open one, and you can do it more than once. I also save my receipt, as mentioned several times.

Unadvertised Sales:

  • You’ll find about these either by word of mouth (or web) or see them on the bottom of your receipt when you buy an item. They sometimes run a week, but usually run from 30 days to 6 weeks.  There are generally two kinds:
  • The first is buy so many, get one free: An example is buy 10 cokes, get one free. Sometimes you’ll see these for milk or candy, too, although they may have them for other items.
  • A second might be extra bucks for a small item, such as power bars or candy, usually the extra buck covers the cost of the item, essentially making it free.

Additional Ways to Save at CVS not necessarily tied to the Extra Care Card:

  • CVS Beauty Club:  Get $5.00 EB with every $50.00 spent on beauty care items.
  • Advisor Panel: CVS has an advisor panel. Sign up for it, and they will send you an occasional survey. If you meet their qualifications and take the survey, you will be rewarded with Extra Bucks.  (I’ve had a $4.50 one and a $3.50 one. It took several months before I got my first survey.)
  • Diabetes Advantage Club:  Whether you are diabetic or not, you can join the club at the pharmacy. You’ll just give them your Extra Care card and they’ll scan it. You will get a coupon here and there at the machine or on your receipt, and you’ll earn double extra care bucks back (4% instead of 2%) on the “hundreds” of items that qualify under the program. I haven’t been able to find any list of items, but I’m assuming this includes meters, and obvious things, but probably also some first aid items, etc. I have gotten a couple of coupons for money off mouthwash. They’ll give you a little Ziploc with some lancets and alcohol wipes if you give them one of the coupons in the store advertising the club.
  • Gift Card Offers:  CVS is advertising gift cards back for buying a certain amount of items listed in their weekly add or tagged in their store – they can be a little confusing, but a great way to save money. I see a lot of buy $30.00, get $10.00 in a gift card.  I often check Pocket Your Dollars to help me find the best deals on these.

CVS.com will also send you emails:

  • If you sign up for things like online offers, photo development opportunities, online specials, etc, CVS.com will send additional offers and are separate from CVS Extra Care. They also have several different health emails you can sign up for.

Clip Free coupons:

  • Go to CVS and check their site for their own coupons or manufacturer’s coupons. Some of the manufacturer’s coupons take you to sites off their site where you may already have printed coupons.  Here is their page.

Savings Star: 

  • Savings star is a coupon site that ties coupons to your store cards.  They’re fairly new and aren’t affiliated with many cards yet, but CVS is one of them.  Go to their site and enter your CVS card number.  When you buy items at CVS and take advantage of offers you’ll accumulate points.  You can have those points converted to Pay Pal dollars, or converted to gift cards.  Amazon is one, but the site says they’ll add more as they become available.

CVS Newspaper Insert Coupons:

  • From time to time, CVS will issue a page of coupons in the Sunday paper.

Check the clearance shelves: 

  • Previously mentioned, but worth mentioning again.

CVS also has a monthly drawing for money for giving feedback on their surveys. 

  • They will randomly print a number and code on the bottom of the receipt.  You can enter each time you get a printout on the receipt.

Prescriptions:

  • You earn $1.00 back on every two prescriptions filled, as mentioned earlier.
  • You will also now and then get a coupon from the coupon spitter outer for a $25.00 gift card when you bring a new or transferred prescription to CVS.  (I got several right after I joined the Diabetic Care club, and once I brought over a prescription stopped getting the offers.  I’d say try to collect several before you actually fill a prescription there.)
  • The CVS I use will honor any current advertised offer for any other company on prescriptions, just clip it out and bring it in.  (You might want to ask prior to making this assumption at other stores.)
  • You can manage your prescriptions online.

Cosmetics and Beauty Products:

  • CVS has a 100 percent guarantee on beauty products:  “Love it or Return it,” within 60 days of your purchase with your receipt.  The store I go to said they will take it back without the receipt but will only give the last sales price on the item, or will exchange for a like item.
  • Also, as mentioned elsewhere, check out their Beauty Club for $5.00 off every $50.00 you spend.  (Keep in mind, with coupons and sales, you won’t every actually be spending the $50.00.)

General things to know:

Don’t buy items that are not on sale or don’t have EB offers at CVS:

  • You’ll generally find they are more expensive than other stores.

Most, but not all, CVS stores start their Sunday sales on Saturday and end on the following Saturday.

  • I’ve found in my area that the 24 hour CVS stores start their Sunday sale early in the day, about 11:00, but the ones that close start theirs very late. Ask at the stores you shop at to find out what their policy is.
  • Saturday can be the best day to shop because you can take advantage of more than one sale, especially if you have a $ off $ coupon that has a higher amount – say $5.00 off $40.00, and you are counting on a lot of free or free after Ebs to get you to your dollar amount.
  • It can also be a confusing day to shop – the employees are changing signs, and sometimes there may be two different sales on the same item, one from the current week and one from the Sunday sale that really starts on Saturday.
  • The key here is knowing what the item you are buying is and what sale is going to give you the best value. You will want to specifically ask for it at the check out. Sales may or may not be marked. Generally, both circulars will be in the store, and will help you with your shopping.

Always be friendly and courteous goes without saying.

  • By building a relationship with the staff you are more likely to get not only their help, but sometimes the benefit of the doubt during your transactions. I try to shop and use my coupons when they aren’t busy, and always offer to let anyone ahead of me if they are waiting in line. It always takes awhile, even to use a few coupons.
  • If you get a clerk who is so unwilling to treat you correctly or honor your coupons that you will actually not be spending what you thought you should be, and a manager can’t or won’t correct it, bail! Just politely tell them “I’m sorry, but this isn’t working out how I thought it would. Let’s just void my transaction and I’ll take my coupons back,” thank them and go on your merry way. There is more than one CVS out there, and this one doesn’t deserve your business. I find that most clerks are happy to see you save money! I’ve actually had a clerk tell me she never checks sites, reads ads or make out lists – she just waits till I come in and buys what I do!

Be Patient and have a back up plan!

  • It sometimes takes awhile to find things and get to know CVS, but nearly every store I have been in is set up almost exactly the same way.
  • Be patient and flexible with the coupons.  Don’t be afraid to scrap an idea if you find it isn’t what you think it will be, and try to have a back up plan available just in case, especially if you need to buy items to get to a certain dollar amount to use a coupon.
  • Keep in mind that if you haven’t been a big shopper, it takes awhile to get to know the products, brands, sizes, etc.  Be patient with the process and with yourself, and it will pay off.

Other ways to earn Extra Bucks:

  • One more way to earn Extra Care Bucks: Recylebank. You can send things in there to recycle, or when you join, you enter a code. Sometimes you’ll find these codes here and there at various sites, and often they’ll have an offer to “buy” extra care bucks (which come in the mail) when you redeem your points. This is limited to once a month. I think I got $3.50 from them when I first signed up.
  • Sign up for their “Don’t be a Money Trasher” pledge.

If you need to contact CVS:

  • CVS customer service number:  1 888 287-5644
  • CVS Extra Care:  1 800 746-7287 (M-F 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.)  I have found that sometimes it takes more than one phone call to reach a knowledgeable representative.
  • CVS address:  CVS Corporation, Corporate Headquarters, One CVS Drive, Woonsocket RI 02895
  • CVS.com

Not getting offers or emails you’ve have in the past?

  • Check to make certain you are signed up, but if you are, contact customer service.  Several people have reported having problems, and it’s happened to me in the past.  I was looking at the page online that showed the checkmark stating I wanted to get offers.  The customer service rep said I was not signed up, and corrected it for me.

CVS.com and CVS Extra Care Accounts:  Managing Online

  • You can manage your CVS account online, and manage your Extra Care Card tied to that account as well.
  • There is a verification process to manage prescriptions.
  • You can also sign up for emails from CVS. com for discounts and photo opportunities.
  • To check on your CVS Extra Care Account, sign in and push the red extra care card on the top right hand of the page. That’s where you will find things like how many Extra Bucks you have, an occasional offer you can print for $ off $, and what limits you’ve reached in your spending on sales.
  •  It will also tally up your spend for the quarter. The system seems to be a bit slow in taking off Extra Bucks you’ve spent, and it’s a little confusing when you look at the balances. Some of the same information is printed on the bottom of your receipt.
  • You can take advantage of online sales, specials and use the Ebs. Sometimes the prices are not as good as store prices when you use coupons.

Related Reading

Links for The Twelve Strategies:

Other:

Time Magazine:  Why You Shouldn’t Buy Food at Grocery Stores

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