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How to Shop and Save at CVS

Have you ever thought of CVS as a place to save money on your basic health, beauty and some of your food needs? Maybe even bring home some items for free? I never did, but CVS Pharmacy is a great place to do just that. I have been shopping at CVS weekly now for a couple of years and each week I bring home several items for pennies on the dollar.

Here are some tips to get the most out of your shopping trip.

Get a CVS Extra Care Reward Card. With the CVS Extra Care Card, you will receive sale prices and extra bucks on certain items. These are coupons on the end of your receipt to use just like cash at CVS.

There are two ways to do this, you can either pick up an application in the store or fill one out on line. The benefit of picking one up at CVS is that you can get it immediately so you can start shopping and saving.

What is an Extra Care Buck (ECB)? CVS has a reward system with their store cards. They reward shoppers with Extra Care Bucks (a.k.a. ECB’s) for certain shopping habits. These are “coupons” that print at the bottom of the receipt when you shop at CVS. These are good for almost ANYTHING at CVS.

Check the bottom of your CVS receipt as soon as you check out to be sure your Extra Buck printed. If it did not, show the item and the ad to the cashier and she/he can “force” one to print for you.

Learn to read the ad. Look for extra buck deals and see how they are marked so you learn to see them easily. Often there is fine print under a sale item including more items than what is pictured and includes any limit details. Learn to read the fine print.

Make friends with the Magic Coupon Machine. There are basically two types of coupons to use at CVS; manufacturer coupons and CVS coupons. Typically, at each CVS store, there is a large red kiosk near the front of the store. I like to call this the “Magic Coupon Machine”. Each time you are in the store, scan your Extra Care Card. CVS store coupons magically come out, and some of them are for free items or high-dollar off coupons.

Here is the great thing about couponing at CVS, CVS policy states a customer may use ONE manufacturer and ONE CVS coupon per item. So if you have a Colgate coupon put out by the manufacturer for a $1 off and a Colgate coupon good only at CVS for a $1 off, you can use both on the one tube of toothpaste and receive $2 off total. The magic happens if that item is on sale and IF there is an Extra Buck deal on the product. You may be able to get the item for free and have a ECB to use for your next trip.

Rolling those extra bucks. No, we are not going bowling at CVS with our Extra Bucks. To “roll” an extra buck means to spend it at CVS on an item that will give extra bucks back. You “roll” it into another extra buck with a later expiration date while “purchasing” a free, or nearly free, product with your current extra buck you earned from an earlier transaction at CVS.

Stockpiling. One advantage to shopping the CVS sales weekly with extra bucks and coupons is, it is easy to start stockpiling. You will be transferring CVS stock from CVS shelves to your own shelves.

Numerous Transactions. At CVS, to get the most “bang for your Extra Buck,” it is necessary to make more than one transaction. The basic reason is to use one CVS ECB earned on the first transaction, then, on the next transaction that rewards another CVS extra buck. This is referred to “rolling” extra bucks in the world of CVSing.

These are the terms you need to become familiar with when you shop at CVS:
  • Extra Care Bucks (ECBs): It’s a CVS store coupon for a discount of your next purchase order that prints at check out.  They print at the bottom of your receipt and can be used “like cash” on almost anything else sold at CVS.
  • Reinventing Beauty Magazine:  This is a is a 99 cent magazine available in the beauty section of most CVS stores.  It sometimes comes with CVS and manufacturer coupons.  Where else can you find the magazine?  by the weekly flyers, with the other magazines, by the cash registers, in the cosmetic aisle.  Not other stores seem to carry this magazine.
  • Clip Free Coupon:  Refers to a month long discount offered that’s deducted automatically at checkout.
  • CRT:  or Cash register tape is a coupon that prints at the bottom of your receipt or at the Price Scanner.
  • Price Scanner: Price scanning machines located at certain stores that serve to check the price of items and also print CVS store coupons when you CVS Extra Care Bucks card is used.
  • CVS Store coupons:  These can be stacked with manufacturer coupons for added savings.  Can only use one per transaction.
  • CVS $/$$ coupons:  These coupons provide a discount once your order reaches a certain value before coupons.  For example:  you could save $4 when you buy $20 or more.  This total is always before any other coupons.
Important Things to Remember
1) The key to a smooth shopping experience at CVS is by planning your purchase in advance or develop “scenarios.” This will help you by having a plan of attack to maximize savings.  Always check our CVS sales and coupon matchups for the best deals available.


2)  The secret to minimizing your out of pocket expense when you shop at CVS is by breaking off your transactions and using ECBs from the first transaction on the second and so on.  Please remember to be polite and let others ahead of you if you have more than two transactions planned.

3)  There is a right way to hand your coupons when you shop at CVS: First hand CVS dollar off transaction coupons, then CVS store coupons/manufacturer coupons, and finally your ECBs.

4)  Before you leave the store make sure to check your receipt to verify that all extra care bucks you expected to receipt printed at the bottom of your receipt.  It is easier to correct situations right after you complete the transaction than later.

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