CVS 101

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We pass it every six miles; CVS is becoming as popular on city corners as some other well known locations such as Starbucks and McDonalds.  CVS has great weekly sales but are you really utilizing their great reward’s program?  There is a true strategy to getting items you use everyday for incredibly low prices (you might even find yourself making money!)

What is CVS’s Extra Care Plan? CVS has a wonderful reward program called the Extra Care Plan.  Anyone can sign up for an Extra Care Card.  Sign up in the store or online. With ALL your purchases, you want to present your CVS card (or phone number attached to the card) to the cashier.  Each quarter, the amount you spend in the store is totaled giving you back Extra Care Bucks. In addition, some of the store’s sales do not apply to your purchase unless you card is scanned.  Many people have the card, utilize the sales, but do not know how to use the actual rewards.

What are Extra Care Bucks? The CVS rewards that couponers are familiar with are Extra Care Bucks, commonly known as ECBsECBs are found at the bottom of your receipt when you buy a weekly item that has an ECB reward. I call ECBs CVS’s version of “monopoly money.”  The “money” is only good at CVS locations.  You do not want to throw this “money” out because it is like money. You can use it in the store like cash. You can also “roll” your ECBs using ECBS to buy your next purchase of items that will grant you more ECBS. When you do this you are spending pennies out of your pocked but “recycling” CVS’s money.  They carry an expiration date so it is very important to pay close attention to your ECBs (again staying organized.)

What is an ECB Sale? CVS often advertises deals as “Free after Extra Care Bucks.”  The best way for me to define what this means is to offer an example.  Let’s say Colgate Toothpaste is $2.99 this week and is listed as a “Free after Extra Care Bucks” item. When you buy the toothpaste for $2.99 with the money from your wallet, you are paying out of pocket, however, when you get your receipt back, CVS rewards you with $2.99 in ECBs.  You just got back $2.99 to put toward ANY*(not to be used during the same purchase for which you receive the ECBs) item in the store.  You can buy diapers, printer ink, detergent, etc.  Why not buy the FREE after ECB item?  You didn’t lose any money because you are putting the $2.99 ECB toward your next purchase…whatever you went into the store for in the first place.  Thus you go home with the item you need to purchase and an extra tube of toothpaste.  You don’t need it? Then donate it.

What kind of Coupons will CVS take? CVS takes manufacturer (MFR) coupons and store coupons (SC or CVS coupons).

Where can I find CVS Store Coupons? Email, Scanners, Magazines, Ads/Booklets and online. 1) Attach your Extra Care Card to your email account. Occasionally they send coupons where you get money off your purchase when you spend a certain amount. 2) There are scanners in the store for you to check on the price of items found in the store. When you enter the store, make sure to scan your CVS card and coupons will print. You might find a store coupon you can use on that trip! 3) CVS has a magazine called Reinventing Beauty. It is sold solely in CVS and does $.99  to purchase. Inside there are usually coupons of items that will be on sale that season. 4) CVS has a weekly had and a monthly booklet. Inside each of these flyers there are clip free coupons. The discount will automatically be taken off your purchase when you buy the sale item and the cashier scans your card.

What are Rain Checks? Rain checks are issued by the cashier on regularly stocked items that are on sale but no longer available in the store. For example, let’s say Ivory Soap is on sale and gives back ECBS when you make a purchase. If I went to purchase it this week and it the item was not available, I can get a rain check and pick it up later when the item is available again.  These can work for and against you. They can work for you because a coupon might come out later for Ivory Soap that you can use with your rain check. This can work against you because you might have a coupon that is about to expire.  Note: when I get a rain check, I cut the sale item out of the weekly flyer and staple it to the back of the rain check. This way when I go to pick that item up a week or so later, I can show the cashier what was on sale and how much I was supposed to get back in ECBs.

What do I, personally, do with my ECBs? I don’t use ECBs on items I need (unless I have an overflow on extra ECBs.) I use my ECBs to buy my next ECB items.  This means I keep recycling my ECBsCVS is not seeing my cash.  They are seeing the CVS monopoly money at the bottom of my register tape (receipt). With almost each transaction, I do I have to throw in a few cents or dollars to take care of the balance (usually due to taxes.)

*ECBs cannot be used for alcohol, tobacco, non-over-the-counter medications, and some other similar purchases.

Related Posts:

CVS Deals HERE.

Walgreens 101 HERE

Eight Tips to Couponing HERE

Couponing Acronyms and Explanations HERE
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