Effective Coupon Shopping at CVS

Friday, March 05, 2010 Hand-posted by Jennifer

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Effective coupon shopping at Drug Stores (like CVS & Walgreens) takes on a much different shopping strategy than shopping at Grocery Stores.  Each Drug Store has their own Customer Reward Program to help save you even more money in their stores.

Here is a list of several ways you will be able to save money at CVS:

  • Extra Care Card: You will need to register for an Extra Care Card in order to get the deals at CVS. You can pick up a card in the store or register online to have one mailed to you. Make sure you provide a valid phone number on it. This is important so that if you forget your card the cashier can look up your account by simply using your phone number and you will still get credit.
  • Weekly Sales Ad: CVS publishes their ad every Sunday. You can normally find the ad in your Sunday newspaper, near the entrance of the store or online at CVS.com.
  • CVS Coupons: CVS issues their own store coupons to help save you money on certain items throughout the store. The added bonus to these coupons is that they can be combined with a manufacturer coupon for double the savings.
  • Manufacturer Coupons: Make sure to match up your manufacturer coupons to your purchases in addition to any CVS coupons that you might have to save extra money. You can always combine a CVS coupon with a manufacturer coupon for the SAME item. You can also use coupons toward the purchase of an item that is going to produce an Extra Care Buck.
  • Extra Care Bucks: Each week in the ad you will see various items advertised that, when you buy them, you will earn “Extra Care Bucks” back for your purchase. Extra Care Bucks (or ECB’s for short) are coupons that are printed out at the bottom of your receipt. Extra Care Bucks are essentially like cash that you can use on a future purchase (without some of the exclusions like at Walgreens).
  • Green Bag Tag: CVS recently issued a green bag tag program to encourage shoppers to “go green”. You can attach this Green Bag Tag to your reusable shopping bag (or keychain) to remind you to reduce your plastic bag usage. Each time you have the Green Bag Tag scanned at CVS (up to once per day) you will get a bonus $1 ECB every 4 times you scan the card. So, remember to Go Green!

Here are a few strategies to help you maximize your savings at CVS:

Find the CVS Store Coupons! Remember, these coupons can be used in addition to your manufacturer coupons on the same product. So, where can you find the store coupons?

  • CVS issues their own “Clip-Free” store coupons to help you save money on certain items throughout the store. You should find a booklet in that you can pick up that identifies which items have “clip-free” coupons for that particular month.
  • The pharmacy is another good place to look for store coupons either on the counter or in a rack near the pickup window.
  • The Coupon Scanner! Most stores (but not all) have a Coupon Scanner located near the entrance for you to scan your Extra Care Card to get CVS Store coupons. Some of the coupons are for specific products but sometimes they are for a dollar amount off your purchase ($5 off $20, for example). You can keep scanning your card until it says “no coupons available”.
  • Your email. Register a valid email address with CVS and they will send you valuable store coupons to print for savings!
  • Your receipt. Along with your Extra Care Bucks that print at the bottom of your receipt you will often see coupons printed out.

Find the best deals to plan your trip! You can’t just walk into CVS and expect to save a lot of money; you need to have a plan. So, where can you find the best deals to plan your trip?

  • You can find them in the weekly store ads posted online at CVS.com.
  • You can find advance previews of the upcoming ads online (such as iheartcvs.com).

Match coupons to the best deals to reduce your Out of Pocket (OOP) expense!

  • You can use manufacturer coupons AND store coupons to reduce your Out of Pocket expense.

Simply matching coupons to the sale prices is not the only way to save money at CVS, you will also want to take advantage of their Extra Care Buck Program also.

Here are a few advanced strategies to help you maximize your Extra Care Buck deals at CVS:

Find the Extra Care Buck deals! Where can you find the Extra Care Buck deals?

  • clip_image002[4]You will find them listed each week in the sales ad and also on shelf hangtags in the store.
  • The easiest place to find them is when they are published online by the coupon bloggers each week (listed above).
  • The picture to the right is an example of how an Extra Care Buck item is listed in the sales ad (for 1/31 -2/6). Dove Men’s Care is advertised on sale for $5.49 or FREE after Extra Care Bucks.
  • CVS has limits on the number of items you can purchase each week which are listed in the ad and on the hang tags. Once you reach the limit it will also show at the bottom of your receipt.

Use coupons to make the Extra Care Buck deal better! Finding the ECB deals might be pretty easy to do but don’t forget that you can use coupons to make the deal even better. Using the example above, here is how you might find it published on a coupon blog:

Dove Men’s Care $5.49, Get $5.49 ECB (Limit 2)
- $1/1 Dove Men’s Care printable
- $1.75/1 Dove Men+Care Body and Face Bar 4Bar pack or larger in 1/31 RedPlum insert
- $1.25/1 Dove Men+Care Body Wash or Scrubber 13.5oz or larger in 1/31 RedPlum insert
Pay $3.74 - $4.49 OOP |  Get back $5.49 ECB | Final = FREE after coupons & ECB

What is this telling us?

  • First, the item is on sale for $5.49 and when you pay $5.49 at checkout you will get back a Extra Care Buck for $5.49 thus making your purchase FREE after ECB.
  • Second, the item has a variety of coupons available to reduce your OOP expense. In the example above there were three coupons available for that particular product and by choosing one of the coupons you can pay as little as $3.74 to $4.49 out of pocket and still get back the $5.49 Extra Care Buck. Awesome, right!

Quick Tip: CVS will take expired manufacturer coupons as long as the register doesn’t beep; normally if they’re just a week or two old.

Watch those Extra Care Bucks! Let’s look at a few tips about the Extra Care Buck.

  • Extra Care Bucks have expiration dates; make sure you use them so that you don’t lose them.
  • Think you have your out of pocket math figured down to the penny and something goes awry at the register and they won’t take one of your coupons or ECB’s? The CVS Register looks at coupons & ECB’s a little weird.
  • How do you figure it out? Take the Total Cost of your products minus Store Coupons minus Extra Care Bucks plus Tax minus Manufacturer Coupons

Confusing? Well, at any other store besides CVS you can take the Total Cost of your products and subtract any applicable coupons to get your OOP expense but the CVS register works quite differently as you can tell.

Take it SLOW! My best advice would be to just choose ONE Extra Care Buck deal for the week. Buy that one deal and that alone. By keeping your transactions small in the beginning you will gain experience to work up to multiple deals and transactions. You will become better at planning out your trips and saving money for your family.

Keep your COOL! Even well planned trips may not go as planned but try to stay calm. A good tip is to checkout in cosmetics or photo so that you and the cashier won’t be rushed by additional customers. Pay close attention at the register so that you can have a mistake fixed by a manager while you’re there instead of having to make a trip back later. And lastly, get to know your CVS employees on a first name basis; you’ll be shopping there a lot!

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