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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

{ask me anything} Playing the CVS game


Sorry I have gotten away from my "Ask me Anything" posts -- I promise I'll be better at publicly answering all your questions (not just via email).

Anyway, this week's question is a frequent one regarding one of my favorite stores, CVS!

"Can you explain the Extra Care Bucks and how to get free items at CVS?"

I posted these tips on "Playing the CVS game" a long, long time ago on the old site and they have somehow disappeared, so here they are again:
  1. If you have a CVS near by, I first suggest getting an ExtraCare savings cardYou can do this online or in the store.  Your rewards will be tied to this card, so treat it like gold! ;)  When you are checking out, always make sure to have the cashier scan your card first.
  2. Understand ECB (Extra Care Bucks) -  Rewards are called Extra Bucks that you can earn at any CVS/pharmacy store or online when you use your ExtraCare card.They print out at the bottom of your receipt and can be used on your next purchase (excludes gift card purchases, alcohol, prescriptions).  NOTE:  They will not give you change back so best to use up the full amount of your ECB.  Try adding a 'filler' such as a pack of gum if you are going to be under the amount.
  3. In each weekly ad you will see a certain number of items that may be FREE after ECB (Extra Care Bucks).  For example, notice to the right the pens are priced at .99 (your out-of-pocket cost), but when you buy those they will also generate a .99 ECB...that's essentially FREE after you get your ECB back.
  4. Match a coupon with the ECB Deals to get an even sweeter deal!  Notice the John Freida deal... Buy 2 Hair Care products ($5 each), Get a $5 ECB back.  When you use the $3 off coupons, you will pay $4 out-of-pocket for both products, then you'll get a $5 ECB.  After doing the math, you have just made $1 for your purchase (this is also known as a moneymaker deal)!!
  5. Use TWO coupons for Buy 1, Get 1 FREE deals - Many items often go on sale for BOGO.  CVS will actually let you use two coupons, even though they are giving you one for FREE.  NOTE:  This may vary by store/manager/cashier.  
  6. Roll, Baby Roll -  When you use your ECB on other deals that generate more ECB this is called "rolling."  You can end up getting ahead and not having to pay more products you actually need.  It's all about the planning here.
  7. Stack coupons - CVS will let you "stack" (or combine) one manufacturer coupon with one store coupon for the same product.  Often CVS will have coupons that come out with your receipt or at the coupon printing machine when you first walk in the store.
  8. Scan first - I mentioned above you want the cashier to scan you card first before checking out, but you'll also want to scan your ExtraCare card at the coupon printing machine inside the store.  This machine is about 5' tall and is usually right when you walk in.  It will print out coupons and even ECBs every now and then.
  9. Earn more ECB - Earn 2% back with every purchase in-store (get rewards every 3 months) and Earn 1 Extra Buck for every 2 prescriptions purchased in-store.
  10. Plan Ahead - Use the weekly coupon match-ups to make sure you are planning ahead and getting the most for your money.
OK, there you have it.  Clear as mud?

Let me know if you still have questions.

What'd I miss?  (Please let me know if there is anything more to add.)

Do you have a question about couponing, shopping, saving, meal planning, homeschooling, or even about me? No matter how big, small, or trivial it seems, someone else probably has the same question, so ask away! As long as it's respectful, I'm an open book so "Ask Me {almost} Anything!"

Just drop me a line and I'll do my best to get back to you as soon as possible.


    1. Grabbing this to post on my blog! Thanks!