15 Secrets You Need to Know Before Shopping CVS


Since CVS is by far the easiest drug store to shop with coupons (at least in my opinion?) it's definitely worth learning how to shop when you're there.


But, shopping there can still take a little work, especially if you want to save big!


So, here are 15 secrets you NEED to know before shopping CVS. 


Now, we're going to start with very basic information here (so you seasoned CVS'ers may find all this old news), but I want to make it as simple to follow as possible for folks who've never used a coupon in their lives.


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1.  Request a CVS Extra Care Card.

You can get a CVS card at your local store or sign up for one on the CVS website.

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2.  Also register your CVS card online.

CVS emails out coupons fairly regularly, so you'll want to register your card HERE to make sure you don't miss any deals.   Just for signing up for a card you may receive a coupon for a few dollars off your purchase. Definitely take a few minutes to sign up to get some extra savings!


3.  Use your Extra Care Card every time you shop.

Using your Extra Care Card every time you shop will  help make sure that CVS sends you targeted coupons, and you won't miss out on any extra savings.  If you forget your card at home you may use the phone number tied to your account when checking out so that you don't lose any savings.


 Note that you should have only one CVS card per household. There is some debate on this one, however I feel like it's not worth sacrificing my integrity for a deal – and I promise there are plenty of deals even with just one card!

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4. Scan your CVS card at the red coupon machine.

As soon as you walk in the door at CVS, you'll notice a red machine where you can scan your card to receive extra coupons. You'll also get targeted savings, as well as a coupon for a free item occasionally! CVS uses these coupons to motivate you to shop, and since these are they're store coupons, you can “stack” them with additional manufacturer coupons to save even more.

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5. CVS offers two kinds of sales each week.

When shopping CVS, watch for traditional store sales updated each Sunday, as well as “Extra Care Buck” (ECB) offers. Typically your very best buys of the the week at CVS will be the ECB deals, but always scan through the weekly ad to see what items get you the most for your money! CVS sometimes offers Buy One Get One offers (often on toiletries or detergents), and those savings can be as much or more than the regular ECB savings.

Also watch for clearance items throughout the store, as clearance items in addition to ECB discounts will be the best you'll find in the store.


WHAT IS AN EXTRA CARE BUCK (ECB)??  At CVS, each week in their weekly ad you'll see items that are “Extra Care Buck” (ECB) deals.  The very best savings at CVS come from their ECB deals. When you shop and purchase ECB deals you'll receive a printout at the bottom of your receipt for a certain number of ECBs towards your next purchase.



6. ECBs are like real cash at CVS.

ECBs are just like real cash to be used on a following trip at CVS (in fact, I keep my ECBs in my wallet next to my cash so I don't forget them!) They typically expire in 30 days, so be sure to use them before their expiration date.



Note: Always (always!) be nice to your cashier. It's completely worth it, and will make you feel good too!

7.  You can “roll” your ECBs.

To get the most bang for your CVS buck, you'll want to “roll” ECBs from your first trip at CVS towards your next trip, and then continue to use those to pay every time you go to the store. You can even “roll” those ECBs on the same day or in the same week to keep your initial out-of-pocket costs low!

8.  You can separate ECB deals into separate transactions.

If there's an ECB offer that requires you to spend XX dollars to get XX ECBs, you can separate that amount over several transactions.

For example: If you need to spend $30 to earn $5 in Extra Care Bucks on Proctor & Gable products, you can spend $15 of that in one transaction and $15 in a separate transaction to earn the ECBs, as long as you purchase them within the given week that they are offered. 

Confused on how to make those CVS scenarios work for you?  Learn how to make sense of CVS scenarios here.

 9. Use your highest value ECB first when checking out.

When checking out at CVS, you'll want to use your highest value ECB first towards your purchase, so that you can save smaller ECBs for smaller purchases.  Be sure to use ECBs that are less than the amount of your total purchase so that you don't lose any of the value of your ECBs. (Since you can't split up ECBs into more than one transaction, any amount that you have on your ECB over the amount of your purchase would be adjusted down, and you would lose that extra value.)


10. Easily check out at CVS.

If you have your coupons ordered a certain way, you will save the most when shopping at CVS. Here's the order that I use when shopping CVS:

1. Give your cashier any CVS store coupons for money off your total purchase (for example an email coupon from CVS for $3 off your $10 purchase.)
2. Next, give your cashier any CVS store coupons for a specific item you're purchasing.
3. Then use any manufacturer coupons.
4. Finally, use ECBs that you've received from a previous shopping trip to lower your out-of-pocket expense even further.

11. Watch for additional monthly CVS ECB offers.

Just like weekly ECBs offers, CVS offers monthly ECBs offers that work exactly the same way as weekly ECBs sales.  These however, are available for an the ENTIRE MONTH!

12.  CVS will give you Quarterly ECBs depending on how often you shop CVS.

CVS Quarterly ECBs are earned each quarter, including approximately 2% cash back on most CVS purchases. To qualify for these savings, you must spend at least $25 at CVS in a given quarter, and your CVS Quarterly ECBs will printout once each quarter while shopping.  You can use these just like cash for your CVS transactions.

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13.  CVS offers additional ECBs when you fill a prescription.

In addition to Quarterly ECBs based on your purchases in a given quarter, you'll also earn ECBs every time you fill a prescription at CVS.  For every 2 prescriptions filled at CVS, you'll get $1 in ECBs.

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14.  CVS gives Beauty Club Points when you purchase participating products.

In addition to CVS ECBs and Quarterly Rewards, earn CVS Beauty Club points when you shop. To get those savings, sign up for the CVS Beauty Club and link your CVS Extra Care Card to your Beauty Club account. For every $50 you spend on beauty products at CVS, you'll get $5 in ECBs! Items included are things like hair care and accessories, skin care, cosmetics, etc.


15. CVS offers Rain Checks.

If you get to CVS and they're out of a product (including ECBs offers), request a rain check. Then purchase the item when it's back in stock and your cashier will manually print the ECBs savings when the item is back in stock. Rain checks DO NOT expire at CVS.


Would you love to save big at the drug stores?


Right now for just 99¢ (regularly $3.99) download my complete guide to saving big at CVS, Walgreens and Rite Aid, with tons of specific tips and scenarios all in one concise package. Go HERE to get yours while this price lasts ~ happy penny pinching!



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  1. Thanks for pointing out that you should only get one card. I don’t think there should be any debate on this as the ads clearly state that the limit is PER HOUSEHOLD, not per card. I emailed CVS customer service once about a lady at my local store that literally had hand baskets lined up at the front of the store separating her deals out by card. I was like no wonder I can never get the deals! That lady always cleaned them out. I don’t know what they did about it but you are right in saying you won’t compromise your integrity for a deal. Thanks for sharing all the great info!

  2. If you exercise and wear a fitness tracker, link it to your app. You earn points that translate to cash for steps.

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