There are several basic questions you should find out the answers to to help you get the most for your money when shopping at any store.

Step 1: Do they have a frequent shopper card?

At CVS Pharmacy, the frequent shopper card is called an Extra Care Bucks card.  These are available in the store, or go to their website and sign up.  This is how you are able to earn Extra Care Bucks.

Step 2: Do they participate in any catalina programs?

CVS does participate in a version of the mainstream catalina programs. However, at CVS, you receive Extra Care Bucks (ECBS). To save money by shopping at CVS, you must know how to use your ECBs.

As you look at the weekly ads, you will notice that several say “Pay $X, get $X in ECB”. These “ECB”s are Extra Card Bucks and they are cash back you receive in the form of register coupons when you use your ECB card.  These print at the end of your register receipt, so don’t lose them!  They usually expire within 30 days, but can be used on any product. They can only be used at CVS and they do roll.  To “roll” ECBs means to use ECBs to buy products that get you more ECBs.  Essentially, your initial money outlay will help you to keep paying for months and months.  (My initial outlay actually cost me less than $1 because of the coupons I used, and I’ve been “rolling” them since March!). By keeping my ECBs current, I get a TON of items for “free” (you usually will still pay tax). And by using coupons with ECBs, you get more bang for your (EC)Buck!

Step 3: Do they have an official coupon policy?

Unfortunately, as at most stores, the policy can vary from location to location. It is always a good idea to check at your local CVS for their specific policy.  But in general, CVS:

  • accepts manufacturer coupons, both from the paper and printed from the internet
  • does not accept competitor coupons (including manufacturer coupons printed with another store’s logo)
  • does not accept expired coupons
  • does not participate in any e-coupon program
  • allows the use of 1 store coupon and 1 manufacturer coupon per item
  • allows the ECBs from one item can be used to purchase another of the same item
  • allows coupons and ECBs to be used together to get items FREE!

Step 4: Do they offer an organic store brand?

Unfortunately, CVS does not offer any organic products of any kind that I am aware of.  But it is a great place to get Food Pantry items for cheap or free!

Step 5: What is their weekly ad cycle?

At CVS their weekly ad is valid Sunday-Saturday.  It usually does not include any coupons of any kind, but it will display the ECB deals for the week, as well as their normal sales.

Step 6: Do they have any internal publications that offer savings?

CVS does not have any internal publications.  However, they do sell a magazine called Reinventing Beauty for $0.99 (usually by the register) that includes CVS & Manufacturer coupons!

Step 7: Anything else I should know?

When you walk into CVS, be sure to scan your ECB card at a little red machine (usually not too far from the entrance inside)! Special coupons will print from the machine. These are usually valid only for 1 week and usually are for CVS brand items.  But sometimes they are for name-brands. Either way, good deals!

Also, be sure to buy a Green Tag for $0.99.  Attach this to any reusable bag and have it scanned with each transaction. After 4, you get $1 ECB back!

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