Why I Love CVS Couponing
I was lucky to to discover CVS early on in my couponing journey. This was the store I pretty much solely couponed at for a good 2 years. You may say, “CVS is really expensive? Why do I want to shop there?” Well, expensive it may be to regular shoppers, but they have some of the best stacking opportunities of almost any other couponing store that allow couponers to score some of the best deals. Not only that, they make it extremely easy, too. CVS pretty well advertises and encourages shoppers to use each of the below techniques that make couponing here a breeze!
The first step with CVS couponing is to sign up for an ExtraCare Rewards card. ExtraCare is CVS’s loyalty card which allows shoppers to build up rewards, namely coupons and Extrabucks or ECB’s. Having an ExtraCare card is important because any coupon or ECB you may receive will be tied specifically with your card number meaning that they cannot be used by anybody else and only when your ExtraCare card is scanned at the register. Plus it allows you to get the advertised sale prices as listed in the weekly ad.
You can receive CVS store coupons with your ExtraCare card in a couple of different ways. First you can log in to your personal account on cvs.com. You can view all of your scheduled coupons by clicking on your weekly ad. CVS will tailor coupons specifically to you based on what you buy. When viewing your coupons online you can see which coupons have already been printed and when they expire and which ones are new. For the new coupons you have a choice to either send straight to your card – meaning you can apply the coupon at the register after your ExtraCare card has been scanned, or you can print them at home.
Do not worry if you do not have a printer because you can actually print the coupons right in the store as well. If you did not previously already print or send the coupon to the store, all you need to do is walk up to the big red coupon machine (every store has one) and scan your card or input the phone number registered with your card and your coupons magically print right there. Be sure to scan your card as many time as coupons continue to print as they usually do not all print in one setting. Even if you choose not to print from the coupon machine, any coupons still left will be printed right at the bottom of your receipt at the register. The coupons normally expire about 2 weeks after they have been activated.
I started couponing at CVS that I became what I call a CVS power user. By that I mean that I eventually signed up for a second ExtraCare card to score twice as many deals and savings. I eventually gave this up though because it took twice as much time to organize my trip as I had to keep each card, coupons, ECB’s and transactions separate and keep them very organized to make sure I used the correct items that correlated with the correct card. Plus, I’m pretty sure CVS frowns upon this now.
Be sure to sign up for any weekly store emails on your online account as this will allow you to be emailed a weekly store coupon that can be used on top of any other store coupons you may choose to use. Usually these coupons come in the form of 20%, 25%, or 30% your total in store purchase or purchase based coupons such as $3 off $15, $4 off $20, or $5 off $25. Usually this coupon is emailed on a Thursday and you have until Sunday at 11:59pm to print it or send it to your ExtraCare card. After that you have lost the opportunity. Once you have printed or sent it to your ExtraCare card, the coupon is only valid from 4 days after activation. I usually prefer to activate it on Sunday so that I have until Thursday of the following week to use it.
A quick note regarding these coupons. As great as they are and can bring substantial savings to your CVS shopping trip, I have found that after a certain amount of time and having registered a certain amount of savings on my ExtraCare card, CVS will stop sending these emails. So it is important not to continuously rely on these coupons every week as they will eventually stop. Sometimes after about a year or if CVS notices inactivity on your account, they will start sending them again to entice you to come back and start shopping with you again. But this will not necessarily happen.
Extrabucks or ECB’s are coupons that you can earn by purchasing specific deals that are listed in the weekly ad. The coupons will print on the bottom of your receipt after you have made the designated purchase. These coupons must be used specifically with your ExtraCare card. They usually will come in denominations of $1, $2, $3, $4, $5, %7, or $10 and can be applied like cash to your next transaction. Extrabucks normally expire about 4 weeks after they are issued, which means you have a month to use them so as not to have them wasted.
You can earn ECB’s in several ways other than making a specified purchased as advertised in the weekly ad. You will automatically earn 2% back on your purchases made with your card that will be distributed to you in the form of ECB’s quarterly. You can also use your card to fill prescriptions at the pharmacy. When you enroll in CVS pharmacy and health rewards, once 10 prescriptions have been filled then you earn $5 ECB’s. You can also earn by signing up for prescription management, emails, texts, or getting a flu shot. Lastly, best of all, if you enroll in CVS beauty club, then you will earn $5 ECB’s for every $50 you spend on beauty products. This is probably the fastest way to earn extra ECB’s as purchases on personal items such as shampoo and any purchase of makeup will go towards this total. You can view your current total on the bottom of your receipt. Plus you get 10% off beauty coupon upon enrollment and $3 ECB’s on your birthday along with exclusive emails with additional beauty coupons. Usually any extra ECB’s that have been earned can be viewed on your online account or printed from the coupon machine or at the end of your receipt.
CVS Mobile App
CVS also offers a mobile app for both iPhone and Android. CVS may offer additional in-app coupons that are only available to customers with the registered mobile app. These coupons can be sent to your ExtraCare card. In addition, it also comes in handy for viewing your own account, coupons, weekly ad, refilling prescriptions, ordering photo prints and more. Plus, typically if you link your ExtraCare card with the app, CVS will offer an extra $1-$3 ECB’s to your account, so it doesn’t hurt to download it to your phone. Plus I have found it handy when in the store for looking up which items are applicable to current deals in the weekly ad.
On a quick side note, when looking up the weekly ad online, you can click on a certain deal and it will show you all the applicable items that can be purchased towards that deal. This is very handy for ensuring that you are purchasing the correct items to get the ECB rewards promotion. In the same way, you can also find this same information on the mobile app which can be handy for the reasons I have already described.
CVS Stacking Example
Above I give a good example of how stacking all of these coupon offers together can lead to significant savings. You can see how purchasing 2 of the L’Oreal root rescue will yield $4 Extrabucks. In addition there was a weekly email coupon that can be used, as well as manufacturer coupons online. If you were to roll $4 ECB’s from your previous trip onto this transaction then you have the potential to score a $.21 moneymaker. Not only that, if your account holds a relevant CVS coupon – such as $2 off any hair color, you have the potential to save even more.
CVS Coupon Policy and Other Information
It is important to know a store’s coupon policy. You can view CVS’s policy here. In addition, you can learn further in-depth about percent off and purchased based coupons at CVS here. I highly recommend that you visit the CVS/Pharmacy page at KCL to get an even more in-depth view about couponing at CVS.
Pitfalls of CVS Couponing and Why I Don’t Shop There Anymore
You may be asking, “Why are you telling me to coupon here if you don’t do it yourself anymore?!” Well, for one simple reason: we have recently moved and there are no longer any CVS’s in our area. I am incredibly sad, believe me, but at the same time it is good for me to start exploring new stores that I didn’t have access to before. Edit: I have now discovered Rite Aid Pharmacy. You can learn more about couponing at Rite Aid here.
That being said, there are a couple of things to be very mindful of when couponing at CVS. The main thing I like to warn people about is expiration dates. Unlike the gift cards at Target, ECB’s do expire, and so it is important to make sure that you use them so that they do not go to waste. You may think it isn’t a big deal, but you will probably change your mind when you have $15 in ECB’s that expired before you could use them. When you are rolling your ECB’s from trip to trip, it is important to make sure you plan accordingly and try not to accumulate too many ECB’s at one time. I ran into this problem frequently when I discovered I had $20 ECB’s that I needed to use on my next shopping trip, but only want to coupon for deals that would get me $10. This meant that I frequently would purchase things I didn’t really need. I eventually came down to only trying to use and/or receive back between $5 to $10 ECB’s per transaction. This ended up working better for me in the long run, and sometimes I would just use ECB’s without the expectation of receiving any back.
Another pitfall of the expiration is that if you coupon too many weeks in a row, you may find that you haven’t left yourself any time out for a break and you feel you have to keep shopping every week so that you don’t waste any ECB’s. I came to find that shopping for 3 weeks, and then taking a break for 1 week, made for a very manageable balance, plus since I rolled my ECB’s from trip to trip, then I would continually have 1 week in every 4 for a break without worrying about any expiring during the 1 week I took off.
Of course you don’t have to roll your rewards from trip to trip. You can roll them from transaction to transaction instead which may help in the expiration date dilemma, but do be warned that it may take more organization. You can find good examples of rolling from transaction to transaction here.
I certainly hope that if CVS is available in your area you’ll give it good consideration. I have found some of my best deals at CVS, plus don’t get me started on their Black Friday deals. I love this store for good reason, and hope that you’ll come to love CVS couponing, too.