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Surviving CVS

Effective coupon shopping at Drug Stores (like CVS and Walgreens) takes a much different strategy than shopping at the Grocery Stores.

Each drug store has a different couponing method. Here are the basics on how to “Survive CVS.”

1) Head to a CVS and register for an Extra Care Card (you have to have this card to get the deals at CVS)

2) Look at the ad each week (or just come to Surviving The Stores for the ad preview) to see which items give back Extra Care Bucks when you buy them. Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) are coupons that print out on your receipt when you buy certain items and you can use them just like cash at any CVS (except on tobacco, alcohol and prescriptions).

3) Each week there will generally be a couple of items that are advertised as “Free after ECBs.” What this means is that you will get back the same amount of ECBs that you paid for the item. So if an items costs $4.99 and they give you back $4.99 in ECBs, then they advertise that item as “Free.”

4) Be prepared to spend a little bit of money the first time you go to CVS. For example, if you bought the item above, you would have to pay $4.99 out of pocket, but you would get $4.99 in ECBs back. Then the next week you would see what items are “free after ECBs” and you would buy them with your $4.99 ECBs. So if there was another item the next week that cost $4.99 and gave back $4.99 ECBs, you would buy that item and use your $4.99 in ECBs that you received the previous week to pay for it. You would end up paying $0 out of pocket, and you would get $4.99 back AGAIN to use the next week. This concept is called “rolling your ECBs.”

5) Now, what if an item was $4.99, you got $4.99 in ECBs back AND you had a $1.00 off of one ($1/1) coupon for that item? Well, you would only pay $3.99, but you would still get back $4.99! (Are you seeing the potential here??)

6) How can this get even sweeter? There is a price scanning machine at just about every CVS. You can scan your CVS Extra Care card in this machine and it will print out CVS coupons for you. You can use these coupons WITH manufacturer coupons to get an even better deal. For example, let’s say that Excedrin is priced at $2.99 one week and you get back $2.00 in ECBs for buying it. And let’s also say that you have a $1/1 (one dollar off one) Excedrin coupon that you cut out from a recent newspaper insert. AND you also received a $1.99/1 Excedrin CVS coupon when you scanned your CVS card. It would look like this… $2.99 minus one dollar coupon minus $1.99 CVS coupon = $0 out of pocket. PLUS you would still get back the $2.00 in ECBs.

7) If you want to get really fancy and you have some ECBs to use that you have saved up from previous weeks, you can also use a $5 off of a $25 purchase coupon that CVS also will give out (in the price scanner machine or on your receipt). Let’s use this scenario:

Product XYZ is on sale for $5.00 and is giving out $3 in ECBs when you buy it. It has a limit of 5 (you can only get the ECBs on five items). You also have 5 $1/1 (one dollar off one) coupons for this product. Your transaction with a $5/$25 coupon would look like this…

Buy 5 items @ $5.00 each = $25.00
Use the $5/$25 CVS coupon (brings it down to $20)
Use the 5 manufacturer coupons (brings it down to $15)
Pay with your $15 in ECBs that you had going into the transaction that you received from previous weeks
Get $15 in ECBs back (5 items times $3 in ECBs for each item!)