Tip of the Day Tuesday: CVS 101

If you’re new to shopping at CVS, here’s everything you need to know to get you started!

Extra Care Program

CVS has a customer loyalty program that is tied to an Extra Care card. You can sign up for an Extra Care card in store or online.  Make sure that you register your Extra Care card online.  You will receive a coupon in your e-mail for $4 off your next CVS purchase of $20 or more and they will send you valuable coupons from time to time.  In addition, you can check your Extra Care earnings online and print your quarterly Extra Care Bucks.

What are Extra Care Bucks?

In the weekly CVS ads, look for items marked with a yellow tag – when you purchase these promotional items, you will earn Extra Care Bucks (also referred to as ECBs).  Your Extra Care Bucks will print at the bottom of your receipt and typically have an expiration date that is about a month from the purchase date.  These Extra Care Bucks are card specific and can only be used with your CVS Extra Care card.

In addition to earning Extra Care Bucks for purchasing promotional items, you can also earn “quarterly” Extra Care Bucks.  You will earn a quarterly ECB based on 2% of your out of pocket spending (this means after all coupons and other discounts have been applied).  You will also earn 1 ECB for every 2 prescriptions you purchase in store or online at the CVS Pharmacy.

The earning and payment dates for quarterly ECBs are as follows: (your quarterly ECBs will start printing on your receipt on these dates and you can also print them online)

For ECBs earned December 15th-March 14th:  print date is on April 1st
For ECBs earned March 15th-June 14th:  print date is on July 1st
For ECBs earned June 15th-September 14th:  print date is on October 1st
For ECBs earned September 15th-December 14th:  print date is on January 1st

What if I lose my ECBs?

Make sure you keep your ECBs in a safe place.  If you lose them, you cannot replace them.  Customer service will reprint any unused quarterly ECBs you have earned as a courtesy.

How many ECBs can I use in one shopping trip?

You can use as many ECBs as you would like in one trip!  This is one of the reasons I love CVS!

What if my ECBs expired?

It doesn’t hurt to check with your store – some stores will allow you to use expired ECBs!

What does it mean to “roll” ECBs?

One of my strategies for saving money at CVS is to spend as little as I can ‘out of pocket’ and one of the ways that I am able to do that is by “rolling” my CVS  ECBs that I earn from one transaction into the next transaction.  I use my CVS ECBs to “pay” for the items meaning I’m not spending my own money!

Let’s say that Colgate toothpaste is on sale for $2.99 (this happens pretty regularly), you earn a $2 ECB for purchasing it, and the “limit” for this deal is 2 (check the ads for information about limits on the weekly deal items).  If you wanted to “roll” your ECBs, it would look like this:

Transaction #1:
Buy 1 Colgate toothpaste – $2.99

Spend $2.99 out of pocket, get a $2 ECB

Transaction #2:
Buy 1 Colgate toothpaste – $2.99

Use $2 ECB from the previous transaction

Spend $.99 out of pocket, get another $2 ECB!

You can then “roll” your ECBs into something else or wait for a good deal another week.  My strategy is always to spend the least amount of money out of pocket and to buy things that will earn more ECBs!  Make sure you check out my weekly CVS match-ups for scenarios that will help you roll your ECBs!

What are CRTs?

CRTs are additional coupons that will print out on the bottom of your receipt.  These typically have a shorter expiration date than ECBs (ranging from a few days to one or two weeks) and are “store” coupons so they can be used in addition to manufacturer’s coupons!   Look for red “scanners” in your stores and scan your Extra Care card at these machines whenever you visit a store – CRTs will also print from these machines!  Typically, the CRTs you ge wll match up with upcoming promotions and help you save even more money!

Buy One, Get One Free Promotions

If your store is having a Buy One, Get One Free promotion and you have a Buy One, Get One free coupon for that item, you can get two items for free!

A few more “tips” ~

*If you are participating in a promotion that says “Spend this amount, get an ECB for this amount”, you do not have to spend the total amount all in one store or in one transaction.  If you look at the bottom of your receipt, it will tell you how much you have left to spend.  This really helps if your store doesn’t have everything you need in stock!  This also applies for a “Buy 2 items, get an “X” ECB” promotion”

*The amount you have to “spend” is based on your total BEFORE coupons!

*If your store is out of an item, make sure you get a rain check!

You might also want to check out this article on “Helpful Tips for Rookie CVS Shoppers.”

*This post may contain affiliate links. Please refer to my disclosure policy for more information.


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