This is part of a series of articles Amy E is helping me put together to help newbies learn the in’s and out’s of the coupon world. If you like this make sure to check out the COUPON CRASH COURSE she wrote a few weeks ago!
The Wonderful World of CVS – by Amy!
Okay gang, today we are entering the wonderful world of CVS Pharmacies! Here’s my version of CVS 101.
CVS has an awesome program called the Extra Care Rewards Program, which includes Extra Care Bucks, or ECBs. To have access to the ECBs, you need a CVS card. You can get one from your local CVS store or order one online at www.CVS.com . You can also go online to “attach” your CVS card to their rewards program. You can also get some pretty cool coupons from time to time. Although the ECB program and the ECB Rewards program sound the same and work hand in hand with each other, they serve two different purposes.
ECBs: When you go shopping at CVS and take your purchases to the cashier, you can stack coupons (use a CVS store coupon and a manufacturer’s coupon) on an item. Then certain sale items are also eligible for ECBs to print out. That means that your receipt will have $$$ off coupons to use on your next shopping trip. These coupons can be used just like cash, and like cash, they can’t be replaced if you lose them, so keep them safe and all in one spot! ECBs are usually good for 30 days. If you try to use them on the 30th day, and they beep when the cashier scans them, a manager will usually push them through. Just make sure they’re not PAST their expiration date although if you are really lucky your store will allow you to use them past the date but it is rare.
ECB Rewards Program: Once you have your CVS card, you can register it online with the ECB Rewards Program. Then, once every three months, you will get rewarded with ECBs based on your purchases. You will earn 2% of your purchases (based on actual money you spent after coupons) back in Extra Care Bucks. You can also earn an extra Buck for every two prescriptions purchased in store or online. The bucks will automatically load on your card, and you can use them on your next shopping trip, OR, you can print your ECBs off the CVS website and take them to the store. Just remember, like cash, you only get one shot at the Bucks. Once you’ve printed them, they will be removed from your card…or once you’ve used them on your card, you can’t go back and print them. Actually you probably CAN go back and print them, but they won’t be any good at the store since they have unique numbers.
Also remember, when you go to redeem your ECBs, you can’t use them with anyone else’s card. Your card and your ECBs need to match up when making your purchase. So, if your household has more than one card (for instance, you have one and hubby has one) your ECBs will need to stay matched with the card they were earned from. Also, if you forget your card, you can use your telephone number to get your instant savings/sale prices, but sometimes ECBs will not print out unless the card is physically present.
Now, for a few little tricks of the trade:
First and foremost…this little trick changed my life. Well, maybe not my life, but certainly the way I shop! Once you make your first initial purchases at CVS, you should rarely have to put out much (if any) money again! ECBs are our friends! This next part may seem simple to most, but it was an epiphany for me. The first time you start shopping at CVS, you’ll pay with coupons and money and then get ECBs back on your receipt. Depending on what you buy on subsequent visits, those ECBs will replace money. So, next time, you’ll only pay with coupons and ECBs!!!! (and maybe a dollar or less, just to get things evened out.) And you’ll get more ECBs, so the next shopping trip is paid for in ECBs and coupons, and so on and so on and so on!
Next, let’s have a word about BOGOs and ECBs. When trying to obtain ECBs in a transaction that includes a BOGO sale, you need to know whether the purchase requires you to buy a certain number of items or a certain dollar amount. For instance, if the sale states that you can get 5 ECBs when you buy four Maybelline products, and the Maybelline products just happen to have a BOGO sale going as well, or you happen to have a BOGO coupon for them, then you can “buy” 2 and “get” two for free, and still get your 5 ECBs. BUT, if the sale is worded, so that you can get 5 ECBs when you spend $10 in Maybelline products, realize that you will actually have to SPEND $10 on the products. The free items on the BOGO promos won’t count toward your total $10 required purchase.
The word on the street about overages is this: If you purchase an item that is $1 but you have a coupon for that item that is $1.25/1, the coupon will beep and the cashier will have to adjust it down to match the sales price of the item. BUT, if you purchase 5 of those items at $1 each and you have 5 coupons for $1.25/1, the coupons shouldn’t beep until you’ve exceeded the total dollar limit of the purchase. In other words, the cashier rings up 5 sodas at $1 each. Then she scans your coupons. First coupon, $1.25 off. Next coupon, $2.50 off. Third coupon, $3.75 off. Fourth coupon $5 off your total. STOP! You really don’t need to use that fifth coupon! Talking about making your coupons go farther!
So troops, grab your CVS card, your coupons, and put on your best smile…it’s time to go shopping!! This is a great week to start trying these tips out!