Savings at CVS – tips and tricks

Let’s talk about some good and simple ways to save money at CVS that I want to make sure everyone knows about!

First, make sure you are signed up for an ExtraCare card. If you don’t have one, just ask at the register and they’ll give you a card and a form. Second, put your real phone number and email address. This is important! If you have a CVS card and don’t have your email and phone linked to it or you have a fake one linked to it, you should be able to change it online.  I know we are all so conditioned not to give our info out but CVS doesn’t sell it and you need your phone number if you forget your card or if you use the pharmacy. The email you need for discounts.

**CVS secret: ExtraBucks do not expire. Yes, they have expiration dates on them, but CVS accepts expired ExtraBucks!**


What is ExtraCare? (Hopefully you can just skip this paragraph)

ExtraCare is CVS’s rewards program. Essentially, Extrabucks are free money to spend at CVS. So if you’re already going to CVS, there is no reason not have an ExtraCare card, because your purchases will give you Extrabucks which you can then spend at CVS like cash. This is also one reason you should have your phone number linked to your ExtraCare card – if you forget your card you can enter your phone number and it will apply the purchase to your account so it goes towards your ExtraBucks, not a random courtesy swipe which does not.

How do I earn ExtraCare bucks?

General spending: You’ll automatically get 2% back on almost everything you purchase (not including prescriptions, we’ll get to that one in a minute) when you use your ExtraCare card.  You’ll receive these quarterly – you’ll get a printout with your receipt that has a coupon for $X in ExtraBucks in the amount of 2% of your spending for the past three months. (sadly, this also makes me realize how much money I do spend at CVS).

Product-related spending:  CVS will often offer ExtraBucks tied to specific purchases, so you’ll often see a row of products with little signs like this beneath them (Sale: $5.99 + $2.00 in ExtraBucks). They will sometimes have deals that make products free to encourage you to try them (so when Mars launched Mega M&Ms, for a week CVS had Mega M&Ms for $0.99 and a promotion to earn $0.99 in ExtraBucks when you purchased them). There are some categories that frequently have what are essentially buy-one-get-one-free sales via ExtraBucks, so it’s worth keeping your eyes open if there are particularly expensive products that you buy at CVS. For example, CVS has great sales on vitamins, sometimes a regular “Buy One, Get One 50% Off” sale but often with ExtraBucks too, so I always wait and buy vitamins at CVS during a promo like this, since I’ve noticed they have them close to once a month and vitamins are expensive.

Brand or company-specific spending: You do have to pay a little more attention for this one, but generally it’s pretty simple. CVS will advertise something like “Earn $5 in ExtraBucks when you spend $20 on Procter & Gamble products” – buy the stuff you always buy and get some extra free money. I’ve found that most of these seem to be on larger brands or companies, so it’s not buying $20 worth of Pantene, it’s buying $20 out of all the products P&G makes.


Additional programs:

CVS also has two other programs for earning ExtraBucks, but you have to sign up for them separately. Once you’re enrolled, you don’t have to do anything (except wait for your extra money to print out).

ExtraCare Pharmacy and Health Rewards: For every 10 prescriptions you fill, CVS will give you $5 in ExtraBucks. This adds up quickly for the whole family. You have to register for this program but you can do it quickly in store.

Beauty Club Savings: Spend $50 on Beauty products and you’ll get $5 in ExtraBucks. CVS is pretty liberal with the definition of Beauty – this includes shampoo, lotions, etc. – basically general personal care products too.


General:

So, when you sign up (or if you’re already signed up), select “yes, I would like to receive offers from CVS.com” and then they will email you coupons. Not merchant coupons (you could possibly opt in to that but I haven’t) but $5 off $25 or 20% off your entire purchase coupons. I’d say I get one of these about every three weeks. The beauty of this is you can then click on the coupon in the email and it will ask if you’d like to “Print” or “Send to Card”. Click “Send to Card” and the next time you go to CVS and swipe your card (or enter your phone number if you’ve forgotten your card) the coupon will automatically be there.

**CVS secret: The CVS specific discount coupons (like 20% off of a purchase or $5 off of $30, not product-related ones) have a grace period of a week. So if you miss the date, bring them in next time.***

Getting additional coupons:

There are three ways to get more coupons and product or brand specific coupons:

  1. Use the in-store kiosks
  2. Download the CVS app
  3. Go online to cvs.com (the nice thing is you can just download them to your ExtraCare card by clicking a link, you don’t actually have to print out a bunch of coupons.

**CVS secret: Buy a beauty product that you absolutely hate? You can return it, even if opened. I’ve never actually done this but it’s in their rules and my local store manager confirms that they do it all the time. So if you buy a fancy nail polish and it looks a totally different shade on your skin they will take it back even if it’s been opened – it’s their way of competing with makeup counters where you can try on things. I’m lucky to get some ChapStick on my lips, personally, but this could be useful if you like to buy different makeup products **


I have no affiliation with CVS or relation with anyone at CVS, it’s just where I go. If I lived in NY this post would probably be about Duane Reade, but we live in Boston so CVS it is!

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