CVS is very coupon-friendly and there are always excellent opportunities to score free products and extra bucks for future purchases. Here are some excellent pointers for newbies at CVS.
1. Get an Extra Care Card. This card is the key to savings at CVS. To receive sale prices and extra bucks rewards (“ECBs”), you must have a CVS Extra Care Card. They are free and you can sign up for a card at the register.
2. Educate yourself on how ECBs work. ECBs are coupons that print on your receipt after making qualifying purchases. You can use these coupons on future purchases, but they have expiration dates. Here’s an example of how an ECB works. As I write this post (July 2011), Bausch & Lomb contact solution is on sale for $7.89 with an Extra Care Bucks (ECB) reward of $6. When you purchase the solution, you will pay the $7.89, less any coupons you hand to the clerk. A $6 coupon will print on your receipt that can be used on a future purchase.
3. Limit your out-of-pocket spending by “rolling” your ECBs. What do I mean by “rolling” them? Try to always walk in the store with ECBs and also try to always walk out of the store with ECBs too. For example, let’s say you want to purchase the contact solution from #2 and you have a $2 coupon from the manufacturer. If you have a $5 ECB from the last time you were at CVS, you would buy the solution for $7.89, use a $2 manufacturer coupon and your $5 ECB from your last trip. You would then pay 89 cents plus applicable sales tax and get a $6 ECB on your receipt. You would minimize your out-of-pocket spending down to about $1 and leave the store with $1 more ECB than you had when you walked into the store. (You walked in with $5 ECBs and walked out with $6 ECBs.)
4. Focus on the “Money Makers” and dirt cheap products. Many items at drug stores are more expensive than grocery stores, but that is not the case on many of the sale items. Stick to the transactions that yield more ECBs than you spend, or products where coupons and sale prices drive the final price to dirt cheap levels. If you are accumulating too many ECBs, or if you have ECBs near their expiration, consider buying items that are hard to get dirt cheap with some of your ECBs, such as milk, toilet paper or paper towels (if they are on sale at a good price), or garbage bags.
5. Always swipe your card at the red coupon center machine at the front of the store. Sometimes you will receive coupons for dollars off your total purchase, free item coupons, or additional coupons for purchasing certain items. These CVS coupons are store coupons, and can be combined with coupons from manufacturers of products. Continue swiping your card until the machine tells you that you have no other coupons available for the day.
6. CVS is very coupon friendly. They accept their own store coupons, manufacturer coupons and ECBs (Extra Care Bucks.) The only downside is that you do not get to use the overage on other products if a coupon value exceeds to purchase price of a product. If a coupon value exceeds the cost of a product, they will adjust the coupon down to the value of the product.
7. Hand your coupons to the clerk in the following order: Dollars off total order coupon (ex. $5 off purchase of $25 or more) first, then your store and manufacturer coupons, followed by your Extra Care Bucks, and then your cash last.
8. Check Couponaholic.net frequently to learn of new deals that pop up that are not included in the weekly circular. We will publish the weekly deals at CVS from the ad, suggested scenarios for saving the most money at CVS, and new deals as they surface.
For further information on the official CVS coupon policy visit their site here.