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Making the Most at CVS pharmacy

Updated on February 11, 2008

CVS is a pharmacy chain in most areas of the United States. At first glance CVS seems like any overpriced pharmacy, however if you learn to use the ExtraCare program you can get lots of items for free each week. By combining coupons with sales at CVS you can get the items you need spending little to no money.

CVS's ExtraCare program gives you ExtraCare bucks when you purchase certain items each week. The first thing you need to do is go into your local store and sign up for an ExtraCare card. This is the card you need to earn the ExtraCare bucks (ECBs). ECBs are like cash that can be used on a later purchase. Treat these like money!

When you get home go to the online site and sign up to receive their email specials. This is one store that you really want to receive emails from because they email you coupons for dollars off a certain dollar amount purchase - for example $3 off a $15 purchase or $5 off a $30 purchase. You should get a welcome email with a coupon that you can print for $4 off a $20 purchase.

Because things are so overpriced you can quickly hit that $20 amount by purchasing just a few household and toiletry items. Now go through your weekly ad that comes in each Sunday's paper. If you don't have it, look online, you can view it on the CVS website. You want to find things that you need, want or will use that are also generating ECBs this week. These offers vary each week, so if there isn't anything that you need, then wait until the next week.

When there are items that you need offering ECBs it is time to shop. Gather up any coupons you can find for the items on your list. Make a detailed list for what you plan to get, including exact item description and size of item. You don't want any surprises at the store and the sales are not always marked. Once you get to the store get the items you need to put you right over the $20 mark. Give the cashier your ExtraCare card first. After the items are scanned, give the cashier your $4 coupon and then any other coupons for products you are purchasing. After you pay your total, your ECBs will print out on the bottom of your receipt.

Let me give you an example from this week's paper. Colgate toothpaste is on sale for $1.88, and offers a $1 ECB with purchase, limit 5. Gillette Fusion Phenom razors are priced at $9.99 and offers a $6 ECB with purchase, limit 1. Gatorade G2 is priced at $1.29 and offers an ECB of $1.29, limit 1. If you were to purchase 5 toothpastes, 1 razor and 1 Gatorade your total should be $20.68 before tax. There are coupons out right now for $.75 off Colgate toothpaste and $4 off the razor. If you have 5 toothpaste coupons this would be $3.75, plus the $4 razor coupon, plus the $4 off $20 coupon which you will give them first. The total will now be $8.93 plus tax, which you will pay out of pocket. When your receipt prints it should print off a $6 ECB for the razor, a $1.29 ECB for the Gatorade and a $5 ECB for the toothpaste. So you spent $8.93 plus tax and got back $12.29 to use next time.

So when the next week's sales start you will have $12.29 to spend and you should be able to get more items you need that generate ECBs, pay less money out of pocket and get more ECBs back. If you did another transaction like our first one and used your ECBs to pay for it, you would have paid no money out of pocket except for tax. I have been able to steadily grow the amount of ECBs that I have from $5 to almost $40 in just a couple of months. Now I am able to go shopping there each week and spend usually no more than a dollar out of pocket, for sometimes as much as $80 worth of items.

CVS frequently offers other dollar off coupons that you will receive in your email and coupons print on your receipts too. I went today and my receipt printed a $3.50 off any Stayfree product, a $10 off $50 purchase and $2 off any Triaminic. These types of coupons print off regularly and you can use these CVS coupons along with manufacturer coupons. So I could use a $1 off Triaminic coupon along with the $2 one that CVS printed to equal $3 off a Triaminic. If an ECB offer comes along before these coupons expire it will be an even better deal.

It does take a little bit of cash to get started; however it is well worth your time and money to participate in this program. I have a house stocked full of soaps, cleaners, toilet paper, toothbrushes, toothpastes, medicines, shampoos, razors, batteries, etc. I have also been able to donate quite a bit of these products as well.

So if you use any of these products, this program will benefit you. The key is to combine coupons with the ExtraCare bucks deals of the week and you will almost always come out ahead of purchasing these products anywhere else. You might not always get the items for free, however you will pay much less than you would have at other stores. So get started and have fun!


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    • maham profile image

      maham 9 years ago

      Good Info thanks foe sharring

    • AnnaEstelle profile image

      AnnaEstelle 9 years ago from Boston

      This is indispensable information, I've been using the program for awhile and it's a wonderful money saver. Thanks for spreading the word!

    • sdorrian profile image

      sdorrian 9 years ago from Chicago

      Great advice! Thanks for the Hub.

    • profile image

      Lauren Romano 9 years ago

      I love the extra care card. I end up getting things for free or nearly free, its the greatest thing!

    • Raven King profile image

      Raven King 9 years ago from Cabin Fever

      Hi. I have shopped in CVS with the Care Card. Now I should sign up to receive their emails. The emails would be very helpful because if I want to buy the newspaper it is a 25 mile trip to town (50 miles round trip!). Thanks.

    • JerseyGirl profile image

      JerseyGirl 9 years ago from Jersey Shore

      I personally like CVS, although, overall, they are quite expensive. Your comments are smart and good ones, and I have utilized them to save money.

      Know that you should shop only the sale items, and use the coupons or discount offers, normally makes my shopping trip profitable.

      I am happy that you published a great hub to let others know what CVS is all about. Thanks for good tips!

    • Riggy profile image

      Riggy 9 years ago from Beautiful southern California

      Good info, thanks! Just got my card and am ready to get out there!

    • profile image

      Texas Tutor 9 years ago

      I buy products like you mentioned for me and my wife, and also for my Mom, who has Alzheimers and depends on me to do her shopping. This sounds like a good way, with a little effort, to save some money on necessary products.

      Thanks for explaining how to do it in such detail.

      Texas Tutor

    • profile image

      dafla 9 years ago

      Thanks so much for explaining this. I have wanted to use CVS ECB's, but I couldn't quite figure out how it worked. Like you said, the items are overpriced to begin with. Now I see how the ECB card actually saves you money.

      A Thumbs Up and bookmark for this one!