If you don’t already have an Extra Care Card, you need to sign up for one now! You can sign up in store to start saving immediately or you can register at CVS.com and then sign up for a card here This card is your ticket to free products, almost free products, and products that make you money – so be sure to have it scanned at the register. The ExtraCare Card gets you the sales prices advertised in the store and earns you ECBs (Extra Care Bucks- i.e. CVS currency) on all your purchases and on specific promotions for each week. These ECBs are spendable like cash in the store and most are valid for 4 weeks. They print at the bottom of your receipt. There are posted limits to how many of each “deal” you can do. This is good though, because it helps to ensure that the items will be there for you to purchase. If they aren’t, ask for a raincheck.
Here’s a quick example:
Let’s say Colgate toothpaste is on sale for $2.00 with a $2.00 ECB, limit of 3. You could
A- all in one transaction buy 3 tubes for a total of $6.00 and get $6.00 in ECBs. (essentially free, which is a good deal) or
B- all in one transaction buy 3 tubes and use (3) $1.00 coupons. You’ll pay a total of $3.00 and get $6.00 in ECBs -making $3 to spend in the store (better deal) or
C- in your first transaction buy 1 tube and use (1) $1.00 coupon for a total of $1.00 and get $2.00 in ECBs, then in another transaction buy 2 more tubes using (2) $1.00 coupons and your first $2.00 ECB and pay just the tax and get back $4 more ECBs. All total you’ve paid $1.00 + tax, brought home 3 tubes of toothpaste valued at around $9 retail and still have $4 to spend in the store -which I hope you will use on the next free with ECBs product (best deal)
Bare with me please, but here’s an example of how to “roll” your ECBs between different deals.
In July 2010 there was a promotion to buy a 2 oz bottle of BioTrue contact solution for 2.99 and get a 2.99 ECB (Extra Care Bucks) back. There also happened to be a $2.00 printable coupon on any size BioTrue. Another deal that week was buy a 2 pk of Dove bar soap and get a $1 ECB.
Remember this deal is for an example only, since it’s from July 2010:
- Have the cashier scan your ExtraCare Card at the register
- Buy one bottle of BioTrue using the $2/1 coupon and pay .99 + tax. At my store this came out to $1.07.
- Then you receive on the bottom of your receipt a $2.99 ECB, meaning you’ve just “made $2” to spend in the store on other products. But wait- it gets better!
- Now you buy a 2 pk of Dove bar soap for $3 and use the $2.99 ECB from your first transaction. You’ll pay just $.01+ tax.
- You’ll receive back on the bottom of your receipt a $1 ECB.
- Then buy another 2 oz BioTrue contact solution for $2.99 (remember that deal was limit of 2). Use the $2/1 coupon and the $1 ECB (which the cashier will reduce down to $.99).
- You’ll pay nothing but tax at the register, but receive a $2.99 ECB to spend in the store over the next 4 weeks.
All totaled you’ve spent just $1 + tax for $8.98 worth at sale prices, AND you have $2.99 left to spend in the store.
It seems like a lot of work, but you did just earn $2! It’s important to start with small transactions so you’re not overwhelmed as you learn the ropes.
Once you get more comfortable you can put more items into one transaction, plus you’ll have ECBs to help you start each week:
If you did the C Colgate transaction above you’d have a $4 ECB. If the BioTrue/Dove deals were the following week you could:
- Buy 2 BioTrue @ 2.99 each = $5.98 + 1 Dove 2 pk bar soap @ 3 = $8.98.
- You’d use (2) $2/1 Bio True coupons and your $4 ECB.
- Your new total is $0.98 +tax, and you’d receive back a $6.98 ECB at the bottom of your receipt.
See? Once you get going it doesn’t always have to be so many transactions for you to get a great deal.
But I don’t use that solution or soap you say? Well, I don’t either, but I just earned about ECBs to spend on something I need or to spend on another “free after ECBs” item (or milk!). I put items that my family doesn’t use directly into my donations box. They come in handy if we run out of something, have a guest who needs something, or there’s a donation drive and I don’t want to dip into my household budget in order to help. Sometimes I sell items to friends and family or at our annual garage sale for about 1/4 the shelf price. It’s a great deal for them and helps me make a little bit of extra spending money for my couponing efforts. Be careful though-there are some products/coupons that are marked specifically as not for resale!
Other ways to use your ExtraCare Card once you get comfortable with the general process:
At the front of your store there should also be a red price scanner machine to scan your ExtraCare Card to receive coupons. One week I received a coupon for .79 off a Dove chocolate bar. These happened to be on sale for .50. I used the coupon and not only got a free dove chocolate bar, but also got .29 applied to my other item. A few weeks back I got a $3 off coupon!
Every time you make a purchase you will be earning 2% back. These ECBs will print at the end of your receipt or from the machine following each quarter.
Fill 10 prescriptions at CVS and get a $5 ECB (you have to sign up for this program at cvs.com)
Buy $50 worth of beauty products (including hair products and lotions as well as makeup) and get a $5 ECB (you have to sign up for this program at cvs.com)
Purchase a Green Bag Tag and scan each time you use a reusable bag at checkout to receive $1 ECB every 4th scan.
Shopping at CVS can be a landmine for free and cheap products, but start small and work your way to larger transactions and layering all the available promotions I just listed as you feel more confident. It’s better to get a few really great deals each week until you’re comfortable with couponing at CVS, rather than to go all out and get so confused you give up, resulting in no more good deals!
Remember, I post the best matchups for CVS each week on Friday mornings. Then over at CVSscenarios I post multiple scenarios to help you get the hang of layering those products and rolling the ECBs. If you have questions, feel free to shoot me an e-mail at athriftypennyatgmaildotcom