Getting a CVS ExtraCare Card
You can sign up to get a CVS ExtraCare card when you make your first purchase in the store. The limit is one card per household. The card allows you to get all of the good deals, and at the end of each quarter, you get a small percentage of your total spending back (in the form of ExtraCare Bucks).
Earning ExtraCare Bucks
By purchasing certain items, you will receive ExtraCare Bucks (ECBs). Your ECBs will print out on the bottom of your receipt. Just cut off the ECB portion of your receipt and use it like cash on your next transaction. The weekly store ad (which is available at the front of the store) tells what items will generate ECBs. There is also a monthly ad available at the front of the store that has ECB deals and other deals that last the whole month. There always seems to be at least one “free-after-ECB” item.
Spending ExtraCare Bucks
ECBs can be used just like cash. They print out in the increments they were earned ($2 for this item, $3.98 for that item). You can combine as many as you want to pay for a transaction. You will not get change for your ECBs, so be sure your total is very near or a little bit over the total value of ECBs you are using to pay or you will lose the difference. Your ECBs can only be spent by you or someone who has your CVS card. Your ECBs will have an expiration date on them, usually a month after they were earned. If you don’t use them, you’ll lose them, so be sure to pay attention!
The most important thing to remember is that you should spend your ECBs as carefully as you would spend cash. In order to preserve the mindset of “free-or-very-cheap-after-ECB,” you must be judicious in how you use ECBs.
Sweetening the Deals
Doing multiple transactions is a great way to get the most for the least.
Say there are three items you want to get that each cost $3 and are all “free-after-ECBs.” Instead of buying all three at once for $9 out-of-pocket (OOP) and getting $9 of ECBs to use in the future, you could buy one of them for $3 OOP which will earn $3 of ECBs. Then you will use those ECBs to buy your second item which earns another $3 of ECBs. Those ECBs will pay for your third item. For a total of $3 cash you purchased all three items, and have $3 of ECBs for your next visit. Using your ECBs to generate more ECBs is called “rolling” your ECBs. (Note: For the sake of
simplicity, I didn’t include tax, but in the real world they’re not so nice.)
Many times, using a coupon will also make an item “free-after-ECBs.” You can even make money on purchases by using coupons.
Colgate Total is on sale for $3 and earns you $2 ECB. Normally I would have to pay $3 OOP, but I have a $2 off coupon, so I only pay $1 OOP and earn $2 ECB. That’s free toothpaste and a net profit of $1!
Occasionally, other coupons will print at the bottom of your receipt. Some of them are $/$$ coupons ($5 off a $15 purchase, etc). You should always present these coupons before other coupons and ECBs. Otherwise, your total may not be high enough to allow you to use the coupon.