When I shop at CVS I save, on average 60% – 90% off my bill!  Here are a few tips on how you too can shop and SAVE at CVS.

Get a CVS Card

When you are ready to start saving at CVS, the first, and most important thing to do, is to sign up for a CVS card.  You can either do this online at CVS.com, or in the store.  All of their sales are tied to the card, and any time you earn Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) they are tied to your card.  Without the card, you cannot save at CVS.

Once you have your CVS card, make sure they swipe it with every transaction.  You receive 2% back in rewards at the end of each quarter, based on your spending (i.e. FREE cash), so you want all of your transactions recorded!  You also earn 1 ECB for every 2 prescriptions.

Everytime you go into CVS, make sure you stop at the red price checking machine near the front, also known as the “Magic Coupon Machine”.  It will spit out CVS coupons that can be used along with Manufacturer’s coupons (this is called stacking).  You can often times swipe your card twice to get the maximum number of coupons.

Shopping at CVS

CVS has a pretty flexible coupon policy, which is one of the reasons that it’s my favorite drug store.  If you have any questions about their policy, you can read it here.  I actually recommend that you print it out and take it with you in case you have questions when you are shopping.  CVS allows you to use 1 Manufacturer’s coupon and 1 store coupon per item, and they also allow for overage.  For example I received a CVS coupon for $.25/2 coupon for 2 chocolate bars from the magic coupon machine.  I also have a manufacturer’s coupon for $1/2 of these same candy bars.  The candy bars are on sale for 2/$1.  Using both of these coupons, I will get an extra $.25 off my bill.

The next important piece in shopping at CVS is using Extra Care Bucks (ECBs).  These are equivalent to cash that can only be used at CVS.  Each week, certain deals at CVS will produce ECBs.

Earning and Spending ECBs

Each week CVS has a variety of items that when purchased will give you ECBs, which is a coupon good on almost anything in the store in your next transaction.  You can split your items and have multiple transactions in one trip to use your ECBs the same day or you can save them for your next trip (that’s called rolling), or you can save them for your next trip.

Here is an example of a shopping trip to show you what I mean:

In this shopping trip I am going to split my items into 4 transactions to get the best savings.  Going into this trip I had $10 in ECBs from the previous week.

Transaction 1:
3 Boxes of Special K – cost 2/$5 (total $7.50 for 3 boxes), earns $4 ECBs
5 5ct Allegra – cost $6.99 each ($34.95)
1 Depends Real Fit 3 ct – cost $3.99, earns $2 ECBs **
2 Packages of Charmin Basic Toilet Paper – cost $5.99 each (total $11.98), part of Spend $30 on P&G items and get 2 free boxes of Cheerios
2 Packages of Bounty Basic – cost $6.49 each (total $12.98), part of Spend $30 on P&G items and get 2 free boxes of Cheerios
2 Herbal Essences Conditioner – $3.47 each (total $6.94), part of Spend $30 on P&G items and get 2 free boxes of Cheerios
1 Multigrain Cheerios – cost $3.99
1 Cheerios – cost $3.99
Total Value:  $86.32 (plus tax)
Coupons used:
1 $1/3 Kellogg’s Special K found here
5 $7/1 Allegra
1 $2/1 Depends found here
1 $2/1 Depends CVS Store Coupon found here 
1 $1/2 Charmin Toilet Paper – 4/1 P&G
2 $1/1 Bounty Paper Towel  – 4/1 P&G
1 $1/2 Cheerios found here
1 $1/1 Herbal Essence
2 Free Cheerios – $3.99/1
$10 ECB from previous week
$2 ECB from previous week
Total After Coupons:  $21.39 (plus tax), 6 ECBs Earned
75% savings on Transaction 1
Transaction 2:
3 Boxes of Special K – cost 2/$5 ($7.50)
Total Value:  $7.50
 Coupons used:
$1/3 Special K found here
$4 ECBs from previous transaction
$2 ECBs from previous transaction
Total Spent:  $.50, earned $4 ECBs
94% savings on Transaction 2
Transaction 3:
3 Boxes of Special K – cost 2/$5 ($7.50)
Total Value $7.50
Coupons used:
$1/3 Special K found here
 $4 ECBs from previous transaction
Total Spent;  $2.50, earned $4 ECBs
67% Savings on Transaction 3
Total spent on ALL 3 Transactions:  $24.39 (plus tax)
Total Value on all 3 Transactions:  $101.32
Total SAVED on all 3 transactions:  $76.93, 68% savings and $4 ECBs left for next week.
If you don’t need anymore items, you can always hold your ECBs for your next trip to CVS.  ECBs DO have an expiration date, but they are good for a month! 

 **I always take advantage of the FREE items.  If we don’t need the items, they go directly into our donation box!

Once you get the hang of CVS shopping, you can even MAKE MONEY on certain ECB purchases.  For instance, if Colgate is on sale for $2.99 and produces $2.99 in ECBs, after ECBs, your Colgate is FREE.  BUT, if there is also a $.75/1 manufacturer’s coupon for Colgate, you can actually NET money.  So, you will pay $2.24 out of pocket, but you’ll earn $2.99 in ECBs, netting $.75 that can be used towards other essentials.