Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Readers…Meet CVS

We pass it every six miles; CVS is becoming as popular on city corners as some other well known locations such as Starbucks and McDonalds. CVS has great weekly sales but are you really utilizing their great reward’s program???

What is CVS’s Extra Care Plan? CVS has a wonderful reward program called the Extra Care Plan. Anyone can sign up for an Extra Care Card. Some of the store’s sales do not apply to your purchase unless you present your CVS card (or phone number) to the cashier. Many people have the card, utilize the sales, but do not know how to use the actual rewards.

What are Extra Care Bucks? The CVS rewards that couponers are familiar with are the “Extra Care Bucks” (ECBs) program. ECBs are found at the bottom of your receipt when you buy a weekly item that has an ECB reward. In addition, cardholders earn back 2% of non-prescription purchases and $1 Extra Buck for every two prescriptions purchased. These earnings are then rewarded quarterly, delivered as ECBs. Quarterly rewards are paid out four times a year – on January 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1. I call ECBs CVS’s version of “monopoly money.” The “money” is only good at CVS locations. They carry an expiration date so it is very important to pay close attention to your ECBs (again staying organized.)

What is an ECB Sale? CVS often advertises deals that they bill as “Free after Extra Care Bucks.” The best way for me to define what this means is to offer an example. Let’s pretend Colgate Toothpaste is $2.99 this week and is listed as a “Free after Extra Care Bucks” item. When you buy the toothpaste for $2.99 with the money from your wallet, you are paying out of pocket, however, when you get your receipt back, CVS rewards you with $2.99 in ECBs. You just got back $2.99 to put toward ANY*(not to be used during the same purchase for which you receive the ECBs) item in the store. You can buy diapers, printer ink, detergent, etc. Why not buy the FREE after ECB item? You didn’t lose any money because you are putting the $2.99 ECB toward your next purchase…whatever you went into the store for in the first place. Thus you go home with the item you need to purchase and an extra tube of toothpaste. You don’t need it? Then donate it.

What do I, personally, do with my ECBs? I don’t use ECBs on items I need (unless I have an overflow on extra ECBs.) I use my ECBs to buy my next ECB items. This means I keep recycling my ECBs. CVS is not seeing my cash. They are seeing the CVS monopoly money at the bottom of my register tape (receipt).

Give it a try, folks. Once you get the handle of it, you will be so thankful for CVS and their loyalty program.

*ECBs cannot be used for alcohol, tobacco, prescriptions, and some other similar purchases.


Kellye said...

Hi! I just wanted to tell you that we must share the same brain. I saw you on Dr. Phil yesterday and quickly ran to get my husband because it was so funny how we do things the exact same. I am teaching my friends and family members and my church family how to be a frugal shopper and everyone is just in awe!! It is so fun and so addictive. I absolutely love it, and I just wanted to tell you how much I love your blog and that I will be sending my folks your way to get the hang of everything.

Happy Shopping!!


Jodi Ferris said...

I love CVS as well! I just went there yesterday and bought A BUNCH of stuff that all ended up costing me 85 cents.

One tip, I try to buy MIR items there b/c then I get cash back from the companies, which I (of course) can use anywhere, not just at CVS.

Yesterday I went in with $10 in ECB, came out with $12.50, and am expecting $7 on a rebate (Ensure, that I'm going to donate to the cancer center nearby since none of us like them).

Debora said...


How can I check to see how much ECB I have, if any?

This is all so interesting. Thanks for sharing the information.


Jodi said...

Debora--They should give you a print out at the end of your receipt. Then the next time you come in/whenever you want to use them, you give them that and they scan it. I don't think they can do it w/o the receipt.

katie said...

can you please explain this last part to me one more time? You don't use your ECBs to buy things you need, but to buy your next ECB purchase.....what does that mean?

Frugal Coupon Mom - frugalcouponmom@gmail.com said...

Katie, I have learned to never say never. I should not have said never. I have used my ECBs to buy things I buy, but often the ECBs are for things I would get. My point is that I keep recycling my ECBS. I buy something with ECBs, get ECBs back, and repeat...this keeps me from using cash.

cohenperez said...

I am a newbie at this and on my first trip to CVS using this method of shopping i saved nearly $30.00 and got $14 in ecb's. I am sooo excited and will shop this way FOREVER. Thank you so much for this blog.I love it. Can you tell me what stores accept competitors coupons?

Frugal Coupon Mom - frugalcouponmom@gmail.com said...

Good job, CohenPerez!

Family of Faith said...

Hi..I have just started the EB Game and I am loving it. However, I have one question. Is there a limit to how many ECBs you can get in one transaction? I went to CVS the other day and I got the 3/$10 cereal and received my $5 ECBs, but I also got the Huggies deal (get $5 ECBs wyb $20) and I did not receive my $5 ECBs for that purchase. Was it because they were in the same transaction? I am going to CVS today in hopes of using three different ECB deals so I really wanted to find that out before I try! Thanks so much!!

Frugal Coupon Mom - frugalcouponmom@gmail.com said...

Family of Faith,
Good work thus far. No there is not a limit to how many ECBs you can get back in a transaction. There is a limit to sales at CVS. It sounds like you were doing two different sales, though, so that should not be a problem. Were you meaning to do the Huggies sale at Walgreens and not CVS?

Family of Faith said...

Hmm...I might have been...I thought I saw a sign in CVS that said "Spend $20 on any of these products (listing Huggies, Johnsons, and a few others) and get $5 ECBs"...I could just be all mixed up though! LOL. I am having a ball doing this though! I had $7ECBs left from my last couple of visits, so today I used coupons and got two bottles of Herbalicious, used a coupon and $5 of my ECBs and actually MADE MONEY! I had to buy some candy to make it over PLUS I got another $2 ECB! I also went to Walgreens and got two tubes of Colgate Total and two cans of AJAX for $2 OOP after my coupons. I would have gotten a really awesome deal on the Glade motion sensors but they were all sold out. They said to check back in the morning! I am still a little confused on how the RR work, but hopefully it'll dawn on me soon. Thank you so much for all of your help! Oh, I forgot to mention that I scanned my card at CVS and received a $3/$15 coupon! YAY!

Anonymous said...

Hi! i just wanted to ask you a question. Can you use two coupons at CVS for BIGI free items? Like this week for Revlon? I wasnt sure if CVS or Walgreens accepts two coupons like this? Thanks so much for what you do! Casey

Frugal Coupon Mom - frugalcouponmom@gmail.com said...

Yes you can use 2 coupons on b1g1 items. However, I did notice at Walgreens this week my second coupon not scanning on the b1g1 items so I am wondering if Walgreens cash registers don't allow this anymore...moral of the story - you should be able to.

Denise said...


I saw you on the Dr.phil show and that is how I got on to your web-site. I never was one to use coupons but I am willing and ready to start clipping. I have been going to CVS for a couple years and never new how ther rewards worked. Thanks so much for letting us know I can't wait to start using my free money.