How to Shop at CVS

Wondering how to shop at CVS like a pro?   To take advantage of the sales and deals available at CVS first you will need to apply for an Extra Care Bucks card.

These are the terms you need to become familiar with when you shop at CVS:

  • Extra Care Bucks (ECBs): It’s a CVS store coupon for a discount of your next purchase order that prints at check out.  They print at the bottom of your receipt and can be used “like cash” on almost anything else sold at CVS.
  • Reinventing Beauty Magazine:  This is a is a 99 cent magazine available in the beauty section of most CVS stores.  It sometimes comes with CVS and manufacturer coupons.  Where else can you find the magazine?  by the weekly flyers, with the other magazines, by the cash registers, in the cosmetic aisle.  Not other stores seem to carry this magazine.
  • Clip Free Coupon:  Refers to a month long discount offered that’s deducted automatically at checkout.
  • CRT:  or Cash register tape is a coupon that prints at the bottom of your receipt or at the Price Scanner.
  • Price Scanner: Price scanning machines located at certain stores that serve to check the price of items and also print CVS store coupons when you CVS Extra Care Bucks card is used.
  • CVS Store coupons:  These can be stacked with manufacturer coupons for added savings.  Can only use one per transaction.
  • CVS $/$$ coupons:  These coupons provide a discount once your order reaches a certain value before coupons.  For example:  you could save $4 when you buy $20 or more.  This total is always before any other coupons.

How to Get Free Stuff at CVS

1)  The first way to get free stuff when you shop CVS is by taking advantage of any Extra Care Bucks promotions available.  These extra care bucks promotions usually require you to buy certain items or spend a particular amount of money.

Extra Care Bucks Facts:

  • Unlike Walgreens, at CVS you can “roll ECBs” meaning you can spend ECBs you received from one offer to buy more of the same.
  • Also, if the limit of the offer is more than one you can buy more than one item in the same transaction and get all of the ECBs you would expect from each offer.
  • ECBs expire four weeks after the date they were first issued.  Make sure to use them before they expire.
  • ECBs are tied to your Extra Care Bucks card.  This means that you can only redeem them when using the Extra Care Bucks card used to earn them.

2)  The second way to get free stuff when you shop CVS is by stacking store and manufacturer coupons as well as by combining a sale with a manufacturer coupon.

Things to Remember When You Shop at CVS

1) The key to a smooth shopping experience at CVS is by planning your purchase in advance or develop “scenarios.” This will help you by having a plan of attack to maximize savings.  Always check the CVS weekly sales and coupon matches for the best deals available.

2)  The secret to minimizing your out of pocket expense when you shop at CVS is by breaking off your transactions and using ECBs from the first transaction on the second and so on.  Please remember to be polite and let others ahead of you if you have more than two transactions planned.

3)  There is a right way to hand your coupons when you shop at CVS: First hand CVS dollar off transaction coupons, then CVS store coupons/manufacturer coupons, and finally your ECBs.

4)  Before you leave the store make sure to check your receipt to verify that all extra care bucks you expected to receipt printed at the bottom of your receipt.  It is easier to correct situations right after you complete the transaction than later.


  • My ECBs didn’t print, what do I do?

The best thing you can do is talk to the manager if you are still at the store.  Managers can correct the situation and prompt the register to print the ECBs.  If you are not at the store anymore, you can contact CVS at 1800-SHOP-CVS and a customer service representative should be able to help you.

  • I had a horrible shopping experience, what do I do?

Your best course of action is to contact CVS at 1800-SHOP-CVS and calmly explain what happened.

  • I let my ECBs expire, what do I do now?

The first thing you may want to do is ask your cashier if they accept expired ECBs.  The expire ECB will need to be forced so the register accepts it.  However, less and less stores are taking expired ECBs so you may be out of luck.

  • I received a CVS store coupon via email, can I share with others?

These type of coupons, much like Extra Care Bucks, are tried to your Extra Care Bucks card and can only be redeemed by using the card used to earned them.

Your turn now: do you have any additional questions/topics I didn’t cover? Drop them in the comments section: