CVS “101” – Crash Course

 “Crash Course”


Shopping at CVS can be very rewarding, if you do it the correct way!  This CVS “Crash Course” should help you to better understand how to shop at CVS.  Using these basic and simple tips will allow you to get the majority of your purchases either very cheap or FREE!!

  • GET A CVS ExtraCare CARD

First and foremost, you MUST get a CVS extracare card if you don’t already have one.  You will use this each and every time you shop at CVS.  This card enables you to take advantage of all the great deals!  It’s an easy process.  You just tell the cashier that you want to sign up for a CVS card and you can actually use the card to buy items right then!  Make sure to register your card online at  Sometimes you will receive some pretty AWESOME coupons through your email!

  • ECBs (Extra Care Bucks)

An added bonus is something we call ECBs (Extra Care Bucks).  ECBs are found on select items in your weekly CVS sales ad and throughout the store.  ECBs can be used just like cash!  You will find your ECBs on the bottom of your sales receipt (after you have just purchased the item that earned the ECB).

ECBs are just like money!  You can spend them like cash, but one thing to keep in mind…they do expire just like a coupon does.  So, you’ll want to spend them before the expiration date.  They usually expire 30 days from the date they were printed.  There are things that you cannot use your ECBs to buy:  prescriptions, tobacco products, alcohol, or any type of lottery tickets.

There is 1 issue to keep in mind when using ECBs!  This can get kind of confusing especially for beginners:  If you purchase 2 items but you want to use 3 different ECBs to pay for this purchase then you will need to buy a “FILLER” item!  Fillers are very inexpensive things to bump your number of items up so you can use all the ECBs that you want to use.  So, if you want to use 3 different ECBs then you will have to purchase at least 3 items.


Always try to ROLL your ECBs.  What does Rolling ECBs mean?  This means that you use ECBs to buy more things that earn ECBs.  That way you’ll spend your ECBs before they expire and you’ll always have more ECBs to spend.

There is always a large variety of things weekly that can earn ECBs.  There are also some select items that earn ECBs all month long.  I do not buy things that I don’t need or want just because I can earn ECBs on it.  If it is something that I can get FREE or if it’s a Money Maker, then I will go ahead and get it if I know someone who can use it or if it’s a GREAT donation/charity item!  Anything that you can get FREE is fun!

  • $/$$ COUPON

From time to time, you will receive what we call $/$$ (dollar off dollar) coupons from CVS.  These look something like this:  save $5 off of a $15 purchase.  You can use these coupons in combination with manufacturer coupons and ECBs.  There are several ways that you can get these coupons:

The most common way is through the little red kiosk at the front of your CVS store.  These machines are price checkers and also what I call “coupon spitter outers”!  You can scan your CVS card at these machines and they’ll spit out a coupon for you.  Sometimes it will be for random things in the store but alot of times it will be a $/$$ coupon!  You can scan your card daily for more coupons.

Another way you will get these $/$$ coupons are at the end of your receipts!  Sometimes one will just print off for you.  This happens randomly, so make sure to always check your receipts for these kinds of savings!


There are ways to make sure you stretch your dollar as far as it will possibly go when checking out at CVS.  It all depends on which order you hand the cashier your coupons!  Doing it in the following way can limit the amount of sales tax you will have to pay:

1.  Hand them your CVS extracare Card.  The cashier will usually always ask you for it!
2.  Hand them any $/$$ coupon you might have….(save $5 off of a $15 purchase)
3.  Hand them any CVS coupons you might have like ($1 off any CVS store brand item)    or (save $2 on any Tylenol products)  These sometimes print out of the “coupon spitter outer” I mentioned earlier.
4.  Hand them your manufacturer coupons
5.  Hand them your ECBs LAST.  Always give these LAST!!!

After following that order, whatever the balance left is what you will pay oop (out of pocket).


Below is an example of buying things that earn ECBs and how you would pay for it if you had all the different kinds of coupons that I’ve mentioned above.  Pretend you are buying the following:

Buy Advil $8.99, Earn $1 ECB (left side page)
Buy EARinse $7.99, Earn $7.99 ECBs (right side page)  This is basically FREE!
1 CVS brand cookies $2.50
*  ($0.99 gum “filler” item)

**Let’s say that you have a manu. coupon for $3.00 off any Advil Product
**Let’s say that you have a $/$$ coupon that is $4 off of a $15 purchase
**Let’s say that you have a $1 off any CVS brand item coupon.
**Let’s say that you have a $0.75 coupon off X-brand Gum.
**Let’s say that you already had 4 different ECBs that you want to use to pay for this purchase.  You have (1) $1 ECB and (3) $3 ECBs.  Total of $10 in ECBs.
*Since you have 4 different ECBs and only 3 items, you will have to buy a “filler” item so thats’s why we added $0.99 Gum to the list.  Now you have 4 items and can use all of your ECBs!

Here’s how the transaction would go:

1.  Put your items on the checkout counter.
2.  Hand the cashier your CVS extracare Card.
3.  Hand the cashier your $4 off of a $15 purchase (your total is over $15)
4.  Hand the cashier your $1 off any CVS brand item.
5.  Hand the cashier your manu. coupons for $3 off Advil and $0.75 off Gum
6.  Hand the cashier your ECBs LAST!

Total before any coupon savings $20.47
-$4 from the $/$$ coupon
-$1 from the CVS brand coupon
-$3 Advil coupon and $0.75 Gum coupon
-$10.00 ECBs
=$2.47 + sales tax oop (out of pocket)

PLUS – you walk out of the store with $8.99 in ECBs to use on your next trip!  So, basically you just made $6.52 profit!
Learning to shop at CVS can be a challenging thing at first, but if you stick to it and go weekly, you will be a PRO in no time!  Start out small is the best advice I can give to beginners.  If you try to do too much at first, you’ll get overwhelmed!  The coolest thing is that you are saving money and filling your cabinets and pantries with things that you need.  Why should you ever pay full price again??

If you have any questions, feel free to ask!