CVS deals

If you read many stay-at-home mom blogs, you’ve heard about the CVS Extra Care Bucks craze. It works like this: CVS was over-priced, so they started offering Extra Care Bucks on various products. When you buy that product, you earn back these bucks, which you can use to pay for other products. In addition, you can scan your Extra Care card at the store to print out CVS coupons. Finally, you earn a few for prescriptions and quarterly spending totals. For complete instructions, read CVS 101. Here’s how the program worked for me, and where I went wrong.

The CVS Extra Care Card
I did have a card, but it wasn’t linked to the website. I added my email address and then waited for the coupons to be emailed to me. They were not. I finally emailed CVS and was told it takes about four weeks to start receiving email coupons. Once you receive them, you print them out and take them to the store with you. You’ll need to use your CVS card on every purchases in order to really work the system. In addition to earning you Extra Care Bucks, you also need it to qualify for the advertised discounts and print out coupons from the card reader in the store.

CVS Coupons
This was my first trip, so I received one useless coupon for diapers or something, and $3 off $10 in CVS products. I trolled the store until I finally found what I thought was $10 worth of products – including a fantastic deal on 200 count tissue boxes (99 cents each!). It turns out I actually overbought – I spent over $12 on their products.

Extra Care Bucks Items
I went on a Sunday morning after reviewing the CVS newspaper ad and seeing several $5 in Extra Care Bucks when you spend $15 on brands we use like Garnier, Maybelline, and Dove. I looked through my manufacturer coupons and made a stack, then took them down to CVS with me. I bought four Garnier shampoos and conditioners, 2 Mennen deodorants, 3 Maybelline products, and 3 6-bar packages of Dove soap. Together they qualified for $18 in Extra Care Bucks. The Mennen and Dove were also on sale.

Combining Coupons and ECBs
I used a total of $9 in coupons on the Garnier, Dove, and Mennen products, plus the $3 CVS coupon. Had I planned more carefully, I could have printed a $4 off $20 store coupon, too. I also now realize that I shouldn’t have bought all those products in one purchase, but instead made four purchases. My total was $60.76 (plus tax). Had I done it correctly, I would have spent $21 less.

Here’s what I should have done:

Transaction 1:
4 bottles of Garnier – $17.16
2 Mennen sticks – $5.00
Less $5 in Garnier coupons
Less $4/20 coupon
Total out of pocket: $13.16 (plus tax)
Earn $8 in ECBs

Transaction 2:
3 packs of Dove soap: $17.97
Less $3 in coupons
Less $8 in ECBs
Total out of pocket: $6.97 (plus tax)
Earn $5 in ECBs

Transaction 3:
2 Maybelline products: $17.97
Less $5 in ECBs
Total out of pocket: $12.97 (plus tax)
Earn $5 in ECBs

Transaction 4:
CVS products: $13.92
Palmolive: .99
Less .25 coupon
Less $3/10 coupon
Less $5 in ECBs
Total out of pocket: $6.66 (plus tax)

Grand total: $39.76

Would I Do It Again?
As it stands now, I have $18 in ECBs to spend, and a $4 off $20 coupon left to use. I have some gift events coming up, so I’ll spend the ECBs on cards.

I’ve seen some women report that they’ve “rolled” their ECBs over so many times that they spend $25 for hundreds of dollars worth of products. However, really working the system means spending a lot of time planning, and it may also require numerous trips to CVS, weekly at least. At some point, I have to question whether it’s really worth my time. We’re just a family of 2, so the products we bought will last us at least six months, probably longer. It might be something I do occasionally when we need to stock up, but it won’t be a regular thing for us. When I do the math, it may not be cheaper than Costco, especially once you factor in the cost of gas driving to and from the store and to and from the recycling center.


39 Responses to “How to Use CVS Coupons and Extra Care Bucks”

  1. Christine on April 8th, 2008 3:11 pm

    I agree that CVS is good for occasional stocking up, but I have to admit, I have a frugal rule of not buying it if I don’t usually use it…even if I’d get extra care bucks, I don’t need hair dye :)

    So I watch carefully to see if there’s something I really need and sooner or later something comes up :)

  2. Teresa on April 16th, 2008 7:29 am

    Thanks for the tip of printing out coupons on their website. I can save even more money! The CVS near me takes competitor’s pricing. For Instance. Softsoap was on sale for $4.99, but at RiteAid it was $2.99. Then I had a manufacturer’s coupon some were $1.50 and some were $1.00. Everytime I bought one limit up to five. CVS Care Card extra bucks gave me $4.99 back to spend at the store. Last week Excedrin 24ct. was on sale for $1.99 limit up to five, I had five manufacturers coupons for $2.00 each plus they give you back a $1.00 extra care bucks for each purchase. So I got five packages for nothing and $5 to spend at the store next time. The only thing is you have to keep track when the cash is going to expire. You also have to remember the ones that print out at the store are CVS coupons and you can use manufacturer’s coupon on top of it. Example, a printout from the CVS Store gave me $2.00 off any shampoo. My husband uses pert 2in1. At the Store at regular price it was $3.69. So I use the $2.00 CVS coupon and $1.50 manufacturer coupon and it only cost us 19 cents plus tax at $3.69. All things we don’t use I share with other families or the food bank or local shelters so we can all save money. Doesn’t happen often, but helps. Coupons are the best. If possible always buy on sale and coupons! Stock up when it’s under $1.00 or 50 cents and when it’s 80 percent off or more. Recycle often. Happy Savings :)

  3. Angelica on April 16th, 2008 10:28 am

    Can someone tell me how to save the most possible on Nestle Good Start formula at CVS????


  4. Aryn on April 17th, 2008 3:28 pm

    I don’t have any tips, but hopefully someone can help you. You might want to check at

  5. TeresaE on April 17th, 2008 3:49 pm

    I just subscribed to the blog, so I’m not sure you mentioned this one or not but….I really only use CVS for perscriptions and they honor competitor coupons; I get tons of them from Rite Aid, Walmart even Kroger (up to $30 to switch)so I use they EVERY time I fill a perscriptions, so 3x month – in some cases I make $$$$. My copay is $8 for 2 of my perscriptions; I recieve gift cards. After reading this blog, I will make sure I give them my CVS card, which I’m typically to lazy to do (its’ on my key chain & I use the drive up window)

  6. Aryn on April 18th, 2008 8:07 am

    That’s a great tip, Teresa! We just transferred several to our local Ralph’s to get the gift cards from that. Maybe now we’ll have to transfer them back to CVS. I didn’t know they had Rx coupons!

  7. Onaona on October 27th, 2008 11:11 am

    Just be careful on the quantities you purchase to get the CVS bucks. I bought 2 of one item, thinking I’d get twice as much CVS bucks back, but was disappointed when I was told I had already reached my limit (by purchasing the first item). Another time I bought 2 different items, but same manufacturer, and the same thing happened.

  8. Lydia on November 27th, 2008 7:26 pm

    I go to CVS about every ten days or so, usually to stock up on snacks. I’m really close to CVS and very far away from Costco and Wal-Mart so I only go there three times a year (or less)because I believe my time is really important. Most of the time you have to wait for the RIGHT time. When you print out coupons in store, DON’T USE IT until the item is on sale because then there will be cheaper offer. I often only go when I will spend $15 (I always get those $15 -$3 coupons). It is really great.

  9. Lydia on November 27th, 2008 7:26 pm

    BTW, check the offers online as WELL!

  10. Shirley Beckworth on December 6th, 2008 7:29 pm

    I’m trying to get my new e-mail address to cvs so i can start getting my coupon’s

  11. Chris Austin on December 22nd, 2008 6:49 pm

    I buy 7 Prescriptions a month, thats $70 in co-pay a month. I was told that I would get ECB on these purchases… So far I have gotten 5 coupons for Essence Beauty Tote bags (I’m a guy). I also got a few other cosmetic coupons that I can’t even give away. I can buy the same Pharmacudical needs Online for 1/3 the co-pay.

    Extra Care Bucks are USELESS, as is CVS and all Walk In Pharmacies. The Doctor can always give you sample drugs while you wait on OnLine Drugs to arrive (Usually overnight for free. No Driving needed.

  12. Aryn on December 23rd, 2008 9:47 am

    Chris, you don’t directly earn ECBs for prescriptions, however they do count toward your total spend. You earn 2% of your total spend in ECBs each quarter.

  13. cvs employee on February 17th, 2009 4:40 am

    Another tip for you CVSers, the coupons that print with your receipt or from the machine that you normally wouldnt use… say for hair dye or diapers etc try them even if you dont purchase the product or type of product the coupon requires. Speaking a an employee who has scanned many of these coupons… I don’t think I have ever seen our coupons not scan, but if the coupon doesnt scan just tell the cashier you gave it to them by mistake, you can’t get the discount if you dont try and if it doesnt work oh well.

  14. CVS employee on April 8th, 2009 8:53 pm

    If your coupons don’t work just call the corporate office to bitch and complain. You stupid pricks should realize by now that big corporate companies like CVS don’t give a damn about their employees. If you withold the policy you get in trouble, if you don’t, you still get in trouble. No fucking point.

  15. CVS Coupons, How to get the Most out of the Extra Bucks | Personal Finance Analyst on December 23rd, 2009 4:20 pm

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  16. brenda ellington on January 26th, 2010 10:25 am

    ill like to get some cvs coupon.

  17. Steve Zussino, Jr. on March 22nd, 2010 7:05 am

    I agree, printable coupons are an amazing tool to save money. These were some great tips to use.

    I live in Canada and we have free printable coupons for our website,

    I wish we had a great drugstore like CVS up in Canada.

  18. Anonymous on May 15th, 2010 5:34 am

    I have loved extra bucks and CVS coupons! My last two visits, I spent $5.25 on $35 worth of products and $1.25 on $40 worth of products! Also, on both of these purchases, I received $8-9 in ecbs back to roll over! You can make it work for you – this is becoming my norm, although there are the occasional trips where I only save 50-75% instead of 90-95%. I get tons of products for free or nearly free and I will never have to pay anywhere near full price for bodywash, razors, toothpaste, shampoo, or deodorant again! plus, I can get diapers, milk, eggs, and other assorted groceries for cheap through the program as well.

  19. angeline c. bell on June 23rd, 2010 9:55 pm

    I would like to register for an CVS Extra Care Bucks Card.

  20. Aryn on June 24th, 2010 9:28 am


    You have to go to CVS or to get a card. You can’t register on my website. I’ve deleted your address.

  21. Deanna on November 16th, 2010 11:02 am

    If you have a reciept that has a $10.00 extra bucks that expired on 11/13/10 and today is 11/16/10 how can I get to use it? Please help me out! Thankyou!

  22. Aryn on November 16th, 2010 2:06 pm

    It depends on the store. Some stores won’t take them, others will. Ask the checker at the store before you make the purchase. If they won’t accept it, visit another store!

  23. Christie on December 9th, 2010 1:49 pm

    I have 3 $5.00 off $30.00 or more can I use all 3 of them at one time? My plan is to spend over $30.00 but would like to combine them as they are getting ready to expire in the next week. I received 2 last night and one this morning for purchases.

  24. Aryn on December 10th, 2010 11:15 am

    Christie, my understanding is that those coupons must be used separately, so you’d need to make 3 $30 purchases to use them. Don’t worry if they expire before you use them. You’ll get more. You might even get better ones!

  25. Anonymous on December 25th, 2010 5:46 pm

    Hi, everyone!
    Trust me on this one: extra bucks is a scam. Instead of giving you the real and competitive sale price on the product, CVS tell you: pay this much money and we will give you this much back in extra bucks. They even say it’s like getting your money back. But that is not true, because it is a CVS coupon and you have to use it at CVS. Meanwhile, they have hiked up all their prices on things you really need and use, so you end up spending more of your money in the long run, since you no longer have a choice of where to shop. I know there are people who buy things that give extra bucks, paying for them with extra bucks. The problem with that strategy is that it is rarely something that you might actually need on a regular basis, and if you were to wait, extra bucks expire fairly quickly. So please trust me on this one: steer clear of CVS and Extra bucks. You are much better off just looking for a better deal at the supermarket, or Wallmart and Target.

  26. Advice on formula on April 3rd, 2011 8:30 pm

    I have a great way to save on Good Start Formula- breastfeed. Besides being FREE is is the only way to give your baby the best chance at intelligence and health. If you don’t want to do that because it is inconvenient here’s an idea– don’t pursue motherhood. Just work on your career or marriage or anything that doesn’t require being 100% unselfish. Why do woman feel they NEED to be a mother when they don’t have what it takes? Everything you do affects your baby: what you eat while pregnant, what you feed them, how much time and love you give them. Let’s stop giving our kids less than the best. I know this is very harsh, just seeing a lot of bad parenting in my life lately. I made a promise to myself as a child (divorced parents) I wouldn’t knowingly hurt my kids. Can we please stop doing just that, by what we do and also what we don’t do.

  27. Marie on May 21st, 2011 9:13 am

    At least once a month, maybe more, I come back from CVS angry and frustrated. I save my bigger items for when they’re doing the 25% off. Well….it’s changed a bit in the past few months. Once, you did the 25% off the purchases (except booze, scripts), and then if you had any ‘extra bucks’ which were originally to be used like ‘cash’ to pay for the order, that would come off last. Now? OH no!!! Now, they count those as coupons so that diminishes the discount. And this time, they had an item packaged two pieces, priced at the normal price for one. It didn’t say ‘sale’ nor ‘discount’, yet that counted as a sale item as well.

    AND every month for the past 6 or 8 months, when I’ve taken a 25% “off everything”coupon in, their computer doesn’t read it right. For instance last month on a 120 dollar purchase (no drugs, no discounts, no booze), it automatically gave me $6.29 off. $6.29? Really? Last I checked, 25% off $120 is $30 off. First he tried to give me $30 extra bucks and I told him I’m so fed up, I may not come back to use it. I want it now, per the coupon. The manager then couldn’t manage to void it and re-do the coupon, then we had to play a game of ‘what in this order equals $30.’ I was there over 20 minutes at the counter while this little game played out.

    Thing is, how many people don’t know enough math to know what 25% is? How many people are CVS screwing in this little game? The manager says it’s always like this. Someone at Corporate is clearly showing their disdain and lack of respect for customers when they play these games.

    I for one am sick of the games and going to start shopping elsewhere. Our local store is dirty, disorganized, they’re always out of things I need, and they have a lot of past-date items on the shelves. (AND I recommend everyone check expiry dates on everything with CVS. They’re notorious for trying to sell old, out-of-date goods.)

  28. Renee on September 23rd, 2011 4:47 pm

    when purchasing a product at CVS can I use more than 1 machine coupon on 1 item?

  29. Aryn on September 26th, 2011 3:09 pm

    Do you mean more than one manufacturer’s coupon on a single item? No. You can use CVS $X off $X coupons in combo with manufacturer coupons.

  30. wayne on October 8th, 2011 2:30 pm

    Cand I still redeem myextrabucks even though it expired? How do I do that?

  31. Aryn on October 10th, 2011 4:52 pm

    It depends on the store. One of my local stores just said to bring them in and they’ll let me use them.

  32. Lina Blecher on March 2nd, 2013 12:03 pm

    Lost my extra care alert spend $15 get $5 back can you send it via email again?

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