Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Getting Started at CVS

We're going to start with CVS because there are lots of free after ECB items Thanksgiving through Saturday! So these are the basic skills of playing the CVS game!
First, get your CVS ExtraCare card. Ask a cashier, or sign up online. If you're excited to get started, ask for it at the store. Otherwise you'll have to wait for it to arrive in the mail. You'll need to have the card scanned for each of your purchases. If you have a card but do not have an email account, go to and register yourself. This is your key to getting email coupons.
Next, earn ECB (Extrabucks). ECB are earned through promotions, such as “Buy XX, receive $YY in ECB.” You will see these promotions in the monthly and weekly ads. The ecb print at the end of your receipt - clip them and keep them as carefully as you would cash. The required amount to receive the ECB is calculated before coupons. You do not have to buy all the products for that particular promotion in the same transaction or at the same store. ECB coupons can be used to purchase nearly anything in the store (excluding prescriptions, alcohol, tobacco, and Gift Cards). You cannot get change back when you spend your ecb's. They can be entered as less than their face value (if your cashier knows how). For example if your total comes to $1.97 and you have an ecb for $1.99 that you would like to use, and you don't mind losing 2 cents, you can use your ECB to pay your total. ECB coupons expire 4 weeks from the date they are printed.
Couponing @ CVS ~ CVS accepts manufacturer's coupons, including IP (internet printable) coupons. CVS also issues their own store-specific coupons. You can get these by mail, email or printed out at the end of your receipt (these are referred to as CRT's - cash register tape). Both ECB and CRT coupons are linked to your CVS account, which means you cannot use them without the same CVS card that earned them. It used to be that we could share email coupons, but recently that has been changing a bit. It seems most of the item coupons (like $4 off skin effects) can still be used with any extracare card. However the $$/$$ coupons (like $3 off $15 or more purchase) will beep and the cashier will receive a message that the coupon was not issued to your card. The CVS coupon policy allows for the use of one manufacturer and one CVS coupon on the same item (called stacking). Often a very good deal can be had when you combine a CVS item coupon and/or a manufacturer's coupon on an item that gives back ecb's.
Handing over the goods ~ There is an order to handing over your CVS coupons.
First, have the cashier scan your card. Next hand over your $/$$ coupon. Then hand over your CVS coupons and Manufacturer coupons.
So here is a sample CVS trip (using this week's flier):
Transaction 1:
Buy 1 Maybelline Mineral Foundation at $8.99, get 8.99 ECB (limit 2)
Buy 1 Maybelline Mineral Foundation at $8.99.
Use $3/Maybelline Foundation coupon in last week's paper.
Total out-of-pocket cost: $5.99 + tax, earn $8.99 ECB.
Transaction 2:
Buy 1 Maybelline Mineral Foundation at $8.99.
Use another $3 off coupon from the paper.
Purchase a $3 item like milk.
Total OOP: approximately $8.99
Use your $8.99 ecb from transaction 1.
Total oop : $0
Earn $8.99 in ECB.
Then we keep rolling our $8.99 ECB's to get more items for free!

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