CVS 101

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I remember when I first started couponing. CVS was so hard to understand. How do you get Extra Bucks? What do you do with them? How many cards can you have? Can I use coupons?
Those were just a FEW of the questions I had. Thankfully, I had a dear friend that was a CVS Pro that helped me out ALOT during those days! I’m really hoping this post will help all of the newbies or even some of the seasoned couponers that run into problems at CVS.

First things first, Sign up for your Extra Care Card. You can do this at OR in the store! I suggest signing up in the store so that you can start saving IMMEDIATELY! However, once you do sign up, come home, go online and sign up to receive emails from CVS (use your new CVS Extra Care Card number) They will send you updated information, deals, and even some surprise COUPONS! Your extra care card is needed to get the sale prices and to earn Extra Care Bucks.

What are ECB’s?? ECB’s are Extra Care Bucks. When you earn them, they will be printed at the bottom of your receipt. TREAT THESE LIKE CASH! And, keep an eye on the expiration date. You have one month from the day you receive an ECB to use it. Some stores will let you use expired ECB’s, but you never know when they will change their rules, so try your best to use them before the expiration date. ECB’s can be used like cash at CVS stores. There are exclusions, like gift cards and prescriptions, check the bottom of your ECB for the full list of exclusions.

Next, get your scenarios together! You can use your weekly store ad, or your online ad. Also, places like and will usually list the ads early. I also post the ad HIGHLIGHTS & coupon matchups ahead of time. Scan the ad for the FREE after ECB deals and any other sales that offer extra bucks. Your goal is to creat a scenario that will make the product free after coupons & extra bucks or even earn a profit ! This is done by reducing yourtotal amount spent with CVS dollar off your total coupons, CVS item coupons, and manufacturer coupons. **You can use both a CVS store coupon AND a manufacturer coupon on each item! PLUS you can use a $/$$ coupon too!

Here is an example:

Let’s say Hershey products are on sale for $3 each, spend $20 and receive a $5 Extra Buck. You have a $5 off $20 CVS coupon, you have a bunch of $1 off Hershey candy coupons and lots of $1 off Hershey CVS coupons:

Buy 7 hershey Products x $3 = $21 (you met the $20 required to get your Extra bucks!)

Use $5 off $20 CVS coupon – $5

Use (7) $1/1 Hershey Manufacturer Coupon – $7

Use (7) $1/1 hershey CVS coupon – $7

Pay $2 out of pocket, and you will receive a $5 Extra Buck!! You just made a profit of $3!

Next, learn how to “roll” your ECB’s. What does this mean? Rolling means you will use your ECB’s to buy products that produce MORE ECB’s. Making your actual cash out of pocket minimal to NONE! Learning how to effectively roll your ECBs will save you the most money in the long run. Sometimes, you may have to purchase items you don’t really need, and in this case, you can donate it or have a garage sale!!

I suggest writing down your scenario before heading to the store. This will really help! Also, shopping on the first day of the sale really helps because the best deals usually sell out fast. Bring a calculator with you in case they are out of stock and you need to re-evaluate in the store. Have a backup plan.


You have 2 options. You can buy everything at once or you can break them into separate transactions. Its usually less out of pocket when you have multiple transactions (using the first set of ECB’s you earn, to purchase the next set of items–rolling!) However, there are times when you have to make one big purchase to get your total high enough to use a $/$$ coupon.

When you’re ready to check out, hand the cashier your Extra Care Card! Then it’s important that you present your coupons in exactly this order to maximize your savings – CVS dollar off transaction coupons, CVS store coupons/manufacturer coupons, and finally your ECBs. If you present your dollar off coupons after your manufacturer and store coupons, your total transaction amount may not be high enough to allow the system to accept the coupon.

Something to note about Extra Bucks. If your paying with extra bucks, you can’t get change. Your total must be equal to or higher than the amount of extra bucks your using. You can do this by picking up some “filler” items. Filler items are very cheap items. A pencil is a good example, or check your clearance section for some cheap items. Trial items are good fillers too!

Check your receipt to be sure all of your ECB’s prited correctly. If not, let the cashier know. If you did everything correct, the cashier can manually print your ECB’s for you.

Also, at the bottom of your receipt, it will show you the deals you have already done, and how many more deals you can still do. (some deals have a limit of 1 some have multiple, so keep your eye on that)

Please don’t hesitate to ask any questions you may have. The drugstores can be very hard to understand when your first starting out. I will do my best to answer all your questions!


  1. Josh says

    Some CVS will however mark down items to another stores advertised price, just as long as the item in question isn’t on sale for CVS at the same time.

  2. Lili says

    Thanks for this info, it’s very helpful for someone who is just starting out. Love your website, thanks!

  3. Sue Dupuy says

    Is there an app for smart phones that allows you to capture the coupons on in a digital format eliminating the need for printing?

  4. Shannon says

    I went into CVS yesterday and tried to use a Manufacturer’s coupon for .50 off of Speedstick. On the coupon it said “Available at Walmart” and they would not take it. It was my understanding that if it is a man. coupon and it doesn’t say “redeemable only at ….” that it could be used anywhere. Is this correct?

  5. Denise Kline says

    if ecbs are offered for lumene products but i only want the face wipes but they r out and still have other more expensive lumene products on shelf can i get raincheck?

  6. teri says

    I am just starting out with understanding CVS and their policies. This article is priceless. I have found, in my market, that CVS is difficult to deal with. So far, every time that I have done a deal, it has rung up wrong at the register. I now carry the sale circular with me, and I do a cursory check of the store to make sure that the items are in stock. Sometimes they are not.

    Also, one thing that I discovered by accident. When you get a coupon for a free item, such as panty liners, fabric CVS brand band aids etc…USE THEM. I have found that the coupons are usually higher in my market for the actual item that I have received free…and I get the overage…usually just a few cents…but it coves the tax for the thing that I have purchased. Very cool. They don’t tell you about that. Now I NEVER pass on any of the free item coupons…even it I would never use the product – they are just like money too.

  7. Linda Fischer says

    I have tried to used 2 coupons on 1 item or 2 but the cashiers always say “oh nooooo you can’t do that I say why not they always say because you only purchased the lets say I purchase 3 items you can’t use 6 coupons I live in Michigan are there different laws in different states or something I know you said use the coupons in the order you stated and I have done that only to have an arument with the cashier. I down loaded e-coupons for krogers and gave them a paper coupon this item was on sale so 8.99 on sale for 5.99 e-coupon 2.00 and paper coupon for 2.00 the cashier only took off the e-coupon 2.00 and kept my 2.00 paper coupon. I still got a really good deal but should I not get 4.00 off whats going on here I am really confused.

  8. Linda says

    Are ECBs the coupons that print on the receipt? The coupons I get are always for things I don’t buy or use. The info on CVS 101 reads like ECBs can be used towards anything. Just starting out and so confused. Thank you for the great site.

    • says

      Yes, the ECB’s are the coupons on the receipt. They can be used on anything (with some restrictions like prescriptions, alcohol)

      • Linda says

        Ok, so I’ve been very confused about the extracare bucks. I signed up for the card a couple of years ago when I realized that EC cadholders received discounted prices on some things. I attended one of your classes and asked if the coupons at the bottom of the receipt were good for anything. I asked because I have always received coupons for things I don’t use. Finally, this week I received, at the bottom of my receipt, a real “25% off your next purchase” coupon. I’ve never received one before. So now I’m happy to say I’m not confused anymore. Sadly though, since I never get any good coupons, I didn’t look at it until 5 days later. To my dismay the coupon was only valid for 3 days and I didn’t get to use it.

  9. Ruby says

    Hi.. I m new to couponing. I have a question.. Do we have to buy 2 ECB back deals in 2 different transactions? Yesterday, I bought Crest Rinse deal (5$ ECB) and cereal deal ($3 ECB) in the same transaction. But I got only 3$ ECB back. I realized it after coming back home. Can I go back to store and request the 5$ ECB showing the receipt?

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