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Saturday, May 15, 2010

CVS 101

Have you started shopping at CVS?  If not, now is the time to start.  They are awesome!  Around here, the customer service is stellar, in my opinion.  I'll share a few basics to get you started.  Feel free to ask questions if I omit something!

Much like Walgreens, CVS has a rewards program.  Buy an item or items specified in the ad, and receive a reward back in the form of ecb, extra care bucks.  You need a ExtraCare card to get in on these deals.  They are free and available in the store, or you can request one online.  You aren't required to register your card, but I suggest doing so because I often receive bonus coupons via email because my card is registered.

When you go into your CVS, go to the CRT machine near the front and scan your card.  You will receive generic coupons to use that day, or save them and see what might be on sale the next week.  Keep scanning your card until the machine tells you there are no more coupons available.  Sometimes you get bonus coupons!
Smart shopping at CVS involves buying items that yield ecbs that you will actually use.  I can count on CVS to give great deals on diapers, toothpaste & mouthwash, shampoo, makeup, coffee, razors, etc.  I will never 'pay' for these items again..these are all obtainable through sales, coupons, and ecbs.  If you are buying these items, stop!
Another great thing about CVS is their bogo and bogo50% sales.  You can use 2 coupons per pair of items, or you can use a bogo coupon.  Potentially, a bogo coupon with a bogo sale means you'll pay tax only for 2 items!
CVS allows you to use 1 manufacturer's coupon and 1 store coupon per item.  Check for extra savings.  Ask your store manager if they will accept competitor's store coupons...a couple of the stores in my area allows you to use Walgreens & Target coupons, which they enter as CVS coupons, to add to your savings.
So, when planning a trip to CVS, take a look at their ad and see what items are yielding ecb, plus any other items you might want to buy, and check out items that are bogo or bogo50...they might have potential!
I make a list of the items I am interested in, along with the prices, coupons I have for the item, and ecb info, including the limit.  No sense in buying more than the ecb or deal limit unless it's a really great price!  Then, I check my email and see if I received any new CVS coupons.  I work out scenarios on paper that give me the lowest out of pocket expense, and give me ecbs back, that I turn around and use toward my next purchase.  Once you get several ecb built up, you can do transactions in different order, which is helpful if the store is out of stock on something you intend to buy.
Speaking of being out if stock, CVS will give you rainchecks on items. The raincheck never expires, and will guarantee your ecb, even after the promotion has ended.  Don't forget to ask for a raincheck whenever you need it!
A little about ecbs:  If your item is limit 1, you can only receive the reward once for that item.  Your receipt will include the ecb(which you tear off and keep with your coupons until you need to use it--they expire in 30 days), and will tell you whether or not you have met your limit on the item(s).
If your item is more than 1, there are several ways you can purchase. 
I'll use a limit 3 as an example:
Say your item is $4 with a 4ecb, limit 3.  You could buy 1 item for $4, and receive 4ecb back.  Then, buy the item again for $4, pay with your 4ecb, get a new 4ecb.  Then, do that one more time.
Or, buy the item for $4, get a 4ecb.  Then buy 2 items for $8, use the 4ecb & pay $4oop, get 8ecb back(not 4ecb & 4ecb..they will be together).
Or, buy 3 of the item for $12, then receive 12ecb back.
That is where things can get confusing, but you can learn to use the ecb system to your advantage.  Again, you don't need to pay for personal care items...just shop CVS!

Well, hope it wasn't too confusing to learn the CVS basics.  Let me know how your first CVS trip goes!

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