If you’ve ever shopped at CVS, you might have heard this question: “Do you have a CVS card?” I never understood the usefulness of this free card until I signed up for one. Now I use my CVS card regularly to receive instant discounts on products, collect ExtraBucks, and receive advance notice of deals via email. Using the card and the ExtraCare Rewards Program effectively allows me to receive free items, and sometimes even earn extra spending money.
There are two ways to acquire your own CVS card. First, you can visit your local CVS and fill out a small form with your name, address, and email. The card is attached to the form, and you can use it immediately. The other way to get one is to visit CVS.com and sign up for the ExtraCare Program. CVS will mail you a card within one week. Even if you are just an occasional CVS customer, you can benefit greatly from using this card.
CVS Card Benefits
- Discounted Member Prices. Items priced in the store have a regular price and a discounted CVS ExtraCare member price. These price differences are sometimes very significant.
- ExtraCare Coupon Center. There’s a big red machine inside every CVS called the Coupon Center. You can scan your card once a day and it will print out coupons for you for small items such as free Oreo Cookies or $0.99 candy.
- Bag Tags. Another perk for the environmentally conscious are bag tags. If you purchase a canvas grocery bag for $0.99, CVS will attach a bag tag to your CVS card account. Each time you shop with your canvas bag, you’ll earn $0.25 towards an ExtraBuck. On your fourth visit, your ExtraBuck will be printed out for you to use.
- ExtraBucks. The biggest perk of all is that the card enables you to receive ExtraBucks Rewards.
What Are CVS ExtraBucks?
CVS ExtraBucks (“EBs”) are coupon-like receipts that print out at the register after you make qualified purchases. For example, you could buy a Reach toothbrush for $3.69 and receive a $2.00 EB along with your receipt. You can use ExtraBucks on the next purchase you make with your CVS card. CVS advertises which products will give you EBs in weekly advertisements, so there’s never any guesswork. Here is an example of what you might see in a store ad:
Red Baron Deep Dish Singles Pizza 2 ct. or 6.5″ DiGiorno Pizza
Three for $10.00 with CVS Card
Plus $2.00 ExtraBucks reward for next purchase!
EB offer limit one per household with card
CVS will also periodically send you EBs to your email, plus additional EBs on your birthday. And if that weren’t enough, you’ll receive a quarterly bonus in EBs based on how much you spent during the previous three months with your card.
My favorite aspect of EBs is that they work like cash instead of like coupons. This means that if you want to buy a $10.00 item, you can use a $2.00 EB, a $3.00 EB, and a $5.00 EB all on that one item and not spend anything out-of-pocket.
Of course, ExtraBucks do have a few limitations:
- EBs Have an Expiration Date. CVS ExtraBucks usually have a 30-day expiration date from the moment they’re printed.
- There Are Household Limits. You can receive EBs on certain items up to the specified household limit. After that, you can receive the discounted price with your card, but you won’t receive any more EBs at the register.
- EBs Are Linked to a CVS Card. If you happen to spot some EBs on the ground that someone else tossed, they are useless to you. This is because those EBs were linked to that customer’s CVS card and not your own card. Furthermore, you cannot spend your own earned EBs unless you have your CVS card with you.
- Only One CVS Card per Household. The official policy of CVS is that only one card per household is allowed. Don’t break the rules by signing up everyone in your immediate family.
- No Cash Back. CVS will accept a $3.00 EB on a register total of $2.89. They will take the EB, but will not give you $0.11 in change. It’s better to have your total be just slightly higher than – if not equal to – your EB amounts, to avoid losing cash.
Free Items and Money Makers
Often, you can get manufacturer’s coupons on items that give you EBs. When this happens, you can potentially get an item for free – or even make money on it. Here are a few examples:
Getting an Item for Free
Suppose that a bottle of PediaCare costs $5.99 at CVS and returns a $5.00 EB. If you have a $1.00 off manufacturer’s coupon, this means you only spend $4.99 out-of-pocket. When you consider the $5.00 EB you receive, you essentially are getting an item for free, plus a penny.
Making Money Back on a Purchase
Recently, Schick Hydro shave gel cost $3.99 and returned a $4.00 EB. However, if you had a $2.00 off manufacturer’s coupon, you only would spend $1.99 out-of-pocket. With a $4.00 EB returned, you’d be making $2.01 in spending money at CVS.
Rolling Your EBs
When you spend EBs on products that give you more EBs back, you are rolling your EBs. You can even roll your EBs on the same product back-to-back until you reach the card limit.
Follow the strategy outlined in the following example:
- You buy a canister of Schick Hydro shave gel for $4.00 cash and get back a $4.00 EB.
- You then come back to the store later and use the $4.00 EB on another Schick Hydro shave gel and get another $4.00 EB.
- You do this a third time and reach your limit for your card. Now you need something else to spend your EBs on.
- You spend your $4.00 EB on two $1.99 toothpastes that each give you back $2.00 EBs.
In this scenario, you spent $4.00 out-of-pocket. For that monetary output, you received three Schick Hydro shave gel canisters and two tubes of toothpaste, and you still have a total of $4.00 in EBs remaining. You can keep on rolling them into more items until you reach the household limits and are forced to stop.
Your CVS card is your ticket to big savings on household items and toiletries. Use it to get special pricing on marked items in the store and to get ExtraBucks when you shop. Register your email address for additional perks and advertised deals, and then make the most of your savings by collecting and spending ExtraBucks in the store.
What will you say the next time you visit CVS and someone asks, “Do you have a CVS card?”