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Deal Shopping for Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes: CVS/pharmacy & CVS Extra Bucks

My favorite store to save at with a combination of coupons, sales and store promotions is CVS/pharmacy.  I pick up many items each year at CVS for my Operation Christmas Child shoebox donations--see image below for my 2011 OCC CVS stockpile grand finale.

In April of 2010 I began a blog dedicated to teaching the basics of CVS shopping and sharing tips and deals so others could save, too.  You can visit Simply CVS and read lessons on the details of CVS shopping and making the most of their Extra Buck program. We have since stopped posting weekly deals there, but there are lots of tips and lessons still available to read.  Here are the basics that make it possible to save money while shopping at CVS (this info was accurate as of FEB 2012).

Sign up for a CVS Extra Care Card.  The card is necessary to receive sale prices and to participate in the CVS extra care buck program.  You can either do this online at CVS.com and they will mail the card within two weeks, or you can pick up a form and a card at any CVS store and start saving the same day.
Extra Care Bucks, or commonly known as extra bucks, are the basis for the large savings possible for shopping at CVS.  Extra bucks are coupons received at the end of the receipt and are like extra “bucks” when shopping at CVS (they must be used with the card they were issued for).  There are a few restrictions for what they can be used on:  stamps, alcohol, prescriptions, gift cards, tax and tobacco all the ones I know of.   Extra bucks can be used on other extra buck deals and even on the same deal if the limit is more than one.   Extra bucks are earned in three different ways and usually expire within 30 days.
  1.           Quarterly extra bucks are issued four times a year and are calculated on the shopper’s spending.  Two percent of the amount spent on most items is earned in extra bucks (some restrictions apply).  This is after coupon price—the total paid on the receipt.  They are also issued in 50 cent increments so the shopper must spend $25 to get any quarterly extra bucks and then it increases in $25 spending increments or $.50 in extra bucks.
  2.          Quarterly extra bucks are earned for prescriptions filled.  Along with the 2% quarterly extra bucks, shoppers receive $1 for every two prescriptions filled.  UPDATE:  CVS is often changing its program so check for details with your pharmacy.  You do need to sign up at the pharmacy to earn on prescriptions.
  3.          Weekly deal extra bucks are issued immediately when a shopper buys an advertised “extra buck” item.  These range from “free after extra buck items” like “buy Toothpaste @ $2.99 get $2.99 extra bucks back” to “buy $15 worth of products listed and receive $5 extra bucks back.”  There are limits, usually one or two, for weekly extra buck deals.
2011 CVS Freebies for Shoe Boxes
Manufacturer coupons and CVS coupons can be combined.  CVS accepts manufacturer coupons (including internet printables if they will scan) as well as issues their own coupons.  CVS coupons are emailed, sent in the mail, found in various publications or tear pads, issued at the Kiosk where shoppers can scan their cards, and printed at the end of receipts.  You can use one CVS coupon and one manufacturer coupon per product purchased.  Extra bucks do not count as coupons so can be used on top of these.  It is actually possible to “make money” shopping at CVS by using CVS and manufacturer coupons to pay for an item that will issue more extra bucks back than cash used to pay for the product.  CVS also often issues total order coupons such as $5 off a total order of $30—the $30 is pre-coupon price.

Numerous transactions are helpful in spending the least out of pocket cash.  Using extra bucks on other extra buck earning deals is commonly referred to as “rolling extra bucks.”  The beauty of rolling extra bucks is it helps you spend less out of pocket cash.  You can check out numerous times each week, using the extra bucks earned from transaction #1 on transaction #2 and so on. This is also the way to keep the expense down from week to week.  As you continue to shop at CVS your extra bucks will slowly build up and you will be able to virtually keep spending the same extra bucks over and over again, because each time you use them on new extra buck deals you receive more with a later expiration date.  Each week at Simply CVS we share which CVS Extra Buck Deals are the best to roll onto.

CVS issues rain checks for most advertised deals.  If an advertised item is out of stock, and the ad does not state no rain checks issued, CVS will issue a rain check for the sale price AND the extra buck amount, if one is included, to be used by the customer when the store is restocked.
  1.      CVS rain checks never expire.
  2.      The Extra Bucks will be printed manually by the cashier after the purchase is made.
Rain Checks are great to save for when a great coupon comes out for the product, you have extra bucks expiring and there is no current sale that interests you or to have when you get a $5/30 to help you get up to the $30 total needed to use the coupon.  You can read more about CVS rain checks at Simply CVS.
Simply CVS

Saving money while shopping at CVS is easy with their weekly deals once you learn the basics.  You can find all the current deals each week at Simply CVS--the links are under the banner.

Information in this post was accurate at time of posting.  CVS Extra Bucks program can change from time to time.

You may want to check out all the ways we Find Extra Money for Packing Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes

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Disclosure: Links on Simply Shoeboxes may be affiliate partners or referrals.