posted: Apr. 17, 2012 @ 9:07a
FULL CREDIT TO RYDERGAL at SD with some minor revisions/adds by Mistercheap/FW
What is CVS/pharmacy?
CVS/pharmacy is the retail pharmacy division of CVS Caremark, and is a national chain of pharmacy and convenience stores. As of December 31, 2011, CVS Caremark employs approximately 200,000 colleagues in 44 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. They operate more than 7,327 retail stores, 30 onsite pharmacies, 31 specialty pharmacy stores, 13 specialty mail order pharmacies, four mail order pharmacies, and the CVS.com and Caremark.com websites. In addition, their MinuteClinic division runs approximately 657 retail health care clinics (source [cvscaremark.com]). CVS is headquartered in Woonsocket, RI.
How do I contact CVS customer service?
Email Form: cvs.com [cvs.com]
Phone number: 1-800-SHOP-CVS
•CVSing and FW
There are a lot of CVS threads here, where I should I post?
Posts pertaining to a specific weekly deal should be posted in the weekly thread and monthly deals should be posted in the monthly thread.
If you have a question about CVS in general, right here in the FAQ thread is the place to be.
If you have something to say specific to kiosk coupons at CVS, please post in the CVS KIOSK Coupon thread.
Please please please try to keep the deal threads on topic…some weeks are fast & furious while others are slow, but it helps everyone out to be able to check a deal thread and not have to wade through a bunch of off topic conversations. And please be conscious of cross-posting…there’s rarely any need to post your question/statement/warning/whatever in more than one place. Use your best judgment as to what the best place would be, and put it there.
Can I get help coming up with a deal?
You can ask, but keep in mind that other people are busy too, so don't assume that someone will be able to. If you are going to ask then please specify which coupons you have, any items you want, items you won't buy.... The more information you give the better the advice will be.
•The Basics of CVSing
The Extra Care program and ECB’s
If you are going to enter the world of CVS shopping, you’ll need an ExtraCare card. This can be obtained in store or you can request one be mailed to you online. Here [cvs.com]’s a link to CVS’s official FAQ on the rewards program; the page also contains the link to order a card online. If you pick up a new card in store, you do not have to register it if you do not want to…but you can miss out on mailed and emailed CVS coupons if you do not. You still earn ECB’s and CRT’s with unregistered cards.
What are ECB’s?
ECB’s = ExtraCare Bucks. These are earned by purchasing certain products during a promotional period. Some promotions last a week while others may last for a month or longer. They will print on your receipt immediately after the necessary purchase is made. These can be used like cash on most items sold at CVS, but they cannot be used to pay for prescriptions, gift cards, tobacco products, alcohol, and stamps.
Be careful with your ECB’s. If they are lost or destroyed CS may not be willing reset them and even if you do get lucky, they may come back as one large ECB (which can be difficult to roll). The register tape CVS uses can turn completely black if left in the heat, making your ECB’s unusable. ECB’s cannot be reprinted from your ExtraCare account anymore.
Most ECB’s expire in a month, with the following exceptions: Green Bag Tag and Beauty Club ECB’s expire in 2 weeks, and quarterly ECB’s expire in 45 days.
Using your ECB’s in the most efficient manner means using the ECB’s you have already earned to buy items that will give you more ECB’s. The purpose of this is to make sure you always have ECB’s to spend at CVS so you will spend less “real” money OOP.
There's a promotion that says I need to buy $20 to earn an ECB, is that before or after coupons?
Before all coupons.
Do I have to finish a promotion in one transaction?
No. ECB deals "track" meaning you can break them up into more than one transaction. There will be a tally at the bottom of your receipt after you make a qualifying purchase; once you reach the threshold for the deal, your ECB will print.
The only types of purchases you have to buy together are the buy X get Y free deals. The price of Y will autodeduct from that transaction after both items have been purchased.
I let my ECB’s expire; what can I do?
Customer service generally will not reset your expired ECB’s. However, some stores will accept them, so ask around. Expired ECB’s will beep; don’t expect to just slip them in and have them go through. If you can’t find a store that will take them, CS is worth a shot since you’ve got nothing to lose, but the success ratio is fairly slim here. The best bet is to keep them current whenever possible; any store that says they take expireds today may not do so tomorrow, so letting them expire can be risky.
How many ECB’s can I use per transaction?
You can use as many as you want, as long as your transaction subtotal (pre-tax) is still positive. ECB’s cannot be used to pay for tax.
What are quarterly ECB’s?
These are earned based on the amount you actually spent (OOP) at CVS and from prescriptions you've had filled. You will get back 2% of your cash OOP and a $1 ECB for every 2 prescriptions you have filled online or in store. Cash OOP does not include the ECB’s and coupons you use. If you get a gift card (or possibly stamps) your total amount spent in that quarter will decrease.
For example, if you spent:
00-24.99 dollars ............................. you get $0.00 in ECBs
25-49.99 dollars ............................. you get $0.50 in ECBs
50-74.99 dollars ............................. you get $1.00 in ECBs
75-99.99 dollars ............................. you get $1.50 in ECBs
The quarters run from Dec 16 to March 15, March 16 to June 15, June 16 to Sep 15 and Sep 16 to Dec 15.
Quarterly ECB’s will start printing on the first day of the month following the end of the quarter.
Can I use my ECB’s on cvs.com?
You can only use your quarterly ECB online.
Can I use my ECB’s on someone else's card?
Can I have more than one card?
Yes and no. Some stores and some CS reps will say it is one per household. Others say one per person. Follow your conscience. Some managers and other employees think this is wrong, so they may question you if using multiple cards at their stores; other stores see it simply as a way to increase their sales. Please don’t judge others for their decision, whether they decide to have 1 card or many.
For those with more than one card, what info do you put down to register them?
If you use/have multiple ExtraCare Cards, you do not have to register all of them. ECB’s will still accrue & you will still get CRT’s. If you do want to register them in order to take advantage of email offers and such, be sure to use a different phone number and email for each card. Sign up here [ed4.net] to get a welcome $4/$20 coupon in your email.
Can I buy something for $4 and use a $5 ECB?
You can, but you would lose $1. It’s best to use the full amount of the ECB because you will not get money back.
What products are CVS brand?
Any item with a manufacturer code of 50428 is a CVS brand. This includes, but is not limited to: CVS/pharmacy brand, Essence of Beauty, Gold Emblem, RTH (Round the House), Fun in the Sun, Blade, Skin Effects, Elin Lavar, PreVentin-AT, Just The Basics, Merry Brite, Fruitopia, Cristophe, Bioluxe, and Nuance Salma Hayek.
•Coupons and Sales at CVS
This section is meant solely as an introduction to coupons at CVS. For anything not covered here, please be sure to check out the CVS Coupon Thread for more information.
What kinds of coupons can I use at CVS?
CVS accepts manufacturer coupons and CVS coupons. Their official coupon policy is located here [cvs.com], and their supplemental coupon FAQ is located here [cvs.com]. Note the policy is a stand-alone document in and of itself; anything mentioned in the FAQ but not in the policy should be honored by the store, but may be subject to manager discretion. Please feel free to call CS if you run into a store that will not honor the policy; we all help each other by training stores to understand their own rules.
All CVS coupons start with a 4. They may have 9, 12 or 13 digits. See the CVS Coupon Thread for more info on each type. Some may say “Manufacturer Coupon” across the top, but if the barcode starts with a 4, the register sees it as a CVS q and will treat it as a CVS q.
Manufacturer coupons start with either a 5 or a 9 (unless the coupon has the new barcode only…we can’t decipher these yet). Some may say “Retailer Coupon” or “CVS/pharmacy Coupon” across the top, but if the barcode starts with a 5 or 9 (or it only has a new barcode), the register will treat it as an MQ, and it will beep when used with another MQ. Getting it pushed through as a CVS q is highly YMMV.
Very few CVS’s will take competitor coupons so you’ll have to ask at your store if you're interested in that…it is not CVS’s official policy to do so. However, many stores will accept competitor prescription coupons at the pharmacy.
How many coupons can I use per transaction?
You can use one manufacturer and one CVS coupon per item, plus $/$$ q’s and/or % q’s for the overall transaction. ECB’s do not count as coupons; you can use as many as you want as long as the pre-tax total is positive.
Does CVS price match?
Some of the pharmacy sections do, but as with competitor coupons, most CVS stores do not price match. Ask at yours if you are interested.
There's a B1G1 free sale; can I use two manufacturer coupons?
Yes! CVS's coupon policy says you can use one MQ and one CVS q per item, and specifically mentions this in regards to BOGO sales. It also specifies that you can use a BOGO q with a BOGO sale.
Buy One, Get One Free Coupons
Sales tax must be paid for any Buy One, Get One Free coupon offer, if required by applicable state laws.
Two coupons may be used on a Buy One, Get One Free promotion as long as it does not exceed the item total
o Ex. Suave Shampoo is on sale for $2.00 Buy One, Get One Free and the customer is purchasing two shampoos; customer may use two coupons for $1.00 each and pay the applicable tax.
Buy One, Get One Free promotions may be combined with Buy One, Get One Free Coupons. Customers are responsible for paying applicable tax
o Ex. Suave Shampoo is on sale for $2.00 BOGO and customer has a MFG coupon for Suave BOGO. Customer will receive both items for free but will need to pay any applicable tax.
Why do some coupons beep?
-MQ’s for free items (such as b1g1 free) usually beep for the price of the free item to be entered. Make sure your cashier enters a price; otherwise no other q’s will scan.
-An MQ whose value exceeds the item’s value will beep and need to be adjusted down to the value of the item. If you buy 3 99 cent items and use 3 $1 off coupons only the 3rd coupon will beep, it will need to be adjusted to 97 cents.
-MQ’s beep if they do not match the manufacturer code on the item you purchased. Sometimes coupons are coded poorly and will beep for items that are not excluded by the wording. Some CVS's will push these through and some will not. If you are interested in learning more about coupon codes, please see the Coupon Barcode Basics thread or this site.
-MQ’s over $10 will beep. These coupons require a supervisor to scan their card in order for them to be accepted.
-992 MQ’s will beep, prompting the cashier to choose “taxable” or “non-taxable” for the item in question.
-MQ’s may beep because they are expired (expiration dates are coded in the new barcode).
-A $/$$ q will beep if your subtotal is not high enough to use it (see 98% rule).
-Sometimes a CRT will be coded as a $/$$, even though it is worded as being off a certain item. A recent example of this one was a CRT for $1.50 off any CVS baby wipes; when used in a $21 transaction along with a $4/$20, it beeped, saying the transaction limit had been exceeded. It was likely coded as $1.50/$x, but without knowing what $x is, it’s hard to plan for these. Trial and error is how we find out about them, as there is no way to tell by the wording. YMMV on getting these pushed through if it beeps for you. They should be pushed, but it isn’t guaranteed.
-ECB’s over $20 will beep and require supervisor approval.
-Any card specific CVS coupon will beep if it is not for your card (see the CVS coupon thread for more specifics on these).
-CVS coupons with the same code are limited to one per transaction; anything after 1 will beep. YMMV on getting them pushed through, as many state “one per customer”.
-13 digit CVS coupons will beep if used again, telling the cashier exactly when it was redeemed the first time. Getting these pushed though is highly unlikely.
What is stacking?
Stacking usually means using multiple $/$$ coupons in one order. CVS’s official coupon policy allows this, as long as your subtotal is equal to or greater than the total requirements for each coupon. Using 2 $4/$20 coupons requires a $40 transaction, and so on and so forth.
CRT’s and the Magic Coupon Machine
Every CVS store (or most…there could be a couple out there without them) has at least one scanner machine, usually somewhere near the front door. You can scan items to make sure they are the right price, and you can scan your card to get coupons. These are called CRT’s (cash register tape; ones that print on your receipt are also called CRT’s…some will only print from the scanner, some will only print from the register, but some of them will print either place, depending on whether you scan your card first or checkout first). These are CVS coupons.
Scan your card until it says “No more coupons available”…sometimes you’ll get two or three batches of CRT’s before the machine decides you are done.
Generic CRT’s generally print for everyone, and generally print every day.
Once you have a bit of purchase history built up, you’ll start to get other CRT’s. No one knows exactly how CVS decides who gets what, but they will start to show up eventually.
We usually get a new batch of generics on Sunday. All the other coupons usually reset on Monday, though sometimes there’ll be other nongeneric coupons later in the week.
I paid mostly with coupons and ECBs, can I return the stuff I bought?
You got it for free if you’re doing it right, so why would you want to return it?
Yes you can, but it isn’t recommended that anyone make a habit of this.
CVS brand products and all cosmetics have a 100% satisfaction guarantee or your money back. Generally, it will have to go as a return without a receipt and you will get the price of the item back on a money card (essentially a CVS gift card). However, frequent returns can make a coupon shopper look bad, especially if you're returning items that produced ECB’s. Always check your receipt before you leave the store to make sure you got all the ECB’s you expected. If it turns out you purchased the wrong item (or you bought the right item but it didn't count for some reason) you can do a return and rebuy on the spot so the cashier sees that you are not trying to cheat the system. Please try not to return ECB-producing items. If you don't want the item then consider donating it or giving it to a friend or family member.
Remember to check expiration dates as many CVS’s seem to leave items on shelves way too long. (If you are in CA or PA, bring your expired finds to the cashier; you’re supposed to get a $2 ECB as a “bounty” for finding it!)
Can I use coupons on clearance items?
This should be allowed, but can be YMMV. If the barcode has been blacked out and the cashier simply enters it as a taxable or non-taxable item, a manufacturer coupon will beep but you should be able to have the cashier force it through. If the bar code is still scannable then the coupon should scan correctly.
Can I get an overage from coupons?
Yes, in certain situations! However, CVS does not give Cash Back under any circumstances…you will have to have other products in your order to absorb the overage.
-It is CVS’s policy to adjust MQ’s down to the item's price, so it is rare to get overage this way. The MQ will (almost) always beep to be adjusted down. Some employees are unaware that they can adjust coupons, so there may be a bit of a hassle here, but it’s not usually an issue.
-CVS q’s will generally allow overage.
-A combo of CVS q & MQ will also allow for overage, as long as the MQ isn’t greater than the item.
-BOGO sales can be nice for overage; the register sees the total value of the items before the sale price. For example, a $5 item is BOGO, so you buy 2. You have 2 $4/1 MQ’s; the register sees $10 in product and will allow both MQ’s since they only total $8. At the end of the transaction, $5 comes off for the BOGO sale, and you have just made $3 (Nature’s Bounty, we miss you and your $5/1 MQ’s )
-992’s give overage.
I bought something, but forgot my coupon. Can I take the coupon to the store and get my money back?
Possibly. Some stores will allow “post coupons”, but each store varies in the timeframe allowed. Check with your store. The worst case scenario is you return the item, then rebuy it with the coupon.
ECB deals and $/$$ coupons seem to work on the theory of 98%. If an ECB deal requires you to purchase $10 worth of items to get the ECB, $9.80 will be enough to meet the threshold (98% of $10). If you have a $4/$20 CVS coupon, your subtotal needs to be $19.60 (98% of $20) before tax to use the coupon beeplessly.
•The Rules of the Deals
What does the limit in the ad mean?
Every ECB deal at CVS has a limit. Once you’ve reached the limit on your card, you’re done with it…you will not earn ECB’s for it again.
Quantity limits on sale items ($.89 Coke 2L for instance…no ECB, just a sale) are per transaction, but frequently these limits are NOT register enforced.
Do stores activate the new ad early?
Some do and some don’t. How can you tell if your store has activated the ad yet? Price check something that will be on sale in the new week (but is regular price in the current week)…if it scans at the sale price, the new ad is activated. Timeframes can vary wildly, but it’s generally sometime Saturday afternoon...4pm is a good starting point.
Note: even if a store activates early, any Three Day Deals (or other short date sales, whether it be 2 days or 4 days, etc) do not start early.
The scanner is your friend throughout the week as well. Double check everything you intend to purchase to make sure it will ring up correctly; this can save you a lot of time and hassle at the register. If it’s not ringing up correctly, either find something else that is OR be prepared to tell the cashier about the error up front and show him/her the ad to see what their solution is.
On a recent Secret deal, all of the advertised Secrets were ringing up correctly…except the one fragrance I wanted to purchase (for some reason, it was still at full price). I asked the cashier about an override on it, and she simply rang up one of the scents that was working but put the ones I wanted in my bag. This was much easier than being surprised at the register, paying more than I thought, having to return the incorrect items and rebuy ones that work.
Are there drawbacks to early activation?
There can be if you are not careful. If you are planning to shop Saturday night, checking out any upcoming sales on the items you plan to buy is worthwhile. If an item has the same sale price next week, or a better sale price next week, the new deal will win in the system, and you lose all chance to complete the current week’s deal. In many cases you are better off to buy these items before the new ad starts. If you aren’t sure when the new ad starts, buy any overlapping items on Friday.
Are there bonuses to early activation?
There can be, if you are not afraid of asking for manual prints. Any of the above conflicts can cause an ECB that you rightfully earned not to print, and manual prints can be obtained in this case.
What is a manual print?
This is an ECB that the store prints for you, either because the ECB didn’t print when it should have, or because you redeemed a raincheck. Since they are not tied to a specific manufacturer, manual prints reduce tax liability, and are a nice little bonus. Some stores are wary about printing them; pick your battles on this wisely, as repeat requests for manual prints will certainly raise eyebrows over time.
Do ECB’s “roll”?
Yes. If the limit on a deal is two, you can buy 1, get the ECB, and use that ECB to buy the second one. Use of an ECB will never stop another ECB from printing, as long as you haven’t maxed out the deal.
Widgets are on sale for $10 with a $5 ECB this week; next week they will be on sale for $8. Can I double dip if my store activates early?
There is no such thing as an automatic double dip at CVS. The system picks the better of the 2 deals (based on sale price) and gives you what it considers the best one. Once the new ad starts, you will get the $8 sale price because $8 is cheaper than $10. No ECB’s will print. This is where manual prints come into play, though they can be highly YMMV and should be used with careful consideration if you intend to maintain a relationship with your store. In this particular example, a store might deny the manual print since you only paid $8 instead of $10. Or they might adjust the price of the item to $10 and then print you a manual ECB. If a store refuses a manual print, you can always try to contact CS and plead your case.
If there is a weekly ECB deal (with the price of the item remaining the same) in back to back weeks, the new deal wins as soon as the new ad is activated, so be sure to finish up the old deal before that happens.
The deal is spend $10, get $3, and is limit 1. I purchased $9.90 worth of stuff, and my receipt says “Quantity Needed To Earn Next Reward $.10”. If I buy $.10, will I get another ECB?
No. CVS tallies can be wonky on the receipt where you earn the ECB. Your next receipt will change to “Offer Limit Reached”.
If I have already reached the limit on a monthly deal, and it is advertised in the weekly ad again, can I buy it again and still get the ECBs?
No, you cannot. This is a 'recycled' monthly deal, and all this means is that a monthly deal is advertised in the weekly ad as if it were a weekly deal. The limits are not reset; if it is limit 3 and you have already bought 3, you will not receive ECB’s for more even though it is in the ad that week.
How do I know if something is monthly instead of weekly?
This can be tricky, and we are all working together to deduce the information. CVS used to publish monthly booklets, but they don’t anymore so unfortunately we have to rely on tags, reports of unadvertised deals showing up, and simply noticing that a tally didn’t fall of our receipts. Check out the monthly thread for the latest info, and post if you know something new!
Transaction Sublimits (aka carryover/carry forward issues)
Let’s be frank here: CVS likes to mess with us. They enjoy it.
Sometimes CVS will advertise a deal with a small limit (usually 1), but it turns out the limit is higher than that. However, in many cases, the limit of one that is advertised is the most you can earn per transaction. If the deal is buy $20 get $5 ECB, anything over $20 in a single transaction is lost…so you are better off to split deals like this up into $20 or less transactions. It could go something like this:
Buy $10, and $10 tracks on your receipt
Buy an additional $15, and $15 adds to your tally (and you earn a $5 ECB for hitting $20)
Buy an additional $21, and only $20 adds to your tally (you now have $45 towards the deal, so you earn a second $5 ECB and have $5 (instead of $6…you lost that last $1 on the $21 transaction) towards the third ECB)
You can carry on in this manner until you reach the limit. Regardless of how much you have towards the deal, you can buy in any amount you wish, but only $20 per transaction will count.
This is most common on monthly deals that are advertised in the weekly ad at some point during the month, but it can happen to any deal really. We are all here to work together to figure deals like this out, so be sure to check the monthly thread (and the weekly threads, as many of the monthly deals eventually show up in a weekly ad) for the latest updates.
Percent Off Coupons
Sometimes CVS puts coupons in our online ExtraCare accounts; sometimes these are $/$$ and sometimes these are % off q’s. Percent q’s can be tricky little buggers. They do not work on sale items at all. However, they do frequently work on ECB producing items that happen to be regular price. Anything that shows up on your receipt as a CVS COUPON will reduce the amount of the discount (including but not limited to $/$$ q’s, manual print ECB’s, GBT ECB’s, Beauty Club ECB’s, ECB’s received from CVS products, and CVS coupons for CVS products).
Does CVS offer rainchecks?
Yes! Rainchecks can be issued for any advertised item that CVS regularly carries. They have no expiration date, and can be used at any store across the country. If the RC is for an ECB deal, make sure your cashier fills in the Event Code at the bottom. Another helpful tip: cut out the section of the ad advertising the item and clip it to the RC. This can help guard against another cashier not being able to read poor handwriting, and can also help prevent skeptical or grouchy cashiers saying “we’ve never had a sale like that before” while trying to deny your RC.
RC’s that contain an ECB offer will require a manually printed ECB once the transaction is over. The cashier is supposed to enter the Event Code when doing this, but Event Codes rarely work more than a few days after the sale period...novice cashiers may not realize this and think there’s a problem. Any experienced member of the store staff should be able to assist.
RC’s are subject to limits printed in the ad. If there is no advertised limits, stores are free to add a “reasonable” limit on your RC. Some stores may limit you to 2, others may be more generous. If you want more than the limit offered, you’ll have to visit a different store or come back to a different cashier.
Can I double dip with a sale and a RC?
YMMV. Some stores will not allow it at all; others either don’t care or don’t notice it. It never hurts to ask!
•CVS Clubs and Other Bonuses
Green Bag Tag
CVS offers a Green Bag Tag for $.99. Buy one. Every time you scan your GBT in connection with a transaction, you’ll earn a scan. 4 scans = $1 ECB.
All GBT’s have the same barcode; you can use 1 GBT across multiple cards.
Limits seem to be one scan per store per day for some folks, while others report getting only one scan per day no matter how many stores they visit, so YMMV. The original GBT thread is here for additional information on the program.
Enroll in the CVS Beauty Club and you’ll earn $5 ECB for every $50 you spend on beauty items. (There’s also a $3 ECB on your birthday, but this is a bit more hit or miss…not everyone seems to get it like they should.) Qualifying Beauty purchases include items from the following categories: Cosmetics, Ethnic Hair Care, Fragrances, Hair Accessories, Hair Appliances, Hair Care, Hair Color, Healthy Skin Care, Hosiery, Skin Care and Sun Care. Excludes items from Beauty 360, items from Trial & Travel, gift cards and prescriptions. Sign up online here [cvs.com], or stores should have barcodes to scan during checkout.
Tallies for Beauty Club take 2-3 days to show up on your receipt; the ECB will print either at the scanner or the register when you’ve hit each $50 increment.
Beauty Club totals are NOT subject to the 98% rule. In this one case. $50 really means $50.
ExtraCare Advantage for Diabetes Club
Sign up for the Diabetes Club here [[L=www.cvs.com],]www.cvs.com],[/L] and you’ll get CRT’s every now and again, as well as possible home mailers and email q’s. You also earn double quarterly ECB’s on select diabetes supplies.
•Self Check Out (SCO’s)
Some stores have SCO registers; all of the above points are written with the regular cash register in mind. Most of them also apply to SCO, but there can be some differences, even from one SCO to the next within the same store. For example: some will read new barcodes on coupons; some won’t. 992’s do not beep. 12 digit CVS q’s require manual intervention.
Please feel free to post any SCO questions in this thread, and SCO knowledgeable folks, please don’t hesitate to answer them and even update the wiki. Rydergal and Misterc have no SCO’s, so we have no experience with them to be able to say much more here for now!