I don’t have a lot of experience with CVS and Walgreens. I know exactly what I can buy at CVS and Walgreens. If I’m coming down with a cold or ate too much at dinner I might swing by the nearest drugstore for some Cold-eeze or Pepto Bismol. If I have a candy craving or a just finished a softball game I might make a drugstore run for Wildberry Skittles or Gatorade. Despite the close proximity of both a CVS and a Walgreens, I’ve never tried to take advantage of the unique deals both stores offer. I recently stumbled upon the CVS and Walgreen cash back and rebate programs that when coupled with coupons can be considered stealing. I will be starting to take advantage of these programs and will try to explain how they work below.
CVS uses “Extra Care Bucks” (ECBs) as a form of cash back on purchases. The first step towards taking advantage of the ECBs is to sign up for a Extra Care CVS card. This can be done either online or at the store. You also need to sync your CVS card with an online account. The online account provides you with coupons and extra savings, as well as a simple way to check your ECBs.
This program is pretty simple. Weekly and monthly fliers can be found at your local CVS that contain numerous savings. Most importantly they feature products that are free after ECBs. For example, the week of 10/5 to 10/11 contained an ad for a “free” Vitamin Water. You pay $2.29 out of pocket and receive $2.29 in ECBs, which may be used as cash for future purchases.
Each week/month there are a few free after ECB deals. The idea is to use money out of pocket initially for CVS purchases and then use ECBs for future purchases, which also replenish your ECBs. After a few weeks you should have enough ECBs built up to take advantage of these deals with no money out of pocket.
Walgreens uses a similar program that relies mostly on rebates. Every month a new EasySaver catalog is available both online and in-store. The EasySaver catalog contains rebates that make products either free or nearly free.
The Walgreens rebate program is similar to the CVS ECB program in that you have to put up cash out of pocket initially and then the rebates from previous purchases are used for subsequent purchases. For example, this month’s EasySaver catalog has a free after rebate deal on Extreme Energy 6-Hour Shot. You spend the money out of pocket initially, fill out the rebate form online and receive the rebate to use on future purchases.
Walgreens has an extra deal that involves getting your rebates in the form of Walgreens gift cards. If you take your rebates in the form of Walgreens gift cards you get 10% extra. The idea is to pay out of pocket initially and continue rolling the rebates onto a Walgreens gift cards with the extra 10% until you are no longer paying out of pocket.
Each drugstore provides weekly and monthly deals that are free after rebate or ECB, but to really take advantage of these deals you have to start clipping and saving coupons. There are numerous deals at both stores that are not free after ECB or rebates, but still provide ECBs and rebates. When these deals are combined with coupons you can make the deals free and sometimes you can even make money.
I am by no means a coupon expert as I have never saved or used a coupon, but I intend to start in order to take full advantage of the CVS and Walgreens games. As far as I know, which isn’t very much regarding coupons, coupons can be found as inserts in newspapers (mostly Sundays), online at coupon sites, online at manufacturer sites and at participating stores. Additionally, signing up for savings via e-mail can frequently lead to $4 off $20 in purchases or something similar.
I am hoping to begin my CVS and Walgreens games this week. I will provide updates on my purchases and progress in building up rebates and ECBs, as well as anything more that I learn about the intricacies of the programs. I learned a good deal about CVS and Walgreens deals from Money Saving Mom and The Thrifty Mama. Both of these sites will provide you with significantly more information regarding couponing as well. I look forward to stealing from CVS and Walgreens.