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CVS has long-been the drugstore to beat when it comes to couponing. But, like any drugstore, the rules aren’t simple or straightforward. If you’re ready to master couponing at CVS, you’ve come to the right place.
This isn’t the condensed version or even the place to start for beginner couponers. But we’ve tried to make is as simple as possible. And when in doubt we kept it thorough.
Read on to see the types of coupons accepted at CVS. Learn about Extrabucks promotions. Master coupon stacking at CVS and finally get answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we get from CVS coupon shoppers.
Let’s start at the very beginning:
If you want to coupon at CVS, you must first sign up for the free ExtraCare Rewards program. This card qualifies you for all of the Extrabucks promos like buy 2, receive $3.00 Extrabucks, posted throughout the store and across KCL. Plus, the card is required to receive the various types of CVS store coupons including CVS app load-to-card coupons, CVS coupon center coupons, and CVS email coupons.
Types of Coupons Accepted by CVS
1. Manufacturer Coupons from the Newspaper
CVS accepts manufacturer coupons from the Sunday newspaper. Every Sunday except some holidays, find 1-3 coupon circulars with the Sunday sales ads. Each coupon insert will read “Smart Source, Red Plum, or Procter & Gamble.” The more newspapers you get, the more coupons you’ll have. Ask neighbors, coffee shops or restaurants if you can have their coupon circulars.
COUPON TIP: There is no set limit to the number of manufacturer coupons you can use in one transaction at CVS. That means you may be able to use 10 $2.00 L’Oreal coupons as long as you buy 10 bottles of L’Oreal shampoo. However, store managers do reserve the right to set discretionary limits on specific items being purchased in order to ensure there are enough of those items for other customers.
2. Printable Manufacturer Coupons
CVS also accepts print-at-home manufacturer coupons. Print coupons from hundreds of sources right here on TheKrazyCouponLady.com. You can print two copies of each coupon per device. Print from your computer and your smartphone, and you’ll have four coupons total. It is illegal to photocopy any coupon.
Keep in mind that a $4.00 Zantac printable manufacturer coupon cannot be stacked with a $3.00 Zantac manufacturer coupon from the newspaper. At any retailer, including CVS, you are limited to one manufacturer coupon per item. Even though printable manufacturer coupons come from a different source than the newspaper ones, they are reimbursed by the same company, and the language in the fine print prohibits more than one manufacturer coupon per item.
COUPON TIP: Printable manufacturer coupons can be printed in black and white or in color. All paper coupons must be legible, and the barcode must scan. If you’re low on printer ink and the coupon barcode is so light that the register can’t scan it, the coupon will be rejected.
3. CVS Printable Coupons
Quite often, CVS.com will have CVS store coupons on store brands like the Gold Emblem line, or name brands. Because these are store coupons, you can stack them with manufacturer coupons.
4. CVS App Load-to-Card Coupons
Get exclusive store coupons by downloading the CVS app. Link your ExtraCare card to the app to see your exclusive coupons and alerts for expiring rewards. To redeem, click “Send to Card,” and your $2.00 Coke coupon will be automatically deducted from your total once you buy three 12 packs and enter your ExtraCare-associated phone number. Each coupon may only be redeemed once.
Also receive manufacturer-sponsored coupon offers on your app valid on name brand items– look under “Manufacturer Deals.” The CVS corporate office has yet to provide a definitive policy on acceptance of these coupons as store offers or manufacturer offers. In-store experiences among our readers have varied widely. If your store accepts these digital coupons as store coupons, stack them with manufacturer offers for even more savings!
COUPON TIP: Get $3.00 Extrabucks when you download the app and link your ExtraCare card for the first time. Find Extrabucks in the “My Deals and Rewards” section of the app once your card is linked.
5. CVS Coupon Center Coupons
Scan your ExtraCare card or enter your phone number at the CVS Extracare Coupon Center to receive CVS store coupons. Some of the coupons you receive will be personalized for you based on your shopping history. Others will be nationwide offers printing consistently for every shopper and typically advertised in the weekly circular.
These are CVS store coupons and can be stacked with manufacturer coupons. To be sure you have received all coupons available to your account, continue to re-scan your card until you see the message, “Hey, Super Scanner! You’ve already printed all your coupons. Tomorrow’s a new day to save–check back then!” If you’re only getting the standard coupons that print for everyone, try scanning your card on Monday or later, instead of just Sunday.
6. CVS Email Coupons
CVS sends out coupons to their email subscribers every Thursday. Look for percent-off (like 25% off) and purchase-based (like $5.00 off $15.00) coupons. Coupons are not the same for every shopper, and you may go weeks without receiving one. But you must sign up for CVS emails and link your ExtraCare card, as well as “opt-in” in order to receive anything.
7. Rebate Apps
CVS receipts are eligible for additional savings thanks to rebate apps like Ibotta, MobiSave, and Checkout 51. Each rebate app is filled with coupons like $0.50 cash back on a 20-ounce Diet Coke. But, unlike other coupons, rebate apps don’t require shoppers to take any action while at the store. After you shop, upload a photo of your receipt to prove you purchased Diet Coke, and the $0.50 rebate will be credited to your account automatically. Once you reach a $20.00 minimum, you can cash out via PayPal.
COUPON TIP: Sometimes Ibotta rebates limit customers to one item, but offers reset every 2-3 days. So, if you wanna live dangerously, separate your transactions so you have separate receipts for your purchase of an item. Then, watch Ibotta to see if the offer resets, and redeem again with your second receipt.
Each Sunday marks the beginning of a new week of sales and promotions at CVS. Here at TheKrazyCouponLady.com, we use our advanced copy of the ad to bring you our CVS matchup every Saturday morning, 24 hours before the sales go live. Use our matchup to prepare your shopping trips beginning every Sunday.
1. Extrabucks Promotions
CVS rewards promotions basically work like this: buy a select item(s) and, at the bottom of your receipt, receive money back in the form of Extrabucks, essentially store credit to use on your next purchase. Every week, find a dozen or more Extrabucks promotions resulting in over 50% savings when you factor in the value of the store credit. Example: buy something for $5.99 and receive $3.00 Extrabucks, or spend $20.00 on included items and receive $10.00 Extrabucks.
Most weeks, there are even one or two items advertised as completely free after Extrabucks. These are known as loss-leaders: sales so good the store is actually willing to lose money on the deal, in hopes that you’ll fill your shopping cart with other items while you’re there so they can break even.
Extrabucks rewards typically have a three-week validity period and can be used immediately, as early as your next transaction!
One great insider tip for “spend” deals (spend $12.00, receive $3.00 Extrabucks) is that you only need to reach 98% of the advertised purchase amount in order for the Extrabucks to be triggered at the register. You’ll hear CVS die-hard couponers lovingly refer to this as “the 98% rule.” Chances are, your store cashiers won’t know what you’re talking about it if you use that term.
2. CVS Extrabucks
Here is an example of some Extrabucks that printed on my latest receipt. I paid $1.88 for a bag of high-fructose, child-bribing candy. And I immediately had $1.88 to spend on anything else at CVS. It was sort of like I got the candy for free.
Extrabucks Tip: Each Extrabucks promotion has a stated limit per household. Limits on free items, like my Trolli Sour Gummy Worm example, are almost always one. That’s one per CVS card. Limits are tracked in your account, so if you tried to buy another bag of candy, even on a different day, you wouldn’t get the Extrabucks to print again. However, if the limit is higher than one, you can purchase again and receive another reward–even if you use the EBs from the first transaction to pay!
One great thing about CVS is that your purchases do track. So if you are trying to reach $15.00 on L’Oreal, for instance, but you only buy $8.00 worth at one store or at one time, the EBs will be triggered when you complete the required spending at another store or another day (in the same week of course). You can track this at the bottom of your receipt.
3. CVS Beauty Club Rewards
In addition to the weekly and monthly promotions at CVS, you can also earn ExtraBucks on your beauty purchases.
Sign up for the ExtraCare Beauty Club, and earn rewards for things you are already purchasing. For every $50.00 spent on qualifying beauty items at CVS (pre-coupon), earn $5.00 in ExtraBucks, which can be applied to future CVS store purchases, just like the ExtraBucks earned from weekly promotions. To join for free, visit the CVS Beauty Club website and link your registration to your existing ExtraCare account. You can also sign up in-store with an enrollment certificate.
Qualifying beauty purchases include items from the following categories: Cosmetics, Ethnic Hair Care, Fragrances, Hair Accessories, Hair Appliances, Hair Care, Hair Color, Hosiery, Healthy Skin Care, and Skin Care. Excludes items from Trial & Travel, gift cards, and prescriptions. Some items that do not qualify: razors, shaving cream, deodorant, some men’s body washes, and sunscreen.
Beauty Rewards Tip: Note that qualifying purchases may take up to 48 hours to apply to your account, so if you don’t see them reflected in your Beauty Club balance right away, check again in a couple of days. Print your rewards from your online account, or scan your ExtraCare card in the store to receive a printout.
How to Stack Coupons & Extrabucks Promos at CVS
Download the free Krazy Coupon Lady app to find all the coupon stacking deals posted daily. The app pairs advertised promotions with the six coupon types listed above, and the result is a weekly list of products couponers can buy for pennies on the dollar. Here are all the different types of coupon stacks allowed at CVS:
1. One Coupon + Extrabucks Promo
A few weeks ago at CVS, Colgate mouthwash was on sale for $3.99. Plus, when you bought Colgate mouthwash, you’d get $2.00 Extrabucks, so it was like you were getting the mouthwash for $1.99. Pretty sweet deal.
But, there was a way to make it even better by using a coupon. CVS Coupon Policy allows coupons to be used on top of Extrabucks promotions. So instead of paying $3.99 out of pocket, I handed over my coupon and paid only $2.99. And I still got the $2.00 Extrabucks, so my final price was only $0.99.
2. CVS Coupon + 1 Manufacturer Coupon + Extrabucks Promo
Now, let’s talk about a triple coupon stack. You can use one manufacturer coupon and one store coupon per item, including items in an Extrabucks promotion.
For example, last week Pantene was on sale for $4.00 a bottle. Plus, when you spent $25.00 (before coupons) on select Procter & Gamble products (including Pantene), you’d get $7.00 Extrabucks.
So, I bought three bottles of Pantene for $12.00. (I had to throw in $13.00 of additional Procter & Gamble products to get me over the $25.00 minimum, but I’m gonna leave that bit out for now.) I used one manufacturer coupon worth $5.00 off 3. And I used one CVS coupon worth $2.00/3. So, I paid $5.00 ($12.00 – $5.00 – $2.00) for four bottles of Pantene. And because I added other products to reach the $25.00 spend minimum, I got $7.00 back in Extrabucks.
COUPON TIP: You may never combine two manufacturer coupons on one item. If you have three $5.00 off 3 coupons, you must buy nine products in order to use all three coupons.
3. Two Store Coupons + Extrabucks Promo
CVS allows multiple store coupons to be redeemed on one item as long as neither coupon prohibits it and they are different coupon types. For example, in the deal pictured above, I used a percent-off coupon along with a specific item ($2.00/2 specific item) coupon. Other possible CVS coupon combinations are using a purchase-based coupon ($4.00/$20.00 purchase) along with specific item coupons or percent-off coupons. Keep in mind that the purchase-based coupon should always be presented first as it has a minimum requirement and you wouldn’t want other coupons to lower that total before you present it.
Store Coupon Tip: Percent-off and purchase-based coupons are tricky and probably one of the most misunderstood programs at CVS. There is no written policy that instructs you on how they work, but visit our percent-off coupon tutorial post for the inside scoop!
4. Manufacturer Coupons + CVS Coupon + Extrabucks Promo + Rebate App
Now take a deep breath. This is a quadruple stack. I’m combining an Extrabucks promo (spend $10.00 on Colgate, get $5.00 Extrabucks) with three types of coupons. Here’s what I bought:
1 Colgate Enamel Health Toothpaste $5.99
And one $2.00/2 CVS coupon.
I paid $7.68 out of pocket, and then I received $5.00 Extrabucks.
And lastly, I submitted for a ten-cent rebate offer from MobiSave.
It’s like I only paid $2.58 for two tubes of toothpaste instead of the retail price of $10.68. That’s 75% off. And yes, I could have used the 25% off email coupon on top of everything had I not already spent it because the toothpaste was regular price (even though it produced a reward).
Did You Know?
Coupon Policy Update
CVS updated their coupon policy in August 2016. Some of the highlights are:
- Coupons must be legible, scannable, not duplicated, and can be in black/white or color.
- If coupon value exceeds value of item purchased, the coupon can be adjusted down.
- One CVS coupon (item-specific, brand-specific, or category-specific) and one manufacturer coupon can be used per qualifying item. In the FAQs, there is an example of a purchase-based coupon ($3.00/$15.00) being used in addition to a $5.00 Extrabucks reward on a $15.00 purchase.
- Two purchase-based coupons may be used if they are both satisfied individually, provided neither coupon prohibits it in the fine print. In the FAQs, there is an example of two $3.00/$15.00 coupons being used on a $30.00 purchase.
CVS is one of the only stores still accepting two coupons on a buy one get one free sale. If All with Oxi detergents are on sale, buy one get one free, and priced at $7.79 each, I can redeem two $1.00 off 1 coupons and pay only $5.79 for two bottles.
In fact, if during the BOGO free sale on All detergent, I had a BOGO manufacturer coupon for All detergent, I could use one coupon on the purchase of two detergents and get both bottles for free.
BOGO Coupon Tip: If you have trouble at the register with this policy, take a look at this excerpt from the CVS Coupon Policy regarding the use of BOGO coupons on BOGO sales:
Can I use multiple coupons on sale items?
“Yes, for certain coupons and certain sale items.
• Suave shampoo is on sale for $2.00 Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO) and the customer purchases two shampoos; the customer may use two coupons for $1.00 each and pay the applicable tax.
• Suave shampoo is on sale for $2.00 BOGO and customer has a mfr. coupon for Suave BOGO. Customer will receive both items for free but will need to pay any applicable tax.”
You Can Use Coupons on Clearance
Manufacturer coupons and CVS coupons can be used on sales, promotions and even clearance items.
You Can Get Rain Checks for Out-of-Stock Extrabucks Promotions
CVS will even give you a rain check for an out-of-stock item on promotion. For example, if you missed out on the “free after Extrabucks” Elmer’s Glue because it was out of stock, you can get a rain check which will entitle you to the same price ($1.00, with $1.00 Extrabucks) when the glue is restocked. CVS rain checks never expire!
You Have to Pay Sales Tax on Amount Before Coupons
Even when items are free, you’ll usually notice that you must pay sales tax on the full retail price of the item. Except in CT, MA, MO, PA and TX, you must pay sales tax on the total before manufacturer coupons. However, regardless of which state you live in, you’ll notice that CVS store coupons reduce the taxable amount.
However some CVS coupons are “funded manufacturer coupons” and designated as manufacturer coupons on the face of the coupon and the receipt. (The $2.00 off Colgate Max coupon on the pictured receipt was one such coupon.) These “funded manufacturer coupons” do not reduce your taxable amount.
While unique experiences will vary, there are some fairly consistent ways to approach the register with your coupons. For best results, hand over your coupons in the following order:
- CVS purchase-based coupons (like $4.00/$20.00)
- CVS specific-item coupons (like $2.00/3 Pantene)
- Manufacturer coupons
Your cashier may opt to scan coupons in a different order and apply digital coupons at the beginning or end of the transaction. The register has its own system of adjusting and validating as each coupon is scanned, so for some coupons (like percent-off coupons), it doesn’t matter when it is applied. Just keep an eye on the readout to make sure they are all applying, and ask them to re-scan anything that doesn’t validate.