If you've ever shopped at CVS, Rite Aid, or Walgreens, you may have overheard the clerk ask a customer, "Do you have your card?" It never ceases to amaze me that so many reply, "No, don't have one, don't need one." Do they not understand the power this little piece of plastic wields?!

With the recent changes to Rite Aid and Walgreens rewards programs, this is the perfect time to review the benefits and policies of CVS ExtraCare, Rite Aid Wellness+ and Walgreens Balance Rewards programs.

A rewards card offers regular product discounts, reward points earned through promotional transactions, quarterly bonus payouts, exclusive online promo codes, advance promotional notices, percentage off savings passes, and even free health screenings. This translates into free products and even some extra spending money when you understand how to stack coupons and roll rewards into future transactions.

For all cards, there are two ways to register. Visit your local pharmacy and complete a registration form in person. The card will be attached to the form and can be used immediately. Or register online for a card that will be shipped to you within a week. Once you have your card, make qualifying purchases and simply scan your card when you check out. The register will automatically recognize eligible coupons and promotions.

The first part of this series focuses on the CVS ExtraCare card. With enrollment in the ExtraCare program, members can easily load, manage and redeem coupons.

Discounted Member Prices

Items priced in the store have a regular price and a discounted CVS ExtraCare member price.

ExtraCare Coupon Center

There's a big red machine inside every CVS called the Coupon Center. Scan your card once a day and it will print coupons to use in store. Some are store coupons that can be stacked with manufacturer coupons (for example: $2.00 off any Almay beauty product), others are for free items or a specified amount off a purchase.

Bag Tags

Purchase a canvas grocery bag for $0.99 and CVS will attach a bag tag to your CVS card account. Each time you shop with the bag, earn $0.25 in ExtraBucks. On the fourth visit, an ExtraBuck will be printed for you to use.

Beauty Club

Members earn $5.00 for every $50.00 spent on beauty products.

Mobile App

Scan and save your ExtraCare card to CVS's mobile app, then send offers and rewards to your card, scan prescription refills, and check your local ad.

ExtraCare Advantage for Diabetes

CVS is currently offering Double Quarterly ExtraBucks Rewards on 100+ diabetes-related products.

Quarterly Rewards

Members receive a quarterly bonus in ExtraBucks based on how much was spent during the previous three months. Quarterly Rewards are issued four times per year on Jan. 1, April 1, July 1, and Oct. 1 for 2% back on everyday purchases and $1 for every two prescriptions filled.

Double Quarterly ExtraBucks Rewards

For a limited time, CVS offers members the ability to earn up to 4% cash back on everyday purchases. In-store and online purchases associated with the ExtraCare card count toward rewards.

My Savings and Rewards

Log in at CVS online, link your ExtraCare card, and view your savings and rewards in one convenient location.

ExtraBucks

The biggest perk of all is that the card enables users to receive ExtraBucks. CVS ExtraBucks ("EBs") are paper receipts that print out at the register after you make qualified purchases. They are found at the bottom of the receipt. ExtraBucks example: Purchase a Colgate toothbrush for $3.69 and receive a $2.00 EBs printout at the bottom of the receipt. Use these ExtraBucks on the next purchase made with a CVS card. CVS advertises which products offer back EBs in weekly advertisements, so there's never any guesswork. CVS will sometimes send EBs by email, and there are additional EBs on your birthday.

EBs work like cash, meaning if an item is $10.00, you can use a $2.00 EB, $3.00 EB, and a $5.00 EB all on that one item and not pay anything out of pocket!

More about EBs:

  • EBs usually have a 30-day expiration date from the moment they're printed.
  • There are household limits on certain items.
  • Once you purchase a promotional item and receive an EBs reward, you cannot use that EBs reward as a form of payment in a new transaction for the same product.
  • 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. Furthermore, you cannot spend your own earned EBs unless you have your CVS card with you, provide the phone number attached to the card, or show your card via CVS's Mobile App at checkout.
  • The official policy is that only one card per household is allowed.
  • No Cash Back on EBs.

This has been a guest post by Deborah from San Diego, CA
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