CVS/pharmacy has officially updated their published coupon policy online. If you’d like to compare the old with the new, you can see the previous policy on our CVS store page here and the new policy on the CVS website.

But if you’re like me and just want to know what’s out and what’s in, we’ve done the work for you! Below are the highlights of the additions and other changes. There were not any notable changes that we felt would greatly impact couponing at CVS. Many of the current policies were simply reiterated or more clearly explained. Some things were left a little vague, so we will have to see how they play out in reality. Here are the highlights:

Added FAQs Section

A “frequently asked questions” section is now included in the policy and covers concerns such as whether CVS accepts coupons valued higher than the price of the item (they still do), how BOGO sales and coupons are handled (the same as before), and how to use digital coupons. Some of these items were in the policy before but have been moved to the FAQs. None of these policies are new, and the FAQs were always available online but are now part of the official policy. The FAQs also state more clearly how tax is applied when coupons are used.

Reiterated Policies

Many policies were rephrased or worked into different sections of the policy. And some that were not spelled out but were merely implied in the past were added. Here are the most notable:

  • Coupons must be legible, scannable, not duplicated, and can be in black/white or color.
  • Coupons must be used on or before the expiration date (including CVS coupons).
  • Extrabucks cannot be used on cash or gift cards.
  • Coupons cannot exceed the value of the items purchased, but they can be adjusted down if they do.
  • 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.

Additions or Modifications to Policy

Some policies were added that further clarify previous policies. And there were a couple items that disappeared. These were the most notable:

  • CVS reserves the right to process coupons in any order.
  • CVS has the right to refuse or limit the use of coupons.
  • CVS reserves the right to impose limits on the amount of items you can buy.
  • There is no longer a policy about the prohibition of manufacturer coupons with other stores’ logos on them.

Wait and See…

There were a handful of vague policies that we could attempt to speculate about, but the reality is that many of them will play out in the store or they won’t. For example, CVS has always stated on their percent-off coupons that they cannot be used on sale or promotional items. And indeed, they will not work at all on any items with a sale price or on items that are on a BOGO promotion. However, when purchasing regular priced items, the percent-off coupons do apply at the register whether or not an Extrabucks reward is offered for that item. And that makes sense. The use of coupons, CVS or manufacturer, should have no bearing on whether the rewards for purchasing those items still print or not, and a percent-off coupon should be no exception.

Scenarios like these, where a policy is written one way but the reality is different at the register, have always existed. It would be nothing but speculation at this point to say whether that will change, so we will have to wait…

Here are a few of those policies, new and old, that have us all on the edge of our seats:

  • CVS coupons generally cannot be used on sale, promotional, or clearance items.
    Our interpretation: CVS coupons are considered store discounts, and as such, it makes sense that they cannot be applied to anything already reduced in price. However, whether this applies to single item coupons, category items, or even Extrabucks rewards, and whether they can still be accepted for regular priced items that happen to produce EBs remains to be seen. If your store tells you that you can’t use any CVS coupon on a sale price, a key thing to remember, and point out to your cashier is that nearly every week there is a suggested deal in the CVS ad that has you using a CVS coupon on a sale price.
  • You can only use one item-, brand-, or category-specific CVS coupon and one manufacturer coupon per qualifying item.
    Our interpretation: While this hints toward a new restriction against using multiple types of coupons (such as an item-specific coupon, like $1.50/1 Colgate toothbrush, with a category-specific coupon, like $3.00/$10.00 oral care purchase), a very similar scenario is actually suggested in the FAQs. This is counter to what is implied in this line of the policy. Also, please note that this policy is not just restrictive, it is permissive and contains an element from the previous policy: you may use one CVS coupon and one manufacturer coupon per item.
  • Neither coupons nor Extrabucks rewards can be refunded or reissued.
    Our interpretation: In our experience, coupons and Extrabucks have never been refunded or reissued, per se, but allowed for in the form of a store credit. Although the policy is stated this way, it is also mentioned in the policy that you can receive a refund, exchange, or store credit equal to the purchase price. Coupons may or may not be seen as a form of payment, and this may fall under the store discretion part of the policy. As with other parts of the policy that have been added, we do believe this is included in order to give the cashier some authority in limiting refunds to people who may abuse the use of Extrabucks as payment and then receive real money as a refund.

All in all, the policy change is a bit underwhelming; it’s more of a tweak than an overhaul. And while there are indications of possible changes, nothing in the most questionable areas has been explained any more explicitly than before. After going over the new policy, we really can’t say for sure that percent-off coupons will no longer allow EBs to print, whether we’ll still be able to use a $1.50/1 Maybelline CVS coupon with a $2.00/$6.00 cosmetics purchase CVS coupon, or whether reaching 98% of a required spend amount will still trigger EBs. Any actual changes will most likely come in the form of register reprogramming and cashier discretion. Much remains to be seen!

Tell us below if anything has changed at your store since August 1st.