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If you’re a CVS shopper and want to become a master CVS couponer, then the CVS 98% rule is the unwritten hack you need.

So what is the CVS 98% rule and why should you care to know about it?

The majority of items at CVS aren’t priced in even numbers — like $9.99 or $9.49. If there’s a CVS sale that says “Spend $20, get $5 ExtraBucks,” you may think if you buy two $9.99 items, you’re short two cents. And now you’re scrambling for a pack of gum that you don’t actually need at the register. In comes the 98% rule!

You can actually get the reward without wasting time and money finding another item to meet the threshold. It’s basically a brilliant shortcut to saving money at CVS — which is something we love to do all the time.

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1. You only have to pay 98% of the required purchase threshold to earn ExtraBucks.

someone holding cvs receipt with reward circled

Every week you’ll see in the CVS Weekly Ad offers like “Buy this, get this amount of ExtraBucks.”

In order to trigger ExtraBucks on a “spend” promotion, you need only reach 98% of the spend amount. The spending requirement is before any coupons are applied. Any eligible purchases you make throughout the sales week will track toward the promotion too.


2. If the promotion says you have to spend $20 to get a $5 reward, your subtotal can really equal $19.60.

cvs pharmacy chart

We’re not trying to bring you back to math class…so here’s a handy-dandy chart to show you some threshold examples! If the spending threshold is $10, you really only need to spend $9.80 for it to trigger your ExtraBucks.

Keep in mind, if the ExtraBucks are part of a tiered reward with multiple levels, the 98% rule won’t work for the first tier. For example, if it’s “Spend $20, get $5 ExtraBucks” or “Spend $30, get $10 ExtraBucks,” the 98% rule won’t apply on the $20 threshold (first tier) but will apply on the $30 threshold.



3. The subtotal has to hit 98% of the required purchase total BEFORE any coupons are applied.

someone pressing buttons on card swiper at cvs

One of the great perks of the CVS ExtraBucks program is that in order to earn a reward, you only must reach the subtotal before coupons are applied.

Here’s an example of a deal I recently was able to do. The CVS sale was to spend $10 on Colgate, get $5 ExtraBucks Rewards. Plus there was a $4 off two Colgate coupon. The $9.80 threshold to trigger the $5 ExtraBucks is before that $4 coupon!

My total was $9.98 for two tubes of toothpaste minus the $4 coupon, meaning I paid $5.98. Then I received my $5 ExtraBucks, making two toothpaste tubes just $0.49 each. BOOM!


4. The 98% rule is not an official CVS Policy.

two women at cvs checkout

The 98% rule isn’t an official documented store policy. It’s just how the cash register is programmed. And if your cashier is on the newer side, there’s a chance they won’t have any idea what you’re talking about.

I spent $19.76 on laundry detergent to earn a $5 reward, and even though my cashier mentioned I was $0.24 short, my Extra Bucks still printed because I spent over 98% of the required $20 spend.

Also, your receipt will look like you didn’t hit the threshold and you still have a balance to earn it. If you go and spend the $0.24 that you were “short” in the first transaction, it won’t get you another $5 reward.


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The CVS 98% Rule Explained