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If you shop at CVS and want to become a master CVS couponer, then the CVS 98% rule is the unwritten CVS ExtraBucks hack you need.

So what does the CVS 98% rule say? And why should you care to know about it? The majority of items at CVS aren’t priced in even numbers — like $20 or $4.50. Instead, you’ll see prices like $9.99 or $9.49. If a CVS sale says, “Spend $20, get $5 ExtraBucks,” you may expect you’ll be short $0.02 if you buy two $9.99 items. And so you’ll find yourself scrambling for a pack of gum you don’t need at the register. In comes the CVS 98% rule!

You can actually get the reward without wasting money trying to find another item to meet the spending threshold. It’s a brilliant shortcut to saving money at CVS, which we love to do all the time. Here’s exactly how it works.

Download The Krazy Coupon Lady app or text CVS to 57299 for more money-saving tips and coupons.


1. The CVS 98% rule means you only have to spend 98% of the promotion total to get your ExtraBucks.

someone holding cvs receipt with reward circled

Every week you’ll see offers in the CVS Weekly Ad that say things like, “Spend $20, get $5 ExtraBucks.” But this doesn’t mean you actually have to spend the whole $20.

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

The CVS 98% rule lets you spend 98 percent of the required amount and still earn ExtraBucks.

We won’t try to bring you back to math class here. So we already put together a handy chart to show you some threshold examples. If the spending threshold sits at $10, you really only need to spend $9.80 to trigger your ExtraBucks reward. And if CVS says you have to spend $30 to get $10, you only need to spend $29.40.

But if the ExtraBucks are part of a tiered reward with multiple levels, the 98% rule won’t work for the first tier. You’ve really got to spend the full amount to get to the next level. For example, if it says, “Spend $20, get $5 ExtraBucks” OR “Spend $30, get $10 ExtraBucks,” the 98% rule won’t apply on the $20 threshold (first tier), but it 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 policy fine print is that in order to earn a reward, you only have to reach the subtotal before coupons are applied.

Here’s an example of a deal I recently scored. The CVS sale said to spend $10 on Colgate and get $5 ExtraBucks Rewards. Even though I used a Colgate coupon good for $4 off two, the $9.80 threshold I had to reach to trigger the $5 ExtraBucks got calculated before that $4 coupon got applied!

So my total came out to $9.98 for two tubes of Colgate toothpaste. I used the $4 coupon, so I only paid $5.98. But I still received my $5 ExtraBucks, making two toothpaste tubes come out to just $0.49 each. BOOM!


4. The 98% rule is not an official CVS policy, so cashiers may prompt you to spend more.

two women at cvs checkout

The 98% rule isn’t an official documented store policy. It’s just how the cash register works. If your cashier hasn’t worked at CVS for very long, there’s a chance they won’t have any idea how it works.

One time, I spent $19.76 on laundry detergent in order to earn a $5 reward. 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.

The CVS 98% Rule Explained