Extreme Couponing: Learn to Shop at CVS


Extra Care– Your Store Loyalty Card:
:: You will need to go in store and sign up for this card.
:: Fill out a small form and they give you a card right there.
:: Need this card before you start doing any deals!

Extra Care Bucks or ECB:
:: This is essentially CVS cash.
:: You will know when an item gives you this by simply looking at the ad or the price sticker.
:: It will clearly state if you will receive ECB on the item.
:: ECB will print at the end of your receipt.
:: Make sure you watch for limits.

What you can use your ECB’s on:
:: You are allowed to use ECB’s on almost everything in the store.
:: Exclusions include: prescriptions, alcohol, gift cards, lottery, money orders, stamps, prepaid cards, & tobacco products.
:: Notice that list doesn’t include milk like many of the other catalina/coupon restrictions!!
:: YES, you can buy milk with your ECB’s!

Extra Care Coupons:
:: This is a CVS coupon. Most of the time you can get these through the CVS Coupon machine, at check out, or online.
:: Can be “stacked” meaning you can use one CVS coupon and one MQ for the item being purchased.

Additional Coupons Offered:
:: Often releases $3/$15 or $4/$20 coupons.
:: Coupons which often print at the bottom of your receipt.

How to “roll” ECB’s:
This is how you get the best savings on products at CVS.
:: “Rolling” is a term used when you use ECB’s to purchase another item that will give you ECB’s back.
:: When you first start out, you will have to pay cash initially, but as long as you continue using your “CVS money”, you will pay little  on your next transaction.

Here is an example:
Transaction 1:
Huggies $8.99 Get $3 ECB back
Buy (1) Huggies at $8.99
Pay$ 8.99
Get back $3 ECB
=5.99 for Huggies after ECBs
Hold on to all ECB’s!
You “roll” by purchasing other items that gives you back ECB’s and paying with the ECB from transaction 1.

Transaction 2:
Doritos 2/$4 get back $2 ECBs
Buy (2) Doritos chips = $4
Use $3 ECB (from Huggies transaction)
Pay $1 out of pocket; get back $2 ECB.
Now if you have coupons to use, this makes the deal even better!
It’s as simple as that!

Tips to Shopping CVS:
:: Always hit the coupon machine and scan your card. You may get coupons to use for your purchase.
:: You can use MQ on ECB purchases, this helps to get the lowest OOP as possible!
:: Goal should be to not only roll your ECBs over and over week to week, but to “grow” them so you have “overage” to use towards  other groceries you need.
:: If you plan to use a ECB at checkout, make sure your total is over the ECB amount. You will not get cash back.
Example: You have a $10 ECB but your purchase is only $8, you will not get back the $2 in ECB. It dies and goes to ECB heaven.

Secrets to shopping CVS:
:: Some stores turn their ads on early! I have two stores near me that both have their ads on by 10 pm Saturday night!
:: Ask your local CVS if they take expired CVS coupons (many do this, just ask!) If yes is the case, you will want to hold onto those to use at a later time!

CVS Coupon Policy
:: Multiple Coupons:
:: Will accept 1 MQ & 1 CVS coupon per item.
:: Offers at the Register (OAR) ie: $3/15 etc. are unearned and issued at the register. Will take one (OAR) coupon per transaction.
B1G1 offers:
:: You can use a B1G1 MQ to get both for free or you can use 2 $ off coupons.
:: Reserve the right to limit quantities.
:: Does not accept competitors coupons or match competitors sale prices.

New to Coupons? Check out my entire Extreme Couponing Series


  1. Janice says

    Hi Josie,
    I just want to let you know that I am a very big fan of yours. I always read your blog several times a day. I like your sense of humor and I really admire your writing skills. You are just so SMART.. your family is so lucky to have you.

    But anyway, the reason I was I writing this comment is because of this:

    Example: You have a $10 ECB but your purchase is only $8, you will not get back the $2 in ECB. It dies and goes to ECB heaven.

    This makes me laugh and my husband thought that I was crazy laughing by myself. He have no idea if I have to explain.

    Thank you for everything and for making me laugh!! lol!!!!!

  2. Trish says

    I have a quick question for you…

    CVS: Can you only get one “ECB” deal per transaction? For instance, yesterday I bought 3 bottles of Tone body wash, special was 3.99 – 3 ECB so essentially .99 each. BUT, I only got $3 in ECB back, when I thought I would get $9. Was that a register mistake or that is the rule??

  3. Robyn says


    Thanks for such a great site! I wanted to comment on your comment that if you don’t use the entire value of the ECB then the remainder goes to coupon heaven – at all of the CVS stores I’ve shopped at, I actually have to purchase AT LEAST the value of the ECB (before tax) in order to use it. For example, if my transaction totals $4.99 (before tax) and I have a $5.00 ECB, I have to add something else to get the total at or above $5.00 before they will let me use the ECB. So the value doesn’t actually go to coupon heaven… If that’s not the case at your stores, let me know where you go!

    Thanks again for all the great tips and help with my shopping!

  4. Beila says

    What happens if you return an item for which you received ECB’s and used up on another transaction?

    Example from this week’s deal: I bought the 2 Hawaiian Tropic lip balms, received $10 ECB, used the $10 ECB on another purchase, but now I don’t want the Hawaiian Tropic lip balms. Can I return them for a full refund of their purchase price?

    • Josie says

      You should have to give the ECB’s back but sometimes that doesn’t happen. So you would return the lip balm for the purchase price and give back the ECB’s.

  5. Vanessa says

    @Trish – I believe you did not get the extra bucks on each bottle of Tone body wash b/c it was probably “limit 1”? Pretty sure if it says “limit 1” in the ad for a product, you are not allowed more than 1 of those deals per extra care card. Hope that helps!

  6. Heather says

    @Robyn – Robyn – I had the same thing happen to me at a CVS in Calabasas. At the time I thought that it was either my or the cashier’s lack of coupon knowledge (could only use ExtraCare Bux up to the Subtotal amount). The closest thing I’ve been able to find on the CVS website ECB Policy is “To redeem your Extra Bucks online, the entire coupon amount must be used at one time (either in-store or online). There is no partial redemption of Extra Bucks, and no credit or cash will be given back for unused Extra Bucks. Coupons for Extra Bucks are distributed at the bottom of store register receipts for use with your next purchase.” Unfortunately this is only for use online and this statement can be interpreted two ways (the way we are thinking of it and what the cashier enforced). If you get to the bottom of this please post here!

  7. BERNIE says

    If i purchase 10 items at 1 time and each item has a different ECB amount to be redeem and upon paying for these items i have ECB to be used for payments is this a good idea and am i going to get ECB back at all?

  8. Liz says


    Thanks for this great site – very useful and helpful and your efforts are appreciated! 🙂

    I could not agree more that CVS “rolling” of ECBs is pure awesomeness! I have two young boys and one on the way and I constantly roll my ECBs on either the P&G “Get $10 ECB when you buy $30” promo to get Pampers or the Kimberly-Clark “Get $10 ECB when you buy $30” promo to get Huggies (which CVS does relatively frequently). Along with stacking internet printable coupons or coupons clipped from the Sunday newspaper I usually wind up getting the diaper bags for $5 or lower and haven’t been buying them anywhere else. Major score!

    The other thing I learned lately from this really sweet and helpful gal at my local CVS is that ECBs can be re-instated by calling CVS’ Extracare line. I had some medical issues back in February and was unable to use the $7 ECBs I had earned during the Winter Spending Double ECB Promo. When I casually mentioned it to the CVS Rep, she said, “call them and they’ll be able to see you didn’t redeem it and they’ll set it up to reprint on your next CVS shopping trip.” Well, I did… and they did just that! I thought that $7 was a loss, but it wasn’t. Just another reason why I love shopping at CVS! So, anyone that has expired ECBs, definitely call the Extracare line for reinstatement!

  9. lisa says

    I always scan my cvs card twice at the coupon machine. Sometimes It will give coupons the second time too.

  10. Jennifer says

    HI! I am NOT one to usually take the time to comment as I am usually flying to attempt to get my list done. I had to take a second to say I am estatic to have found you. I also have 3 kids and live in Southern California, Huntington Beach 🙂 Anyway, I have been on this couponing kick for a few years now & it is a natural high. The couponing shows are fun to watch while doing laundry but obviously completely entertaining and not realistic when you need more or a lot less depending on what they are buying. Also, you tube has been fun & I always love to learn something new – however, I have to say, attempting to follow the transactions when “deals” don’t go as planned OR stores don’t or won’t double has been an adjustment. But any & ALL savings are good. I have a 13 teen year old girl so.. I love not paying full price & even surprising her with free nail polish AND letting her try new fun products for a significant discount. That way she is not too embarrassed of her so “uncool” couponing mom. lol… Thanks again for doing this SoCal blog!
    Fondly, Jennifer

  11. Ivory Fox says

    Hi , I am new to this CVS shopping and have a question :
    if the ad says, for example
    receive $5 extra bucks if you spend $15 on tide ,
    I buy $15 dollars worth of tide but then use a $2 off tide coupon ,
    Do I still get the $5 extra buck or must I spend another $2 on tide now to get the extra bucks ? Thanks for your help , Ivory

  12. Angela says

    Hello, I’m new to couponing. My question is regarding the CVS extra bucks. If the ad states spend $30 and earn $10 extra bucks. Does that mean my purchase before coupons must be at least $30? Or $30 after manufacturers coupons. Also If I’m buying 3 items for $9.99 each, my total will be $29.97. Is there a treshhold that CVS allows, or must my total be $30 or more?

  13. amber says

    I am new to couponing and love your site! Thank you for all the good information. I am wondering if you can clarify a deal that I see a lot going on right now. It’s using the Schick BYGO free coupon (up to 13.99 value).

    Scenario: I go into cvs, purchase 2 packs of schick razors for 13.99, use my BYGO free coupon. Am I also allowed to use a $/off coupon on the 2nd box? So I would be “buying” 2 products, and using 2 manufacture coupons. Is this allowed? Or just the use of the BYGO coupon.

  14. Karen says

    You said above:

    B1G1 offers:
    :: You can use a B1G1 MQ to get both for free or you can use 2 $ off coupons.
    :: Reserve the right to limit quantities.
    :: Does not accept competitors coupons or match competitors sale prices

    I don’t understand the “you can use a B1G1 MQ to get both for free”

  15. sonia says

    if the item is bogo, then u can use a bogo coupon……… which then cancels the price out= making the two free.

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