Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Shopping Smart: How to get the most out of your CVS Visit

Melissa from PrincessLisax3 emailed me the other day asking how I got such great savings during one of my CVS visits. I started off writing her a rather lengthy email back and figured I'd just do a post instead -hopefully this information will help some of you.
Just for background, I shop mainly at CVS but have recently started going to Rite Aid (which has the Wellness Program similar to CVS.) I don't often go to Walgreens because I've noticed that their prices can be higher and their sales usually don't stand out to me like CVS and Rite Aid sales do. They don't have a "rewards program" exactly like Rite Aid and CVS but they do have Register Rewards that print out on your receipt. (If you want to learn more about Walgreens, check out this page.)
I am always on the look out for a good deal. Here are some tips to get the most out of your drugstore shopping. These are mainly CVS tips but they pretty much qualify for Rite Aid too.
  1. Always scan your CVS or Rite aid card. If you forget it, ask them to look it up. The more you spend (it's tracked by your card), the more you save. I know this is definitely the case with CVS but I'm pretty sure it's the same with Rite Aid too.
  2. Check store ads. The CVS, Rite Aid, and Walgreens weekly ads come in my Sunday paper but you can also get it free in the store or online (on the store websites.) These are loaded with the week's sales -figure out what you want and sort out your coupons.
  3. Ask for a rain check. If the store doesn't have what you want in stock (and it's on sale), get a rain check. I often get rain checks for a higher quantity (of the product) than I actually want just in case I change my mind later down the road.
  4. Make use of the price scanners. Scan your CVS Extra Care card and get coupons! You can also stack these. For instance, on one of my previous trips, I got a $4 off $20 purchase coupon and a $3 off any Revlon purchase coupon. When I combined the 2, I got $7 off of a $20 purchase. (I just heard some stores are changing the rules so you can only use 1 store coupon but at the CVS stores I got to, we can use as many as you want.)
  5. Check your receipt. Sometimes your receipt will print out new coupons at the bottom -these are usually the same as the price scanner coupons but check anyways
  6. Use your Extra Bucks. Every week, CVS will give out Extra Bucks when you buy qualifying products. This is basically store credit and prints out at the bottom of your receipt.
  7. Make multiple transactions. If you're buying 2 products and 1 qualifies for Extra Bucks, buy the products in 2 separate transactions. That way, you get your Extra Bucks from the 1st transaction and can use them instantly for the 2nd transaction.
  8. Make use of rebates. I don't often buy products with rebates but they're useful. They seem like a hassle but how much work does it take to just mail one out? Not a lot.
  9. Look out for the mail. CVS has mailed me coupons for 20% off, $5 of a $15 purchase, and free $5 gift cards. You may also get flyers and leaflets from Red Plum and other coupon "distributors."
  10. Look out for coupon tear pads. Most drugstores will have tear pads all around the store. I always rip out a few (but save some for others!) for future visits -even if I don't need them at that time. You can use 1 retailer coupon per product so if you get two $1 off coupons and buy 2 products, you get $2 off (these can usually be combined with the CVS/Rite Aid coupons.You can't combine 2 retailer coupons for 1 product.)
  11. Check your Sunday paper for coupons. In my Sunday paper, there's usually leaflets full of various coupons. They're usually Red Plum, P&G, and another (but I can't recall the name.)
  12. Check magazines for coupons. When I read Cosmo or other fashion magazines, I usually find drugstore makeup coupons from brands like Revlon and Almay. All You is loaded with coupons too -I signed up for a free trial and got my free issue about 2 weeks ago! There were lots of useful coupons for everything from cosmetics to household items.
  13. Scan the internet for printout coupons. CVS and Rite Aid both have printout coupons on their sites. Also try sites like and
  14. Follow blogs that are all about saving! I've been loving I Heart CVS, I Heart Rite Aid, and I Heart Wags which all update me on sales (for CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens) and have links for coupons galore. They also each have lots of info about all the rewards each store gives so check them out for further info on how to get/use your coupons, rewards, etc.
  15. Stack your coupons. Retailer and store coupons can be stacked so you often pay little or no money at all. Here's an example of how I would stack my coupons at CVS..
Example of how I'd stack my coupons..

The products I'm buying and the weekly sales:
  1. Revlon Eyeshadow $5 (Buy 1 Get 1 50% off)
  2. Revlon Eyeshadow $5 (Buy 1 Get 1 50% off)
  3. Neutrogena Foundation $14 ($3 Extra Bucks with a $10 Neutrogena Purchase)
  4. L'Oreal Hair Dye $8 (I have a rain check for $6.88)
Ok, now let's pretend that I have the following coupons:
  1. $1 off any Revlon Product (I grab 2 from a tearpad)
  2. $4 off a $20 purchase (printout from price scanner)
  3. $3 off a purchase of any 2 Revlon Products (printout from price scanner)
  4. $1 off any L'Oreal Hair Product (printout from price scanner)
  5. $3 off any L'Oreal Hair Dye (from the newspaper)
  6. $3 Extra Bucks (from Neutrogena purchase above)
How would I purchase these items?

First, I'd purchase all the products except for the hair dye:
$14 (Neutrogena Foundation) + $5 (Revlon Eyeshadow) + $2.50 (Revlon Eyeshadow) = $21.50
Use the following coupons for this purchase:
$1 (off Revlon coupon) + $1 (off Revlon coupon) + $4 (off $20 purchase coupon) + $3 (off 2 Revlon Products) = $9
The total? $12.50 for 1 Neutrogena Foundation and 2 Revlon eyeshadows (This is less than the full price of the foundation alone!)

After that, I'd buy the L'Oreal Hair Dye:
L'Oreal Hair Dye with rain check for $6.88
I'd use the following coupons:
$3 Extra Bucks (from Neutrogena purchase) + $3 (L'Oreal coupon from newspaper) + $1 (off L'Oreal Hair Coupon) = $5

The total for the hair dye would be $1.88 which means my total for 1 Neutrogena foundation, 2 Revlon Eyeshadows, and 1 L'Oreal Hair Dye would be $14.38!
Some coupons from tear pads in the store.
Coupons from the newspaper.
And sometimes it helps to have 2 CVS cards. I have one (in my name) and my dad has one also. I mainly use mine but sometimes there will be better coupons (from the price scanner and on the receipts) using his card.

I hope this helps some of you. It may be common knowledge for the best bargain hunters but I thought it would be helpful to some. Have a lovely Wednesday! =)


  1. I have a quick question about tear pads- are you allowed to take them even if you don't buy anything that day? I always feel like I'm stealing if I just put them in my purse, lol, but it sounds like you're allowed to take them?
    This is a great post, by the way. Very helpful!

  2. Definitely! They're there for a reason. You're going to end up using them sometime anyways.

  3. Thank you soo much! I get to save a lot & get more lol.

  4. Great post...I do almost all of your tips, especially they multiple transction ones just to use extra bucks if I anticipate them coming. I also make a beeline for the little coupon printing station...CVS is the best!

  5. @ Melissa.. You're welcome. =)

    @ PetiteAsianGirl.. Me too! I love when it spits out lots of coupons.