Thursday, October 16, 2008

A CVS Primer

Here are some frequently used terms/abbrevations on my site, and some general info for shopping at CVS to get the best deals. =)

CRT = uh, I actually don't know what it "stands for" (my guess is coupon register tape, but never confirmed) but it is a store coupon that prints either from the price scanner or on the end of your register receipt. These are redeemable *only* at CVS and are store coupons so may be combined with manufacturer's coupons.

ECB = Extra Care Buck These are printed at the end of your receipt. By reading ads or the monthly book, you will see items that are "like free" after ECBs, or give you $1 back when you buy two, for example. These expire four weeks from when they were printed, so plan wisely!

Extra Care Card = this is their loyalty card. Use it to get the sale prices and earn ECBs. You only get deals by using your card, and the ECBs are tied to your card.

CVS weekly sales generally run from Sunday-Saturday. Monthly deals are monthly based on calendar dates.

ECB's are like store credit/cash. However, you do not get change, so plan wisely. For example, if an item is $3.99 get $3.99 ECB, limit 2, this means you are allowed to do the deal twice on your card (either in a week or month, whatever the sale dates are). If you buy one item in a trasaction, you will get one $3.99 ECB. However, if you purchase both in one transaction, you will get a single $7.98 ECB (the combined ECB of the two items). It's up to you how large you want your ECBs.

In the same example, you could buy one for $3.99 and get your $3.99 ECB back. Then buy the 2nd of the same item in a new transaction and give them the $3.99 ECB. This will make you total out at $0 and print a new ECB. It's fun to see the cashier's face at this point.

When a deal is "Spend $15 on these Dove products, earn $5 ECB" you may purchase items individually and your receipt will keep a running total for you. The $5 ECB should print once you buy the correct amount. Just be sure to complete this before the deal period ends.

Watch for $x/$xx coupons to be e-mailed to you or printed as a CRT. These sometimes have specific restrictions on them. You must spend the correct amount, not even a penny less, or the coupon will not work. Also, hand this over first so your total is high enough (not after your other coupons)

The best way to plan a transaction is total up your items TO THE PENNY. This is very important when doing deals that require certain dollar amounts to be purchased. Once you have this amount, subtract any store coupons/CRTs you may have. Then decide how many ECBs you want to use. I know my total of manufacturer's coupons, and want to use those last to pay.

Depending on your state, you will know what is/isn't taxable and at what rate. ECBs are store cash, therefore they are store discounts and reduce your taxable amount. However, they do NOT pay for sales tax. They will only accept ECBs up to your taxable amount. On the other hand, manufacturer's coupons do not reduce the taxable amount, but they DO pay for sales tax (like cash). So after using store coupons and ECBs, you want your manufacturer's coupons to cover just about all of your remaining total (if you are aiming for the lowest out of pocket (OOP) cost.)

So hand them your store coupons first, then ECBs, then manufacturer's coupons. I then use a gift card from a transfered prescription to pay for my reamining OOP cost. I have yet to pay any cash at CVS, as I keep getting more gift cards, $25 at a time. It's great!

I'll add to this as I think of more, and will permanently link from the sidebar. Please also visit the CVS forum at Hot Coupon World to learn more about CVS in general and also the weekly and monthly deals.

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