Sunday, July 20, 2008

What is a CVS Extra Care Buck or ECB

About Extra Care Bucks (ECBs) -

First, you have to get a CVS ExtraCare card to participate in the ExtraCare program. This is free and totally worth it.

The Extra Care Bucks program at CVS seems a little daunting at first but is extremely beneficial after you get the hang of it.

Extra Care Bucks are rewards that can be used like cash at CVS stores. There are almost always weekly freebies that you can purchase and receive an equal amount back in Extra Care Bucks (or ECBs). It is best to roll your Extra Care Bucks week to week - spending little to nothing out of pocket (or OOP) after your first couple weeks of deal getting. Here is a step by step rundown to make ECBs work for you.

  1. Register for an Extra Care Card at CVS. This is very easy and only takes a few minutes at your local CVS. You can use your card immediately.
  2. Pick up the weekly circular and monthly rewards booklet at your local CVS These are free. Weekly fliers are also available in your local Sunday papers.
  3. Start out by looking for weekly freebies. If you are having trouble picking them out you can look here on my blog - I've already done a lot of the work for you and we have some good links in our sidebars. Make a written list of what you intend to buy - don't depend on your memory for this.
  4. After you have your list add your total up with a calculator. You will want to keep a close eye on how much you will need for each trip.
  5. Pick up the items on your list. If a price looks odd or something isn't marked as you thought ask the cashier to price check it for you. My CVS employees are more than willing to help me out here.
  6. After you pay for your order look at the bottom of your receipt. You should see all the different Extra Care Buck coupons there. Cut these off and keep them somewhere safe - treat them as if they were cash. They are not stored on your card and if you loose them it is like loosing money.
  7. Each week when the freebie list comes out make sure you use your ECBs to pay for the order - this is called 'rolling ECBs'. You will have little or no OOP and you will get more ECBs back to use again. You can do this over and over again, week to week. Take care to note their expiration dates. They are only good for 4 weeks after you get them. This is why rolling them over is so important.
  8. When you get comfortable with the freebies you will want to start adding coupons in. This can make some freebies more than free. It always brings a smile to my face to pay with fewer ECBs than I got back. When I blog here about my deal ideas for the week I always add in what coupons I will use to optimize my deals. This can be helpful if you are having trouble matching coupons up to your deals.
  9. Be patient. It can take a little time to get comfortable with ECBs. The benefits are terrific in the end, though, and completely worth the time it takes to learn the system.

Tip - when you are making a purchase make sure you have them scan your card FIRST! Then give them your coupons, then your ECB (if you have one to use).
Tip - if something isn't matching up to your circular, or isn't marked in the store when you think it should be then ask your cashier BEFORE you have her ring up your order. You don't want to pay and then find out your ECBs never printed out.
Tip - using coupons can greatly increase your chances of getting many of your items for free or close to free. Matching up coupons to ECB deals is a very good idea and can be well worth your time and effort.

If you aren't really sure about CVS Extra Care Bucks being that great a deal listen up -

I pay little to nothing for shampoo, conditioner (the good stuff!), toothpaste, laundry detergent, toothbrushes, dish washing liquid, certain OTC medicines, feminine products, makeup, snacks, and more! I don't just pick these up when I need them, I have a stock pile where I store all my good deals and freebies - the above list of items never even makes it to our grocery list. I stock up when they are free or close to free.

If you have any questions or just can't make sense of it all but desperately want to feel free to contact me. I am more than willing to help!