CVS ExtraCare Bucks FAQ


Let's talk about the ExtraCare Bucks themselves for a moment. ECBs should be treated like cash with one caveat. You must use them before they expire, which is four weeks from the time they are generated. If you lose them or let them expire, you're basically out of luck. It's very rare for CVS to replace them or issue new ones. Trust me – I learned this the hard way.

ECBs can be used on just about anything in the store, not just CVS brand items. Items that you cannot purchase with ECBs are prescriptions, alcohol, tobacco, lottery tickets, stamps, gift cards, money orders, and prepaid debit cards, including prepaid phone cards.
When you purchase an item or items that generate ECBs, they will print when you complete all of the parameters of the deal. For example, if you have to purchase $20 worth of a product to earn ECBs, you can break your purchase up in any manner that you'd like. When you break the $20 threshold, your ECBs will print with your receipt for that transaction.

They will print in various amounts by offer. This is definitely something to keep in mind when grouping transactions, because if you purchase several of one item that generates ECBs, you may end up with a very large ECB that will be harder to roll over. Since you can use more than one ECB per purchase, you can more easily group them to pay for smaller transactions.

This brings me to another very important point to keep in mind. You will not receive change from ECBs. If you use a $5 ECB to purchase a $3 item, you will forfeit the rest. In fact, some stores won't even allow you to use them if you are more than a few cents below the value of the ECB. You can avoid this by adding "filler items" to your transaction, i.e., sample-size items, clearance items, candy bars, gum, or alternatively, you can use the balance towards something you really need, i.e., milk, diapers, cereal, etc. This is what makes the ExtraCare Program so valuable for those of us trying to stretch our budgets.


Sign up for your very own ExtraCare Card. This can be done on, or you may sign up in a store. Your best bet is to do it in a store so you can begin using your card immediately. If you choose to sign up online, it will take approximately two weeks to receive your card.

Configure your scenarios. You'll need to pick up a weekly store ad, as well as a monthly store ad. You can find the highlights of the weekly and monthly store ads, along with detailed weekly scenarios, posted right here on Deal Seeking Mom, or you can find the full lists on You do need to be careful with the weekly ads, as they can vary between locations. Scan both ads to find the ExtraCare Bucks offers that most appeal to you. The most lucrative offers are usually the ones that are already free after ExtraCare Bucks (ECBs).

Your ultimate goal is to attempt to create transaction scenarios that actually earn you a profit in ECBs. You can achieve this by reducing your total amount spent out of pocket (OOP) with CVS dollar off coupons (ex. $3 off a $15 purchase), CVS item coupons, and manufacturer coupons. You can actually "stack" one CVS store coupon and one manufacturer coupon per item, and use both in conjunction with a $/$$ coupon.

A great example of this is a recent Adidas Deodorant offer. The deodorant was free after ECBs for the month of May, and there was a coupon available to purchase the deodorant for free in All You Magazine. Even though you aren't paying OOP, you still earn the ECBs on the transaction. So you paid with the coupon, getting the item for free, and still earned $3.99 in ECBs to be used towards a future transaction.

Learn how to roll your ECBs. Once you've mastered the art of earning a profit on ECBs, you'll want to move on to learning how to "roll" them, which is just another way of saying that you're using them to pay for for items that earn more ECBs thus greatly reducing your OOP spending after your initial outlay. Learning how to effectively roll your ECBs will save you the most money in the long run.
Occasionally this may mean purchasing items that you don't really want or need, but think of the many things you could do with these items. Glucose monitors are always a welcome donation at nursing homes. Toiletries can be donated to shelters. Use items as stocking stuffers, create gift baskets, or even sell them in garage/yard sales. You can find a use for just about everything if you think creatively.

Now it's time to go shopping!!!

At the store, the first thing I do is grab all of the items I've incorporated into my scenarios. It's not at all unusual for some items to be out of stock, so it helps to have a few backup items in mind if possible. I always bring my calculator and coupon keeper in case I have to do some on-the-spot configuring.

You may want to group your purchase into multiple transactions. Often I'll do multiple transactions in one trip, so I group each transaction and organize my coupons before approaching the cashier so as to make checking out as efficient as possible. There are a couple of reasons for doing multiple transactions. One is to maximize your savings from $/$$ CVS coupons when they're available. For example, if you have a $2/$10 purchase coupon, it makes more sense to do multiple transactions as close to $10 so you can get $2 off each one. A second reason would be to roll your ECBs that print from one transaction and use them to pay for your next transaction to minimize your actual OOP expenses.

Learn the proper order to present your coupons. When you're ready to check out, first make sure the cashier scans your ExtraCare Card. Then it's important that you present your coupons in exactly this order to maximize your savings – CVS dollar off transaction coupons, CVS store coupons/manufacturer coupons, and finally your ECBs. If you present your dollar off coupons after your manufacturer and store coupons, your total transaction amount may not be high enough to allow the system to accept the coupon.

One very important thing to mention about ECBs is that you will not get change for them, so make sure you use them to their fullest. If I have a dollar off transaction coupon, I generally try to stay as close as possible to the minimum transaction amount to maximize my savings, but if my total after coupons is less than the ECBs I have to pay with, I'll pad my transaction with a few filler items so I'm not wasting the difference between the transaction amount and the ECBs.  Filler items are just inexpensive items that you add to a transaction to get it above a certain subtotal.  Trial size items are great, or in a pinch at the register you could grab a pack of gum.

Check your receipts and verify that all ECBs you earned printed correctly. It's much easier to have issues resolved before you leave the store, but CVS Customer Care is generally very helpful as well. And make sure to put your ECBs in a safe place. Treat them like cash because trying to get them replaced is near impossible if you lose them.

(Taken from