I’ve been a loyal CVS shopper ever since my first day of college, when my mum suggested I sign up for a rewards card.
I remember thinking it was just going to be one of those “rewards” cards that I never use because it doesn’t actually get you any rewards.
Oh how wrong I was.
Here are a few of the reasons I’m in love with ExtraCare, the CVS rewards program.
No card, no problem.
My CVS card is currently sitting in my desk drawer in my room in Chicago. I now live in Manhattan. Yet I still shop at CVS regularly and get all my rewards because store associates can pull up your card with your telephone number — and in my experience, they don’t get cranky about it when you ask.
CVS also offers a free app that you can download and link your card to. Once you link your card, you can pull up the card’s barcode on your phone screen and simply scan that at checkout.
CVS sends you personalised coupons.
In the time I’ve been writing this, I’ve received an email from CVS for $US3 off my “in-store hair care purchase.” Sometimes I feel like CVS is a friend instead of a pharmacy chain. It knows that I buy Pantene Pro-V shampoo and conditioner and that I might be running out.
Because the store tracks your purchases, it knows what you usually buy and sends you coupons via email accordingly. And if you click the “send to card” link in the email, your coupon will automatically come up when you scan your card or enter your phone number at checkout. CVS also alerts you when there are markdowns on products you regularly purchase.
You can still use your coupons even if you forget them.
One of the worst feelings while shopping is getting to the checkout only to realise that you’re buying something you have a coupon for — and that coupon is sitting on your kitchen table. It happens to me all the time. But when it happens at CVS, all I have to do is find the in-store coupon machine, scan my card (or type in my phone number) and voila, a (usually) long slip of coupons slides out of the machine. Which leads me to my next point:
The super long receipts you get are actually helpful.
If you’re a fellow CVS rewards member, you know what I’m talking about when I say an average CVS receipt is as long as your arm — there’s even a Twitter account dedicated to it. That’s because all of your unused coupons are attached to it, so if you choose not to receive coupons via email, you can conveniently cut them off your receipt. Plus, your savings on individual items show up on the receipt, which always makes me feel infinitely better about my purchases.
CVS also sends you emails at the end of the year letting you know your total savings from the past year. If that doesn’t boost your shopping ego, I don’t know what will. Unfortunately I can’t share my exact savings from last year because I constantly delete emails so my inbox doesn’t become cluttered, but I can assure you that the savings were significant.
You get ExtraBucks.
ExtraBucks are basically free money that CVS issues as a reward for spending. You can use them on anything in the store.
There are quarterly ExtraBucks, issued every three months starting January 1st (you receive 2% back on your past purchases), and there are weekly ad ExtraBucks which are issued every time you buy a product from CVS’ weekly ad that features sales and specials.
Here’s the best thing about ExtraBucks: You can use them with another coupon in the same transaction. This is why I sometimes walk out of CVS with a bag full of products that would have cost me around $US20 for under $US10.
I’m not part of CVS’ ExtraCare Pharmacy and Health Rewards, but if you are, you’ll get $US5 in ExtraBucks for every 10 prescriptions you fill. You can also join their Beauty Club, which gets you $US5 in ExtraBucks for every $US50 you spend on qualifying beauty products.
CVS is just as affordable — if not more so — than other, similar chains.
According to a comparison of 32 products ranging from toothpaste to razors to vitamins done by ValuePenguin, 50% of products were cheaper at CVS than they were at Duane Reade or Walgreens. CVS isn’t one of those stores where products are more expensive to begin with, so when you add in the rewards and coupons, you’re really paying what other comparable stores charge in the first place. Instead, CVS often charges less to begin with, so add in the coupons and rewards and you’re getting away with a real bargain.
I don’t use any other drugstore rewards programs, and I really don’t have a desire to. I figure why would I try another pharmacy chain’s program if I get all I need from CVS? I actually can’t remember the last time I bought drug store products anywhere else. It would just kill me to buy soap at Duane Reade, if I know I can use a coupon and get it for less at CVS — and it will go towards my next round of ExtraBucks.