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I’m a CVS convert

Yesterday I took the leap and signed up for a CVS EBS card. I’ve already been actively participating in the Walgreen’s EasySaver Rebates for a couple of months now, but I’d been avoiding the CVS EBS program for a few reasons. For one, I’m lazy. The Walgreens rebates are submitted at the end of the month, so this gives me an entire month to make my purchases and gather the receipts and submit the rebate. This suits me fine. Plus you get an extra 10% back if you take it in the form of a Walgreens gift card, which I do. And the rebates are clearly laid out in their ads, which they have in their store or on their website. And last but not least, the Walgreens gift cards never expire. The main drawback to the Walgreens rebates is that it takes at least a month to receive your rebate. 

Now the CVS ECB (Extra Care Bucks) program is another bird entirely.  First of all, the ECB deals change weekly. So you have to stay on top of your game, watch online for upcoming promotions, and trade for coupons ahead of time (if you are wanting to use coupons). And CVS rebates are in the form of ECB bucks, which is essentially an in-store coupon that prints out at the bottom of your receipt, good off future purchases. Each weekly ad will say something like “Buy $X worth of Y product and receive $Z.00 ECB.”  The price of all purchases BEFORE coupons count towards the ECB purchase. So if you buy $20 worth of a qualifying products and use $20 of coupons, you will still get the ECBs even though you paid nothing out of pocket. The ECBs post to your account 2 days after you make the qualifying purchase. This allows people to “roll” their ECBs, which means they go in on Sunday, make their first purchase, wait two days for the ECB to credit to their account, then go in on Tuesday and make another purchase. Wait two more days for the ECBs from their second purchase to post, and use those towards their next purchase on Thursday. Rinse, wash and repeat. As you can see, this requires TIME. Time which I do not have. But I have seen people with thousands of dollars of CVS savings on some of the boards I frequent. In fact, one person has $17,104.71 worth of CVS savings this year alone! Yowsers. Another dilemma I’ve found is that CVS stores in certain regions don’t advertise the ECB savings in their ads. Arizona stores are among those that don’t advertise the ECB deals. There are nice people who post the ECB deals online each week, however, like here and here. And people comment on the current week’s thread to report back on which products qualified for the ECB bucks, and what coupons they used towards the current promo items, which is helpful.

There are some major perks to the CVS program. You can often find $2/$10, $4/$20, $5/20, $5/30 and similar coupons for CVS (people get them in their newspapers, sometimes they are emailed to cardholders, etc). These coupons can be used in addition to manufacturer’s coupons and ECB’s to reduce the overall bill so even less money is being paid out of pocket. Also, some ECB promotions are unlimited, which means you can buy them an unlimited amount of times and get credited an unlimited amount of ECB bucks. If you have a huge stockpile of coupons and a large ECB balance, you can easily multiply your ECB balance and acquire free goods while you’re at it. And then you can turn around and sell those goods on ebay for even more profit.

You do have to watch out though, because your ECB bucks expire exactly one month from the date/time they were created. You can have them reset apparently by calling the ECB customer service, but it seems to be a hassle. So you definitely can’t just let them sit there until some future date when you decide you need them again.

This week there is an ECB promotion for Robitussin products. Spend $20 and get $10 ECB (limit 1).  There are also $3 printable coupons for any Robitussin product when you sign up here. You can print an unlimited amount at a time. Also, there are currently $4/20 and $5/30 CVS coupons that people have received via email that are meant to be shared with a friend. Each coupon can be used only once by each ECB account, and they expire December 24. I PM’ed some nice people on the boards and asked if they could forward me the coupons, and they did. (If you want me to forward you either of these coupons, let me know). And lastly, there is currently a Wyeth rebate from the Sunday newspaper, for a variety of Wyeth products including Robitussin syrups, cough gels, solids, or cough drops. Buy 2 products, get $2 back, 3 products, $3 back, and 5 products, $9 back. (I also have one more of these, so if you’re remotely interested let me know.) So, as you can tell,  I’ve done my research, I know how the ECB system works, and I figured this deal is too good to pass up, so I took the ECB plunge. 

My first ECB deal:

Basically, I bought 4 different 4-oz Robitussin syrups, on sale for $4.49 each and 2 packages of cough drops for $1.99 each. I also have coupons for free cough drops with the purchase of any (1) 8oz Robitussin Syrup or any (2) 4oz syrups (I also saw them on a tearpad in the store while I was there). So my order broke down as follows:

4 x $4.49 + 2 x $1.99 = $21.94 –> qualifies for $10 ECB in two days
$21.94 – $4/20 CVS cpn – (2 x $1.99) – (4 x $3.00) = $1.96 + $1.45 (8.1% tax) = $3.41 OOP

Just a note: tax is calculated based on the total after CVS coupons and before manufacturer coupons. So in this case, tax is calculated as 8.1% of $17.91, or $1.45. And who said you didn’t need math in the “real world”??

Now, I paid $3.41 out of pocket, and I will receive $10 in ECB bucks, and I am sending in a manufacturer’s rebate for $9. So in the end I’ll get paid $15.59 to buy $21.94 worth of Robitussin products. Not a bad deal! And now I can replace all my old (probably expired) cough syrup. At this rate, I’ll revamp my entire medicine cabinet for mere pennies.

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