8 Secrets CVS Doesn't Want You to Know

Even CVS aficionados may not know these shopping hacks.

It can often seem like there's a CVS everywhere you turn (it is, after all, the largest pharmacy chain in the U.S.), which can make shopping at the store feel almost robotic. But there are plenty of sneaky secrets that CVS doesn't want you to know. Ever wonder why that receipt is so long? Did you know there's a way to get free gifts each month? Ahead, we uncover eight under-wraps facts about this popular chain.

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1
The long receipts are a sales tactic.

red CVS shopping basket
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The seemingly mile-long receipts they print out after you buy something at CVS have inspired everything from Halloween costumes to a hilarious bit between Jimmy Kimmel and Barack Obama. But jokes aside, they've also gotten slack for being wasteful and downright annoying. Shoppers who receive these endless printouts are members of the ExtraCare program, a free-to-join frequent shopper membership that gets you both coupons for individual products and ExtraBucks Rewards. The latter are discounts you accumulate based on the two percent back you earn when shopping. These have expiration dates, so they're primed to lead to impulse buys. And since using your ExtraCare membership tracks purchasing history, the specific items are things you're likely to want or need.

However, after all the receipt talk, the company did introduce a digital option back in 2016. Those who select this preference for their account can see all their coupons when they log onto the CVS website and from there can virtually send them to their ExtraCare card.

2
There are even more ways to get coupons.

CVS Pharmacy prescription medicine drop off pickup counter, Saugus Massachusetts USA, March 6, 2019
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Aside from the coupons on your receipt, CVS offers even more ways to find deals. Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst with DealNews.com, explains, "There's a red coupon machine in every CVS store and if you scan your ExtraCare card there, you'll receive extra coupons." If you don't have your physical card, you can enter the phone number associated with your account. (This applies to checkout, too.) And if the occasional text or email doesn't bug you, sign up for those notifications to "receive a special birthday offer and personalized deals sent to you," Ramhold notes.

For shoppers who enjoy browsing, the CVS Pharmacy app has a "scan to save" feature where you can scan an item's barcode with your phone and see all the applicable coupons, as well as those for similar products.

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3
Prescriptions and pets can save you big.

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Scanning your ExtraCare card when getting prescriptions filled can also earn you "up to $50 ExtraBucks per year," says Ramhold. "This applies to any scripts filled, including for pets, and you can also earn rewards for things like getting vaccinations." All you have to do is sign up for Pharmacy & Health Rewards online. You also have the option to add family members, who can earn an additional $50 a year.

4
The coupon policy is extremely lenient.

Pile of Coupons {Target Black Friday}
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With so much talk about CVS's deals, it's easy to forget that other coupons are out there. As detailed in the store's policy, "You can use both a manufacturer coupon and a CVS coupon on the same item." Additionally, certain in-store promotions can be used together. For example, "Two CVS $3 off $15 coupons can be used on purchases that are $30.00 or higher." You can also pile ExtraBucks on top of this. By employing this tactic, YouTube personality Couponing With Kayla spent just $26.57 on 27 items that normally would've totaled $122. Plus, she received $42 in ExtraBucks from this transaction.

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5
The order you scan items at checkout matters.

CVS drugstore pharmacy prescriptions pick up counter, Revere Massachusetts USA, January 9, 2019
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Assembling all your coupons and rewards isn't the end for ultimate savings. Ramhold points out that the order you scan items at checkout matters, so consider using self-checkout to make this process easier. "Be sure to use your highest value ExtraBuck when checking out—that way, you can save smaller ones for smaller purchases. For instance, if you have a $5 ExtraBuck, you want to make sure you use that on purchases over $5—otherwise, if you have anything left over on it, you just lose that because you can't split ExtraBucks," she says. It's also a best practice to scan ExtraBucks last, once all other promotions have been applied, so you know which dollar amounts to choose.

6
Joining CarePass actually gives you free money.

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CVS has a paid membership program called CarePass that costs $5 per month or $48 annually, plus tax. "Perks include 20 percent off CVS Health brand products, free same-day prescription delivery, free shipping, a pharmacist helpline available 24/7, and a $10 monthly promo just for being a member," Ramhold explains. That last point just might be the most important. If you consistently use your monthly promo, you're actually making at least $5 a month.

READ THIS NEXT: 8 Warnings to Shoppers From Ex-Costco Employees.

7
Joining BeautyClub gets you monthly gifts.

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The ExtraCare BeautyClub is a gem for those who love cosmetics, hair care, and skincare. It's free to sign up, and members who spend $30 on qualifying beauty products during a month get to choose one free gift from a rotating selection. Pick from items like CVS Health Moisturizing Body Wash or a Scunci 34-pack of hair elastics. Members receive mobile-exclusive savings and 10 percent back in ExtraBucks Rewards during special beauty promotions.

8
For two weeks each year, you can get a free item every day.

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For 14 days each July, ExtraCare Rewards members are treated to the ExtraCare Extra Thanks event. To take advantage, you'll need to download the CVS Pharmacy app. Once you've linked your account, just go to the "deals and rewards" section and add each day's freebie to your digital card. You can either redeem it online or in-store, and there's no additional purchase required. For 2022, the free items include CVS Health Chewable Melatonin Tablets, Gold Emblem Abound Omega Trail Mix, and ExtraBucks Rewards.

Dana Schulz
Dana Schulz is the Deputy Lifestyle Editor at Best Life. She was previously the managing editor of 6sqft, where she oversaw all content related to real estate, apartment living, and the best local things to do. Read more
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