6 Ways You Can Actually Save Money by Shopping for Groceries at CVS

(Image credit: Tupungato)

CVS has a broad offering of pantry staples, and a great offering on household goods like paper towels, napkins, and cleaning supplies. While their list prices are usually higher than supermarkets (and even some other drugstores), their sales and rewards can often make their goods much, much cheaper.

1. Stock up when things are on sale.

While the usual model is to head to the drugstore when you’re out of something, buying only when you’re totally out can make you miss out on deals. Since CVS frequently has sales, try to visit the store regularly to catch your favorite items when they’re on sale, and then stock up.

You can also keep an eye out for deals through their weekly ads or sign up for their newsletter to learn about deals in advance to save yourself a trip. As you’re watching out for deals, be brand agnostic: If you’re willing to buy a different type of kitchen trash bag or peanut butter than your go-to, you can pay much less than list price.

2. Sign up for the ExtraCare card.

CVS’ rewards card is free — so why not sign up? You’ll get exclusive coupons and access to special deals just by being a card holder. When you walk into the store, scan your card at the price checker machine and it should print out the latest coupons for you to peruse, before your shop.

Then keep an eye out for deals on the bright-yellow tags on the shelves. For example: You can almost always find a buy-one-get-one-half-off cereal sale or a major markdown on mixed nuts.

At the very least, every three months you’ll get two percent of the money you’ve spent back in the form of ExtraCare Bucks, which you can spend at the store, and you get $5 back for every 10 prescriptions you fill.

3. Use your ExtraCare Bucks.

Besides just regularly accruing your ExtraCare Bucks, you can earn even more at once by buying things with Extra Buck Offers on them — the yellow shelf tags will let you know what they are. At the register, your receipt will print however many ExtraCare Bucks you’ve earned — between $1 to $10 — and you have up to 30 days to use them. Serious CVS shoppers will divide a single purchase into two transactions to earn the ExtraCare Bucks in the first one and spend them in the second, all without leaving the register. Get a $5 ExtraCare coupon and that pint of Häagen-Daz becomes free for you.

4. Read your receipts.

Your receipts are where you’ll get your personalized ExtraCare coupons — so make sure you look at them! You can receive them either printed or digitally via email or through the CVS app, to suit your preferred way of organizing coupons.

5. Sign up for other ExtraCare programs.

If you buy a lot of beauty products, there’s a rewards program for that — same with filling prescriptions. If you download their app, you can earn rewards there too. If you want to take surveys for the brand, you can earn a few more ExtraBucks every time you do.

6. Stick to a list.

Avoiding impulse purchases is key to saving money, but that can be tricky if you’re visiting a store frequently to get good deals. Make the effort to do your research ahead of time so you know what you’re going in to buy (remember, these should be items you’re stocking up on, not ones you’re desperate to replace), and don’t get anything else. The good and bad news is that CVS carries just about anything you need — but if it’s not on sale, it’s probably not the best value there.

What groceries do you buy at CVS?