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CVS’ Surprisingly Generous Coupon Policy

The last place one might expect a retailer to be overly generous to customers is CVS Pharmacy. But their coupon acceptance policy has some unexpected benefits for shoppers.

Let’s say CVS has certain vitamins on sale “buy one, get one free” and you have two $1 manufacturer’s coupons. Most stores would say you can only use one of those coupons for the item you are paying for because the other one is free. Not CVS!


Can I use multiple coupons on sale items? Yes, for certain coupons and certain sale items.

• Suave shampoo is on sale for $2.00 Buy One, Get One Free (BOGO) and the customer purchases two shampoos; the
customer may use two coupons for $1.00 each.

CVS actually allows you to apply one of these two coupons to the free item.

Another unexpected bit of generosity occurs in this example:

Suave shampoo is on sale for $2.00 BOGO and customer has a mfr. coupon for Suave BOGO. Customer will receive both
items for free but will need to pay any applicable tax.

In this case, you don’t even have to buy the first bottle of shampoo. Amazing.

While we’re on the subject of CVS coupons, recently MrConsumer used a bit of his own brand of coupon magic at CVS where he bought over $25 worth of merchandise and only paid… drumroll… $1.68.

CVS products - receipt

Each of the three items was over $8 regular price, but they were all on sale. The pills were buy one, get one free and I had both a single $5 off manufacturer’s coupon and a $2 off CVS coupon. The trail mix was on sale for $4.99 but I had a $3 CVS snack coupon, and $2 toward anything store coupon. The net result was a 93-percent savings (excluding sales tax).

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9 thoughts on “CVS’ Surprisingly Generous Coupon Policy”

  1. The reality is that “Buy One Get One Free” has disappeared from CVS. It’s now “Buy Two Get One Free.” Also, I wish CVS would get rid of its so-called loyalty card and just lower its prices.

  2. Deduct that from the amount CVS overcharges you with their ridiculously high prices and you still come out in the Red

  3. Watch out with CVS % off coupons. When you use % off coupons with dollars off coupons because of the way CVS processes coupons you also get the % off your Extrabucks or whatever $ off coupons you are using in the transaction. Best using % off coupons when you do not have Extrabucks or other $ off coupons.

  4. I just don’t have the time or energy to shop at CVS anymore. Between the blizzard of sales, coupons, Extrabucks restrictions, and differing expiration dates, they’ve made shopping there a logistical nightmare, especially if you want to try to maximize the savings.

    Being inundated with promotions via snail mail, email, and reams of coupons at the store is also a reminder of how much loss of privacy comes with the discounts.

    So in recent years, I’ve taken to shopping at stores that don’t use loyalty cards, or, failing that, at stores that have simpler, less stress-inducing sales practices.

  5. As part of the unholy trinity of big-biz pharmacies, CVS dropping its gimmick card is about as likely as Rite Aid or Walgreens dropping it: No chance in hell.

    For some of us getting Rx, those are the only options.

  6. @Bearcat44, I’m simply describing what drove me away from CVS, namely, their practices that made me feel like either:
    a) I needed to spend an unreasonable amount of time analyzing solicitations and strategizing about the best time and promotions to use to buy various types of products, or:
    b) Feeling like I was leaving money on the table.

    It is great that CVS has coupon policies that are lenient in some ways (although my local CVS was unreasonably strict in other ways, such as by refusing to honor a coupon that I left at home, even though they could easily have applied it and then cancelled it so it couldn’t have been re-used). I understand that many people benefit from Extracare and don’t mind (or even enjoy) optimizing savings, at the expense of time and loss of privacy. And I normally don’t mind tracking sales and coupons, but IMO CVS has gone way overboard, making it a headache-inducing chore.

    But as far as prescriptions go, normally CVS promotions don’t work with prescription co-pays anyway. If I was limited in where I get my Rx, I could still go to CVS for them, but use other avenues to get non-prescription products.

    In my area, I use a small locally-owned pharmacy for prescriptions and occasional OTC purchases, and a grocery store chain that does not use loyalty cards for many other items that I’d normally buy in a pharmacy. I also shop online. I use Walgreens on occasion — even though they have loyalty cards, they’re a lot more straightforward to use than the CVS rigmarole.

  7. After reading your article, I went to my local CVS with my coupons & their coupons. They would not take a second coupon on BOGO vitamins. The manager said if the register doesn’t accept it, they won’t take it. On my next visit, the cashier told me I could only use one coupon per item, so I had to choose between their $10 off $40 and their register coupon of $4 off $25. The item I bought was $50, so even after the $10 off, it was still over $25. The cashier would not even try to scan it to see if it would go through.

  8. Alan,

    I guess I could’ve just complained about the unholy trinity in regard to being de facto bodegas and its silly loyalty cards.

    It’s good you have a small-biz pharmacy to get your Rx; I also do and appreciate it.

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