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CVS To Change Their Extra Care Bucks Program?

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CVS is already taking steps to change the way the Extra Care Program will work in the upcoming future.

There is an article published on the LA Times site that lays out why they are changing the program.

Basically they feel that the CVS Extra Care Program is cheating their shoppers out of their rewards in several ways by printing their Extra Care Bucks at the bottom of their receipts.  Therefore they want to see CVS keep track of your Extra Care Bucks by adding them to your card only.

I’ll start off by saying that I understand the frustrations of those who lose or forget to redeem their Extra Care Bucks (ECB’s).  This used to happen to me all of the time.

But that was before I understood how to properly use the program.  Before I realized that what was printing out on the bottom of my receipt was essentially “cash money”.  I mean if a cashier handed you a $10 bill you wouldn’t throw it in the trash or forget to spend it would you?

Here are a few points that are being made in the article.

“In other words, customers are expected to schlep the yard-long receipt around with them and to apply the Extra Bucks themselves.”

The fact is that you don’t need to schlep anything.  The receipt is not the part that you need.  Simply cut the ECB off the end of the receipt and stick it in your wallet.  In fact the ECB you earn is smaller than an actually $$ bill.  So the idea that you need to carry super long receipts around with you is just untrue.

“Moreover, you can’t spend a few Extra Bucks here and a few there. If you have $10 worth of Extra Bucks and apply them to a $5 purchase, the rest are forfeited.”

There is no reason for them to be forfeited.  Just add another $5.00 worth of stuff you’ll use or will need.  I don’t understand why anyone would want to just forfeit it rather than picking up some toothpaste or deodorant for free?

“As if all that didn’t stack the deck enough in CVS’ favor, the company also places a limit of up to 60 days on its Extra Bucks. Use ‘em or lose ‘em.”

This does not seem like an unreasonable time frame to me.  You can’t think of anything you would need to purchase every 60 days from a drug store?   Again regular hygiene items alone need to be purchase on a regular basis.  Toothpaste, toilet paper, deodorant, shampoo, milk, eggs, makeup, medicine, diapers, ect.

The reason I LOVE the printed ECB’s is because I use this program to the fullest.  I use my ECB’s to purchase other ECB items. I am able to save thousands every year with this program.

There are times I may have $15 in ECB’s but only choose to spend $10.  I am curious to know if our ECB total will automatically be deducted from our balance every time we swipe our cards?  Or will we be able to have control over how much of our ECB balance we want to spend?

It also seems a little odd to me that CVS is being criticized for their rewards program when every other rewards program works the same way?  Coupons or rewards always have an expiration date and need to be remembered in order to get the savings?

Or maybe I am overreacting?

How do you think this will affect those of us who aren’t just casual CVS shoppers?

Will this change the way you shop at CVS?  Will you switch to another store like Rite Aid who is just stating up their own receipt rewards program?

Read CVS Extra Care Program Basics if you’d like to learn more about how I use the CVS Extra Care Program.

Thanks to Paula at Monroe on a Budget for making me aware of this article.

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About Kristie Sawicki

Kristie Sawicki is the author of Saving Dollars and Sense, where she blogs about Money Saving Ideas and Frugal Living Tips, as well the Best Coupons, Deals and Freebies around. You can connect with Kristie Sawicki on Google+ and on the Saving Dollars and Sense Facebook page.

Comments

  1. Tashena Lynette Gonzales says:

    I agree with a lot of points that you made. At the same time though I have only been recently able to work the pharmacies so I do feel their pain and remember when I felt the same way. But get educated and learn to work the system!
    .-= Tashena Lynette Gonzales´s last blog ..My Stockpile! =-.

  2. I hope they don’t change their program. I like it just the way it is!

  3. My biggest concern if they do change over to this system is if they automatically apply the ECB’s to your transaction. I like to pick and choose what I use my ECB’s on and I would not want them automatically applied.

    It will be interesting to see if they do make a change. Thanks for posting this!
    .-= Karen W´s last blog ..LeapFrog Leapster Explorer Review & Giveaway =-.

    • That’s my biggest concern too. If they are our rewards we should be able to choose how we use them or don’t use them.

  4. Tashena Lynette Gonzales says:

    Having them come off automatically would definitely be a no go for me. Sometimes I chose to leverage FSA dollars and hold on to ECBs for other things. It’ll also be harder to notice in dispute if there are issues. You’ll probably have to call customer service to fix those instead of a cashier just printed you out one. But we shall see!
    .-= Tashena Lynette Gonzales´s last blog ..My Stockpile! =-.

    • I always wait to hear the cash register beep when I’m expecting an ECB. I wonder how difficult it will be to dispute things over the phone instead of in person on the spot.

  5. You have good points. The 60-day limit actually is pretty comparable to the typical Sunday newspaper coupon insert life span (some of those expire in just THREE weeks!)
    .-= Monroe on a Budget´s last blog ..Logistical changes for CVS Extra Care Bucks? =-.

  6. In my opinion, CVS has the best drugstore loyalty program of the 3. The ECB’s expiration is by far the longest period of time for the 3 stores, so I don’t usually have to worry about spending ECB’s before they expire. CVS is also much less restrictive when you spend ECB’s vs. the other 2 also.

    I can see why the drugstore loyalty programs may be confusing to those who are not familiar with them, but it seems like it will be a lot harder to keep track of how many ECB’s you have left, plus the expiration dates without the physical paper. Plus, there’s the issue of how they are applied to the purchase.
    .-= Corrie @ “Cents”able Momma´s last blog ..Frugal Family Fun: Strawberry Picking =-.

  7. You have some good points here Kristie! But I also think this new way could be beneficial, at least to me. I keep up with my ECBs, but sometimes don’t realize that they are expiring. If this new system was to keep them in say- an ECB “bank” on your card and they wouldn’t expire until you use them, I’m all for that. Also, you discussed the “use it or lose it” situation. If the new system made it to where you could use up to exactly the amount that you needed, I would also be just fine with that. As long as it kept the rest of my earned ECBs in the “bank” on my card.
    If its not going to work like I’m talking about, then its definitely not going to be worth it. I like it the way it is, but it COULD be easier. But I know what you’re saying about hearing my ECBs beep too. I like knowing it went through. IDK, we’ll just have to see what the rules are.

  8. so the article is saying the extra bucks will never expire, can be used just a bit at a time and you can save the rest to use later, and they’re stored on your card which you always hand the cashier anyway when you shop at cvs rather than having to keep track of a separate piece of paper and you think those are all bad things? i think those are all wonderful!!!
    .-= Carrie´s last blog ..EA 48 Hour iPhone Games Sale =-.

    • What the writer says is that’s how he would like to see the changes work out. We have yet to know how CVS will really handle the changes. However if we can store ECB’s that don’t expire and have total control over how, when or how much we spend than I think those changes would be wonderful too!

      Guess we’ll just have to wait and see how CVS handles the changes.

  9. For those not as organized this is a welcome change. With 6 kids I have a hard time keeping track of all of this. I find I don’t have the time to keep up with all the deals, much less spend my extra care bucks. I have lost many receipts. I have missed the deadline on many more. The stuff is gone when I get there, or it doesn’t ring up like its supposed to. Sometimes all this couponing really wastes my time that is better spent with my baby!

    • I totally hear you!

      It sounds like you have your hands full, and I can see why this would be a welcomed change for you. I’m just saying I hope that what appears to be a good thing doesn’t end up being something even worse.

      And on a side not can I just say how much I admire you for being able to care for 6 kids, I have my hands full most days with 2 teenagers!

    • SQ – If you have 6 kids, some of them are old enough to help you with the couponing. I’m the oldest of 7 and my mom shopped with coupons.

      But if couponing really annoys you, there are other money-saving tricks you can do instead. For example, you can shop at Aldi, which is a no-coupon store. And Agel Food Ministries is grocery program that I use in addition to coupon bargains; but some families like AF as an alternative to working the deals at the supermarket.
      .-= Monroe on a Budget´s last blog ..July Angel Food Ministries orders =-.

  10. We will have to wait to see how they will do this change. Wags program is now going through big changes and with their new card program, a lot of people will not like their new rewards either

  11. I like the program the way it is. The only change I would like to see is ECBs printed in smaller denominations. I don’t like adding items to my total just to “use up” my ECBs at the register.

  12. I have a problem with the tone of the original LATimes article. Maybe I’m just too cynical, but I have a hard time accepting that CVS (or any other large corporation) is worried that its customers won’t take advantage of free stuff and wants to make sure they do.
    I’m not one of those shoppers with a dozen CVS cards who visits four stores a couple times a week. One card, maybe once a week is my limit. I don’t find the system all that cumbersome and time-consuming (although it was while I was first learning it).

  13. I’m not crazy about changes like that. First of all, at my CVS, if you hand over your ECB’s first like I was instructed to do by the cashier, manufacturer’s coupons will take care of the tax, too if you work it right. This won’t be possible I’m sure if they chose to deduct it automatically. Second of all, that is part of the way that they make their extra money. It’s an incentive that not all customers choose to take advantage of and CVS wins out in the long run, but that’s the consumer’s fault, not theirs.

  14. I have a huge problem if they apply the ECBs BEFORE the coupons! That would tick me off! I can get so many things for free by using the coupons then using the ECBs at the end!

  15. I hope there are no changes. Come on, how lazy are people that they can’t read the receipt.

    People throw tons of money in the trash every Sunday when they throw away Sunday coupons.

    It is an individual choice in whether to use your ECB or throw them away.

    I hope the program doesn’t change. I wrote CVS and told them so. If you agree email CVS. :-)

  16. PAULETTE PETRARCA says:

    OK NOW I AM REALLY UPSET. I HAVE BEEN TOLD, BY A NOT TOO FRIENDLY REPRESENTATVE AT THE 1-800 NUMBER, THAT THERE IS A NEW FEDERAL LAW OUT THAT STATES THAT AS OF 01/01/2010, THAT AFTER YOU HAVE REFILLED 80 PRESCRIPTION FOR A YEAR YOU CANNOT AND WILL NOT RECEIVE ANY EXTRA CARE BUCKS FOR YOUR PRESCRIPTIONS FOR THE REMAINDER OF THE YEAR. ISN’T THIS CONVENIENT FOR CVS. I FOR ONE FILL A LOT OF PRESCRIPTIONS EACH MONTH AND NOW CVS IS GOING TO PENALYIZE ME FOR THIS!
    WHEN I ASKED HE SAID IF YOU CHECK THE WEBSITE YOU WOULD KNOW. LIKE I WOULD REALLY CHECK THE WEBSITE FOR SOMETHING AS CRAZY AS THIS. IF THIS IS REALLY A FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RULE THEN WHAT I SAY TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT IS GET OUT OF OUR BUSINESS. THIS IS CRAZY.

    • I have never heard of this until now, thanks for bringing it to all of our attention.
      Do you have any other drugstores around? I know they all offer incentives for transferring a prescription to their store?

  17. Just came across this…
    In college I got a CVS card, but rarely went to CVS. I filled my prescriptions at the pharmacy in the school clinic, and RiteAid was within walking distance of my dorms/apartments (CVS wasn’t), so I went there more often. I think I maybe ever remembered to use any EBs once in 4 years (my roommate my last 2 years used CVS pharmacy, so I was there a little more often if I went with her to fill her prescriptions). Having the bucks never expire and automatically go on my card would have been great then.

    Now that I’ve graduated and moved, I use CVS pharmacy, so I’m in at least once a month. I find the system much more useful now, and don’t have any problem keeping the scraps of receipt for the next time I go in, and I use them for things like toothpaste, deodorant, etc. I still don’t buy everything from CVS, because I’m used to getting everything in one trip at the grocery store, but I’ve started looking through the weekly flier to see if something I need will earn me EBs. And then I use those the next time I’m in!

    I pretty much agree with your assessment of the change, Kristie- will it turn into something worse? I do like having full control, and expiration dates are no longer really a problem for me.

    I just wish CVS had been within walking distance in college, I could have saved so much money by taking advantage of their program!

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