Skip to Content

CVS | How I shop at an expensive store!

I would love to read more about your CVS strategies.  I’ve always found CVS to be really overpriced, so my strategy has simply been to shop elsewhere!  However, you definitely surpass me in frugality skills, and I know you shop at CVS regularly, so I would love greater insight as to how you use their systems and promotions to your advantage.
You are not wrong about this; as a rule, CVS’s prices are stupidly expensive on nearly everything they carry.
CVS 30% mail coupon
So, as a rule, I also make it a point not to shop there! Heck, even Safeway or Harris Teeter are usually less expensive.
(And I don’t usually give props to either of those stores for being affordable. Ha.)
But, there are some ways to get good deals at CVS, so I do go there on purpose sometimes.
And occasionally I find myself there out of necessity/convenience, and in such cases, it’s good to know how to minimize the financial damage.

Get the CVS CarePass

This is a membership program that gives you a number of benefits, but the main one is that you get a $10 store credit every month.

CVS CarePass

I pay for a year in advance, which brings the price per month down from $5/month to $4, so basically I’m paying $4 and getting $6 for free. That’s a pretty good return, and as long as you use your $10 wisely, it can be a smart investment.

You also get 20% off CVS-branded items and free shipping from

Use the CVS app for coupons

CVS used to always give you a million paper coupons, but now pretty much everything can be accessed in the app.

You can scroll through the available coupons, and if you see one you want to use, you can just click “send to card” and then it’ll be loaded into your account.

CVS app screenshot.

The app sometimes has coupons like “$4/$20 of hair care items” without any particular brand specified, and those are especially helpful because you can usually use those AND an in-app manufacturer coupon.

Five cosmetics produces from CVS.

For instance, you could use a $2 Tresemme shampoo coupon AND the $4/20 coupon.

Use the app to search for sales/ExtraBucks offers

If there’s something I need, I always search the weekly add in the app to see if I can find a sale on it. CVS does have little sale tags on the shelves, but sometimes those aren’t accurate; the app is more trustworthy!

ExtraBucks are basically CVS credits that can be used on a future purchase. For example, a brand of shampoo might be on sale, and if you buy $12 worth, you can get $4 of ExtraBucks loaded into your account for a future purchase.

After a purchase, check the app and also your e-receipt

Inside the app, you can find your ExtraBucks, and you can click, “Send to card”.

Also, your emailed receipt will often have some coupons/credits, and you can click, “Send to card” on those as well.

In conclusion

The best way to get something cheap at CVS is to do all of the following simultaneously:

  • buy something that’s on sale
  • use a store coupon
  • use a manufacturer’s coupon
  • buy something that offers ExtraBucks
  • use your Carepass

I don’t always hit all of those at the same time, but I do try to do at least several of the things on that list when I buy something at CVS.

Don’t forget your frugal basics

Other basic savings tactics I employ at CVS:

  • I buy store-brand items
  • I look for “50% more free” packaging
  • I look at the clearance racks
  • I’m flexible about brands so that I can get the best deals

Sounds like too much work? That’s fine!

If doing all this sounds about as fun as removing a splinter from your finger then that is No. Big. Deal.


There are a million ways to be frugal, and you do not have to engage in money-saving activities that make you miserable.*

But if this feels sort of like putting a puzzle together, and you get some joy out of the process, then hey, I hope this post helps you a bit.

Got any CVS tips? Share them in the comments, please!

* I wrote a post titled, “I’ll be me. And you can be you.”, which addresses the fact that we all approach frugality a little differently.

P.S. I have a CVS super near my house, which means it’s no biggie to stop in once a month to use my Carepass. If I had to drive a long way to get to a CVS, that would change things!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Wednesday 29th of May 2024

I almost bought a small Scotch packing tape dispenser for $13. Decided it was too overpriced and put it back. Target had the exact same product for $3.50! The CVS near me is ridiculous!


Sunday 25th of June 2023

Ahem...removing splinters from fingers are a big deal...I take umbrage at that sentence!!! ;)


Friday 23rd of June 2023

Very timely as I just used my CVS Carepass to get FOUR 33 ounce jugs of Laundry Detergent and a small pack of mini Oreos for $1.38 total with tax out of pocket!!!!! I only added the Oreos because my total came to &9.20, so rather than lose 80 cents -- i added something small to bring it up to the $10 -- or a little over - that I knew would get eaten/used - so that I got my full $10 value! I combined sales, coupons (CVS allows stacking!) to get this deal - and that's how I use my carepass every month. I normally only spend the $10, sometimes a dollar or 2 over , always use it on something I need -- that is on sale and there are coupons for to get the most bang for my buck!


Thursday 22nd of June 2023

Thanks so much for the CVS spending tips. Our insurance suggests we get our prescriptions filled there but I'm just beginning to learn how to take advantage of their discounts and coupons and the care pass. My CVS wasn't as helpful when I requested help. So, this is a great help to me, Kristin. Thank you! Now I'll have to re-read your post and takes notes!


Wednesday 21st of June 2023

I don’t have one close to me and at my age it just sounds like too much work. I used to do the rebate program years ago at Walgreens and stocked my bathroom shelves with tons of freebies. They ended that I think and haven’t been in their stores in years. I find these drugstores overpriced compared to Walmart so I avoid them. But kudos to Kristen for using this money saving technique! I remember the thrill when I did my rebates at Walgreens!


Tuesday 29th of August 2023

@Linda, I haven’t shopped at Walmart. Do you think that is the best for household items?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.