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Frequent CVS shoppers are often lured into signing up for an ExtraCare Rewards Card, with promises of great savings and cash back for their purchases. While some of this may be true, there is a lot more to this card than meets the eye. Unless you fulfill the specific requirements CVS sets out for you, you might not get a single penny out of your card – making it a waste of time more than anything else. Let’s take a look at how the CVS ExtraCare Rewards Card really works so you can decide if it’s right for you.
CVS ExtraCare Card Features
The CVS ExtraCare Card is similar to most in-store rewards cards. It gives you access to coupons, savings, and special offers if you shop at the store a lot. Important features include:
- Cash back: Earn 2% cash back on everyday purchases made at CVS. You may redeem these four times a year (Jan 1, Apr 1, Jul 1, and Oct 1).
- Automatic ads: If you buy something on sale, you will automatically get the ad price for it, rather than having to mention it at the register.
- Prescription rewards (sort of): You can get a whopping $5 back on your card after you fill 10 prescriptions at CVS. To most of us, that’s probably not worth the effort, but it is something extra if you regularly use the CVS pharmacy.
- Green bag savings: If you use reusable shopping bags during your time at CVS, you could earn extra money. Granted, it’s only $1 for every 4 visits, but it is a small pat on the back for helping the environment.
- Email coupons: ExtraCare members have access to special coupons that no one else has through their email accounts. If you’re into couponing, this is a must-have.
If you’re a regular CVS shopper, all of this could mean awesome savings for you. But of course, there’s a catch…
Why None of the Features Matter
On the surface, the CVS ExtraCare card sounds like a great deal. You get cash back, extra coupons, automatic discounts…where’s the room to complain? The problem that I have with the card is in the restrictions for the cash back program. You don’t get it for everything you buy in the store. It’s just on certain items. Here is a list of what’s not included in the ExtraCare rewards program:
- Gift cards
- Lottery tickets
- Money orders
- Postage stamps
- Prepaid cards
- Tobacco products
- and most importantly…Prescriptions!
I understand that customers shouldn’t be “rewarded” for buying beer and cigarettes or loading money onto a gift card. When it comes to shopping at CVS though, most of us go there for prescription medication. I don’t know if I’ve ever thought to run down to CVS for a pack of paper towels or a bag of chips, but perhaps some of you out there do. For those that do though, there’s still more bad news to come.
On top of the restrictions for the rewards program, there are also time limits you have to think about. The 2% cash back rewards are only issued once every three months, and they last for 45 days each time. If you do not use your cash back at the store within that 45 day period, you lose your rewards entirely. There is no rollover program, so you’re forced to find something to buy within their time frame. Whatever it is has to be off that restriction list from above.
When It Works and When It Doesn’t
If you shop at CVS for more than just prescriptions, you may in fact benefit from having an ExtraCare Rewards Card. If you’re like me though, something like this is just an extra piece of plastic in your wallet. It’s not going to improve your credit score or provide much of any discount for you. It’s just going to be…”there.”
With this in mind, it is free to sign up for an ExtraCare card. You’re certainly not going to be any worse off in doing this. You’re just going to have a card that may or may not do a darn thing for you. It’s up to you to sign up. For me, it’s not worth the five second application because I literally wouldn’t save a dime with the card. Consider your shopping habits and see if you’re in the same financial situation.
*Editorial Note: Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any card issuer.
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