May 21, 2008

The Drugstore Game Dilemma: What to do when you start to run out of ECBs

I've been burning through my ECBs lately, unable to generate enough to completely replace the ones I've been spending on things we really need, like tissue. (We've been going through a lot of tissue lately - I hate allergy season!) CVS has also had some great deals that I couldn't pass up, even though they weren't money-makers.

I still have about $20 of ECBs left, but if I keep going, I'm going to whittle those down pretty quickly. There just aren't enough money-makers in the store, even with the $3 off $15 purchase coupon, unless I do five transactions per visit. Unfortunately, the CVS stores around me don't seem particularly receptive to that (the employees at the two Walgreens I go to have been so much nicer).

So I've been thinking about ways to acquire more ECBs or giftcards without spending any money out of pocket. Here's what I've come up with:
  • My Points - I'll be writing a review of the MyPoints program very soon, but in a nutshell, you earn points that you can redeem for your choice of giftcards. A few days ago, I cashed in 3600 points for a $25 CVS giftcard, which will hopefully arrive soon (I'm just waiting to receive the card before I publish the review). With the way I shop at CVS now, I should be able to stretch this $25 giftcard into hundreds of dollars worth of products.
  • CVS Advisor Panel - If you join the CVS Advisor Panel, they'll send surveys and reward you with ECBs for completing them. Unfortunately, I've only received one survey so far (giving me $10 ECBs), and I've been signed up for about two months now. About a week ago, I figured out that I hadn't completed the profile, so I did that in the hopes of triggering more surveys. Nothing's come yet, but I'm remaining optimistic.
  • Fill prescriptions at CVS. - CVS frequently offers giftcards for filling new prescriptions, and many stores accept competitor coupons. So I'll start saving the coupons and the next time I need a prescription filled, I'll head to CVS first.
That's all I've got. Does anyone have other suggestions?


Anonymous said...

My only other idea is to work harder on combining coupons with the ECB deals. That way, you get more ECBs back than you pay in.

I keep meaning to sign up for the Advisor thing, thanks for the reminder. I'm looking forward to your My Points review too.

I find they look at you funny if you do too many transactions at once too. I do two things to ease this situation: 1) I don't try to do more than one transaction at a time - I go through the line with one transaction, put that stuff in my car, and come back again. I try to go when it's very quiet, so this doesn't take forever. 2) I have a couple of CVS stores I pass while doing other things during the week, so I'll also try to hit more than one store, or come back a couple times to break it up. I don't drive myself nuts with this, but it can actually be more fun to me to go twice and be less stressed about being an inconvenince to the cashiers.


Mercedes said...

yeah! tell the cashiers that that's their job and they need to suck it!! OK, maybe not quite like that. I try not to do more than two transactions and when I get to the register I always let them know I am splitting my order and if that's OK with them. I don't really care if it is OK or not but that's more so that they know. You probably live in a big city with hopefully lots of CVSs around you. I am not promoting that you burn gas to do this but if you do two transactions at one store then you can do two more at another. I only have one store and what I would do is go to the register with two transactions worth of stuff, then go out to the car to leave the bag and head back to the store and do one or two more transactions. For sure, you will be safe doing one more, everyone is allowed to forget something right? ;-)

Gina @ MoneywiseMoms said...

I signed up for Advisor almost four months ago and I've never received anything except the first confirmation email. Hmmph!

I never did find the Hawaiian Tropic lip balm last week, but when those kinds of deals come up, it's an easy way to roll a few ECBs into a lot more.

Anonymous said...

I came here from GRS. You can count me in as a regular reader :-D

I wanted to ask you how you managed to accumulate so many points on Mypoints. I've been a member for more than a month and I have got only 500+ points. Any tips?

Anonymous said...

I go to CVS early in the morning when the hubby and baby are still sleeping, when its not busy in the store - the cashiers are much more open to multiple transactions.

Thanks for mentioning my blog in the GRS article.


Anonymous said...

I've been following the rebates at CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens in recent months.

I have noticed that it can be a hit and miss as to which programs work out better for me in any given month.

Oh, well. That's one of the reasons I look at all the fliers before shopping : )

Anonymous said...

@Jennifer, Mercedes, & S.B. - Thanks so much for the ideas!

@Dana - Thank you for your kind words! I think 500 points is close to what I get per month, actually. A few things you can do to get more points is visit the site and answer the question in the little box on the right side of the page (usually 5 points), play any promotional games they have, and download and use their search bar. Hope that helps!

Anonymous said...

I'm eager to read your MyPoints review, too. I've been doing MyPoints for a while, but am new to CVS'ing.

My practice has been to save my MyPoints and cash them in around Christmas. But I'm considering changing my strategy and using points for CVS gift cards instead.

Twinsmom said...

I just signed up for the CVS Advisor (thanks for mentioning it!), and the confirmation at the end of sign-up said they would be sending out surveys 4 times a year. That's probably why you haven't gotten many.