For those of you who haven’t heard of it, CVS has a program called the CarePass. And it’s fantastic.
For $48 a year, you get a monthly $10 CarePass reward. In other words, you pay $48 for $120 of store credit. Um, yes please!
Also included is 1-2 day prescription deliveries, 20% off CVS brand items and free 1-2 day shipping.
I should note that only some items on CVS.com provide the free shipping but if any of the items in your basket are eligible, the entire order ships for free, regardless of whether the other products qualify.
You can (almost definitely) use it
If any of you guys are thinking, “But I don’t think I need $10 of products every month” then remember two things. First, you can always stockpile for future. Second — and far more importantly — drugstores sell a wide range of products.
So chances are that in any given month you’ll need $10 worth of one of the following:
- Toilet paper
- Body wash
- Face wash
- Hand soap
- Razorblades/shaving cream
- Facial moisturizers
- Cold/allergy medicine
- Pain relievers
- Cleaning products
- Laundry detergent
Basically, unless you already have a tremendous stockpile of toiletries, you can almost certainly find a use for that $10 reward every month.
Even if you think you don’t need it…
Of course, some people coupon it up and already have a stockpile of drugstore goods lying around. But even if you’re one of them, this program could still be useful.
Specifically, it’s a great way to give affordably. You can combine the monthly reward with coupons and sales to get toiletries for next to nothing, then drop them off at shelters or food banks.
If you’re not into donating, consider any grownup relatives or friends you know who are struggling. (If the person’s pride may be an issue: “Gosh, Susie, I got this great deal on shampoo, but I came home and found out I already have three. Can you use it?”)
Or be like my mom and give the items as stocking stuffers. It can be amusing/delightful to get deodorant or batteries in your stocking if it means you don’t have to shop for them yourself. I haven’t had to buy a toothbrush in at least a decade, and it’s lovely!
A few more details
If you’re still unsure whether you could reliably use the reward each month, you can always try the month-to-month option for a bit. Admittedly, it’s slightly more expensive at $5 per month, but it would let you be sure you make use of the program before committing for a full year.
There are two caveats about using the reward, though.
First of all, it has to be used before the next one hits your account. I get mine on the 24th of the month, so I have up through the 23rd of the following month to use it. If I don’t, I’ve lost the credit. But don’t forget that the free shipping on many items means that you may not even need to make a trip to use the reward.
Second, the credit must be used in a single transaction. Sure, you can apply that $10 reward on a $5 item, but you’ll be forfeiting the other $5 in credit. That said, as that products list above should prove, most of us can find $10 of items to buy in any given month.
I jointed because I thought I needed either lotion or contact lens solution in any given month. It turned out I buy them a little less frequently than that, but that just means that throughout the months I’ve used the reward for toothpaste, face wash, moisturizer and razorblades. In short, I’ve never had trouble finding something to use the credit on.
Avoiding the CVS price gouge
CVS prices are admittedly higher than many of the ones at Walgreens and probably most of the prices at Walmart, so you generally want to choose your purchases carefully.
I don’t get carried away buying everything I need just because I’m at CVS. The transaction using the reward is usually just for one item. Sometimes I’ll get two due to a BOGO deal. But that’s usually the most I buy with the reward.
Also, I make sure to consider the items’ prices at other stores when choosing how to spend the $10 credit. For example, I can get my moisturizers on Amazon for about $6 below CVS prices. That’s the same amount I save with the CarePass program ($4/month for $10 of credit). So if I’m running low on that but my lotion or lens solution is less than half full, I’ll probably use the reward on the lotion/lens solution and buy the moisturizer on Amazon to make sure I’m actually saving.
But it’s worth noting that CVS’s slightly higher prices are often offset with its many coupons and sales. Plus the store sends me the occasional coupon for 40% off one item or 30% off the entire purchase. So there are still plenty of times you can get the best deal there — even before you factor in the rewards.
And let’s not forget about rewards programs.
First of all, I get $5 in Extrabux for every 10 prescriptions I fill. I’m on multiple medications, so it’s not hard for me to hit that mark.
I also get $3 in Extrabux for every $30 I spend on beauty — and the beauty department includes more than just makeup: skin care, hair care, body wash, hand soap, hand sanitizer, sunscreen, etc. So it’s not hard to get that bonus either.
So all in all, even with retail prices that are slightly higher than the competition’s, CVS still has a lot of good deals. Add in the CarePass reward, and the savings can be impressive.
If I may brag for a moment, I had quite the savings coup Sunday. I got:
- 2 Aveeno lotions with BOGO40 plus two $2 off coupons (so from $11.99 each down to $7.59 each)
- 2 bottles of contact lens solution with BOGO50 plus a “$4.50 off $20 in eye care” coupon (so from $13.49 each down to $7.87 each)
- 2 Neutrogena Hydro Boost facial moisturizers at BOGO40 plus a “$5 off $25+ Hydro Boost products” coupon (so from $21.79 each down to $14.93 each)
- 1 Neutrogena Hydro Boost eye moisturizer with a “$3 off $10+ Neutrogena facial care” coupon (so from $21.79 down to $18.79)
I admit that the eye moisturizer’s savings is less impressive than the rest, especially since I can get the product for less on Amazon, but I added it because CVS also has an offer this week for $15 off $75+ online orders.
So after I applied the BOGO sales, coupons, the $15 off, my $10 CarePass reward and $5 in Extrabux from my prescriptions, I paid $49.57 for $116.33 worth of products.
Results will vary
Of course, you probably won’t save that crazily every month. I certainly don’t. But when the reward hits my account, there’s always at least one drugstore item that I’m either out of or low on. Or it might just be something on sale that I know I’ll need in the future. I think most people would say the same.
So I suggest you make a list of drugstore items you typically buy in the span of a few months. Not necessarily ones you do buy at a drugstore, but ones you can buy there (without a ridiculous markup, of course). Chances are, you can find enough items to make the CarePass program very worthwhile.
How many drugstore items do you buy routinely? Have any of you signed up for CarePass?