CVS ExtraCare And CarePass Memberships Review (is it worth it?)

CVS is one of the largest pharmacy chains in the US, along with their rival, Walgreens. While both stores offer a similar range of products and prescription services, which one you favor probably has more to do with how many stores each has local to where you live. While Walgreens has an extensive global presence, the two chains have a similar number of US stores. 

Most money-conscious shoppers will compare the deals offered at the two chains to help pick their preferred store. Knowing the details of the CVS loyalty plans can help you save money. CVS has both a free and paid version of their loyalty program. If there is a free version available, is the paid membership worth it? Let’s find out. 

How The Free CVS ExtraCare Program Works

Get extra savings when you shop at CVS with their free loyalty program, ExtraCare. You will score additional deals, coupons and earn 2% back in ExtraBucks reward points. You can also earn ExtraBucks when purchasing select items in the store. Your ExtraBucks rewards are printed on your receipt, or you can check them on your account using their free app. 

As an ExtraCare member, you can print special coupons online or inside every retail store at a big red machine called the “coupon center.” There is also a “bag tag” program that rewards you with credits towards an ExtraBuck each time you use a specific reusable shopping bag. 

The ExtraBucks work like cash, not like coupons. That means you can literally use them to obtain a free item without having to spend anything out of pocket that day. The ExtraBucks expire within 30 days of being issued. 

Upgrading To CVS CarePass Membership For Extra Perks

Everyone can and should take advantage of the free CVS loyalty program because it saves you money without having an associated cost. If you shop at CVS often, you might consider upgrading to the CarePass program to get additional benefits. 

The CarePass program costs just $5 a month, or $4 a month if you pay annually. If you take advantage of all the additional perks, you will undoubtedly make that cost back, plus extra savings. 

Here are the additional CarePass Perks:

  • Get a $10 promo reward each month (must spend more than $10 on one purchase to redeem, unused rewards expire at the end of each month)
  • Free 1-2 day shipping on orders (including most prescriptions) 
  • 24/7 Pharmacy Helpline Access
  • 20% off all CVS brand products you buy 

Why Did CVS Decide To Offer A Paid Membership Program?

After much research, CVS decided that customers were ready and willing to pay a small fee for upgrading their healthcare and shopping experience. CarePass is the first membership program that offers free national pharmacy delivery and 24/7 access to a pharmacist helpline. CVS is also embracing the fact that many customers now prefer to shop online and have things delivered with fast and free shipping.  

Even if all you do is use your $10 reward credit each month, you will easily double your money back on this membership program. If you enjoy CVS brand products or often shop online, you can save even more. All CarePass members are also ExtraCare members who enjoy those additional benefits. So you will still earn your ExtraBucks for purchases. 

How Does The CVS Memberships Compare To Walgreens’ Membership?

The free membership programs of the two pharmacy giants are a close match. CVS offers a flat 2% rebate, while Walgreens provides a 1% rebate for most products and a 5% rebate for Walgreens’ brand products. Both offer bonuses for on-brand purchases and extra ways to earn reward credit such as promotions, prescriptions, and more. 

Walgreens does not offer a value-added VIP program in addition to their free loyalty program at this time. 

CVS MembershipWalgreens Membership
CostFree or 4-5$ a monthFree
Rebate Rewards2%1% on most, 5% on Walgreens brand
Other Ways To Earn Reusable bags, product promosProduct promos, vaccinations, health goals
Reward ExpirationMonthlyYearly
Charity OptionNoYou can use reward points for charity

The Pro’s And Con’s Of A Paid CVS CarePass Membership 

How often do you find yourself running out to CVS to pick up a few things? Is it monthly, weekly, or even more often? CVS sells a lot more than just healthcare supplies and prescription medication. They have toys, snacks, office supplies, holiday items, and much more. 

Still, it can be hard to tell how necessary a membership is. Everyone can benefit from the free program, but do you need the paid upgrade?

Here are the pros to being a CVS CarePass member:

  • You get an additional $10 credit each and every month.
  • You can get your medication questions answered day or night.
  • You get free 1-2 day shipping on orders and medications.
  • You still get all the ExtraBucks perks of the free membership as well. 

The cons, or potential downsides, to CVS CarePass membership:

  • There is an extra cost for the CarePass upgrade. 
  • You pay the monthly fee even if you don’t use your benefits.
  • Benefits expire monthly, use them or lose them. 

The CarePass program is designed to keep you coming back in to shop more often. If you don’t shop at CVS very much, there is probably no need to pay for the CarePass membership. Many of us shop our local pharmacies quite often and could use the extra savings.

CVS ExtraCare and CarePass Membership Program FAQs

When do reward points expire?

Your $10 monthly CarePass reward expires at the end of each month. It does not rollover. Your ExtraBucks rewards will expire 30 days from the date you print them out. Make sure to shop monthly in order to get the most value from your membership.

How do I redeem the $10 Carepass credit?

You can redeem your $10 credit each month at the cash register by showing your membership card or online by activating your reward before checking out. You can also redeem your rewards on online orders.

How do I cancel my CVS Carepass membership?

Your CarePass membership will automatically renew each month or each year if you choose to pay annually. If you wish to cancel your membership, you can call CVS customer service at 1-833-320-CARE or at the CVS website here. You must be logged in to your account for this link to work.

How do I use my rewards and coupons for online orders?

Some deals are in-store only, but many can be used online as well. Click on the coupon description on the ExtraCare rewards page in order to make an offer active. Apply it to your existing order by clicking on the “use coupon/rewards” button inside the shopping cart.

I found some printed ExtraBucks on the ground. Can I use them?

In order to use your extra bucks, you have to show your card, and the account must match. This prevents people from using rewards that aren’t theirs. Only print your rewards when you are ready to use them because they will expire in 30 days.

Does everyone in my household have to sign up for the membership program?

CVS only allows one membership per household. That means that with one account, everyone in your home that shops can help contribute to rewards. This also means you don’t have to pay for each person to have their own CarePass membership.

What Are Some Other Ways To Save Money At CVS?

If you love shopping online, then not only do you need the CarePass for free shipping but always check Koopy for online coupon codes for additional savings. You can often stack rewards and coupons. 
Download the CVS app for easy access to coupons and rewards.
If you shop for beauty products at CVS, you can join the Beauty Club for an extra $3 in reward bucks, a birthday gift, special promotional pricing, and samples.
Always stop at the in-store coupon center, scan your card or app for additional coupons. 
You can stack manufacture coupons and CVS coupons and reward bucks for more savings.
Sign up for CVS emails to get more coupons and notifications of sales.

Looking for even more money saving tips at CVS? Check this dedicated guide – 23 Super Easy Ways to Save Money at CVS (online & in-store)

Wrapping Things Up: Is The CVS CarePass Membership Worth It?

As long as you shop at CVS one or more times per month, the extra benefits are undoubtedly worth it from a purely mathematical standpoint. Even if you pay the full $5 per month cost (instead of the $4 per month annual fee), you will double your money with the $10 monthly reward alone. On top of that, you earn rewards for everything you purchase and can use ExtraBucks like cash. 

If anyone in your household has a complicated medical history and is on multiple medications, you’ll also appreciate having the pharmacy helpline available at all times. Having your medications and anything else you want from the CVS website shipped to you for free is also a great benefit to this low-cost membership plan.

Deanna Balestra is a freelance writer and a contributor from St. Louis, MO who enjoys writing about a variety of topics including small business, marketing, education, and health. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading both fiction and non-fiction books, watching movies, playing with her kids, and volunteering with animals.

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