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Here’s how to save on medications at CVS Pharmacy

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The national chain offers 2 ways to save money on prescriptions. Combine them both with medication coupons for the biggest benefit.
Updated on June 29, 2021

Illness and pain are stressful. Getting the medications you need to treat those things shouldn’t be. Unfortunately, pharmacy costs can add up fast. Paying for prescriptions is a source of anxiety for many patients, particularly those who take daily medication.

A 2019 poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found that nearly 3 in 10 people have forgone a medication due to the cost. And in a new West Health-Gallup survey, 66% of U.S. adults say they’ve noticed prescription medication prices increasing over the past few years.

Pharmacies see their patients struggling. And many have established programs that attempt to reduce the sting at the register. For CVS, that amounts to 2 cost-cutting programs that run side by side. Here we’ll show you how they work and how you can best use them alongside Optum Perks coupons to save money.

Want to see the savings options at Walmart Pharmacy? We covered that too. Click here to learn more.

1. Cost-saving consultations

CVS’s Rx Savings program relies on a database that’s proprietary to CVS. It allows the chain’s 30,000 pharmacists to search for savings opportunities on behalf of customers. Pharmacists can see your prescription history and insurance details, and use that information to determine whether other medications might offer you a similar treatment at a lower price.

In some cases, pharmacists may recommend that you switch to a generic medication or a similar product from another brand. In others, they’ll point you toward savings through coupons, cash discount cards or loyalty programs set up by the manufacturer.

One way to take advantage of Rx Savings is to call or visit your local CVS. The pharmacists can access the database and consult with you on savings. The other way is to sign up for a digital account at or via the CVS app. From there you’ll be able to access a consumer version of the tool.

Regardless of what you find in Rx Savings, it’s worth comparing it to the free coupons available through Optum Perks. CVS’s program may help you switch to a cheaper medication, and Optum Perks can help bring down the cost even more. You may also find that the discounts available through our coupon search bar save you more than the manufacturer discounts CVS finds. You don’t need to sign up for a loyalty program to take advantage. Just type in the name of the medication to access the savings.

If you prefer to search for medications while you’re on the go, download our app. It provides CVS coupons that can cut prices by as much as 80%.

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2. In-store rewards

Part two of CVS’s cost-savings effort is its membership program, which it calls ExtraCare®. With an ExtraCare card, CVS shoppers earn 2% back on most in-store purchases.

As an extension of the store program, CVS offers an ExtraCare Pharmacy & Health Rewards program. It’s free to sign up, and when you do, you’ll receive credit for filling a prescription and engaging in other eligible pharmacy activities, such as getting a flu shot.

The ExtraCare pharmacy program works on a credit system. Once you earn 10 credits, you can redeem them for $5 off most in-store purchases. Here are some ways to earn credits:

  • Buy a month’s supply of an eligible medication: 1 credit
  • Buy a 90-day supply of medication: 3 credits
  • Get a flu shot or other vaccination: 3 credits
  • Sign up for prescription management services on 3 credits

But the program has serious limitations for people with big prescriptions costs. For one, you can’t apply the credits toward prescription medication. It’s designed to promote other in-store purchases. (Certain regulated items, such as alcohol, lottery tickets and hunting and fishing licenses, are also exempt.)

The program isn’t available in Arkansas, New Jersey or New York. And where it is available, you can earn only $50 in ExtraBucks Rewards per year. (However, credits for flu shots don’t count toward the $50 limit.)

Think of ExtraCare as a bonus that saves you money on groceries and over-the-counter medication. When combined with Rx Savings and Optum Perks, it can help keep your overall spending in check.

We’ve made Optum Perks easy to use right at the register. Download our discount card, print it out and show it to the pharmacist to save money at checkout.

Additional sources
People who skip medication due to cost: Kaiser Family Foundation
Price increases: Gallup