Explaining Store Loyalty Cards

Next time you're at CVS, Rite Aid and Walgreens (or even your local grocer), be sure to sign up for their store loyalty card, if you haven't already. These cards can save you hundreds of dollars when paired with sales and coupons. Here's a quick starter guide for how they work:

CVS: Its store loyalty card is called the "Extra Care Card," which will earn you "Extra Care Bucks" that print at the bottom of your receipt when you buy qualifying items. You can use these "bucks" on your next transaction, thus lowering your out-of-pocket expense. Not only will some sale items ring up at the sales price with the card, but you also will earn 2 percent back on your purchases! Plus, you will receive exclusive CVS store coupons (that can be paired with a manufacturer coupon) via mail and when you scan your card at the "Extra Care Coupon Center" inside the store.

Rite Aid: Its loyalty card is called the "Wellness +" and with it, you can qualify for "+UP" rewards, which print out at the end of your receipt when you purchase qualifying items. You also will earn points for pharmacy purchases and nonprescription items and get 10 percent off all Rite Aid brand products. You can use coupons with the +UP rewards, as well as combine the two with another program they have called "Single Check Rebates." SCR's are rebates that you get when you purchase special products that are offered. There are lots of opportunities to shop for free when you use coupons, +UPs and SCRs.

Walgreens: Unlike CVS and Rite Aid, Walgreens does not have a loyalty card. But, it does offer the same benefits as the other drugstores with "Register Rewards" that print out separately from your receipt when you buy qualifying items. You can use your "RRs" on your next transaction, and you can use coupons, too, to maximize savings. FYI: If you buy an item that qualifies for an RR, you cannot use that RR on the same item in the next transaction and get another RR. You will have to use your Register Reward on a different product (any product, even ones that offer more RRs - so long as it's not the same product you initially purchased).