Wouldn’t it be nice if those surprise coupons that print out along with your receipt at some stores, were available before you shopped instead of after? Well, they are at CVS. And CVS wants to know why more people aren’t taking advantage of them.

For a few years now, CVS has offered a “magic coupon machine”, otherwise known as the ExtraCare Coupon Center. Shoppers scan their ExtraCare loyalty card, and the big red machine spits out store coupons. Great for shoppers, and great for CVS: “Customers who use our coupon center purchase 10% more than a similar card member who does not use the coupon center,” CVS executive vice president Mark Cosby said yesterday.

But few people actually seem to bother. CVS reports that only 12% of its customers use the coupon machine at all. They could be missing out on big potential savings – a customer can keep scanning their card and receiving coupons, one by one, until a “No coupons available” notice appears on the screen. And the coupons are CVS store coupons, which means they can be combined with manufacturer’s coupons for extra savings.


Considering CVS has the largest and oldest loyalty program of all the major drug stores (read: “Drug Stores Duel For Your Devotion”), why can’t it get more cardholders to take advantage of one of the card’s main benefits?

“Mine are always junk,” one commenter on the internet coupon forum WeUseCoupons said of the CVS coupons she’s received. “I think I’ve only used two ever.” You be the judge: the website Cuckoo For Coupon Deals, among others, compiles weekly lists of the coupons that are printing – this week’s include high-value offers like “$5 off any Holiday Decor purchase of $20 or more”, “$2 off Dove Body Wash” and “$1.50 off any Carmex Skincare Purchase.”

It could be that it’s just too much trouble for some, or that many cardholders are not necessarily coupon users. CVS has been trying to raise awareness of the coupon machine, and other savings options, with a series of how-to videos. “The objective is to provide our customers with more value that will encourage them to shop more broadly across the store,” CVS’ Cosby said. The company’s goal is to double the use of its coupon machines by the end of next year, increasing usage to 50% over time.

That’s a tall order, considering that a recent study indicated that less than 1% of all types of coupons issued are ever redeemed (read: “It’s National Coupon Month! So Where Are All the Coupons?”). And in an age of internet and digital coupons, an in-store machine that makes you work to receive printed mystery coupons that you may or may not be interested in, may already seem an antiquated concept. If CVS can’t get more than 12% of its customers to use it, there’s a chance the magic coupon machine may ultimately become a memory.

Image source: CVS


  1. The coupons expire in 1 or 2 weeks and alit of them are crap – like $1 off a card. Why do I want a card – especially since they’re $3 – $5 each. Then there’s the 30% razors or 30% off deodorant – but you can’t use them on sale items which at any given time, 70% or so of deodorants and/or razors are on some kind of sale. By the time the one you want is back to regular price, the coupon has expired.

  2. My reason is I don’t want to buy that much of that product. All the coupons are in the form of “$3 off purchase of $15 of soap” Also the coupons expire too soon.

  3. let me count the reasons…first off, the machine at my local CVS is “down” 90% of the time (and I shop there at least once/week.) Then, when it does seem to be working, I’m told that it just doesn’t work for my card. Really? Can’t imagine why on earth it works for every transaction at the register, but yet not for the not-so-magic machine? Granted, my CVS keychain card is in bad shape….the clear lamination is peeling off on all 4 corners, & I have to hold them down when it’s scanned @ register. however, I do the same & machine & it makes the beeping noise like it’s reading something, but then displays some error message that says nothing like “couldn’t read card”…it’s some totally unrelated error. But when I ask a CVS employee what’s happening, they say it’s my card. Finally, when the machine was scanning my card, once upon a time, there were several instances that I was in a rush & couldn’t wait for the machine to “think” 15 seconds before printing anything.

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