This study reports an efficient reduction of the drag exerted by a flow on a cylinder when the former is forced with a plasma actuator. A three-electrode plasma device (TED) disposed on the surface of the body is considered and the effect of the actuation frequency and amplitude is studied. Particle image velocimetry measurements provided a detailed information that was processed to obtain the time-averaged drag force and to compare the performances of TED actuator and the canonical dielectric discharge barrier actuator. For the Reynolds number considered (Re=5500), excitations with the TED actuator were more efficient, achieving drag reductions that attained values close to 40\% with high net energy savings.The eduction of coherent structures using the instantaneous vorticity fields and a clustering technique allowed us to gain insight into the physical mechanisms involved in these phenomena. This highlights that the symmetrical forcing of the wake flow at its resonant frequency with the TED promotes symmetrical vorticity patterns which favor drag reductions.