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20 Ulta Shopping Tips From Our Frugal Beauty Expert

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More Ulta Beauty

row of ulta clearance racks with various beauty products on them

Ulta, we are here for it ALL! 

We absolutely love Ulta, especially when we score our favorite beauty and skincare products on sale. Lucky for you, now you can shop for your next beauty haul and get the most bang for your buck as we’re dishing about their hottest sales, coupons, and rewards offers! Check out our shopping tips and hacks for how you can save the next time you shop Ulta Beauty.

Here are our top tips for saving BIG at Ulta:

1. First and foremost, sign up for Ultamate Rewards.

smartphone and laptop showing ulta ultamate rewards membership

If you shop at Ulta and you’re NOT in their rewards program, you’re leaving so much money on the table. Get in the program online or sign up with an associate in-store – they’ll love you for it since signups are a big factor in their performance!

As an Ultamate Rewards member, you earn points every time you shop, and these can be accumulated for rewards. As an example, when you get 100 points – you earn a $3 reward, and when you have 750 – you get a $30 reward to use when you shop! 😍

Another perk of this program is the FREE birthday gift you receive during your birthday month!

Hip Tip: Speaking of free birthday gifts, hop over here to see all the other incredible freebies you can score on your special day!

2. Be sure to download their app for your $3.50 coupon.

two hands using phone with ulta coupon on screen

You can download the Ulta app for iOS or Android and while you won’t find the app to be much different than their online site, it will be a much easier way to navigate what you’re looking for, view your rewards, and score their infamous $3.50 coupon when you spend $15! Once you download the app, you can find it right on the first page if you scroll down just a bit.

3. And don’t opt-out of emails either.

ulta email on phone

Yes, you do get a lot of inbox love, but their emails are FULL of coupons, Ulta sales, and bonus buys. You can expect to see a lot of $3.50 of $15 coupons, a 20% off prestige brands coupon (these come out about 4 times a year, 6 times if you have platinum status), special buys that get you more points, and a gift with purchase freebies!

I once received an email that had 20% off any purchase (including prestige brands), 250 bonus points on a $60 purchase, an additional 50% off red ticketed clearance items (in-store), and a $5 off $10 coupon. That was ONE email! I’m telling you, it’s worth letting your inbox fill up (a little) with these goodies.

4. Shoot for Platinum status at the beginning of the year.

woman typing on laptop computer on white bed with ulta rewards on screen

Curious what Platinum status means? Platinum status awards you 1.25% points earning on purchases (instead of the standard 1%) along with non-expiring points and free shipping on beauty steals during the 21 Days of Beauty event.

You become a Platinum member when you spend $500 in a calendar year, and you keep your status until December 31 of the following year. So by qualifying in early months, like January or February, you’ll keep your status for much longer than you would if you earned this level later on in the year. (And just a heads up – you’ll need to re-qualify every year to extend your Platinum status.)

There’s also Diamond Status for the totally beauty product obsessed. When you spend $1,200 at Ulta in a calendar year, in addition to the previous benefits, you’ll earn 1.5% points on each purchase, free shipping for online orders over $25, and a $25 beauty services reward card each year. I mean, perks are perks, but I personally wouldn’t shoot for this status considering all of the cash you’ll have to dole out.

Oh, and that birthday freebie that Ultamate Rewards members get? Those with upgraded statuses receive a $10 birthday coupon. 🥳

5. Check out the Bonus Offers available.

row of morphe products in store

Bonus Offers are the point multiplier purchases (like 5x the points when you buy a specific brand or product). You’ll get notifications of these in your email. Instead of searching back through your inbox, view them by going to “My Rewards” under your Ultamate Rewards account and click on “My Bonus offers” or scrolling to the bottom.

6. Book salon services for 5x points, too!

hand holding a spa facial packet with salon in background

Ulta is so much more than just a beauty store! Their beauty services extend to hair, skin, and brows (though certain services vary between locations), so it’s not hard to find the treatment you’re looking for.

As a bonus for using their services, they send out 5x points offers on salon services around 3 to 4 times a year so you can plan your appointments accordingly to get the most out of your visit! 🙌

7. Hang onto your points until you reach 2,000.

hands holding a phone with ulta points on screen

When you’re cashing out and you realize you’ve accumulated enough points for a reward, it’s pretty tempting to spend it right away. Patience, my friend. Hoard your points until you reach 2,000. The payoff value will be a whopping $125 OFF and much higher if you hold out at the highest point increment.

Think about it this way: if you spend the 100 points/$3 reward at every opportunity, you would have only redeemed $60 in rewards by the time you reached 2,000 points. That’s $65 of missed Ultamate Reward money if you don’t wait!

8. Use manufacturer coupons for in-store purchases.

various mascara hanging on store shelf

You can save even more on top of Ulta sales! The beauty of this store is that it sells drugstore brands in addition to the prestige beauty products. A sales associate at my local Ulta confirmed that customers can use manufacturer coupons alongside the $3.50 off $15 Ulta coupons valid on popular drugstore brands! I love stacking on the savings! 💁‍♀️

Hip Tip: Our whole team recently shared their tried and true beauty products!

9. Shop in-store for a better chance at clearance steals.

clearance section in ulta sale with

Going into an actual Ulta store gives you a higher chance of scoring great products at better markdowns since those savings typically aren’t reflected online. Look for clearance on the towers near the middle section of the store along with shelves near the back for your best bet at an Ulta sale.

Also, ask an employee at your local Ulta when they’re doing inventory next so you can come in afterward for the best selection of fresh markdown products. Even better, you can use manufacturer coupons on clearance as long as they meet the coupon requirements!

10. Buy online & navigate the website like a pro.

person at computer with credit card

Sometimes going to the store just isn’t an option, and that’s okay! Just be sure you check the Buy More, Save More page (nested under Sale section) on their website for all the latest sales. You’ll also see tabs for Gift With Purchase products, Sale, and their infamous $3.50 off $15 coupon.

Be sure to check the Gift With Purchase page online even if you’re shopping in the store since the promotions aren’t always advertised on shelves.

11. And shop online, mid-day, on Wednesdays.

woman holding phone with ulta sale beauty break info on screen

The retailer is always hosting “Beauty Breaks” which are pop up Ulta sales featuring Gift with Purchase deals, available for either 4- or 6-hour windows, usually between 10 AM-4 PM CT on Wednesdays. In order to receive the gift set, it’s typically mandatory to spend a minimum amount on certain deals requiring a specific brand purchase.

Make sure you’re subscribed to their emails to get the notification before each Beauty Break goes live!

12. Ask for samples (politely) when cashing out in store.

three various types of beauty samples

When you place an order online, you’ll be asked to choose a sample category upon checkout. Get the same treatment in-store by simply asking the cashier if they have any samples available to hand out.

There’s about a 90% chance they’ll happily hand over some sample-sized beauty packets. Woohoo!  You already know we love a good freebie!

13. Always check out the 21 Days of Beauty sale.

ulta sale 21 days of beauty flyer

This wonderful time of the year actually happens twice – the popular Ulta sale happens once in spring and again in fall. It’s a great time to purchase your favorite prestige items that are on sale for up to 50% off! If you’re specifically looking for just the promoted items and you have Platinum or Diamond status, you get the featured beauty steals shipped for free! 🙌

14. Check out the Jumbo Love Events.

jumbo love ulta sale sign in store with red green and blue bed head hair care products

This huge event happens towards the end of December and will run through most of January! So you have an entire month to stock up and save on amazing hair care products! In fact, this will be your golden opportunity to score up to 50% OFF jumbo-sized shampoo and conditioners, plus deals like buy 2 get the 3rd totally FREE!

If you’re like some of us haircare obsessed, you’ll score deals so great, you probably won’t even have to shop for hair care products for the rest of the year! Score! 

15. Check Raise for discounted gift cards.

woman typing on laptop computer with raise ulta gift cards on screen

It’s a smart practice, in general, to check for discounted Ulta gift cards. Most of the time it’s not a huge percentage off, but hey, saving is saving!

Hip Tip: When purchasing your discounted gift cards, make sure to pay attention to how they can be spent – i.e. online (eGift, voucher) versus in-store only (in-store only, voucher).

16. You can also shop through Ibotta and get cash back.

hand using smartphone with ibotta ulta offer

It’s pretty simple to use and every time you shop you’ll get cash back just for using Ibotta! It may not seem like much, but every penny counts and if you use it frequently for other things too, you’ll really start to see money stack up!

How does it work? You can browse offers in the Ibotta app (iOS & Android) before you shop in-store, or start with the app when you shop online. Then you just submit your receipts or link your loyalty account and watch the cash back roll in. 💵

17. Return any purchase for any reason.

ulta shipping box in car

Ulta has a pretty easy-going return policy when it comes to products. You can return any product, for any reason, any time within 60 days of purchasing for a full refund. However, there is one stipulation: there must be at least 80% of the product left, so don’t think you can use an entire bottle of foundation and return it empty for your money back. 😏

Hip Tip: If you order online and have an Ulta nearby, you can make returns in-store and avoid return shipping charges! 🙌

18. But keep any free gifts you received.

ulta gifts with purchase

Yep, this is actually a legit policy. If you buy something that includes a free gift with purchase but you decide that the product just isn’t for you, you can return it (so long as it meets the return requirements listed above) – and you get to keep the free gift with purchase! I wouldn’t make a habit of this practice though. #becausekarma 😉

19. Work there if you need some extra cash.

ulta store front

This obviously won’t be in the books for everyone who reads it, but if you’re looking to have a side job that pays you extra cash, you’ll also receive some awesome discounts as an Ulta employee25% off all retail products to be exact.

And remember those amazing salon services I told you about already? As an employee, you’ll get 50% off all salon services! To top it off, employees still get to rack up rewards points, so go ahead and shine bright like a diamond! 💎

Interested? Check here to see if the Ulta near you is currently hiring.

20. Lastly, subscribe to Hip2Save emails.

woman typing on Macbook

Ulta sales and deals happen often, so check Hip2Save for the latest updates and savings and be sure to subscribe to our free emails! We’ll make sure to send you all the best deals on all your favorite beauty products when you subscribe to hear from us.

Treat yourself to these Lululemon knockoffs we found!

Join The Discussion

Comments 25

  1. oreostevens

    The Ulta stores near me do not let customers combine manufacture and Ulta coupons.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh darn! Thanks for sharing, Oreostevens. We’ll be sure to double check this. I do find that the Ulta coupons cannot be combined with any other Ulta Beauty coupon.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Hello again! We were just able to call into our stores to confirm that those will stack. Maybe try chatting with a store manager to see if they may be able to apply them both. Hoping this helps!

      • MombieZombie

        Here we can stack, but the total after manufacturers coupons must still hit $15 to apply the ULTA store coupon.

        Bet your store neglected to tell you that aspect.

  2. dblD amber

    I’ve just recently started shopping there again and have had great experiences. Great sales around Xmas and great benefits. Can really get a good deal on their daily sale items

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Woohoo! SO true! I have been loving their sales too! 🙌

  3. andyscottage

    I was Diamond last year but this year I am Platinum. I order more online than I buy in store and the samples were stopped quite some time ago.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks so much for the feedback. We were just recently able to score the samples in store. Hope this helps!

  4. Beth

    My Ulta doesn’t take back any used makeup. They said once it has been opened, they will not accept it.

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh bummer! I still find that they accept makeup returns, when clicking through the policy link above. I wonder if bringing that in or showing it in store might help for next time.

      Here are some of the details listed – ” If you’re not completely satisfied with a product for any reason, just return the product to us for a full refund or exchange.”

    • Lel

      It is a corporate company so all stores have to have the same policy as far as returns or coupons. If they are not accepting returns, within 60 days I believe, you need to call customer service to escalate the issue. I think the product needs to be about 75-80% full. Check the policy.

    • Denise

      If my local CVS and Walgreens will Take Back makeup that’s been opened then Ulta needs to do that as well. I’ve never heard of a store not taking makeup back.

  5. sarahgrecula

    Love the tips, I became a convert a few years ago and the deals are so much better than Sephora. I keep my regular products saved in my online bag and buy them when a good free gift, bonus points, coupon or all 3 comes along. I have also had great experiences with returns and online order for in store pick-up.

  6. Jstbeachy

    There is a bonus Valentine’s beauty bag w a $70 online purchase free shipping over $50

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Oh cool! Thanks for commenting, Jstbeachy! Good to know!

  7. Tansy

    The qualifying purchases for Platinum status is $500 now

    • Amber (Hip Sidekick)

      Thanks, Tansy! That has been updated!

  8. asbfl32

    Shopkicks also gives points for purchases too Referral code SHOP385357

  9. Hunterwoody

    Does anyone know when the 21 day sale is? I always stock up 🤣

    • Claudia

      Hair care starts in late December – Mid January. Skin care is in January, make-up is in March

      • Hunterwoody

        Thank you!!

  10. jennifer

    My Ulta sucks. Unhelpful clerks. Never any samples available at checkout. I much prefer Sephora where the clerks will make me multiple samples of things to try.

    • Ana

      Out ulta has its moments, sometimes the clerks are rude and unhelpful,(Black Friday) but that last few times I’ve been in there they e been really good.
      I think with any store it just depends on the person.

    • *Angela-Miles*

      The one by me has went downhill over the past two years, definitely dont go to it as much.

  11. JenB

    If you cash in at 2,000 points you get $125 off, BUT you can also combine with an Ulta 20% off coupon making it $156. You will need a coupon valid for prestige items which are sent out less often, unless you are buying non-prestige. Just make sure your points aren’t going to expire at any point before you use them.

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