20 Ulta Shopping Tips From Our Frugal Beauty Expert
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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.
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!
2. Be sure to download their app for your $3.50 coupon.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 employee – 25% 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! 💎
20. Lastly, subscribe to Hip2Save emails.
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!