A few days ago I posted a video on Instagram of a receipt from ULTA where I spent just over $21 on a haul that would have otherwise cost $160. In my video I asked if anyone would be interested in finding out how I managed to ball so out of control on a Jackson and some change and the response I got was CRAZY.
I’ve mentioned my love for ULTA countless times and I explained why I like it so much more than Sephora in a blog post a few years ago, so today I wanted to take the time to share with you some of the little tips and tricks I’ve picked up throughout my years of shopping at ULTA. With just a bit of patience and some smart shopping, you too can walk out hundreds of dollars of products for the price of a large pizza.
The short version is that I take advantage of the sales, stack coupons, and stretch my rewards points to as far as they can take me.
The long version is a little more complicated, so go grab a cup of tea and we’ll meet back in a few.
In order to maximize your rewards points you’re going to want to follow the following rules:
Sign up for the UltaMate Rewards Program
I can’t even begin to describe how much better the ULTA rewards are than the Sephora ones – even if you aren’t a platinum member (but more on that later). The rewards program is free to join and will enroll you in their emails which will notify you of any sales or special promotions going on. This is going to be critical since the easiest way to redeem items for free or almost free is to use your points.
Unlike Sephora’s complicated VIB/VIB Rouge/whatever system, ULTA only has two tiers: member or platinum member. Anyone can be a member but in order to be a platinum member a person is required to spend $450 in a calendar year. There are a bunch of cool perks of being platinum but right now we’re going to focus on regular memberships.
Regular membership gets you a few perks including:
- A gift on your birthday. As of this post, the current gift is a deluxe sample of Benefit’s Porefessional however the gift changes every quarter.
- Double points on all your purchases during your birthday month.
- Exclusive points multipliers that will be announced via email.
- Usually either a 20% off one item or $3.50 off $10 or more coupon each month
Even if you never plan on hitting the annual $450 threshold, you can still score big by being a regular member.
Save Your UltaMate Points
Points are earned with every dollar spent both in store and online. Regular members earn 1 point for every dollar spent and platinum members earn 1.25 points for each dollar spent. Once you earn 100 points you can begin redeeming them for items. Unlike Sephora which makes you pick from some crappy pre-determined items that are seldom worth the $100 investment, your points at ULTA can be redeemed on anything in the store. That means that if you want to take all of your points and buy out the entire LORAC counter, you absolutely can.
As of right now, the redemption is as follows:
100 points – $3 off
250 points – $8 off
500 points – $17.50 off
750 points – $30 off
1000 points – $50 off
2000 points – $125 off
Notice anything weird? The amount you redeem changes drastically the more points you have, which means you’re rewarded pretty handsomely for saving your points. Let me illustrate:
Scenario A – You have 2000 points accumulated in a calendar year but instead of saving them, you redeem them as you go. Let’s say every time you get 100 points you apply it to your total. In your 20 transactions you would be getting $3 off, for a total savings of $60.
Scenario B – You have 2000 points accumulated in a calendar year and save them for a single transaction. By waiting to spend them all at once your points are now worth $125 instead of the $60 they would have been worth had you redeemed them throughout the year.
Saving your points means double the savings, so make sure to redeem as few times as possible to maximize how much to take off the total.
Use a Multiplier to Maximize Rewards Points
In both of the scenarios above, it’s presumed that the person got to 2000 points by spending $2000 ($1 per point so $2000 x 1) if they’re a member or $1,600 ($1 per 1.25 points) if they’re platinum. I don’t know about you, but my budget very rarely lets me treat myself to $1,600 worth of makeup, even if it is spread out over a year, so as it stands it seems really hard to get to that coveted 2000 points.
Except it’s not. It’s actually super easy.
Because ULTA basically throws points multipliers at you and if you aren’t taking advantage of them then you’re losing TONS of money.
By signing up for their rewards you’ll start to see multipliers of various amounts, usually anywhere from 2x-5x on a variety of products. Sometimes they’re flash sales that last one day (5x on Tarte or 3x on Urban Decay) and sometimes they’re a promotion that will last for a little while (5x on all fragrances in December). Platinum members get the additional perk of even more bonus multipliers, so it actually can pay to be platinum if you do it right.
So let’s do some math.
Let’s say you get an email that all Urban Decay products are 5x the points today only. You’ve been really wanting to get your hands on some setting spray ($31), the Moondust palette ($49) and a shadow primer ($20) for a total of $100.
If you don’t use a multiplier you would be earning 100 points, or $3 for the transaction (1 base point per $100 spent). But use the 5x multiplier and your 100 points immediately turns into 500 points, giving you $17.50 to spend on your next purchase.
ULTA has a different sale going on almost every day, so chances are that there’s a high likelihood that if you’ve got your eyes on a specific product, there will be a points multiplier out soon that will really make it worth your while to wait.
And this leaves me to my final cardinal rule:
Stack Coupons and Multipliers
ULTA lets you stack both coupons and multipliers which means that if you play your cards right, you can get 20% off one item and 10x the points with pretty minimal effort on your part.
Once you get good at this you’ll actually be able to get pretty close to walking out of the store with completely free stuff.
Let me illustrate:
You spend your $100 on your three Urban Decay items like last time, but this time you stack your 5x points on Urban Decay with a 2x the points your birthday month and a 3x the points for being a rewards member for a total of a 10x multiplier. Now, instead of 500 points you’re looking at 1000 points, just for spending $100. Since 1000 points currently equals to $50 you’re basically walking out of there with half your stuff for free.
Do that twice a year and you’ve earned yourself 2000 points. That’s a $125 shopping spree by just spending $200. Pretty sweet, right?
Well believe it or not it gets even sweeter when you’re platinum, because you have an additional 0.25x multiplier built into the base of every single transaction.
As a platinum member you also get:
- Points that roll over from year to year.
- Double the gifts on your birthday.
- A $10 coupon on your birthday.
- Even more multiplier offers.
To buy new products before they launch online and in stores.
And that, my friends, is how I walked out of an ULTA with nearly $200 of products for the price of a Papa John’s extra large meat lovers pizza.
If you have any questions or want help with getting started, let me know by leaving a comment below or tweeting at me @littleshalittle!