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When it comes to beauty and personal care, Ulta Beauty offers a combination of selection and savings that is arguably unrivaled.
Competitor Sephora operates fewer than half as many U.S. stores as Ulta and runs sales rarely. I stopped shopping there entirely after enough Ulta stores opened in my area.
Competitor Sally Beauty is more established, but its stores — and thus its product selection — are generally smaller.
So if you ever buy makeup, fragrance, or bath, body, skin, hair or nail care products and don’t shop at Ulta, there’s a good chance you’re missing out on serious savings. Here are eight examples of the best ways to save at Ulta.
1. Join the club
Ulta’s Ultamate Rewards is one of my favorite loyalty programs. We recently cited it in “13 Stores That Offer Cash Back or Rewards on Every Purchase.”
In short, every dollar you spend at Ulta is worth one point, if not more — taking advantage of frequent point-based promotions will earn you as many as five points for every dollar spent on certain brands or product types. Points can be redeemed for dollars off future purchases at Ulta, so they’re practically as good as cash.
2. Read the ad
Ulta puts out an ad every week or two, much like grocery and drugstore chains issue weekly circulars. It’s always posted on Ulta’s website — click on “CURRENT AD” from the homepage or bookmark the ad’s dedicated webpage.
Ulta’s ad is generally lengthy and loaded with various types of deals. So always read it before you head to the store or Ulta.com.
3. Sign up for emails
If you want to know about Ulta’s latest promotions more often than weekly — or if you want them delivered right to your inbox so you don’t have to check the website — sign up for emails.
4. Bring manufacturer coupons
Yes, Ulta stores accept manufacturer’s coupons, according to the Frequently Asked Questions page.
Coupons.com is probably the biggest source of manufacturer coupons for brands sold at Ulta, all of which you’ll find in Coupons.com’s “Personal Care” category. For example, when this article was written, Coupons.com included coupons for:
- Carol’s Daughter
- L’Oreal Paris
- Vera Wang fragrance
It’s free to sign up for Coupons.com, and you can choose between printing coupons from its website or redeeming digital coupons via its mobile app.
For more options, check out “7 Free Sources of Manufacturer Coupons You Can Find Online.”
5. Use Ibotta
This free mobile app offers exclusive cash-back rebates — or as Ibotta puts it, “pays you cash for everyday purchases.” It’s available for both Android and Apple mobile devices.
While Ibotta is perhaps most commonly associated with rebates for purchases at grocery stores, it offers rebates for certain purchases at Ulta too. When this article was written, more than a dozen rebates — each worth $2 or $3 — were available for items sold at Ulta.
6. Pay with a discounted gift card
Discounted gift card marketplaces like Cardpool.com and Raise.com sell gift cards for less than their face value. For example, when this article was written, they were selling Ulta cards for as much as 9.5 percent off.
In the past, I’ve scored Ulta cards for as much as 17 percent off at Raise.com. Paying with a discounted gift card like that means you effectively save an extra 17 percent on everything you buy with the card.
To learn more about this serious savings tactic, check out “How Unwanted Gift Cards Saved Me $300 Last Year.”
7. Shop through a cash-back portal
If you shop at Ulta.com, go through a cash-back portal — a type of website that effectively pays you to shop. Examples of cash-back portals include:
When this article was written, these portals were offering 2 to 5 percent cash back on purchases from Ulta.com. And that’s in addition to any other savings you rack up.
To learn more about how cash-back portals work or how the different ones compare, check out “4 Websites That Pay You to Go Shopping.”
8. Know the return policy
Ulta is one of few retailers that allow you to return opened cosmetics. Its return policy states:
“If you’re not completely satisfied with a product for any reason, just return the product to us for a full refund.”
There are technical details to remember, such as a 60-day return window. But the ability to return opened products can be a real money-saver if, say, a moisturizer irritates your skin or a lipstick looks like a completely different color on your lips than it did in the package.
Also, Ulta allows you to return online purchases to a brick-and-mortar store, which spares you any return shipping costs. Just make sure to “bring your original email order confirmation, packing slip and all original packaging materials” to the store unless you used your Ultamate account to make the online purchase.
Lastly, if you got a free gift when you purchased an item you wish to return, don’t fret — you get to keep the freebie.
Do you have any Ulta savings secrets you would add to this list? Share them with us by commenting below or over on our Facebook page.
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