After working at Ulta Beauty for two years, I have discovered many tricks for getting the best deal, so I thought I might as well share them! Remember that Ulta stores vary, along with the associates and managers, so this list comes from my specific location. Some of these tips you may already know, but hopefully you can use this to your advantage at least once.
The most obvious way to save money at Ulta is with the coupons. Pretty much everyone already knows about the VERY popular $3.50 coupon and the ever illusive 20% off coupon. However, these little guys have several layers. The $3.50 excludes ALL “prestige” items (i.e. Urban Decay, BareMinerals, Stila, fragrance, etc.), so we always recommend to wait, if possible, and use the 20% off entire purchase coupon for those items.
Now, speaking of the 20% off coupon, there are three different ones: one that comes in the newspaper/ad (same exclusions as the $3.50), a mailed postcard that works on anything except
fragrance, and another postcard that works on absolutely everything
. I recommend to read the itty-bitty fine print before going to the store so you are sure which coupon you have, to avoid surprises.
Ulta will also do bounce back coupons that print at the register after a purchase, usually $5 off $15 that is good for one week. These coupons have the same exclusions as the $3.50 coupon, but in the past customers have been able to use both the $5 and $3.5o off of the same transaction when they qualify. I’m not 100% if it still works, but just be very friendly to your cashier and ask if they will try! But if you’re being friendly, and this trick doesn’t work, usually cashiers will divide your transaction up so that you can still use all your coupons and save more $$. This can be done with multiple $3.50 off too.
YES, THE $3.50 CAN BE USED MORE THAN ONCE (it’s the only one that can).
Also, keep your eyes peeled for vendor coupons, because Ulta will combine these with other coupons when applicable (all company coupon policies are still followed here).
2. Gift with Purchase:
GWPs are extremely common in the Ulta marketing world. They’re those
little deluxe size samples that come when you spend $X in X brand. My advice on this is to NOT go spend $40 on something that you weren’t going to buy anyways just for the GWP. I did that once before working at Ulta because I didn’t know that the gift was a sample; it’s honestly not worth it. Now, I will say that brands like Benefit, Laura Geller, BareMinerals, the prestige skincare brands, and fragrance usually have the better free gifts. I also want to mention to always check the ad and see if your purchase qualifies for a GWP, because usually the cashier will forget. They have to deal with many things going on at once and multiple free gifts, so just mention it.
3. Special Sales:
The best sale of the year is what we call “The Liter Sale” where most major pro haircare brands have liter sized shampoo/conditioner marked way down. Another great event that Ulta does is the “21 Days of Beauty” where each day, one item is on sale for that day only and usually 98% of the products are prestige. Both of these happen only twice a year, usually spring and fall.
At my store, we do inventory usually 3-5 times a year and afterwards there is always an abundance of clearance items. I would suggest asking your store about if they are doing inventory soon and then hitting it up after. Coupons usually can work for these items too, which is more savings.
Companies, especially professional haircare brands, tend to repackage their products a lot. When this happens, the old packaging will be clearanced out to make way for the new design. It’s literally the same products, so be on the look out for these because you can get some great deals.
6. Leaving the Store:
Sometimes a particular location won’t be able to sell enough of a brand, so they mark it down to make room for a new company’s product. Our store did this with Cargo Cosmetics, Napoleon Perdis, POP!, and a few others last year. They were 75% off at our store and full price online.
7. Rewards Cards:
Get a rewards card.
Seriously. It’s basically like EBates where you get cash back for buying things you’d buy anyways. Then you also get birthday gifts and special offers through emails. I strongly advise to save your points at least to 1,000 ($50 off) before using them and to only use them in increments of 1,000 at a time, for the best value. To help bump up your points, make big purchases during times of bonus points (birthday months or activated through emails).
8. BE NICE TO THE EMPLOYEES:
Guys, honestly, we would give out GWPs from previous ads to customers who were nice and sometimes extra coupons that we had at the register. Become friends with your Ulta employees and see the benefits.
Anything I forgot? Sorry, I know it’s a long one! I’d love to hear if you guys have any other tips!