Illustration: ULTA Shipping

Ulta Shopping Hacks: The Ultimate Budget-Savvy Guide

Posted on |

Let’s face it, Ulta is a beauty lover’s paradise. The endless rows of eyeshadow palettes, the alluring fragrances, the promise of a brand-new skincare routine… it’s enough to make your heart (and wallet) flutter. But those little splurges can add up faster than you can say “add to cart.”

But fear not, fellow beauty aficionados! This isn’t your average guide to saving a few bucks. We’re diving deep into the tech-savvy strategies, insider secrets, and even a bit of “gift card arbitrage” to transform you into an Ulta shopping ninja. Get ready to unlock the full potential of your beauty budget without sacrificing a single ounce of fabulousness.

Illustration: Ulta Shopping
Illustration: Ulta Shopping

Ultamate Rewards: Your Secret Weapon to Savings Supremacy

Now, let’s talk about the real MVP of Ulta savings: the Ultamate Rewards program. If you’re not already a member, stop reading and sign up right now (seriously). This program is the golden ticket to unlocking a treasure trove of discounts, freebies, and exclusive perks.

Beyond the Basics: Maximizing Your Point Potential

Sure, you know the drill – you earn points for every dollar you spend, and those points can be redeemed for discounts on future purchases. But did you know that there are multiple ways to supercharge your points accumulation?

  • Welcome Bonus: New members often receive a welcome bonus, so don’t miss out on those extra points right from the start.
  • Bonus Point Events: Ulta frequently holds bonus point events where you can earn double or even triple points on your purchases. Keep an eye on their website and app for announcements.
  • Birthday Gift: Treat yourself to a free birthday gift (usually a deluxe sample or travel-sized product) during your birthday month.
  • Premium Status: If you’re a serious Ulta shopper, consider upgrading to Platinum or Diamond status for even more benefits, like accelerated point earning and exclusive gifts.
  • Hidden Perks: Unveiling the Less-Known Treasures

The Ultamate Rewards program has a few hidden gems that many shoppers overlook

  • Point Multiplier Days: Some days of the week (or even specific times of day) may offer bonus point multipliers. Check the Ulta app for details.
  • Category Bonuses: Occasionally, Ulta will offer bonus points on specific product categories, like skincare or haircare.
  • Early Access to Sales: Ultamate Rewards members often get early access to sales and special events, giving you a head start on snagging the best deals.

Case Study: The Power of Persistence

One of my tech-savvy friends (let’s call her Sarah) is a die-hard Ultamate Rewards member. She diligently tracks bonus point events, combines them with manufacturer coupons, and always shops during point multiplier days. The result? She’s amassed enough points for hundreds of dollars in free products!

The Bottom Line

The Ultamate Rewards program isn’t just a loyalty program; it’s a strategic advantage. By understanding its intricacies and taking advantage of its perks, you can unlock a whole new level of savings at Ulta.

Sales & Coupon Stacking: Mastering the Ulta Discount Tango

Illustration: Cosmetics purchased at ULTA
Illustration: Cosmetics purchased at ULTA

Now that you’re armed with your Ultamate Rewards knowledge, let’s turn our attention to another powerful tool in your beauty-budgeting arsenal: sales and coupons. Ulta is known for its generous discounts, but to truly maximize your savings, you need to understand the rhythm of their sales cycle and become a master of coupon stacking.

Timing is Key: Deciphering the Ulta Sales Calendar

Ulta has a fairly predictable sales pattern, with certain events and promotions recurring throughout the year. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • 21 Days of Beauty: This semi-annual event (usually in Spring and Fall) is a treasure trove of 50% off deals on popular brands and products.
  • Jumbo Love Liter Sale: This sale features massive discounts on jumbo-sized shampoos and conditioners.
  • Love Your Skin Event: During this event, you can score discounts on skincare products from various brands.
  • Holiday Sales: Ulta offers major discounts during Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the holiday season.

To stay ahead of the game, keep an eye on Ulta’s website and app for upcoming sales. You can also sign up for their email alerts to get notifications about special promotions.

Stacking Secrets: The Ultimate Discount Combo

Here’s where things get exciting: Ulta allows you to stack coupons, which means you can combine multiple discounts for even bigger savings. Here’s how it works:

  • Manufacturer Coupons: These coupons come directly from the brands and can be found in magazines, newspapers, or online.
  • Ulta Coupons: Ulta frequently sends out coupons to their email subscribers or through their app. You can also find Ulta coupons on coupon websites or in their weekly ad.
  • Ultamate Rewards Points: Don’t forget to redeem your Ultamate Rewards points for even more savings.

The key to successful coupon stacking is to carefully read the fine print on each coupon. Some coupons may have restrictions, such as being valid only on certain brands or products.

Insider Tip: Glitch Sales & Hidden Clearance

Occasionally, Ulta may accidentally publish a sale price that’s lower than intended. These “glitch” sales are rare, but they can offer incredible savings. Keep an eye on online deal forums and communities where savvy shoppers share these finds.

Additionally, some Ulta stores have hidden clearance sections where you can find deeply discounted products. These sections are usually located in the back of the store or in a less visible area. Don’t be afraid to ask a store associate if they have a hidden clearance section.

The Bottom Line

By understanding Ulta’s sales cycle, mastering coupon stacking, and staying alert for insider tips, you can significantly reduce your beauty spending. With a little planning and strategy, you can shop like a pro and build your dream beauty collection without breaking the bank.

Free Shipping Hacks & Loopholes: The Delivery Dance

Illustration: ULTA delivery vehicle
Illustration: ULTA delivery vehicle

We all know that feeling: you’ve carefully curated your Ulta cart, only to be slapped with a hefty shipping fee at checkout. Ouch! But fret not, fellow beauty bargain hunters, because there are ways to sidestep those fees and get your goodies delivered straight to your doorstep without emptying your wallet.

Beyond the Minimum: Creative Ways to Reach the Threshold

Ulta typically offers free shipping with a minimum purchase, but who says you have to spend that exact amount? Here are a few tricks to reach the threshold without overspending:

  • Split Your Orders: If you’re close to the free shipping minimum, consider splitting your order into two separate transactions. You might find that adding a small, inexpensive item to one of the orders pushes you over the threshold for both.
  • The Filler Item Gambit: Seek out low-cost items like travel-sized products, makeup sponges, or even single sheet masks to add to your cart and reach the minimum. You might discover a new favorite product in the process!
  • The Ultamate Rewards Hack: If you’re an Ultamate Rewards member (and you should be!), keep an eye out for special promotions that offer free shipping with a lower minimum purchase or no minimum at all.

Subscription Strategy: The Ultamate Rewards Credit Card Conundrum

The Ultamate Rewards credit card offers free shipping with no minimum purchase, but it comes with an annual fee. Is it worth it? The answer depends on how often you shop at Ulta. If you’re a frequent shopper, the card could pay for itself in shipping savings alone. However, if you only shop at Ulta occasionally, it might not be the best investment.

Before signing up for any credit card, carefully weigh the pros and cons and consider your spending habits.

Competitor Comparison: Is Ulta’s Free Shipping Game Strong?

Ulta’s free shipping policies are competitive with other beauty retailers like Sephora and Target. However, some retailers offer free shipping with no minimum purchase or have lower thresholds. It’s always wise to compare prices and shipping costs before making a purchase.

The Bottom Line

Free shipping is a beautiful thing, and with a little creativity and savvy shopping, you can enjoy its perks at Ulta. Remember, there’s no shame in splitting orders, adding filler items, or strategically using your Ultamate Rewards membership to avoid those pesky fees. Your wallet (and your doorstep) will thank you!

Pro Tip: If you’re not sure if a certain strategy will work, don’t hesitate to reach out to Ulta customer service. They’re usually happy to help you figure out the best way to get free shipping.

Gift Card Arbitrage & Resale Market: The Thrifty Trade-Off

Get ready to tap into your inner financial wizard with this next strategy: gift card arbitrage. While it might sound like a complex financial maneuver, it’s actually a simple and surprisingly effective way to save money at Ulta. It involves buying gift cards at a discount and using them to purchase your favorite beauty products at full price.

The Art of Arbitrage: Scoring Discounted Gift Cards

The key to successful gift card arbitrage is finding reputable sources that sell Ulta gift cards at a discount. Here are a few places to start your search:

  • Raise: This online marketplace allows you to buy and sell gift cards from various retailers, including Ulta.
  • CardCash: Similar to Raise, CardCash offers discounted gift cards from a wide range of brands.
  • Gift Card Granny: This website aggregates deals from various gift card marketplaces, making it easy to compare prices.
    When buying gift cards online, always prioritize reputable sellers with positive reviews. Avoid deals that seem too good to be true, as they might be scams.

Resale Savvy: Turning Unwanted Gift Cards into Cash

If you receive an Ulta gift card that you don’t want or need, don’t let it go to waste. You can sell it online for cash or exchange it for a gift card from another retailer. Raise and CardCash also offer options to sell or exchange unwanted gift cards.

Ethical Considerations: Responsible Arbitrage

While gift card arbitrage can be a great way to save money, it’s important to practice it responsibly. Avoid buying gift cards from shady sources, and always be transparent about where you got your gift cards when using them to make purchases.

Gift card arbitrage and resale can be a smart way to maximize your Ulta savings. By buying discounted gift cards and selling unwanted ones, you can essentially create your own “Ulta currency” and stretch your beauty budget further than ever before.

Pro Tip: Combine gift card arbitrage with other strategies like coupon stacking and the Ultamate Rewards program for the ultimate savings trifecta.

Illustration: Customer buys photos at Ulta
Illustration: Customer buys photos at Ulta


Congratulations! You’ve completed your training and are now officially an Ulta shopping ninja. Armed with your newfound knowledge of the Ultamate Rewards program, coupon stacking, free shipping hacks, gift card arbitrage, and savvy shopping strategies, you’re ready to conquer the beauty aisles with confidence and finesse.

Remember, the key to economical Ulta shopping is to be strategic, informed, and patient. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different strategies and find what works best for you. And most importantly, have fun! After all, shopping should be a joyful experience, not a stressful one.

Now go forth and shop like a pro! We’d love to hear about your Ulta adventures and money-saving triumphs. Share your tips, hauls, and experiences in the comments below. Happy shopping!


Is the Ultamate Rewards credit card truly worth it if I’m not a frequent shopper?

The card offers enticing perks like free shipping and bonus points, but the annual fee might outweigh the benefits for occasional shoppers. Analyze your spending habits to determine if the rewards justify the cost.

Can I use manufacturer coupons in conjunction with Ulta’s “Buy 2, Get 1 Free” deals?

While the answer can vary depending on the specific promotion, Ulta often allows stacking manufacturer coupons with their BOGO deals, leading to substantial savings. Always check the fine print of both offers to be sure.

How can I avoid impulse buys at Ulta when everything seems like a good deal?

Set a budget before stepping into the store (or browsing online) and make a list of the items you need. This helps you stay focused and resist those tempting “add to cart” moments.

Can I return used makeup to Ulta even if I don’t have the receipt?

Ulta’s generous return policy allows returns of gently used makeup within 60 days, even without a receipt. However, they may offer store credit instead of a full refund.

Does Ulta offer any discounts for students, teachers, or military personnel?

While Ulta doesn’t have a standing discount for these groups, they occasionally run promotions specifically for them. Keep an eye on their website and app for announcements.

Can I combine Ulta coupons with other discounts, like those offered through my credit card?

Yes, you can often stack Ulta coupons with other discounts, as long as the coupons themselves don’t have any restrictions. Always read the fine print on each offer to be sure.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *