Tips for Getting the Best Deal When Shopping Beauty.com or Drugstore.com
How do you get the best deal at Beauty.com and Drugstore.com? Deal stacking at Beauty.com is less complicated, but it is possible at Drugstore.com with a little effort. I’ve never seen a guide for getting the best deal for either retailer (even though one may exist). Putting everything I can think of in one place to make deal shopping a little easier seemed like a great idea, because the site is not the easiest to navigate and does not make deal searching easy. A lot of deals are link activated, and the links are temperamental. Dealing with these temperamental links is challenging, but there are ways around it. There are always new things to learn, so I will edit this any time I discover something new. Details scare some people. If you’re scared of detail, click that little X and back out now. Do not say I did not warn you!
The most important tip is to create an account. Beauty.com and Drugstore.com actually send subscribers a lot of unique offers through email links that they do not give affiliates. As a customer and an affiliate, I see unique offers from both. My private account gets way more offers though. These are generally the smaller GWP offers that range from a gift with a $10 purchase to a gift with a $35 purchase. These are usually general GWP offers, but they include specific brand purchases at times. Most brand specific gift with purchase offers are on the site and load automatically as you qualify. Those offers get linked to my private email address, so I do not share them publicly. If you sign up for an account, you will get most offers. There are occasional offers that are account specific, so they will not work if a friend who received the offer tries to share the link with you. Larger offers usually come on private and affiliate accounts, but there are some larger offers that are affiliate exclusive or affiliates get longer shopping deadlines. It is a good idea to look at affiliate sites for offers when you do not have an email offer you like.
Most deals are link activated and not code activated. If there is no code to enter, the offer is almost always obtained through a link. Once you click on the link, the offer will load into your cart. You will not see the freebie or discount amount until you add a qualifying purchase though. This means if you want a deal you received in your email that your Pay-to-Shop Affiliates are not advertising, you have to click on the email. Clicking on the affiliate link last could remove the email offer. It does not always remove it, so it is always worth trying. You can always click on the offer from your email again if the Pay-to-Shop program overwrites the offer. Affiliates get paid based on the last click, so your Pay To Shop program will not get paid when your email was the last click. If they do not get paid, they usually will not pay you (some grant courtesy payments but they lose money doing that).
Clicking on a new link will overwrite the previous link in most cases. There are times when the system has trouble activating the new link. You will get a pop up message stating you already have an offer in your cart, and this one cannot be combined. To remove the old offer, clear your browser history and/or cookies. Customer service can try to clear the offer, and they will offer to place the order over the phone with your desired deal if they cannot clear it. If the link is an affiliate link through your Pay-to-Shop program, you will lose your cash back by placing a phone order. Thus, placing the order over the phone is the last resort if you really want the promotion. At times, the system will fault and load two link offers. This is very rare, because a new link should always overwrite the previous one. On even more rare occasions, it may let you check out with more than one link offer. At checkout, the system will usually remove one though. Make sure it is not removing the one you prefer.
Beauty.com and Drugstore.com share a cart. A simple click of the mouse allows you to switch between the tabs at the top to move back and forth. There is a $35 shipping minimum, which can come all from one site or some from both. Items on the drugstore side are a lot cheaper, so it is nice to add a cheap drugstore item to go over the shipping minimum when purchasing something less than $35 on the prestige side. Link offers and promo codes will only ever apply to one side or the other, which is the only potential side of cart sharing. If you want to place an order from both sides and have enough to get over the shipping minimum with each, separate the orders to take advantage of offers on both. When you’re only buying a cheap item from the drugstore side that may or may not have a corresponding offer, it is usually okay to add it.
The best part of shopping Beauty.com and Drugstore.com is the 5% cash back they give on every purchase. At the beginning of a new quarter they reward a credit for 5% back on purchases you made in the previous quarter. This credit is only good for the first month of the following quarter. A 5% credit for purchases I made in the second quarter (04/01/16-06/30/16) became available on 07/01/16 and is valid through 07/31/16. This repeats every quarter. My only issue with this rewards program is the very limited shopping window. I wish I could spend my reward money over a period longer than a month, but I usually take what I can get. There was only one time I did not redeem my cash back, so this program is good at getting return orders. If I redeem my cash back every quarter, I earn new cash back on the money I spend when I redeem. Thus, the cycle never ends. By skipping it once, I was able to take a decent shopping break.
I used the $1.24 credit from my April order for an order on 07/22/16. That April order is an important reminder that your credit counts toward your shipping minimum. Even though my April order was all from Beauty.com, I was able to use the credit for Drugstore.com. The credit does not care which store you earned it from or which store you redeem it on. They really are two stores in one. Since I only bought a Philips Sonicare For Kids Toothbrush and some brush heads for ages 4-6 for my younger son, I will not share this order anywhere else. It is easier that they can just keep their own brush heads attached to the base. They are not easy for kids to switch around, but my husband and I share a base with our own brush heads. I realize not sharing all of my orders probably make people wonder where my credit is coming from.
I actually wanted to use the Sonicare order to go over a Drugstore.com deal stacking offer, but I forgot to take a screenshot while the promotion was still going on. Instead, I am showing something I did not purchase to get the point across. Drugstore.com loads coupons into each product link that qualifies. This is automatic electronic coupon clipping. You have to actually click the offer to activate it though. When pulling up a product from this site, get in the habit of looking for offers between “our price” and the “add to bag” link. That blue check mark you see on the screen means I activated the offer. There are so many available in the Sales & Coupons section that your product could have an offer you’re not even aware of. Thoroughly checking that section is a lot of work, so it is easier to look at the link on any offer you pull up. Both the toothbrush and the toothbrush heads had an offer to remove $5 from the price, which is why you’ll see they are $5 more now (if you checked their links).
By showing something I did not purchase, I can actually show another lovely aspect of Drugstore.com. It has a gift with purchase offer that does not need a link or promotion code. If you qualify for these brand specific offers, they will automatically load. I did not load the free offer above, and I like that it has a higher value than the amount I would pay after coupon for the item I selected. These offers will combine with any link offer you’ve clicked through on, so some serious deal stacking can take place.
The large gift with purchase bags are what addicted me to shopping with Beauty.com in the first place. This sample filled Ulla Johnson Aurora Bag is available with a $100 purchase through 08/31/16. If you spend exactly $100, you will also get $5 in cash back the first month of the following quarter, which is already somewhat impressive stacking. It is possible to combine this with any offer available in the gift with purchase section. All brand specific offers in this section load automatically.
Drugstore.com gets frequent large gift with purchase offers of its own. I’ve written about the 15 piece one I received sponsored by StriVectin and 29 piece one I received sponsored by Rimmel. Both had $75 buy-ins, which is not bag when purchasing body creams. More offers like these will continue to pop up, so I need to offer an important reminder. Many Drugstore.com products have higher prices than similar items at other retailers, like Target or Walmart. Those stores do not offer cash back or monster gift with purchase offers, so the overall deal is usually better at Drugstore.com when you stack. The deal gets even better when you purchase these items on sale. You can actually pay less at Drugstore.com when discounts are running that Target and Walmart do not offer while still getting the cash back and combining the deal to include gifts with purchase.
Prestige items at Beauty.com are actually priced competitively. That makes discounts and offers there even more special. If you go too long without shopping, you will usually get an offer for 25% off to come back and shop. This offer does not have very many exclusions. It works on many prestige brands, so this is one of the best discounts available with any retailer on certain brands. There is also a Friends and Family sale for 20% off almost everything in May and November. Affiliates get this offer and tend to get a longer deadline than private accounts. Unless your items could run out of stock (happens with super popular items like the NARS Audacious lipsticks), check the expiration date on an affiliate site to see if you have extra time to shop the sale.
Banner offers or pop-up offers will combine with any link offer. They are offers for a gift with purchase that usually pop up after you’ve scrolled the site for a while. Clicking on a banner offer does not overwrite the link you got there on, because you’re already there as you click it. These are exclusive to Beauty.com. It is certainly possible they occur on Drugstore.com, but I’ve never seen any there. I have not noticed any in 2016, but they were really common in 2015. The Origins banner offer I received in this order is one I am using and loving now. While it is possible, Beauty.com eliminated these offers in 2016, it is equally possible I just have not received any yet this year. Do not delay a great link offer hoping to elicit a banner offer that may never come, but grab one that comes even if it is not one you’re interested in. You can always gift it to someone else, and there is no risk since you still get the offer that pushed you into the order.
Promotion codes from Beauty.com and Drugstore.com are rare, but they will combine with select link offers should you have one. You cannot combine two discounts, but there are times when you can combine a promo code for a discount and a link for a gift with purchase or vice versa. Play around with your cart to see which offers allow combinations and which do not. The only promo code I am aware of is BEAUTY15, which offers $15 off a $75 Beauty.com purchase. This code rarely combines with the large GWP, and I already checked the current bag. It does not work. That code is valid through 08/27/16, but it does recycle if you read this article after that and want to try it. If any other promo code pops up, I will update the Beauty.com or Drugstore.com page the offer corresponds to.
A lot of orders come with coupons for $10 off a $45 Beauty.com purchase. These are unique promo codes that can only be used once, will expire on the date listed, and generally cannot combine with a link offer. Some people have gotten lucky, so it is worth checking. Adding a promo code will not overwrite your link, but you may get a pop-up message that it cannot be combined with the items in your cart. This coupon does not work toward Drugstore.com products.
If you purchase one item from the Beauty.com side, you also get to select three beauty samples. There were times when I added a Beauty.com item to a Drugstore.com order when I wanted the samples. Unlike other retailers, I’ve never received a sample substitution, so there is a really good chance you will get the sample you ordered. I have received a couple of orders that forgot the samples completely though! Samples on the Beauty.com side last a long time and rarely fluctuate. There is a really good chance you can get the sample you want months down the road on another order, so you do not need to add a Beauty.com to get a sample (unless it helps you get over the shipping minimum). That Ouidad Moisture Lock Leave-In Conditioner has been there for at least a year, so I think it may last a while longer.
The clearance section at Beauty.com has some awesome items (at times). It is also a great place to look if you’re looking to over the shipping minimum or want to add something cheap to your Drugstore.com order to get some Beauty.com samples or even qualify for one of the lower gifts with purchase, like the ones that start with a $10 Beauty.com purchase. Sometimes they actively promote the clearance section and include banners to access it. When they are not promoting it, finding the link on the site is very difficult. There is no regular section of the site with an actual link into. To access this link at any time, you can bookmark it, like I do, or you can Google Beauty.com clearance. It is always the second entry. Coming in from Google could overwrite the offer link you arrived there on, so double-check it and add it back on if it goes away by clicking through the original link again. Drugstore.com has a clearance section of its own. I’ve never had any trouble finding it on the site, because there is always a banner to it from the Sales & Coupons link.
If you made it down here, you are probably ready to maximize your deal. Here’s your last reminder to redeem any rewards dollars you earned for shopping Beauty.com or Drugstore.com from 04/01/16 through 06/30/16. Remember to use them before 07/31/16 when they expire. Right now, the incredible gift above with a $100 purchase is still available. Do not forget to add any pop-up banner offers that could be available when you get to the site. See all articles on Beauty.com,Drugstore.com, and Getting The Best Deal. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.
The day after I published this, I read that Walgreen’s is closing both sites 09/30/16 and cash back is only available on purchases through 08/13/16. Guess I should have taken the time to write this article a little sooner, so it could have been useful for longer. Hopefully, Walgreens will incorporate some of the great deals from this site, including the massive gift with purchase offers and cash back, into its own site, but this closure is still recent news. It will take time to see how things will wind down and how Walgreens will handle selling everything on its own site. Walgreens does not sell a lot of prestige items, so I really wonder how it will deal with Beauty.com items once the site is closed. That is the only place I buy my By Terry Baume de Rose. I may need to find a new retailer.