If you have to buy it, get the best deal!
Prior to 07/11/16, one of the easiest ways to get the best deal at Birchbox was to subscribe. With the elimination of monthly review points and discount codes on your box anniversary, subscribing is no longer necessary to get the best deal. Because subscribing is unnecessary, I will not go over the remaining benefits of subscribing. Those who want to see those benefits can read them in any of my recent subscription box reviews. I get the same offers on my two inactive accounts that I get on my active one. Granted, all of my accounts are in ACES status, which offers occasional special deals. Hitting 500 points a year without getting a minimum of 600 (50*12) from reviews will be a lot harder, so the number of ACES is likely to seriously dip next year and dip even more in 2018. If I think of anything else, I will edit this.
The most important tip is subscribe to emails. Many ex-subscribers drop emails after canceling their subscriptions. If you never plan to shop the Birchbox store, un-subscribing is fine. Birchbox still puts together excellent discovery sets and limited edition boxes, so I will never rule out shopping Birchbox. I’m still subscribed to the box, even though I am unhappy with the negative changes to the program. If I ever un-subscribe to the box, I will remain subscribed to emails. A good deal or set can always lure me back in for some shopping. That is why I still receive emails from all three of my Birchbox accounts. Having more than one account means I get a lot of duplicate emails, but there are rare times when I receive offers on one account that I did not receive on another. All email subscribers receive a birthday discount code. It is usually for $10 off a $50 purchase.
ACES get the best deals, because they get all the regular offers and special ACES only offers. To qualify for ACES status, you must earn 500 points in a calendar year. All points other than “I’m sorry” points awarded by customer service go toward ACES status. There are a few ways to get points. Spending $1 in the store awards 1 point. That means, you could spend $500 a year to maintain ACES status. For a retailer with dwindling rewards, that is a little steep. Shopping with a promo code that awards bonus points can help you spend a little less. Offers for 35, 50, 75, or even 100 bonus points do pop up. The problem is every promo code can only be used once during the lifetime of the account and Birchbox seems to recycle the same code instead of releasing a new one every time there is a bonus point offer.
While we’re discussing where points come from, there are technically three places were subscribers can get points. I am not going over this as a benefit of subscribing but merely mentioning it to show all possibilities on how to receive points. Purchasing an annual subscription awards 110 points for the $110, but monthly subscriptions do not award 10 points for the $10 spent. That also locks you into a one-year subscription, so it is only worth the 110 points if you’re ready to commit to a year and can afford the up front cost. Birchbox mentions gift subscriptions as a way to get points, but this is not a subscriber benefit. Anyone can send a gift subscription, whether subscribed or not. This gift subscription is a purchase like any other purchase in the shop. Referring a friend to subscribe will also award 50 points, but you need an active subscription to refer a friend. The last way is to review 5 products for 50 points, but this only works once per account. Once you’ve reviewed 5, you’re done getting review points forever.
Now that we’ve covered every possible way of receiving points, let’s go over ACES benefits. Once a customer enters ACES status, s/he remains an ACE through that year and the following year. That means if you qualify for ACES in September of 2016, you will stay in ACES status through December of 2017. Anyone who reviewed his/her July 2016 box before the 11th could have received a minimum of 400 review points in 2016. I say a minimum, because the lucky members who received boxes with 6-7 items throughout the year could have receive more. Those who reviewed their July box after 07/11/16 could still earn a minimum of 350 points. This means many subscribers were less than 100-150 points away from re-qualifying for ACES based on reviews alone. If they made a couple of purchases along the way (like I did), they qualified for ACES through 2017. Without a purchase, many will see their ACES status drop at the end of this year.
To qualify through 2018 in 2017 will be a lot harder, because review points will be non-existent on my account. Those who have not reviewed 5 items since 07/11/16 will only be eligible to receive 50 review points. It is just not enough without major purchases or subscription referrals. Unless Birchbox redefines how ACES qualify or gets competitive with deals offered elsewhere, there will be less ACES in 2018.
Those who reach ACES status get: free shipping on any purchase, free 2-day shipping with a $100 purchase, faster responses to emails sent to customer service, a $15 shopping credit on their one-year ACES anniversary (for any of the roughly 50 items in the ACES only category), bonus offers and discounts throughout the year, advanced access to certain specials, a chance to select a sample a day earlier than others (subscribers only), and more. I’ve taken advantage of all these perks, so I think this program is rewarding. My favorite discount is when ACES get to select items at 30% to 40% off (items in the ACES category) a few times a year. There was a recent offer where ACES got 30% off limited edition boxes. That started on 09/01/16, which was a day after I ordered my last limited edition box. On Customer Appreciation Day, ACES got 20% off discovery sets.
Those who have not reached ACES status are not completely left out. Everyone gets 30% off items in the Birchbox Beauty Deals section. Birchbox offers free shipping with a $50 purchase, but any items sampled that month ship free. This free shipping on any product sampled by the subscribing community applies to everyone, not just subscribers. There is always a note under the product that says “ships free.” Popular Birchbox items and Birchbox exclusive items tend to get sampled month after month by different subscribers, so beloved items ship free a lot. Anyone can select a mystery sample pack with a $35 purchase. It adds to the cart separately, so it combines with any promotion code. As I mentioned above, promo codes only work once per account. If Birchbox releases a “new code” that does not work on your account, it is likely a recycled code that you’ve used in the past. I keep a listing of all recycled codes, so I am ready if Birchbox ever re-activates these. When there are no discount codes available (and sadly there are times when this is the case starting in 2016), there are always promo codes for free products available.
The limited edition boxes and discovery sets I’ve mentioned a couple of times are always worth a look. These sets always have a value that is higher than the cost. If items you’d purchase anyway are more valuable than the cost of the set, these kits become incredible deals. When a new box releases, I try to see what items I want and what items I’d gift. Occasionally, I come across a box where I want all or most of the items. Those are the ones I have a hard time passing on and the ones I get the most personal value from.
Discount codes and bonus point promotions are more likely to get released in the second half of the month. If you want something from the shop and have no fear it will sell out, check the Bonus Offers. When no offers that interest you are available and you have no fear of your item selling out, wait until the second half of the month to make your purchase. It is possible the offer will be a recycled code you’ve already used or no offer will come at all, so I do not suggesting waiting too long if you really need the item.
There are certain times in the year where you can always expect deals or promotions. Annual subscriptions get discounted at least 2-3 times a year. The usual discount is 20% off, and the final chance to purchase a discounted annual subscription comes shortly before Christmas. Black Friday has big discounts and steals for everyone. ACES get even better offers and/or higher discount codes. Customer Appreciation Day, which takes place in mid September, always has deals. The actual deals vary from year to year, but I wrote about the 2016 offers. While other deals and promotions are not as steady or regular, they are available. I will always post ones I am aware of, but you should receive most of the offers I know about if you stay subscribed to emails.
If you have any rewards points, make sure you redeem them within 6 months of earning them. They expire in 6 months. Each point equals $0.10 to spend in the shop. For those who earned them the hard way (by making purchases), that is actually a 10% return on your investment. Most rewards programs are nowhere near that high (Ulta is an exception if you play your cards right), so you can actually make out like a bandit if you get a great deal on the original order and use points on subsequent orders. Knowing you’ll get 10% back only sweetens the deal, as long as you actually redeem the points. Counting rewards points as you earn and redeem does not work, because you can only benefit from them once. Considering them is a different story though. If I am getting the same deal for a product at two places, I am ordering from the place with the superior rewards, because I know I can redeem those rewards later.
If you want to subscribe, remember to look at start-up offers and all available offers. Although I see benefit in subscribing, I need to repeat that subscribing does not increase your chance of getting a good deal (other than a couple of minor exceptions listed above). When you’re ready to spend your rewards points, remember to add your free two piece sample pack when spending $35 from the Bonus Shop. See other Birchbox articles and subscription reviews. Read all articles in the Getting the Best Deal Series. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.
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