If you have to buy it, get the best deal!
With UltaMate Rewards, Ulta Beauty already has the most rewarding loyalty program in the beauty community, but learning more about how to earn and redeem points can take your savings to the next level. By only spending points when they are worth the most and stacking as many bonus points and multipliers as possible, your return on investment could easily multiply from what you’ve received in the past. The most important step to maximizing your savings potential and making the most out of the program is to learn when to redeem. Once you’ve done that, learning how to maximize earnings will get you to redemption faster.
I have one timeline where I list all major: deals, coupons, GWP, Sales, promotions, and Events. Those who want to see an overall idea of what to expect this year should stop by. See where you can maximize earnings and redemption by combining both with other events on the calendar. You can also visit my Ulta retailer page to see active and upcoming offers of all types.
Point redemption gets calculated after coupons get applied and before the payment (if a payment is due after subtracting both). This means you will not pay tax on any coupons or points you redeem. Paying with points will not affect the free shipping minimum. If your free shipping minimum is $50 and you pay that or more in points, you will not incur a shipping charge. Many retailers require actual money spent to exceed the free shipping minimum, but as you will see by the time you get to the bottom of this article, Ulta’s program is superior to the others.
Point Values get assigned as you redeem them, not as you earn them. You can only redeem in the increments listed below.
It is important to note that regular UltaMate member points expire. Your points will expire quarterly after a year has passed. If you earn points in the 4th quarter of 2018, they will expire when the first quarter of 2020 starts. That means points earned on October 1st have 1.25 years to get redeemed, while points earned on the 31st of December only have one year to get redeemed. Always keep an eye on your points. While you want to maximize value, you want to make sure you do not sit on them too long.
It is improbable for a regular member to reach 2000 points (before they expire) without reaching Platinum status. I had never seen a multiplier greater than 5x for a regular member until the 11/20/18 Member Appreciation Offer. With stacking (scroll down for details on this), only purchasing during a 5x points offer, or occasional offers like that, a regular member could hit 2000 points. Unless you are one of those regular members who only shops when the best multipliers are available, you will almost always redeem under 2000 points. Just redeem for the maximum value you can before they expire.
You can redeem UltaMate Rewards points for most products and services. Gift cards cannot be purchased with points though.
Platinum and Diamond member points never expire, so there is almost never a reason to redeem under maximum value. Looking at the point redemption chart and assuming the member has no bonus offers:
Although those rates of return seem decent, it only gets better as you redeem more points. As I mention above, point values get assigned as you redeem them, not as you earn them. In the chart above, it shows you get $125 for 2000 points.
If you have over 2000 points and your subtotal is $142.50, cash in 2000 points and pay the $17.50 difference.
The important takeaway is only redeem points in increments of 2000 for maximum value.
To show the difference saving points makes, I’ve calculated the rates of return the member would get for saving. This chart only applies to value without multipliers. Most people earn at least some of their points from multipliers. In general, your value is greater than the values listed below. When you earned points with multipliers, using the Platinum and Diamond charts will make your deal look better than it really is, so you need to run the math by hand.
100 points for $3 off -3%
250 points for $8 off -3.2%
500 points for $17.50 off -3.5%
750 points for $30 off -4%
1000 points for $50 off -5%
2000 points for $125 off -6.25%
100 points for $3 off -3.75% (takes $80 to earn 100 points)
250 points for $8 off -4% (takes $200 to earn 250 points)
500 points for $17.50 -4.375% (takes $400 to earn 500 points)
750 points for $30 off -5% (takes $600 to earn 750 points)
1000 points for $50 off -6.25% (takes $800 to earn 1000 points)
2000 points for $125 off -7.8125% (takes $1600 to earn 2000 points)
100 points for $3 off -4.5% (takes $66.67 to earn 100 points)
250 points for $8 off -4.8% (takes $166.67 to earn 250 points)
500 points for $17.50 off -5.25% (takes $333.33 to earn 500 points)
750 points for $30 off -6% (takes $500 to earn 750 points)
1000 points for $50 off -7.5% (takes $666.67 to earn 1000 points)
2000 points for $125 off -9.375% (takes $1333.33 to earn 2000 points)
If you had a multiplier, it would increase the reward percentage on every redemption. This means if you earned all of your points on a 5x multiplier, you would multiply the percentage in the UltaMate category by 5 (1×5) to see overall redemption value.
It gets trickier to find out the exact percentage in the other categories, because the bonus (0.25x for Platinum and 0.5x for Diamond never multiplies). With a 5x multiplier:
If you use the Platinum chart above (which is the rooted around the base point of 1.25), you are calculating that 0.25x bonus on points 5x even though you only got it on the first point. It would make it look like you got 39.0625% back with a 5x multiplier, but your real return is 32.8%.
To redeem points in person, just ask the person checking you out to cash them in. Online, point redemption is right under the Apply Gift Card section of the payment screen. It is the tab that says Redeem UltaMate Rewards Points. This tab will let you select the amount of points you want to redeem up to the value of the item.
You cannot exceed the value of the item, even if you have the points available. There are no point redemptions that let you perfectly redeem $13 (the amount in my cart above). For $12, you could redeem 100 points 4 times, 400 points. This is because 500 points would be a $17.50 redemption where 400 points lets you redeem $12. If you wanted to redeem 250 points for $8, and 100 points twice for $6, it would take you to $14. That is why you do not see an option for redeem 450 points. Going over the $13 in your cart is not possible. There are times where you can redeem at a perfect amount. If you had $11 in your cart, you could redeem 350 points to get your purchase for free. Points get deducted before sales tax applies so you would not even pay sales tax.
If you redeem points on an order with multipliers, read all the way to the bottom of the article. Since this topic applies to earning and redeeming, I am only listing it once under earning.
I was able to cash in $125 worth of points 3 times last year for a total savings of $375. According to the chart, I only earned 5701, so 299 of the points I cashed in carried over from the previous year. Thanks to a large New Year’s Day purchase, I already have my next $125 bonus waiting for me and amazing deals I want from The Love Your Skin Event, which I go over in the attached article. Most years, I redeem $250 in points, but I spent a little more than usual in 2017.
Gift cards are considered the same as a cash or credit card transaction, so you will receive the same amount of points when redeeming a gift card as you would with any other almost any other method of payment, including PayPal. Paying with points is the exception, which I go in-depth with below.
Points get calculated based on your subtotal. Nothing gets awarded for shipping or sales tax. Prior to 2018, you only earned points on actual money spent. Now, you only earn base points for actual money spent, but bonus points are earned based on the sales price minus any coupons redeemed (with one exception, which I go over below).
In this 11/10/17 example, you see that after a 2000 point redemption and a $10 coupon (an old referral coupon; sadly referrals no longer exist in 2018), I spent $15.68. My base points were properly calculated at 19, because Ulta rounds the ($15.68 x 1.25) 19.6 down. Ulta divided the $15.68 I spent among all the items based on sales price. Once it figured how much I actually spent on bonus eligible products, it awarded 31 points.
I expected the same result on my 01/21/18 order, but to my surprise, I see the rewards program actually improved. The base points are still calculated as they’ve always been. After a 2000 point redemption and a $10 birthday coupon, my total was $8.44. My base points were properly calculated at 10, because Ulta rounds the ($8.44 x 1.25) 10.55 down. Instead of applying bonus points for the 5x point multiplier I had on Patchology to the amount of the $8.44 Ulta attributed to the Patchology item, it applied them based on the sales price minus the coupon. That meant I got credit for the $14 sales price minus $0.94 of the $10 coupon. A 5x points offer for a Platinum member is always a 1.25x base and a 4x bonus. Even though most of that $13.06 balance got covered with points, I got all the bonus points ($13.06 x 4) 52.24. Ulta rounds that down to 52.
The exception to this is site wide multipliers. You will not get bonus points when redeeming points on site wide multipliers. Birthday and anniversary multipliers are good for anything on the site but are not considered site wide (because only select customers have birthdays or anniversaries each month making it a special offer for your account), so you would get bonus points for those multipliers. If you get an offer that says 200 bonus points with a $50 purchase, it does not matter how you paid that $50, you will get the bonus points on that as well. Those are targeted offers that not every account receives. Site wide offers are offers that pop up and say 2x, 3x, 4x, or 5x points on anything. Whether you get the notification or not, these offers are typically available for everyone within a reward level. This is not really a loss, because we never got any bonus points when redeeming points (unless the amount of points redeemed was less than the subtotal) before. If the program ever weakens (not that it has at all), my guess is it would be to once again remove getting bonus points when redeeming points.
Ulta has a lot of point multipliers and a couple of bonus point opportunities. All bonus points and point multipliers require activation before the purchase. These offers get emailed throughout the year, but it is a good idea to check the My Rewards section of your online account before shopping to make sure yours is active. Check my Ulta Page for a complete listing of all promotions. Point promotions get discussed in more detail in their linked articles. Members get 2x points during their birth month, 5x points for one week during their UltaMate account anniversary month, multipliers from 2x, 3x, 4x, or 5x for all purchases based on member level, targeted offers for specific brands, products or services, and bonus point offers, which usually includes a set amount of points for a specific dollar amount spent. Platinum and Diamond members will also get 10x points offers every August and received smaller 10x points events in November 2017 and March 2018 that may or may not repeat.
Bonus point offers are straightforward. There are no base points baked into bonus points, so you just add the bonus points to whatever else you earn for the purchase. If Ulta offers 350 points with an $80 purchase (my latest offer), you get 350 points when you spend $80, plus your base points (1x for every dollar spent), plus your level bonus (0.25x Platinum or 0.5x Diamond), plus any other multipliers you have (after deducting 1x per offer to remove the duplicate base). These offers are typically only available in January, July, and October for select members. While member offers will vary, everyone will get the bonus promised on top of regular points or multipliers as long as they spend the minimum for the bonus.
During a 10x points event, a Platinum member with no other multiplier could earn 2000 points with a $195.12 purchase. If the Platinum member cashed in 2000 points at once for $125, that is a 64% return on investment. In the same event, a Diamond member with no other multiplier could spend $190.48 for 2000 points. That would be a 65.62% return on investment if cashed in at 2000 points. Earning and redeeming at the right time makes this program unbelievably rewarding. It is still very rewarding for those who earn most of their points the hard way (no multipliers, because sometimes we need things when there are no offers) or those who are unable to save to 2000.
With all of those earning opportunities, there are times when multipliers overlap. It is actually possible to have up to four overlapping multipliers at a time, and they do combine. There are two important rules to remember when combining multipliers. The first applies to all accounts, and the second only applies to Platinum and Diamond accounts. Base points never multiply. A base point gets built into every offer so you must subtract one point from each subsequent offer to remove the duplicate base. Platinum members get a 0.25x point bonus and Diamond members get a 0.5x bonus for every dollar spent. This bonus does not multiply either, which is the second thing to remember. As long as you keep these rules in mind, you can calculate any bonus you have coming. Ulta always rounds down anything to the right of the decimal, even if it is 0.9%.
It is important to know how points will multiply, because you want to make sure you are getting all the points you deserve. While Ulta rarely messes up the multipliers, it does happen. This happened to me most recently last month. There was a 5x points on all eyeshadow palettes. When I clicked into the palettes from the link in the email, the Too Faced Chocolate Gold palette appeared. I ordered it, but I only received my standard 1.25x Platinum points on the $49 palette. That meant I got shorted 196 points, which was $49×4 I had not yet received. After a quick call to Ulta, I was manually given my 196 missing points.
Unlike Sephora where points get awarded when they’re earned, it takes a little longer with Ulta. Those shopping in store should see their points within a few hours. Online shoppers will not see their points until hours after the order ships. This means it can take days for your points to get awarded.
Now, let’s get into an example to make sure everyone knows how to run the math. Suzy was born in January. She is a Platinum member, who had an offer for 5x points on Urban Decay and a general 3x points on all purchases for her January 1st order.
Suzy gets 1.25x points for every dollar spent, because she is a Platinum member. (this is the base point plus 0.25 Platinum bonus)
Suzy gets 1x point for every dollar spent, because it is her birth month (2x-1 to remove the duplicate base)
Suzy gets 4x points for every dollar spent on Urban Decay (5x-1 to remove the duplicate base)
Suzy gets 2x points for every dollar spent, because of her limited time Platinum offer (3x-1 to remove the duplicate base).
Suzy has a $100 purchase, of which $50 is from Urban Decay.
She will get:
$50 x (1.25+1+4+2) or 412.5 points on the Urban Decay and
$50 x (1.25+1+2) or 212.5 points on everything else.
This is a total of 624 points, because Ulta will remove the extra 0.5 on each subset.
In the scenario below someone has $140 in charges, with a $10 coupon, and a $125 point redemption. What happens if that customer had a multiplier? Let’s say she was a Platinum member. To keep it simple, she has one 5x point multiplier on Lancome. Of her $140 in charges, $70 is Lancome and $70 comes from other brands.
She will get:
$5, base points on the actual amount paid, x (1.25x) or 6.25
$65, the amount of her Lancome bonus minus the portion of the $10 coupon attributed to Lancome, x (4x) or 260
This is a total of 266 points, because Ulta will round it down. She will see her point statement as -1734, which is the total she redeemed (2000) and the total she received (266) added together.
What are your thoughts on earning and redeeming points? Let me know below. Targeted Offers are exclusive to UltaMate Rewards Members, so I do recommend joining. Whenever there is an exclusive or unique Ulta Beauty offer, I will note that above. An advanced breakdown on Earning and Redeeming Points can help you maximize the UltaMate Rewards Program. Coupons are almost always available. I go over all types of Ulta coupons and track 20% off prestige coupons. Remember to check my Ulta Deals page before placing an online order for possible exclusives and advice. There are always general and brand specific offers I do not list, so check the GWP section of the Ulta site as well. Ulta encourages deal stacking. Most major events run on a schedule, and I track each one. Read Tips For Getting the Best Deal at Ulta. See all Ulta articles. View my main page for the guide map to the site and deeper deal exploration.
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