Credit card bonuses, coupons, loyalty programs and shopping online can help trim the costs of your beauty regime.
If you follow your favorite beauty shops on social media or swoon over the newest offerings from Sephora, you know how hard it can be to keep your beauty budget in check. With the average woman spending $15,000 on beauty products in her lifetime, it’s easy to start swiping credit cards with abandon \u2014 but if you know what you’re doing, the plastic in your wallet can be a windfall rather than a pitfall.
Here are four ways credit cards can help you save money and earn rewards on your beauty regime:
1. Use category bonuses to stock up
Here’s a beauty tip for you: While you’re freshening up your makeup supply, you can also score some great rewards with a credit card that offers a bonus on department store, drugstore or grocery store purchases.
For example, the U.S. Bank Cash+ Visa card offers 5 percent cash back on two categories of your choice each quarter – including department stores. You can enroll in the department store category every quarter or in just one quarter if you plan to buy your supplies all at once.
For those who frequently shop at drugstores such as Walgreens and CVS, the Chase Freedom card is a great option. The card offers 5 percent cash back on rotating quarterly categories, which often include grocery stores, department stores and drugstores. You can transfer Chase Freedom points to other Chase Ultimate Rewards cards to be redeemed for a variety of rewards, including cash back, merchandise and travel.
You might also check out the Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express and the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express cards if you prefer to buy your makeup from the grocery store beauty aisle. The Blue Cash Everyday card offers 3 percent cash back on U.S. supermarket purchases while the Blue Cash Preferred card – for a $95 annual fee – gives you a whopping 6 percent cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 in purchases annually, then 1%, on both cards).
2. Up your coupon game
Even cards with so-so rewards can wield considerable savings on beauty products. Take the Kohl’s Charge credit card, for example. With just 1 percent cash back on Kohl’s purchases, the real savings opportunities are found in the card’s monthly coupons.
Kohl’s Charge cardholders receive at least 12 coupons each year, ranging from 15 to 30 percent off — a significant discount when you’ve got your eye on a new contour palette or the latest lip color. To further boost your savings, these coupons can be combined with “Kohl’s Cash,” which is earned by shopping in Kohl’s stores and online during specified earning periods. For every $50 in purchases, you’ll collect a $10 coupon, which can be redeemed at a later date (typically right after the earnings window).
If Target is your discount retailer of choice, the Target Redcard offers a 5 percent discount on most purchases \u2014 applied automatically at the register or online at checkout. Cardholders can access additional discounts via Target’s Cartwheel app, which lets you filter and store coupons without having to worry about printing them.
Cartwheel discounts vary between 5 and 50 percent off and can be searched by category, collection or product name, making it easy for you to find offers for those coveted beauty items you need to stock up on.
3. Pair your cards with free loyalty programs
Free-to-join loyalty programs offer makeup lovers a hands-off way to save, especially when the programs are linked to relevant store-branded credit cards.
For instance, the Plenti rewards program lets members earn and use points at Macy’s and elsewhere, including AT&T, Exxon, Mobil, Chili’s and Rite Aid. Linking your Macy’s American Express card to the program makes it even easier.
When you make a qualifying purchase at Macy’s – which features high-end beauty brands such as Clinique, Lancome and Estee Lauder – pay with your Macy’s American Express card and show your Plenti rewards card at checkout, you’ll receive one Plenti point per dollar. (Shopping online at Macys.com, however, will snag you three Plenti points per dollar regardless of payment method.)
Plenti points can be redeemed at other retailers besides Macy’s, but unless Exxon and Chili’s start selling makeup, you’ll want to stick with Macy’s to scratch that beauty itch.
If you frequent Ulta, signing up for their Ultimate Rewards program will earn you one point for each dollar spent in stores and online. While specific purchases can help you earn up to five bonus points per dollar, you may also be able to stack on additional rewards by shopping through your card issuer’s shopping portal.
Meanwhile, members of Sephora’s Beauty Insider program earn one point for every dollar on merchandise purchased online, in Sephora retail stores or at Sephora counters inside JCPenney. You can pair your membership with the JCPenney credit card – which issues one point for every dollar in purchases from JCPenney and jcpenney.com – to nab two kinds of points on a single purchase, both of which can be used to save on future beauty swag from one of the most popular cosmetic brands.
4. Buy your staples online
Makeup lovers who prefer to browse for beauty products from the comfort of their couches can still earn rewards and save money. For example, the Walmart Mastercard offers 3 percent cash back on Walmart.com purchases, perfect for shoppers on a budget who rely on more affordable brands such as Maybelline and CoverGirl.
The Amazon Prime Rewards Visa Signature card is also worthy of consideration when buying your go-to foundation on the internet, especially if you already have an Amazon Prime membership. Along with the website’s free two-day shipping, you’ll enjoy 5 percent cash back on every purchase and a $70 Amazon.com gift card when you sign up. Unlock additional savings with Amazon’s Subscribe and Save, by which you can schedule regular deliveries of your favorite beauty products and shave up to 15 percent off the regular price.
Bottom line: Running up debt has no place in you looking and feeling your best. By maximizing your credit card usage as you embrace the latest beauty trends and purchase those must-have products, you can save money at the register and earn points to apply toward your next shopping spree. That’s a win-win.
Oh, and here’s a bonus tip: Never, ever say no to free samples.