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8 ways to maximize the annual Nordstrom Anniversary Sale

Aug. 19, 2020
8 min read
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If you like to wear high-end clothes, shoes, purses and other accessories but don't enjoy paying retail prices, then Nordstrom's much-anticipated anniversary sale needs to be on your radar. Think of it as flying first class, but paying economy prices.

The sale only comes around once a year, and while it starts first for those with the highest level of status within the Nordy Club, eventually everyone can shop with no special status or credit card required.

What makes this sale special is that it isn't a markdown of this season's items. Instead, it offers a substantial discount (often around 40%) on items for upcoming seasons or things you can use all year round that rarely go on sale beyond this annual event.

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It doesn't take any skill to visit Nordstrom.com or venture to a nearby brick-and-mortar where in-person shopping is possible and buy these items on sale. But this is TPG, after all, so we want to help you take the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale to the next level with a little strategy.

Related: Best credit cards for clothing purchases

Shop fast

The sale has already been going on for weeks to those with special access, so now that the public sale has arrived, get busy loading that cart and checking out ASAP as things sell out during this sale.

Need new shoes? A North Face jacket? Hydro-Flask? That perfect carry-on? Or maybe you're looking for amenities that will turn your home into a five-star hotel.

Whatever you need, browse the available items online now, and don't waste any time before checking out. You can always return what doesn't work out.

Related: Guide to the Nordstrom Nordy Club

(Photo courtesy of Nordstrom)
(Photo courtesy of Nordstrom)

Shop early with the right credit card

The Nordstrom annual sale is very popular, and hot items can and do sell out quickly. It's too late for this tip this year, but for next year, prepare in advance by getting the Nordstrom Card so you can shop earlier.

Nordstrom allows those with the Nordstrom Credit Card to shop first. Otherwise, you have to wait a few extra weeks. Think of this special access as a preboarding benefit, but instead of receiving 15 minutes of extra glory sitting on the plane before everyone else, you get days of advance shopping. Those with higher elite status in the Nordy Club and the credit card get to shop even earlier than those with just the Nordstrom credit card.

The shopping dates for Nordstrom cardholders usually open in order of status:

  • Icons
  • Ambassadors
  • Influencers
  • Insiders

If this makes you want to add a Nordstrom card to your wallet, know there are two different Nordstrom cards available — there's a Nordstrom retail store card that can only be used at Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack, HauteLook and Trunk Club, and the Nordstrom Visa that can be used anywhere Visa is accepted.

Related: These are the best credit cards for online shoppers

There's often a welcome bonus offer that won't get you a free ticket to Europe, but you'll usually receive bonus credits (also known as Nordstrom Notes) to shop at Nordstrom. Recently, new cardholders have been able to get a $60 Nordstrom Note.

While there are many differences between the two cards in regard to the number of points you'll earn and where the card can be used, one major difference is how the cards count toward Chase's "5/24" rule. The Nordstrom Retail card has a leg up where it might not count against your 5/24 number because it's a retailer-specific store card. This isn't a guarantee, but at least there's a chance.

The Nordstrom Visa, on the other hand, will allow you to maximize your point earning on all Nordstrom purchases at 3x points per dollar spent at the store, but your approval on the card will almost certainly count toward that coveted 5/24 number. We say might not count as there are reports that store cards have increasingly counted toward Chase 5/24, so we can't promise it won't bite you.

If you're looking to apply for more Chase cards within the next 24 months and this would tip you over 5/24, you might want to skip early access to the sale to play it safe and prioritize those other rewards credit cards.

Related: Cards with welcome bonuses of more than 100,000 points

Earn double points

If you have a Nordstrom card or access to your own personal "double points days" by having status with The Nordy Club, the day you place your big sale order is a really good day to use that bonus.

Ensure the best price with price protection

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is typically one of the better sales we see throughout the year, but that doesn't always mean that every single item sells for the lowest price possible.

When you make your purchase, you could use a card that has price protection in case the price goes down at a future time -- either at Nordstrom or another retailer. That said, that benefit has severely constricted in the last year or so, so double-check that the card in your wallet still has that perk before making an assumption.

Earn bonus points with gift cards

Normally, we would tell you to be sure and shop through an online shopping portal to pick up extra miles for your purchases, but it's been years since Nordstrom.com was listed in an online shopping rebate site.

You can, however, earn miles by purchasing Nordstrom gift cards in the United MileagePlus X app or at retailers that sell gift cards, such as office supply stores or grocery stores. For example, if you purchased a $200 Nordstrom gift card at a U.S. supermarket with your American Express® Gold Card, you should earn 4 points per dollar on that purchase (up to $25,000 per calendar year; then 1x).

(Summer Hull / The Points Guy)

Shop with points

If travel just isn't on your radar right now and instead you'd love a few new pieces to enjoy at home, on your next Zoom call, you can redeem various types of credit card points for Nordstrom gift cards. Often, though not always, the redemption rate for every 1 point is 1 cent toward a gift card, which may be below our recommended redemption value in some programs. Since you'd then be using the gift cards to snag some of the best deals of the season, however, it may make sense. Just do the math first.

Related: How to redeem points when you aren't traveling

Shipping is free, so try two sizes

Nordstrom.com always offers free shipping both ways, so if you're shopping online, try two sizes on the pieces you love the most so you aren't disappointed if your first size doesn't work and the item has sold out. You can ship the items that don't work back to Nordstrom for free (just know that refunds have been taking a few weeks to process).

Related: Packing hacks to travel in just a carry-on

Get $20 off first Nordstrom app purchase

If you've never used the Nordstrom app before, look to see if there are any download bonuses. At one point, you'd get $20 off your first purchase of $150 to stack on the savings.

Screenshot courtesy of Nordstrom.com
Screenshot courtesy of Nordstrom.com

Bottom line

If you're obsessed with online shopping, or simply want to stock up on quality items while the prices are lower, this is truly a great sale with items that often sell from starting around $15 and up.

Year after year, I take full advantage of this sale for my family. I won't try to convince you that Nordstrom is an economical merchant, but its return policy is one of the best in the business. If you purchase clothing for the winter that doesn't work out, or if an item doesn't hold up to your standards, you can return it at any point.

The Nordstrom Anniversary Sale is a great way to get a jump on fall and winter items at a very real discount.

Additional reporting by Summer Hull

Featured image by AFP via Getty Images
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
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  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
at American Express's secure site
Terms & restrictions apply. See rates & fees
Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
3XEarn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

    60,000 points
  • Annual Fee

    $250
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® Points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® Points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • Updated $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees