Subscription Boxes // Leaving Birchbox?!

Earlier today, I was talking to a friend about Buddhism. I don’t have an extensive knowledge of Eastern religions (not by a long shot), but Buddhism was a topic in some of my religion classes in college and even in a philosophy class back when I was getting my AA.  One of the four main truths of Buddhism is that life is suffering; even positive things must, eventually, come to an end as few things are set in stone. I’m not Buddhist, but I do think that rings true for most things in life, especially worldly goods.

Birchbox, as a worldly thing, is subject to all the rules of life, and while I believe some change is good, it isn’t always. Today, I received an email that is making me question whether or not I want to keep this subscription: they are changing quite a few things about Rewards Points.

The changes:

You can view the changes for yourself here, but I’ll be quoting the three main changes that start on July 11, 2016:

  • “We’ve heard your feedback and you’ll now be able to spend Points in any increment-no more waiting until you hit 100 Points to shop. Every 10 Points equal $1 to spend on full-size products.”

This is a good note to start out on. Increments of 100 are silly enough to begin with. I was happy to see that, but this is the only positive change.

  • “Any Points earned after July 11, 2016 will expire six months from the date you earn them. But don’t worry- we’ll always send you a reminder so you have plenty of time to shop!”

Currently, points expire a year after earning them. What does this mean? 6 months isn’t a long time to collect points. You might think that’s at least time enough to collect 300 points, right? 50 points a month? Well, you’re wrong, because this gets ever worse…

  • “Going forward, we will only offer Points for your first five sample reviews. New subscribers will earn points for the first five sample reviews in their subscription, and as an existing subscriber, you’ll have the same opportunity. Starting with your July box, you’ll receive 10 Points for each of the next five samples you review.”

When I first read this, I thought this meant per box. Like, you can earn up to 50 points per box- no bonus points for bonus products. I was okay with this- again, $30 per 6 months is still pretty good. I thought wrong. This is five total reviews, ever. Meaning, starting with your July box, you can only earn a total of 50 points ever off of your subscription. If you get a July box and review everything in it, you get $5 to the shop, but then you won’t get any points for August, September, October… or any other box, ever again.

What this means, really:

Essentially, this means that the only way to earn points is via referral links, gifting the subscription, and shopping on their site. Instead of having a year to collect points, you have 6 months. After July 11, these are the ways you can earn points.

  • Shopping: $1 = 1 point, which is a 10% “reward” or discount. Unlimited.
  • Referrals: 1 friend = 50 points, which is a $5 reward per friend. Unlimited.
  • Samples Reviews: Only up to five total, ever, to count for points, so 50 points or $5 reward total.

Essentially, the reason they are dropping the “100 points increment” policy is because nobody will reach 100 points without spending, and as it takes $10 to reach a $1 points reward, you’d have to shop a lot. If you aren’t pushy and thus don’t refer any friends, in order for new subscribers to make ACE status, they’d have to spend $450 in the Birchbox shop- that’s how much you have to spend to make ULTA Platinum, with which points never expire. I could get into depth on ULTA’s rewards points, but just know this: if you time your purchases well and only purchase items when they’re on 5x points special, you can spend $450 in a year, make Platinum (so you can hoard your points if you want and be very, very choosy about when you spend them) AND have 2,250 points to spend, which equates to… $133. With Birchbox, $450 spent is only worth $45. Hm.

Will this affect the ACE program?

I’m not honestly sure. Their FAQ still says it’s about how much you earn per year, so you may still be able to reach ACE status without needing to spend $500 in 6 months. But, because reviews will no longer give you points, you definitely must spend to reach ACE status- and spend quite a bit.

So, there you have it. Birchbox is changing, and not for our benefit. I understand that their rewards program is probably hurting them fiscally, but I have to wonder if taking it all away is really the right thing for them to do. Their samples are definitely small and hardly worth the $10 I pay for them to begin with, so without their rewards, I can’t justify staying. I will be taking my July box and get the extra 50 points, but after that, I’ll cash in the 270 points and cancel my sub.



5 thoughts on “Subscription Boxes // Leaving Birchbox?!

  1. Jenna says:

    That points program really was their main draw, so I suspect they’ll lose a lot of subs as a result. The samples, as you said, have not been all that great. I’m curious with those who say if they really do improve the quality of their boxes and tailoring to customers, so I’ll be keeping an eye on reviews for this one.


    • Lucy Tries Beauty says:

      Oh Reddit we’ve been discussing their business model and we’ve come to the conclusion that this is most likely a change based off of their business model not being lucrative. They don’t have funding for the next two years yet, lots of lay offs are happening, etc. I hazard to guess their operating costs are still above $5/box ): I think they are trying to save their business by reigning in on the samples and trying to get more people to buy full-size, but I don’t think they can really compete with sephora or ulta ):

      Liked by 1 person

      • Jenna says:

        Definitely can’t compete with Sephora and Ulta. I’d say it has less to do with price/rewards and more to do with selection. Sephora and Ulta tend to be more consistent in offering products while Birchbox tends to rotate products introduce “new to you” things. I honestly think they were better off sticking with JUST the subscription model instead of attempting to expand into other areas so quickly. As it was, they were basically an advertising business and did well with it.


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