Forever 21 is known for steals on clothing that may or may not last you for longer than one season. (But who’s counting when the prices are so good?)
Styles are similar to Urban Outfitters, but prices are more like T.J.Maxx or Target with coupons galore.
Here’s how to squeeze every bit of savings out of Forever 21:
1. Shop online — don’t bother with the store unless you have to.
There are a few reasons for this. First, as long as you don’t use PayPal or ApplePay to purchase your items online, you can return them to the store for a full refund within 30 days.
Next, there’s often a better selection online and most importantly, it’s actually organized. You can sort by “dresses” or “tops” — compared to being forced to shop by color or style in store.
So, find your items online, buy them, try them on right away, and return them to the store if they don’t fit.
2. Get 10% off when you sign up for emails.
You’ll get a promo code you can use with your first online purchase. Look for the little yellow circle at the bottom right of your screen when you’re shopping online. It says “Get 10% off.”
3. Use RetailMeNot to get an additional 10-12.5% back if you’re spending at least $100.
Since RetailMeNot is a shopping portal, you can still use your 10% off coupon or any other promo code Forever 21 offers. There are usually two RetailMeNot offers:
- Get $10 back when you spend $100
- Get $20 back when you spend $250
4. Use Ibotta to get 2% cash back if you’re spending $99 or less.
You can’t use the RetailMeNot and Ibotta offers together. So use the RMN offer if you’re spending at least $100 and the Ibotta offer if you’re spending less than that.
5. Shop “Flash Sales” and get 50% off online about twice a month.
Flash Sales are online only and they last for 12 or 24 hours. You’ll find out about them when you sign up for Forever 21 emails.
The good thing is you can count on them showing up at least twice a month — typically mid-month and end/beginning of the month.
6. Use a discounted gift card from Gift Card Granny and save up to 19%.
Discounted gift card savings are usually in the 5-12% off range, so 19% is definitely something to get excited about.
7. Aim to save at least 60%.
When you combine a sale price with a cash back offer like RetailMeNot or Ibotta and use a discounted gift card, it’s pretty easy to hit this threshold of savings.
8. Ignore colored dots on price tags.
They used to be a way for associates to sort and display items in store, but now they’re obsolete and corporate simply hasn’t updated the tags.
9. Price tags with the UPC code highlighted yellow indicate 50% off.
10. Orange stickers on price tags indicate final markdowns.
But hold on. . . this doesn’t always mean you’re getting 50% off.
I’ll explain. Typically when you see this orange sticker, you can assume you’re getting a good deal. But always ask yourself “Am I getting at least 50% off?” Because sometimes you aren’t.
I found this shirt on the “$5” rack, with an orange sticker. I’ll admit that $5 seems like a great price for a long-sleeve shirt. But when I peeled back the sticker to compare, I noticed the original price was $7.90 — 37% off.
Use your best judgment — if you feel $5 for a shirt is a good enough deal, go for it. But keep in mind that in the Forever 21 universe, 37% off kinda stinks.
11. “Last Chance to Buy” rack is where you can find low-inventory items.
This isn’t a sale rack. It’s a “hey, there are only a few of these items left and here they are” rack. It’s a courtesy the store offers anyone brave enough to shop in the store.
12. Stars on “Last Chance to Buy” items indicate the very last of an item’s kind.
13. Shop “New to Sale” online for best chances at finding your color and size.
You can find items that are newly marked down here, and since Forever 21 typically doesn’t replenish stock, you’ll have the best shot at getting a sale price and actually finding a color and size you want.
14. All sale items are considered final sale — no returns!
Remember how I said to shop online and not in store? The exception is if you want to shop sale items and you’re less confident in your purchase. If this is the case, shop in the store so you can try everything on before you put a ring on it.
You can’t return any of these items:
- Sale merchandise
- Underwear, select lingerie and swimwear
- Earrings and body piercings
- Clearance items
- Gift cards/e-gift cards
15. Plan to size up if you’re over 21 years old.
Don’t even feel bad about going from an M to an L or an L to an XL at Forever 21. Their clothes are designed for girls who haven’t birthed children yet. Give yourself a break and get the size that fits!
16. Don’t bother with the Forever 21 app. It’s basically just the website.
17. Best things to buy are seasonal clothing basics like blazers, fashion coats, swimsuits, etc.
Buy items that you’ll only need for one or two seasons (F21 stuff falls apart fast). To squeeze the best value out of your purchases, shop stores like Urban Outfitters and then try to find comparable styles at Forever 21.
Bandeau bikini top
18. Stay away from shoes, sweaters and accessories.
Shoes because you can get great deals on women’s boots at Kohl’s and designer high heels at 6pm. Watch for Kohl’s deals during the annual boot sale in October for prices that’ll put Forever 21 to shame.
Sweaters straight-up unravel. So unless you can file it under “I’m only going to wear this for one season and it’s under $10,” skip it. Shop sweaters at Old Navy or Gap when they reach at least 50% off.
Accessories also fall apart and they can be tricky to return. Go with an e-commerce site like Cents of Style for affordable on-trend accessories (plus shipping is always free).
19. Choose “pick up in store” if you are spending less than $50.
Basically, don’t ever pay for shipping.
Forever 21 offers one-day free shipping events at times (like during Black Friday in July events, for example), but otherwise, you’ll need to spend $50 to get free shipping. Don’t do it!
Instead opt for “pick up in store.” You’ll have to wait a few days to go get your items, so plan ahead.
20. Upload your Forever 21 outfit to Instagram using #f21xme and you might get featured.
Share your (Forever 21) outfit of the day and you might get featured by the main Forever 21 Instagram account.
21. Skip the Forever 21 store credit card — it’s underwhelming.
There’s the store credit card and the Visa card. The store card offers a 5% discount and a coupon on your birthday for $5 off accessories, 15% off your purchase with your card and a 20% off coupon to use later on. (You’ll also get double points at restaurants and one point per dollar you spend anywhere else with the Visa.)
When you use a discounted gift card to make purchases, you’re getting a 6-19% discount, so there’s no reason to sign up for either of these credit cards.
22. About half the nation has a Forever 21 RED — the cheaper sister store to Forever 21.
Prices are insanely low and there’s merchandise for the whole family. If you have one in your area, give those $1.90 tank tops a kiss for me.
TIP: To get close to Forever 21 RED prices, check out the online Forever 21 Outlet.