Did you know only a small fraction of Nordstrom Rack’s merchandise actually comes from Nordstrom, while the rest is made or purchased directly for the Rack? It’s no wonder, if you do the math — with over 300 Rack stores compared to just 100 full-line Nordstrom stores — there wouldn’t be enough inventory to spread around!
Plus, high-end designer brands are harder to find at the Rack, because they recently updated all their departmental codes to coincide with full-line Nordstrom stores. But they can’t hide the diamonds from us completely — not if we know how to play the game. I’m going to show you how.
Be sure to download the KCL app because that’s your lifeline for finding out when Clear the Rack sales happen and other drop-dead amazing deals we find on designer brands at Rack.
1. White paper tags that say “Nordstrom Rack,” mean the item never came from Nordstrom.
If a tag says “Nordstrom Rack,” that’s your first clue that this item has never been sold at a Nordstrom store. Instead, it’s a made-for-Rack item. Something from a full-line Nordstrom store will never have a paper “Rack” tag.
Find a Nordstrom Rack near me.
2. Items with a “Nordstrom” paper tag definitely came from a full-line Nordstrom store.
Generally, items at a full-line Nordstrom store get two markdowns before they’re shipped off to one of the 300 Rack stores. So, what you’ll find at a Rack from a full-line Nordstrom is a lot of out-of-season, or last year’s merchandise.
I say “generally” because exceptions to this rule exist, which leads me to…
3. Look for designer tags with a “Nordstrom Rack” sticker.
Stay with me here. Just to make it more of a mystery, tags on items from a full-line Nordstrom won’t always be “Nordstrom,” either — sometimes it’s just a designer tag, overlaid with a white “Nordstrom Rack” sticker, with a red clearance sticker overlaid on top of that.
This happens when full-line Nordstrom merchandise arrives at the Rack without any markdowns on the tag. (Nordstrom doesn’t treat the “two markdowns and then ship it off to the Rack” as a hard, fast rule.) Nordstrom Rack re-tags these with a small white Nordstrom Rack sticker.
4. Peel back the red clearance stickers to verify that something came from Nordstrom directly.
There’s no shame in peeling those clearance stickers back to see if “Nordstrom” has the word “Rack” written after it. Remember, you’re looking for original Nordstrom tags in order to sleuth out full-line merch.
5. Get two $5-off Nordstrom Rack coupons when you download the Rack app.
When you download the Nordstrom Rack app for the first time, you’ll get a coupon for $5 off your purchase in the app and a second $5 off a $50 in-store purchase coupon.
This is only for first-time app downloads, so if you already have the Rack app, or you downloaded it awhile back and deleted it, you won’t see the offer.
6. Aim to save up to 80% on clothing and during shoe sales.
Red tags, or tags with a red stripe stuck on the original tag, denote a clearance price — regardless of where the merchandise came from. These discounts usually range from 30-85% off the first Nordstrom Rack price.
Look for sale and clearance shoes at NordstromRack.com if you can’t find anything worthwhile in store.
7. The price on the Rack’s red sticker trumps any handwritten price. (Even when the handwritten price is lower!)
Brace yourself for the most mind-boggling thing you might read all day.
The lowest handwritten price on this tag is $99.98, but Nordstrom Rack’s red clearance tag reads $119.97.
When I asked which price I’d pay, I was told “$119.97.” (!!!!)
Apparently, the $99.98 price was a leftover handwritten price from one of two Nordstrom markdowns, not a Nordstrom Rack markdown, and the Rack will not honor it.
I called the corporate office to get to the bottom of what appeared to be false advertising regarding the price and to see if they’d give me the lower markdown in cases like this. No dice.
The bottom line is that I could have gotten this cheaper if I’d seen it at Nordstrom, before it came to the Rack.
8. Shop Nordstrom deals on items when they’ve been “Altered or Refinished.”
If the tag says “Altered or Refinished”, it’s an altered or refurbished designer item from Nordstrom. In this case, it’ll often have a regular, white Nordstrom Rack tag.
You can get great buys on these items if the piece is in good condition!
9. Get up to 75% off when you shop Nordstrom Rack sales like “Clear the Rack.”
“Clear the Rack” sales events happen roughly once a month, usually lasting two to five days.
You’ll get an additional 20-25% off anything (taken off at the register) for total savings of up to 75%.
10. Combine orders from HauteLook.com and NordstromRack.com to get free shipping.
NordstromRack.com orders over $100 ship for free. You can also tap over to the adjoining site, HauteLook.com, and combine orders from both websites to reach that $100 threshold for free shipping. It’s kind of like how Gap and Old Navy operate.
TIP: Items are only held in your virtual cart for two hours, so finish ordering before your favorite items go back to being publicly available!
11. Or shop during Nordstrom Rack Black Friday when you can get free shipping for five days.
In 2019, Nordstrom Rack offered free shipping with no minimum spend from Thanksgiving through Cyber Monday, so it’s fair to assume we will see this again in 2020.
Plan to shop NordstromRack.com early so you can get the best selection.
TIP: Brand new! Rack now offers free store pickup as an option. So, if you don’t want to pay for shipping, this is a great way to go. In order to see if your local store offers this feature, look under “Shipping and Returns” for your specific item at NordstromRack.com.
12. Look for “Designer” signs to find designer clearance without digging.
Sure, it seems a little obvious, but if you don’t have time to hunt for a deal on a designer item, just hit up the clearance racks that say “Designer.”
13. Red clearance racks in the back hold mostly Rack items, but you can find full-line clearance too.
The signs that just say “Clearance” will be stocked with mostly made-for-Rack clothing, but you’ll still see items from full-line Nordstrom stores mixed in.
For example, I found a lot of Halogen brand items from a full-line Nordstrom and they offered deep savings, like in the 70-80% off range.
14. Nordstrom Rack offers price matching, but not price adjustments.
Yes, you can ask for a price match on an identical item you find at Rack that’s offered at another retailer for a lower price. Just show a sales associate the competitor’s lower price and ask them to match it.
Rack won’t match prices from competitors listed at auction sites, outlet stores or outlet websites, discount promotions, shipping offers or gift card offers.
Now, you can’t ask for a price adjustment at Rack. Here’s the difference — a price match deals with matching a competitor’s price on an identical item sold at Rack. A price adjustment happens when you buy something and then it goes on sale a week or so later. Some stores allow you to bring your receipt back in and ask for the difference in price from when you bought it compared to what it’s currently on sale for. This is what Rack does not offer.
TIP: Use the ShopSavvy app to scan barcodes and see if a competitor is offering a lower price.
15. Get up to 2% cash back as a free Nordy Club member.
Nordy Club is Nordstrom’s free loyalty program that’s good at full-line stores, Rack and Hautelook — you can get 1% cash back just for signing up.
You’ll get a $20 Note when you spend $2,000 (or reach 2,000 points) at any Nordstrom store. (A “Nordstrom Note” is basically store cash you can spend on your next purchase.)
But you can get 2% cash back when you get a Nordstrom debit card — it’s connected to your checking account, similar to how a Target RedCard works at Target. If you do this, you’ll get your $20 Note when you spend $1,000. Here are more Nordy Club perks:
- Find out about Clear the Rack events before non-members do.
- Get free basic alterations.
Points expire when your account has been inactive for 12 months.
16. Sign up for a Nordstrom Rack credit card and get 3% back on every purchase.
Just like the free Nordy Club, you’ll get a $20 Note when you reach 2,000 points. You’ll end up spending about $667 to get it, because with the card you earn points three times faster. Plus, you’ll get a bonus $40 Note for signing up.
You’ll get all the perks regular Nordy Club members get, but you’ll get an additional perk — a personal “double points” day. This means you can choose any one day of the year where you get double points on your purchases. So, you’d get six points per dollar on that day, since you normally get three points per dollar whenever you shop Rack as a cardholder.
17. Shop Nordstrom Rack online at 8 a.m. Pacific Time for the biggest selection.
18. Get $20 to use at Nordstrom Rack when you refer friends to HauteLook.com.
You’ll get $20 for every friend you refer to HauteLook.com. That free $20 can be used at either HauteLook or Nordstrom Rack.
Just click “Invite a Friend” in the upper-right corner of HauteLook, and once they make their first purchase, you’ll get $20.
19. Buy makeup at NordstromRack.com instead of in store.
Makeup selection is the definition of bare bones inside a Rack store. In fact, my Rack currently only carries a display of NYX brand makeup. No other brands!
But at NordstromRack.com, you can find brands like Urban Decay, Stila, MAC, Lorac and more.
You can save up to 66% on these prestige brands because Rack sells items that are discontinued or otherwise not on sale anymore at stores like Sephora and ULTA.
Here’s an example of an item that’s no longer sold at these two stores. The only place you can find it is at the brand’s website itself, where it’s much more expensive:
Stila Stay All Day Concealer
20. Get out-of-stock items shipped to your local store for free.
No luck finding your preferred size or color in store? Ask an associate to search their inventory database to get it shipped to your local store for free.
21. Can I use Nordstrom gift cards at Nordstrom Rack?
Yes! You can use Nordstrom gift cards at Rack and Rack gift cards at Nordstrom.
TIP: Keep tabs on gift cards at Raise.com. Raise sells discounted gift cards — the cards are worth more than you pay for them so you get savings off the top. Currently, both Rack and Nordstrom cards are available but savings are slim on both — only 1%. I’ve seen savings reach up to 14% in the past, so keep watching and buy when you see a card with a deeper savings margin.
22. Shop for off-season items to save 30% on average.
When it’s sweltering outside, the last thing you’re thinking about is that nice fluffy pair of designer winter boots.
Out-of-season merchandise is tough to sell, so the discounts stack up. For example, I found a $1,298 J Brand leather jacket for just $289.97 in August. And I got clearance-priced Sun Bum sunscreen in November.
23. Designer fragrances are up to 70% cheaper than department store prices.
For example, Burberry Brit for Men is sold at NordstromRack.com for $64.97 with a comparable value price of $110. I double-checked the comparable value price, and it’s actually conservative. This same size perfume costs $118 at Macys.com.
If you’re looking for a deal on fragrance, follow the same advice I gave about makeup — plan to shop NordstromRack.com instead of bothering with in-store merchandise. The selection in store is very underwhelming.
24. Hair product brands like “It’s a 10” and Big Sexy are cheaper than at ULTA.
Nordstrom Rack carries a lot of brand-name hair products like Big Sexy and American Crew.
Some of which are cheaper than anywhere else; most of which are cheaper than at ULTA.
Big Sexy Hair Spray and Play, 10 ounces
It’s a 10 Miracle Leave-in Conditioner, 4 ounces.
25. Nordstrom Rack returns allow 45 days to decide if you want to keep your purchase.
Your item should be in like-new condition and you don’t need a receipt if you’re a Nordy Club member — they can look up your information.
A few things you need to know, though — beauty items are all final sale. Plus, your item won’t be available for immediate re-purchase, so you can’t game the system by trying to return an item that went on sale and then rebuying it at the lower price, but I respect you for thinking of that option!
26. Go ahead and return full-line Nordstrom items to a Rack store — unless it’s a designer or beauty item.
You can make a return at Rack for items you bought at a full-line Nordstrom as long as it’s not a designer brand or a beauty item like makeup or fragrance.
Rack will send all Nordstrom purchases back to a full-line store instead of putting them back on the floor of that specific Rack, unfortunately.
Any Rack or Hautelook items returned to a Rack go back out on the sales floor though.
Don’t scroll up! Here are the articles I mentioned: