An App That Rewards You For the Errands You're Already Running
Now's the time for holiday shopping to kick into high gear. Speaking of, did you see last week's gift guide? There are some great items, plus some a few weird picks in there. Fun fact: I started writing an annual Gift Guide in 2007 because I think gift guides are incredibly stupid, but I love reading them. I've started making themed guides in the past few years, this year being antonyms (with cartoon feature images!), and you can read them here, here and here.
My point is, tis the season for kicking our consumerism into an even higher gear, and it's always nice to get a little something back for all your giving. One of my favorite apps is SurveyMini, which uses location services on your phone to send you surveys about businesses you've been close to, and then gives you points or coupons in exchange for your answers. After earning a certain number of points you can redeem them for a gift card. You can read a full review here.
I'm still using SurveyMini, but I've added another app to my shopping reward collection: Shopkick. Where SurveyMini is mostly passive (you can't choose what surveys show up, or trigger surveys), Shopkick is, for the most part, user initiated. You need to accumulate "kicks" to earn gift cards from various businesses (these are good gift cards too. Starbucks, iTunes, Amazon, and many more are offered), and you earn kicks by going to stores, scanning certain items in those stores, and submitting receipts if you purchase said items. There is also a system wherein you can get points from online shopping, and from paying with a credit card, but I haven't done either of these, so I can't speak to them.
I do, however, use Shopkick during every Target run. It's a good thing I already liked to be leisurely when I shop at Target, because now I'm also juggling my notes app with my shopping list, the Target app with Cartwheel (one of the single greatest shopping tools ever created), and Shopkick so I can see what I need to scan to earn kicks. It takes awhile, but I'm getting what I need, saving money, and earning money all at the same time.
I've redeemed one gift card so far from Shopkick, a $5 Starbucks card. (I wouldn't recommend something without thoroughly vetting the entire process first. I've got your back.) My only previous experience with an app like this is the aforementioned SurveyMini, which mails you a physical gift card when you reach the required point level. In terms of gift card redemption, Shopkick blows SurveyMini out of the water. The whole process is done though the app and takes about two minutes. I just had to do a few taps on my phone and I was given a Starbucks gift card code, which I then transferred to my Starbucks app and I was in business.
Once you redeem your kicks for a gift card you get to start the process all over again, so now I'm working on another gift card, but this time I'm going all the way to TEN whole dollars. Another important mention: You can change what gift card you want at any time, all the way up to when you redeem your kicks, so while I'm working toward a $10 Starbucks card, I'm free to mix it up whenever the mood strikes me.
Shopkick is a free app for both Android and iOS, and while you do have to give them your name and some personal info in order to redeem rewards, it's not anything super invasive. (Linking a credit card to your account will get you more points, but it is completely optional.) If you're interested in getting kickbacks for the shopping you're already doing, Shopkick is a great, easy, reliable resource.