A Review of the Shopkick Rewards App

Earn Rewards While You Shop

Woman and smartphone
Akiko Aoki/ Moment/ Getty Images

Shopkick is a free, location-based rewards app available for the iPhone and Android platforms. Users can earn "kicks" (rewards) when they check in at participating businesses and also when they scan the bar codes on specific products.

How Shopkick Works

Users can simply open the Shopkick app and it will display nearby retailers offering a large number of kicks just for walking into the store. You'll also learn where to earn a few kicks for checking in; and what partner brand products are available to scan for additional kicks.

Shoppers can earn more kicks by scanning specific products. The kicks can then be redeemed for items such as iTunes gift cards, restaurant vouchers, retail gift cards, movie tickets or other items. Stores may also send Shopkick users exclusive store incentives and discounts for extra savings.

How Many Stores Partner With Shopkick?

The number changes all the time as the app grows in popularity. Currently, some of the major stores offering rewards to users who visit include Best Buy, Crate & Barrel, Macy's, American Eagle, Target, Kroger and TJ Maxx. The majority of businesses nationwide qualify for check-in rewards.

Using Shopkick at the Grocery Store

Shopkick also partners with specific food brands with the same type of rewards it offers for stores and restaurants. When these companies enter into partnership, they'll give you extra rewards on certain days, particularly if you scan their products.

To earn rewards and other Shopkick perks like coupons or recipes, users simply scan the bar code on specific products. Brand participation is an area where Shopkick is continuing to focus on and grow.

How Many Rewards Can You Earn?

Unlike some apps that offer a little bit of nothing, Shopkick has an impressive rewards system.

  • There are thousands of retail locations nationwide that offer high-value rewards for visiting, usually 60-200 kicks..
  • You can also earn rewards via online shopping. For instance, you can earn 25 kicks for every $1.00 you spend at Kohls.com. Other online partners include eBay, Walmart.com, Hulu and more.

How Much Can You Earn Scanning Brands?

Scanning partner brand products from brands like Kraft Heinz, HP, Procter & Gamble and Unilever at any store where they are in-stock will usually reward you with 10-20 kicks.

What About Deals and Offers?

Users can browse through the "offers" tab within the app to see what discounts are available nearby.

Examples of deals:

  • American Eagle frequently offers 15 percent off a purchase.

What is the Difference Between Visiting and Checking In?

Unlike FourSquare, Shopkick does not have to work with a Global Positioning System (GPS), to determine users' locations. Instead, the partnering business installs a device that emits an inaudible audio sound detected by the microphone on a user's iPhone or Android device and prompts the app to deliver high-value rewards. And, because the detection occurs on your mobile device, your privacy and location are under your control.

Within the sound is a location code. To pick up the sound, users must turn on their cell phones, start the Shopkick app and walk into the business. This is the way to earn the highest rewards.

Because traditional location-based apps rely solely on GPS, which has an error radius of 50-1,000 yards on mobile phones, users can "check-in" without actually visiting a store. However, the smaller check-in rewards through Shopkick are based on GPS and users miss out on the real values offered by walking in and scanning products.

Downloading Shopkick

iPhone Users: Search the name "Shopkick" in the App Store.
Android Users: Search the name "Shopkick" in the Android Market.

Bottom Line

Unlike many other location-based apps that are more social in nature, Shopkick is more about rewarding loyal customers by giving them something back for their patronage. With its inclusion of food brands and other lifestyle brands such as HP and Intel and the growing list of participating stores, Shopkick is an app that bargain hunters and savvy shoppers will want to try out.

Although the social aspects of Shopkick may not be the primary focus for the app, you can choose to earn extra kicks by inviting friends to join the app network.