This week in tech: Shopkick

There are a ton of apps out there offering some sort of financial benefit. Just do a search in the app store for “money” and you’ll get over 2,000 results. Some of these are pretty much useless. Don’t believe me?  There is an entire app called Make It Rain that lets you pretend to swipe dollar bills. Seriously. Through all of these choices there is one that shines bright…Shopkick. *cue angelic sounds*

Shopkick is amazing. First of all, it is free. Second of all, it lets you collect points (which it calls ‘kicks’) and exchange them for gift cards. Read that again. Collect points, for free, on the free app, and turn them into cold, hard cash. It’s really a virtual gift card but you get the idea. Still with me? Here is how it works:

You’ll first go to the app store, on either Android or Apple, and search for Shopkick. The app is free so proceed with the download.

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Open the app and you’ll be prompted to create an account. You can sign up with an email and password or you can use Facebook so you don’t have to remember another login for yet another site. It will just use your Facebook login information to login to the app.

Once you have logged in you can then begin exploring the app. It will always open to the Area section at first. You can click on Find All Nearby Kicks to locate stores with the highest bang for you buck, so to speak. Kicks, which are what Shopkick calls points, are available in either walk-ins or scans. Walk-ins mean just that. You walk into a store, stand near the entrance with the app open (must have location services turned on for this to work) and the app recognizes you are in the store and awards you Kicks. Scans are when you scan designated items in the store for Kicks. Yesterday at Target I received over 900 Kicks just from scanning the list of items. It look less than 15 minutes, plus I got 100 Kicks for walking in. You need 1,250 Kicks to get a $5 gift card. In 15 minutes, yesterday, I received 1,000 alone and was almost there.

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A ton of stores participate in this. You can get walk-ins at JC Penney, Target, Wal-Mart, Aerie, American Eagle, Macy’s and more. Sometimes stores will not participate in walk-ins but will participate in scans. Costco, BJ’s, Kohl’s, Disney, CVS, Rite Aid, Lowe’s and more work this way. When you choose a store in the app, it will show you icons to tell you how many kicks you can get. You can see in this screenshot that Target is offering me 30 walk-ins, 950 scans and more kicks if I wanted to link my credit card. I don’t link my credit card to the app because it opens the risk for identity theft so choose that option wisely.

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When you tap the scans number, the next screen will show you all of the items available to scan and how many Kicks you can get. Today at Kohl’s I can get 300 Kicks for scanning 3 pairs of shoes. Not bad!

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Curious about how to redeem those Kicks? Tap your profile photo at the top left corner to see your stats. You can see that I have 1,712 Kicks already which is totally enough for a gift card. My little Starbucks icon is blue all the way around which indicates it is ‘full’ and can now be redeemed. I’ll be treating myself to Starbucks today for sure. You can also see that my all-time number of Kicks is 40,462. That means I have gotten 32 $5 gift cards from the app. That is the equivalent of $160. I have had $160 worth of free Starbucks since I got this app last year!

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Tap the gift card icon, in my case it is Starbucks, and you can see all the rewards available to you. You can get gift cards to Target, Macy’s, Starbucks, Old Navy, Best Buy, American Eagle, Sephora, Redbox, AMC, Gamestop, Nike, Sports Authority, Papa John’s and a ton more. Gift cards come in varying amounts from $2-$20 depending on the store. In addition to gift cards you can also save up all your Kicks and redeem them for things like Essie polish, Chanel perfume, magazine subscriptions, Tiffany jewelry, an iPad and even a cruise. It takes a LOT of kicks to save up for those items so it isn’t easy but it can be done and they will deliver.

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These companies pay big money to advertise on the app, promote their products to you and get you to interact with them. That is how they are able to offer these free gift cards. It’s an awesome app for students on a budget like us. If you are heading to Target anyway, jump on the free scans bandwagon and collect a ton of Kicks at Target and Best Buy while you are there. Going to the mall? Pick up a bunch of free Kicks and then treat yourself to Starbucks if you hit the quota for a gift card. It’s that easy! I’ve been using the app for awhile so if you have any questions for me just comment here. They also have great customer service on their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SHOPkick so check them out. Soon you’ll be noticing the other Shopkickers on your next trip to Target and will be part of the club.

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