Apps that “Earn” You More


ViggleMy four year old has a serious case of the “gimmes.” From every toy his friends have to things on the shelf in the store, just about everything elicits a “can I have that?” This has led to many discussions about how “money doesn’t grow on trees,” and “you can’t get something for nothing…”   turns out that I may have been mistaken about that second part.

Armed with a Smartphone and a few free apps, you can earn rewards, gift cards or sometimes even cash for doing things you probably already do.

Earn reward points from the comfort of your couch:  Just for watching TV. Simply download Viggle (, free for iPhone, iPad or Android) and the app will actually listen to your TV and automatically check you into whatever you’re watching. No messing with having to watch content through your phone or tablet; no need to install a special program on your TV or enter codes. You’ll earn points just for watching the shows you already love, or you can play show-related games or watch recommended shows to earn bonus points. Once you’ve amassed a few points, trade them in for gift cards or merchandise in the Viggle Rewards catalog.

Earn rewards for just walking into the store:  ShopKick (, free for iPhone, iPad or Android) lets you earn points from major retailers like Old Navy, Macys and Target, just for walking into the store. Simply install the app and launch it before you do your shopping. Once inside the store, the app will let you know about sales or special promotions. There’s even a way to earn extra points (they call them “kicks”) by using your phone’s camera to scan specific items throughout the store. It’s like a little in-store treasure hunt. If you do buy something, you can earn even more points. Once you’ve collected enough “kicks,” you can trade them in for gift cards, a coffee from Starbucks, and gas for your car, or put your points towards merchandise or travel rewards.

Earn gift cards while shopping:  Another popular app to earn points while you shop is CheckPoints (, free for iPhone, iPad or Android). More locations participate than you’ll find on ShopKick because ShopKick requires that merchants install specific hardware to register app users while CheckPoints does not. When you start your shopping, just launch the app. Nearby participating locations will show on your phone and some locations will give you points for “checking in.” Many rewards are tied to specific products so you’ll need to scan items as you wander the aisles, though some stores are mapped offering you an aisle-by-aisle guide to find products and maximize point accrual. Every time you scan an item, you can play a slot-style game to get more rewards. Trade in points for gift cards.

Earn Apple rewards:  If you purchase music or buy or rent videos or TV shows through iTunes, consider using iPoints (, free for iPhone or iPad) to earn points for your purchases. The price you pay for content is no higher than what you’d pay direct through iTunes, but every dollar you spend through the iPoints interface accrues points that you can trade in for gift cards from merchants like Amazon, Walmart or Target, cash through Paypal or a Visa debit card, or to get paid-apps for free through iTunes.

Earning Tips:  All reward-earning apps will require that you provide an email address and some personal information – they have to have a way to send you reward earnings. I’d recommend that you establish some safe online shopping rules, like setting up an email address specific to your reward app activities.

Finally, keep in mind that accruing enough points to get a decent gift card will take some time and diligence. For example, walking into a store will earn you 10-50 points through ShopKick, while a $5 Starbucks gift card requires about 1,250 kicks. You’ll earn 170 points for every dollar you spend through iPoints, but a $10 Amazon gift card takes 35,000 points to redeem. On the other hand, if you’re already going to watch TV, go shopping, or buy content through iTunes, why not get something for nothing while you do it?


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