Shopkick is a mobile app that promises to reward you with free gift cards (and other incentives) for sharing data about your shopping habits.
We tested the app for a month to see whether it’s worth your time, ultimately earning a total of $3.23 over seven shopping trips (or about 45 cents per trip).
This Shopkick review explains everything you need to know about how the app works, how much it pays, and how to maximize your earnings if you decide to give it a try.
You can also jump directly to our final verdict on the app.
Shopkick gives you points for completing small shopping-related tasks, like checking in to stores and uploading copies of your receipts. We found the app to be genuinely fun to use, but it provided limited earning potential and we weren’t able to redeem our points without contacting customer service.
- Legitimately fun to use.
- Offers gift cards, PayPal credit, and physical prizes as reward options.
- Offers cash-back through linked credit and debit cards.
- Limited potential for earning due to a scarcity of partnered products.
- Bugs frequently prevent you from accessing essential functionality, like redeeming your points.
- We had to contact support in order to cash-out.
Owned by the Singapore-based tech company Trax, Shopkick is a money-making mobile app designed to gamify the shopping journey, along the way advertising partnered products and collecting a treasure-trove of valuable marketing data. In return for your participation, you’ll earn points (called Kicks) that can be redeemed for gift cards, PayPal cash and a few other incentives.
There are a few different ways to interact with the app, but here’s a general example of what a Shopkick shopping journey might look like — keeping in mind that you’ll earn Kicks for completing each stage of this process:
- First, Shopkick teaches you about a product — usually by showing you a short video advertisement – but they also offer recipes, style guides, and informational articles designed to orient you towards a purchase.
- Then the app encourages you to walk into a store where the product is sold.
- Next, you find the product on the store shelves.
- And finally — in Shopkick’s ideal world — you’ll buy the product.
It honestly feels like a game after a while, which is probably why even Oprah.com says it’s addictive. Completing the different tasks can feel rewarding, especially with all the bright colors and confetti that explodes on your screen whenever you earn Kicks.
It’s not a flawless experience, however. You’ll have to fight with app bugs, limited options and lots of temptation to impulse spend in order to earn rewards.
Six Key Facts About Shopkick
These are the most important things to keep in mind if you’re thinking about downloading the app.
- There are seven different shopping-related tasks to complete. You can choose to do them all or just focus on one. We outline all seven in the next section (below).
- Shopkick offers you reward points called “Kicks” in exchange for completing each of those seven tasks.
- The company partners with many major retailers, including local and regional chains. Many neighborhood grocery stores, gas stations, box stores and drug stores participate.
- You can redeem your Kicks for rewards including free gift cards, PayPal cash and a limited selection of physical prize options.
- Not all partners offer all the different ways to earn. Some may only offer points for walk-ins, while others may not offer walk-ins at all.
- You can earn 500 Kicks today as a sign-up bonus by joining with our link.
The Seven Ways to Earn Shopkick Points
Here’s an overview of the different ways to earn Shopkick points, with detailed descriptions below.
- Walk-ins: Visit an eligible store and open the Shopkick app. You have to give Shopkick access to your location data to earn Kicks in this way.
- Scans: Visit an eligible store, then find specific items and scan their barcodes.
- Receipts: Upload photos of paper register receipts.
- Linked cards: You can link your debit and credit cards to your Shopkick account, then earn Kicks when you use those cards to pay for purchases at eligible stores.
- In-store shopping: Visit an eligible store and have the cashier scan a barcode found in the Shopkick app while you’re checking out. (It’s like scanning a store loyalty card.)
- Cash-back shopping portal: Visit partnered merchants by clicking referral links within the Shopkick app.
- Watching video ads: Watch short (usually 15-second) advertisements within the Shopkick app.
You can also sometimes earn Kicks through bonus challenges.
For example, in January 2022, Shopkick offered bonus Kicks if you opened the app seven days in a row or scanned at least 25 items.
Finally, Shopkick also has referral bonuses. For example, if you use The Ways To Wealth’s link to sign up, you can get 500 Kicks ($2). If you share your referral code with others, you’ll get 500 Kicks if they earn points through walk-ins or scans in the subsequent seven days.
Let’s take a look at some more detailed information about each of the seven major ways to earn.
Our earnings: I walked into seven partnered retailers and earned 135 Kicks. Based on the data we collected during our research and testing, the median pay for a walk-in is 10 Kicks (or about four cents).
Note that you are required to open the Shopkick app while walking into the store in order to get your “walk-in” Kicks. This confused me at first, because I thought there was a setting that allowed you to collect these Kicks passively. That’s not the case; you only get Kicks if you open your phone and interact with the app.
Luckily, the geolocation works well. On two occasions, I was able to collect Kicks just for being in the parking lot of the partner store, without even going inside. Other users report walking around malls and getting Kicks for passing by Shopkick partners without ever having to technically go inside.
With that said, it’s important to point out that there is a limit to how many walk-in Kicks you can collect. Shopkick doesn’t specify what that number is, though their FAQ hints that it’s a choice each chain gets to make. If you visit a chain more than a “certain number of times,” you won’t be able to get any more walk-in Kicks for visits to that company.
For example, based on my data, I can guess that Walmart’s maximum number of walk-ins is four times (or 40 Kicks) in a 30 day period.
Our earnings: I scanned 22 items and earned 670 Kicks. Most scans pay between six and 18 cents each.
Because the scan function is usually used to promote new items, I often had to hunt those items down. This led to a lot of frustration during my normal weekly shopping trips, when I was just trying to get in and out.
However, the scanning feature is pretty fun in a mall or shopping district, where you can walk around multiple stores in a more relaxed environment. In these settings, scanning felt a bit like a treasure hunt — especially when I got random bonus Kicks. In fact, 37% of the Kicks I earned through scanning (245 Kicks) were specifically bonus Kicks.
I really liked when scan options came in groups, like being asked to scan four different scents of the same soap. It meant I got multiple scans (and Kicks) for the time it took to hunt down one.
Shopkick also offers “generic” scan options, like “scan any dozen eggs.” For these, you can use any brand and collect the Kicks for doing so.
Shortcuts like these make it easy to earn Kicks quickly without much thought or time.
See also: Ibotta is another app that will pay you to scan items. Learn more in our Ibotta review.
Our earnings: I wasn’t able to earn any Kicks with receipts.
There are many different apps that pay your uploading copies of your receipts, and among these apps, there are two main categories: those that pay you for any receipt (no matter what you purchased), and those that only give you points when an uploaded receipt has qualifying items on it.
Shopkick falls into the latter category, and I was disappointed with the lack of options. With Shopkick, receipt rewards vary by partner store — a product that earns you points at one supermarket may not earn points at a different supermarket, and vice versa.
In my case, my go-to grocery store rarely had more than 10 items available. Additionally, the only types of qualifying products offered were things like diet shakes, magazines and multivitamins, which I never buy.
Fortunately, you don’t need to activate offers before you buy the items (as is sometimes the case with other receipt-scanning apps). You do, however, need to scroll down and select which offers you purchased before scanning your receipt and claiming your Kicks.
Related: Fetch Rewards pays you for uploading any register receipt. Learn more in our in-depth Fetch Rewards review.
#4: Linked Cards
Our earnings: I wasn’t able to earn any Kicks with linked cards.
Some Shopkick partners offer Kicks when you pay for purchases with debit and/or credit cards that are linked to your Shopkick account. In theory, this has the potential to be a source of passive cash-back; once your cards are linked, no further action is required — you don’t have to activate offers, upload receipts or take any further steps.
Note: You link cards by manually entering the details of your Visa or MasterCard inside the Shopkick app.
Unfortunately, none of the stores I shopped at during my test period offered the linked card option, so I wasn’t able to test this feature.
Even if I had been able to test this feature, I wouldn’t yet have Kicks to show for it. Shopkick doesn’t award these points until after a store’s return policy deadline has passed (often 30 days). They do this so you can’t get Kicks on items you then return.
Additionally, if you want to un-link your card from Shopkick, you’ll lose all pending Kicks that haven’t yet met their 30 day deadlines.
#5. In-Store Shopping
Our earnings: I wasn’t able to earn any Kicks with in-store shopping.
In-store shopping is referred to within Shopkick as “Purchases.” It’s a feature where, when checking out at a participating retailer, you can open the Shopkick app and have the cashier scan a QR code (like scanning a loyalty card).
Here’s an example from Best Buy:
I only identified one store that offered this functionality (Best Buy), which is not mentioned in Shopkick’s App Store or Google Play store description. And, based on our calculations (which you can see below), it’s only offered by about 2% of partners (though the data we evaluated was taken from a single metro area).
Given that, it doesn’t seem like Shopkick is making this feature a priority. That’s too bad, because I like the idea of an easy-to-scan QR code that functions like a cash-back loyalty card.
#6. Cash-Back Shopping Portal
Our earnings: I didn’t earn any Kicks with the cash-back shopping portal.
I’ll be honest: I didn’t even bother trying to use this functionality, even though I shopped online during the test period.
That’s because rebates offered are almost always 1 Kick per dollar, which converts to less than 0.5% — a much lower cash-back rate than offered by competing platforms. You can learn more about how Shopkick compares to other cash-back portals below.
Worst of all, Shopkick also offers far fewer options for partnered stores — around 80, compared to the 2,000+ typically available through leading competitors.
#7. Watching Video Ads
Our earnings: I watched three video ads and earned seven Kicks.
This is technically one of the seven earning methods offered by Shopkick, but it’s a waste of time.
While Shopkick offers dozens of videos via its “Discover” function, only a handful offer Kicks in exchange for watching — the others are purely for entertainment and marketing.
The videos that do offer Kicks pay between one and three Kicks (0.5 – 1.5 cents).
What’s worse, I nearly always encountered an error message or frozen screen when trying to watch a video for Kicks:
You’ll never make a lot of money with a task like this, but there are better ways to watch ads for money.
Shopkick Earning Potential
With all the different ways to earn Shopkick points, you might be wondering just what the possibilities are for making money.
Here’s the rundown on the maximum amount you can earn.
Availability of Each Task Type
Some of the tasks offered on Shopkick are more commonly available than others. To give you a sense of how often the different tasks are available, we collected data from the 46 Shopkick partners within a 50-mile radius of a major metro area (Washington, DC).
Here’s the data:
|Walk-Ins||17% of stores|
|Scans||61% of stores|
|Receipts||87% of stores|
|Linked Cards||6% of stores|
|In-Store Shopping||2% of stores|
One important thing to note in the table above is that the most common task by far is receipt scanning, which requires you to make a purchase in order to earn reward points. Walk-ins, which do not require a purchase, are substantially rarer.
How Much Each Task Pays
250 Kicks equals $1, which means each individual Kick is worth approximately $0.004 (or 0.4 cents).
Here’s the breakdown of how many Kicks each type of tasks tends to pay, based on our research and testing:
- Walk-Ins: The average pay for a walk-in was 62.5 Kicks (24.5 cents). However, the median pay was just 10 Kicks (3.92 cents). This is because most of the walk-ins in our dataset paid very little, while two paid 200 Kicks each (or 78.4 cents), skewing the average.
- Scans: Most scans pay between 20 Kicks (7.84 cents) and 40 Kicks (15.68 cents). There are frequent “2x Kick” bonuses that can increase the value of scans.
- Receipts: Pay for receipts varies widely, but the vast majority of items pay between 100 Kicks (39.2 cents) and 400 Kicks ($1.56). The lowest-paying receipt we found in our research was 100 Kicks (39.2 cents) while the highest was 2,200 ($8.62). This means receipts are the most lucrative earning opportunity within the app.
- Linked Cards: Only three stores in our dataset offered linked card offers. One paid 1 Kick (0.392 cents) per dollar, while the other two paid 3 Kicks (1.17 cents) per dollar.
- In-Store Shopping: Only one store in our dataset offered in-store rewards, and the pay was 2 Kicks (0.78 cents) per dollar.
- Watching Video Ads: Most video ads are 15 seconds long and pay 1 Kick (0.392 cents). There is a limited selection of video ads in the app’s discovery section, which range in length and pay 3 Kicks (1.17 cents).
As mentioned briefly above, Shopkick’s cash-back rewards rates are far below other options available in the marketplace.
We wanted to give a better explanation so you could compare cash-back rates for online shopping with other apps and browser extensions.
This data was collected on March 1st, 2022. Note that these are the same 10 retailers we sampled for our TopCashback review, and for other cash-back reviews across the site. They were selected because they represent an array of shopping categories.
For the 10 stores we sampled, Shopkick always had the lowest cash-back rate.
In fact, Shopkick paid less than 1% at six out of the seven stores where cash-back was available. This is lower than the average cash-back site and significantly lower than the best-paying options.
Personally, I wish Shopkick would be more clear when describing their cash-back rates. It’s easy to see “1 Kick/$1” and take a quick mental shortcut to think you’re getting 1% cash-back, forgetting that 1 Kick is only worth 40% of 1 cent.
Here’s how Shopkick compared to other cash-back platforms in our sample:
Learn more about better-paying cash-back platforms:
Our Total Shopkick Earnings
We earned a total of $3.23 over one month of testing.
Though I can’t give a per-hour rate for these earnings because the task length varied unevenly, I can say that all but 3 cents was earned over the course of seven shopping trips, averaging out to 45 cents per trip.
I purposely did not change my spending habits over the course of this test month. While I could have suddenly chosen to buy People magazine and krill oil, that wouldn’t actually be saving me money. I wanted this to be as authentic an experience as possible to show what the average person could earn based on average spending.
Here’s the breakdown of my earnings:
|Task Type||Tasks Completed||Total Earnings|
You can start cashing out your Kicks once you’ve accumulated at least 500 points, which is $2 (if you want a Target gift card or a multi-gift card to TJMaxx and related stores).
However, most gift cards – including those to retail giants like Walmart and Amazon – require 1,250 Kicks to redeem. That means you can start cashing out for the majority of gift cards at $5.
You can also get PayPal cash as a reward on Shopkick, though there is a 50 Kick transaction fee built into the 2,550 Kick exchange rate for $10.
You can redeem physical prizes, with options starting at 12,500 Kicks for a Yeti Rambler.
Unfortunately, the cash-out process did not work as expected. I tried redeeming my gift cards at least a dozen times spread over a two month period, but I consistently got error messages such as the one shown in the photo below:
I even tried redeeming my points for gift cards I didn’t want, but wasn’t successful. It wasn’t until I reached out to customer service that (less than 24 hours later) I was able to correctly and accurately cash out my $2 Target gift card.
A quick look at the most recent reviews on the app stores and social media shows that many people are experiencing the same problem — some apparently without successful help from customer service.
We reached out to the public relations firm representing Shopkick to ask about this problem, and here’s what they told us:
“As part of continuous protocols and processes to combat security issues within the app, the Shopkick system occasionally freezes accounts. There is a known issue whereby Shopkick’s security systems are occasionally freezing legitimate users erroneously. The team is working to resolve the issue and reduce the number of frozen legitimate users as much and as soon as possible.”— The Key PR
In other words, Shopkick is fully aware that many users are unable to redeem their Kicks. If this happens to you, your only recourse is to contact the company’s customer support team and hope they unfreeze your account.
Editor’s note: Unfortunately, this wasn’t a one-off event. A separate team member of The Ways To Wealth tested Shopkick and had their account suspended. Similar to the case described above, their account was quickly reinstated after reaching out to customer support.
Yes, if your account is inactive for six months. Shopkick will attempt to contact you through your sign-up email (if you provided one) and encourage you to start using the app again to maintain your active status.
No, Shopkick doesn’t ever mail physical gift cards. They do have certain rewards which are physical products that get mailed (Airpods, a coffee maker, and even a Vespa).
The rest of their rewards show up in the “Kicks Center” under “My Rewards.”
Unfortunately, Shopkick doesn’t explain their methodology when it comes to scan or walk-in limits. They say only this: “We have limited funds from our partners for scans. We limit scans per person in order to give everyone a chance to collect Kicks.”
Shopkick: Our Final Verdict
The most important part of any money-making app is that it actually pays you the money you’ve earned.
When you use an app like this, you’re choosing to hand over a treasure trove of data — including your location history and your shopping habits — based on the promise that you’ll be compensated as advertised. In most cases that compensation doesn’t add up to a fortune, but you’re still entitled to every penny of it. And you shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to get it.
We were surprised and disappointed that Shopkick failed to live up to this promise on both my own and another team member’s account. As a well-regarded app that’s been around for many years, we expected better.
If Shopkick does eventually correct its account-related and reward redemption problems, we can see three types of people who could benefit from using the app:
- Those who live near large shopping districts and can frequently walk around to collect walk-in Kicks.
- People who have a lot of free time to scan random items during their weekly shopping trips through box stores.
- Anyone who is willing to link up their credit card to a store they already frequently shop at.
For everyone else, Shopkick offers little earning potential compared to other money making apps.