Thursday, September 29, 2016

I'm in a Test Market for the New Target Cartwheel Perks Program and Here's What I Think of It So Far...


If you shop at Target and you have a smartphone, then I'm guessing that you use the Target Cartwheel app. If you don't, you can download it for free here (for both iPhone and Android), if you're interested in giving it a whirl. If you have never heard of Target Cartwheel before, think of it as a way to get even more discounts on products you buy in-store at Target (it's for in-store purchases only). Meaning, these discounts are in addition to the regular weekly advertised sales.

Cartwheel discount offers change regularly, but basically you can just scroll through the active offers on the app, or pick up any random item while you're at your local Target, scan the barcode using the app, and it will tell you if there's a discount available. Then you just add the offer to your list (in the app) and at checkout, ask your cashier to scan the Carwheel barcode on your phone and voilà! ALL of the discounts you added to your list will be deducted from your grand total. 

Target Cartwheel Perks Program

Now that I've given you a crash course in the Target Cartwheel app, I want to let you know about a new program that Target is currently testing in San Diego (my hometown), Denver, Houston, and St. Louis. According to Coupons In the News, the new Cartwheel Perks program is a transformed version of an earlier test program called REDPerks that was tested in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina in 2015. 

I only recently noticed the new "Perks" tab in my Cartwheel app, but since it was an exciting discovery (hey, it doesn't take much to excite me these days, and saving money at Target ranks right up there), I wanted to share with you my feelings about the program so far...


The rest of this post will feature screen shots from the Perks tab in my Cartwheel app. Looking at the pic above, you can see that the instructions are quite simple. Scan your barcode (more on that in a moment), and get 10 points for every $1 you spend at Target. Your earned points are NOT limited to items that have Cartwheel deals attached to them, which is awesome. You get points for EVERY product you buy at Target, whether there's a Cartwheel deal attached or not.

Once you hit certain thresholds, you'll be eligible to redeem your points for certain "Perks" (more on that in a moment). To get things started, Target gave us testers an automatic 250 points and a chance to redeem those 250 points for a special introductory Perk.

Two of the four choices for my free 250 point Perk included:


A free checklane treat which includes your choice of ANY food or beverage item located in the checklane.


A free Starbucks drink of ANY size.

I obviously chose the free Starbucks drink, because HELLO! A free Starbucks drink of ANY size with no limitations? Uh, yeah. #nobrainer (The sad thing is, I was craving a plain ol' iced Americano that day, and I didn't even ask for any extra bells or whistles. In retrospect, I should have gotten something much more complex adding up to $12 or something crazy like that, but the heart wants what the heart wants.)

So I've gone on two shopping trips at my local Target since I started using the Cartwheel Perks program, and my app is telling me that I'm well on my way to earning my next Perk, which will be available to me when I hit 5000 points (equal to $500 spent in-store at Target). I have noticed that my points appear within hours of making my purchase at Target, and I THINK that Target is using my subtotal BEFORE I redeem my regular Cartwheel discounts when calculating my points. I need to look more closely at my receipts and points to confirm that, though. But if that's the case, that's awesome, right?

So what will I get when I hit 5000 points? Here are just 3 of the 5000 perk options:


Your choice of a free laundry detergent ($15 retail value maximum).


Your choice of a free nail polish or makeup product ($10 retail value maximum).


Your choice of a free book ($25 regular retail value maximum).

There are lots of other 5000 point Perk options (free children's Halloween costume, free sunglasses, free sheet set, free reusable water bottle, free jewelry, and more. There's even the option for a free Pop! Funko character, which is fun). 

How to "scan your barcode" to rack up points. OK, so the first time I used Cartwheel Perks, I had no idea what I was doing. I thought that I had to scan every single item I was putting into my shopping cart, which became a little tedious when I was buying multiples of certain items. But then I realized that the instructions say to "scan your Cartwheel barcode" at checkout. I was already doing that anyway (to redeem regular Cartwheel offers) so that's easy, right? But after I was finished with checkout, I didn't trust that Target would know about ALL of the items I bought (including those without regular Chartwheel offers) so to be safe, I used the barcode scanner in the Cartwheel app to scan the barcode on my receipt. After I did that, I received a prompt on my phone telling me that my points were recorded (that's not the exact wording, but you get the idea). I'm not sure I even needed to do that step, but I'm paranoid by nature so I did it anyway!

How do I feel about Cartwheel Perks so far? I'm impressed! I loved that introductory freebie, and the entire process of earning points and keeping track of points could not be any easier. After two standard shopping trips to Target, I'm already halfway to my next reward, and that is definitely going to be the free book (you'd think I'd be all over the free makeup, but if I have an option to get free books, I'm always choosing the free books). I am also impressed with the variety of perks for 5000 points--there's definitely something for everyone, and it's not just "get 10% off your next Merona t-shirt purchase" or something like that. It's FREE STUFF, and it's full-size free stuff (not trial sizes or samples). So far, the program is running quite smoothly and it's all outlined very clearly. 

PLEASE NOTE: I have no idea if/when this program is going to launch nationwide, and I also do not know if the system and perks that I outlined above will actually make the cut if/when this program launches nationwide. Based on test market feedback, we COULD see an entirely different program altogether when this hits the national level. We'll just have to wait and see.

PS: If you're interested, I will certainly keep you posted as I progress to different levels and continue to earn Perks. Just comment below and let me know if that's something you'd like me to share in the future.
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41 comments

  1. Oh my goodness!! What a cool idea. I use the cartwheel app sometimes so if Target brings this to the NYC area I will be all over it!!! Please keep us updated G and thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks so much, Tamiko! I will definitely keep you posted. Thanks for responding to that question, since I wasn't sure if anyone would be interested in a follow-up! :)

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    2. Seconded! I have wanted to score deals at Target without getting the Target credit card, so I am glad to know about the Cartwheel app and these new perks!

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  2. Heck ya G. Please keep me posted! This is a program I'd love to see go national but until then I'll live vicariously through your perks!

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    1. Haha, you got it, Candie! I'll even let you know which book I choose! ;)

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  3. That is so cool! I have homes in NC (used the REDPerks) and here in Michigan, where there is nothing:-( the new cartwheel perks sounds so awesome, and as you'll hear mortgage Tage the shoppers "I can't get out of target without spending 100 dollars " point accumulation so be easy. I also like that in addition to cartwheel savings you can use coupons and on many "essentials" you get money back giftcards. So yes please keep information coming about your "perks" and as always thanks for the time you put in to saving us all the time and money on great beauty deals!

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    1. Oh yes, gotta love the coupons and gift card deals that you can stack on top of Cartwheel deals! So getting the "Perks" too is the icing on the cake, right? Since you were part fo the REDperks test, I'm curious if you can tell us how that different from this new Cartwheel Perks test! Any big differences?

      And you are so welcome! Thanks so much for the kind words. So happy to help! :)

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  4. Is it that you get 1 perk point for every dollar you spend? How does that work or how is it explained?

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    1. Scroll up and look at the graphic at the beginning of my post (the one with the blue bullet points). It's all explained clearly there in bold print, and I also explained it in more detail immediately below that graphic.

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  5. Absolutely keep me posted! I use the Cartwheel app every time I'm in Target. I think it's great that you can get a % off of mundane items like milk or cotton balls, things that people use all the time. Sometimes it's only 5% but every little bit helps.

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    1. I completely agree! Every penny counts and it all adds up on that receipt! ;) I will definitely keep you posted as I hit more perks. Thanks for asking!

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  6. Yes, please. I really love Target and would get those freebies very quick. Lol. Yes, I always go to Target just for 1 item that I need, but I finish with my shopping cart full of things that i don't need. Lol. Thank you for the updates!

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    1. That is the story of my life! Go into Target for one thing, leave with $100 less in my bank account. Lol!

      And you're so welcome. Thanks for reading! :)

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  7. I was just thinking the other day how much I spend at Target, lol, and how cool it would be for Target to have a rewards program so I could actually earn points like at Walgreen's. I really hope this is implemented in all Target stores eventually.

    P.S. I too would pick the free book, but those perks are just awesome in general.

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  8. Would love to see a follow up! I have a target like 1/4 mile from my house and I constantly shop there when I'm lazy and don't want to battle the lines at Walmart! Love the cartwheel program as well! Would LOVE to see this program roll out nationwide!

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  9. I rarely go shopping at Target but it's our go to place if we need something of a higher quality than Walmart so definitely a great concept.

    I too would get the free book (because well, why not) - and they do have non-fiction titles too which is something that I really really appreciate! (And something worth $25 would be a hard bound book - score!)

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  10. Wow this is good news. I've religiously using my Cartwheel since 2013. Saved alreasy 147 since and unlocked so maNY badges already. My husband thinks it's a waste that I use this app because I don't really get anything for unlocking the badges. This is great news their stepping up the Cartwheel program.

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  11. Thanks, G, very informative! I have this but learned new stuff from your post anyway. :)

    I just redeemed 5000 points for a free pair of blue jeans (up to $34.99) tonight! I recently moved from one of the test markets to upstate NY, but I'm getting the offers (maybe because I haven't changed my address on the Target.com site yet?) and the cashiers didn't know about the program at all, and were shocked when I gave them the code to scan. I'm loving it so far, since moving into a new place is racking up the points fast with all my Target runs, LOL.

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  12. I am so interested in this! I use Target Cartwheel every time I go to Target. Every little percentage off helps and I love getting freebies for shopping.

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  13. Wow! I hope they go forward with this because I buy my groceries there every week!

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  14. Hallelujah! OMG I love Cartwheel and often use it on items from Market Pantry and makeup items. I have to say this would be so freaking awesome! I was actually frustrated with the app last week because of the whole iOS update and app just does not let me login. There is no perks in my area yet, but I sure hope that they can quickly make it either statewide of nationwide. Who doesn't love a good saving?

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  15. Thanks for the update! I downliaded the Cartwheel application but always forget to use don't know how. I'll have to reread your instructions. Also love Target and have one too close at 4 miles another guilty one who goes in for a couple of things and comes out with a cart full. Lol!

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  16. I love this and if I use my Target debit card I get 5% off everything too! I hope this goes nationwide!

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  17. I use the Cartwheel app every time I go to Target (which is a LOT, it's practically right around the corner). I hope this rolls out nationwide. Thanks for letting us know about this G, and keep us posted.

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  18. This sounds really neat. Would love to read more about your experience. I had to delete my Cartwheel because my phone is so old. I am putting off a new one until I start dropping calls.

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  19. I'm in St. Louis and grocery shop every week at Target so my Perks have been adding up very fast! I redeemed for the first time this week 5000 points for free makeup item.

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  20. I've been using Cartwheel since it launched and love it! This sounds great too, but it would take me way longer than 2 visits to accrue 5,000 points. I find that my local grocery store is cheaper, so I really only go to Target for things that are on sale.

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  21. I am so excited about this that I just may squeal! Thanks, G.!

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  22. I'm in a test market area in Houston as well, and I'm loving it so far. I got a free perk for downloading the new version of the app, and I picked a Bullseye's Playground (One Spot) up to $5 item. Mine looks just like your screen shots. I hope they keep it up! I actually didn't realize you could scan items and it would tell you if there was a Cartwheel offer for it. Not sure how I ever missed that because I see it plain as day now, but thanks for including that - that will be very helpful instead of searching for each item like I used to do, lol!

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  23. Omg!! Thank you so much for all this info!! I just downloaded the app and also got the perks program! 😍 I didn't have the app as I shop at target maybe every 2 to 3 months. I usually go to Costco. But now, this changes everything! LOL!!😄 I live in Chula Vista and I have Costco, Walmart, Dollar Tree, Target, and Michaels on Broadway and they're literally right next to each other! But because I get that 2% back on purchases at Costco w/ membership, I shop there all the time. I will start taking trips to Target from now on!😁

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  24. Ooh I wish I had that Perks program! I love shopping at Target and I have the Cartwheel app, but I don't use it that often at all.

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  25. I shop at Target, but don't have Cartwheel. Whenever I've been stuck behind someone in line who is taking a lot of time, it is usually someone having trouble with Cartwheel. I also think that with minimal promotion given towards Cartwheel, the savings must not be that great.

    However, the perks program does sound interesting. If it rolls to to all stores, I'll look into it.

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    1. I have to politely disagree with you there! I believe that the minimal promotion is BECAUSE of the significant discounts! They probably don't want the entire world jumping on some of these deals. Lol!

      Cartwheel regularly offers 20, 30, 40% off select items on their app. Last month my boyfriend bought his printer for 50% off through Cartwheel. The exact same printer that he was about to buy for full price at Best Buy.

      Last week during my very typical shopping trip (no big ticket items...just stuff like TP and paper towels) I literally saved $20 off my $100 total buying JUST things I needed with Cartwheel. Granted, they do offer a lot of 5% off deals, but the significant discounts are definitely there and I'm constantly amazed by how many things I was ALREADY going to buy that appear on sale in the app at any given time.

      If you're thinking it's not worth your time or effort, I truly think it is. :)

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    2. I completely agree.... since I started using Cartwheel, I have accrued savings of $1200+. Two of my favorite Cartwheel deals are quickly approaching... each year, around Christmas, the Cartwheel app has offered a 50% off deal on all Christmas lights and a 40% off deal on all boots!

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  26. Ooo, this sounds amazing! I do most of my shopping at Target and am a dedicated Cartwheel user.

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  27. Does anyone know if there's a way to use this w/o a smart phone? I can use the cartwheel program by just printing out my barcode online and taking it into the store for the items I've added to my account. But I don't know how this new rewards program could work without a smart phone. Anybody?

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    1. I work at a Target in one of the test markets, and unfortunately this Perks program is only for the mobile app. You cannot use it through the website.

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  28. I work at a Target in one of the test markets, and our store has been chosen to really promote the cartwheel perks. We even have Cartwheel ambassadors that roam the store, explaining and helping people with it. Our guests absolutely love it! They are so excited about this new way to get free things. This morning I helped a gentleman who was trying to figure out how to redeem his perks. When he saw the laundry detergent perk, he commented that he had some in what he was buying and could he use it then. I said yes! He got his $14.99 jug of laundry detergent for free!

    From what we have been told, the testing phase goes through the end of December. Hopefully it will be rolled out Nationwide, early next year! :-)

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  29. I live in the Raleigh-Durham, NC area and have been using RED Perks for a while. I'm really close the 5,000 points perk and am excited about all of the awesome perk choices. They're still calling it RED Perks here & we don't have the Perk option in our Cartwheel app (was in the store today and all the store signs still say RED Perks). It will be so convenient when they merge the two apps. So glad other areas are able to enjoy this awesome rewards program. : )

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  30. Do you need a red card to get perks? I live in San Diego as well, my Cartwheel app is the latest update (via the Playstore) and I don't have a perks app. I just left Target and the cashiers there didn't have any advice, they just suggested I delete the app, and reinstall. Tried that, no change.

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  31. I libe in st louis and therefore have the new app and LOVE it!!!!! I got a Smith and Hawken decor item of my choosing up to a $40 value!! (That one isnt available any longer and the new Smith ofer is $20...still good!!) i just earned my 2nd perk. I will probably pick a free jewelry item. My only complaint would be that online purchases dont count...hopefully that will be an enhancement soon! It is also nice that if you forget to scan your barcode in store you can scan the barcode on the receipt from the app and still get points!

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