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.