Prizes and Freebies from CoupSmart for the iPhone
Since this post was written, CoupSmart has changed its focus and no longer provides coupon services for consumers. You can see Linsey's review of the old CoupSmart app below, but please note that you can no longer download CoupSmart for your iPhone.
I don't usually brag about smartphone apps. There are a lot of really great money-saving iPhone apps out there, but it is truly a matter of personal taste as to which ones are absolutely a "must" to download. This week, I discovered a new app called CoupSmart when a reader alerted me to the fact that they had won $200 just for using it. When I heard this, I had to check it out. Here's the scoop for anyone else who's interested.
What Is CoupSmart?
CoupSmart is a simple, free download available only for the iPhone at the time of this writing (although plans are in the work for an Android and Blackberry compatible version). After the quick download, it asks for a brief registration (which can also be done online at the CoupSmart website). Now comes the fun (and tricky part): You can start scanning the UPC codes on the products you have in your home.
The premise behind scanning your products is two-fold: The CoupSmart company can get insights into the products you purchase for the purposes of free market research, AND you are also giving them information about what items you really like so that future offers and free samples will be relevant to your tastes. By scanning items with the CoupSmart tool, you are giving them permission to send you samples, offers, and enter your name into regular prize drawings. Considering that you are giving away the same information every time you sign up for a sample or offer online, this isn't a bad deal according to their Terms of Service. (And at the time of this writing, they were giving $5 away to the first 3,000 to scan 30 items.)
How Does It Work?
Scanning can be a bit difficult to get the hang of. Using your phone's camera function, you attempt to line up the edges of the bar code within the little target on your phone's screen. This is not an exact science, and you may find yourself moving your phone closer and then further away in an effort to get the code recognized. (The site recommends that you are in good, even lighting, as this can play a part into how well the code scans.) Once the code is lined up correctly, the prompt on the screen will turn green, telling you to hold still, and the phone will "beep" once the code is captured. There is no need to button-push.
Note: I've also found that several types of bar codes scan better than others, so if you are in a hurry, follow these additional tips:
- Avoid shiny surfaces, except in low light. Reflection from the surface can distort the code, making it impossible to capture.
- Plastic overwrap can be difficult, as well. Bread bags, for example, must be smoothed out on a flat surface for the best possible chance of getting the code captured.
- You might assume that boxes with a matte finish are easiest to scan — you're right! If in need of a few codes fast, head to your medicine cabinet for boxes of bandages, cold medicine, etc. They work well!
What Can You Get?
Once scanned, the code will take a few moments to process. The application will tell you what you just scanned (ground coffee, for example) or it will say that the code wasn't recognized. Either way, you get credit for the scan, and at 45 codes, you'll earn an entry into their monthly, quarterly, and annual prize drawing. In addition, you'll earn samples and gifts. You can check the site to see which samples or offers are available to you, but in my case, I just got an email alert that I won a gift card, with no description. Then a crisp $5 bill came in the mail a few days later. (This "prize" was for the first 3,000 to scan 30 codes and was in addition to the large monthly and quarterly drawings.)
The pros of this program are many. Scan stuff quickly to get prizes and samples — they do come!
The cons are simply that I'm not fully aware of how they calculate incentives. While entries into the drawings are easy to understand, I don't know how often the free samples come or whether they are any good. Also, as more people sign up, the odds of winning could go way down, OR they could begin offering better prizes — I'm not sure how it will work.
Have you been a user of CoupSmart? Can you share your experiences with us?
*NOTE: CoupSmart contacted us with the following clarifications to our article. (Thanks!) "We actually have an even better program for our monthly giveaway of ten $200 Visa gift cards; you actually just need to scan 30 items, instead of 45, to earn an entry, and you can earn as many entries as you want providing you don't run out of items to scan around your home."