If you list out things that you do every day, there are bound to be a couple things on the list:
- Walk into a store
- Watch TV
- Use a search engine
What would you say if I told you that you could earn actual money by doing these things, and that this money could be donated to great charities?
All you have to do is sign up for these rewards programs. I’ll dedicate a separate post each week talking about each one.
There are tons of other programs out there that reward you for doing everyday things, but these are the three I use every day. Here’s why:
ShopKick is an app you can download for your iPhone or Android that lets you “check in” to stores. It’s not like Foursquare or Facebook where you’re basically on the “honor system” –the Shopkick app will use your phone’s microphone to listen for a specific signal that confirms that you’re in the store.
Shopkick has pretty much transformed my life. I work in New York City, and I have the option of taking the subway to my office or walking. The subway costs $2.50 each way, which adds up over a year. But because there’s a Best Buy, an Anthropologie, an American Eagle Outfitters, an Old Navy, and a Macy’s on my walk, I can pop into each store and “check in” for anywhere from 35 to 50 points (or “kicks”), and on certain days they’ll give out 100-200 bonus points.
Moreover a lot of stores let you scan items for additional points. It’s smart on their part, because now I’m familiar with those stores and when I have a need to buy something, they pop up first in mind. I also go out of my way to visit stores like the Sony Store or Crate and Barrel now; while I might have been too lazy to make the trip before, getting the “kicks” adds some extra incentive.
You can trade kicks in for gift cards; for 1250 kicks you get a $5 gift card, meaning each kick is worth about 0.004 cents. So if on a given day I walk into five stores and get 50 points each, I effectively earn a dollar that day, get some good exercise, and save $2.50. Pretty neat, huh? You can trade in your kicks for gift cards at stores such as Starbucks, Target, Macy’s, or Gamestop, or save points for merchandise and services ranging from 3500 kicks for a shopping tote to 6,250,000 kicks for a Princess Cruise.
Now for the charitable component. In addition to the redemption options above, if you’re feeling generous (and if you’re reading this blog, you fit under that category) you can “Donate Kicks to a Cause”. Each month, ShopKick will feature different causes (this particular month they’re featuring the American Red Cross, Ronald McDonald House Charities, the American Humane Association, and Feeding America). Your kicks will pool together with others who have donated, and these charities will be able to redeem kicks to help their organizations.
Viggle is an app along the same lines as Shopkick, except instead of walking into stores you’re sitting on a couch watching TV. You can “check in” to any TV program you’re watching. and the Viggle App will use your phone microphone to listen to your TV and figure out what you’re watching. You’ll earn one point per minute.
For certain programs, you can earn bonus points (these are listed on the welcome screen each day). These are usually 100-2oo points. There’s also cool “second screen” technology where for certain programs you can play a quiz and earn even more Viggle Points for correct answers. These can range from 100-200 points to the thousands of points. You can also earn bonus points for doing tasks such as watching commercials on their app or purchasing products and services.
As you might imagine, it takes a LOT of points to save up for a prize. It takes 25,000 points to earn a $10 Starbucks gift card, for example. and 62,500 points for a $25 CVS gift card. You can also use fewer points to enter sweepstakes.
From a charity perspective, you can spend 7,500 points to make a $5 donation to charities. The charities change from time to time, but this month they’re the American Red Cross and Rebuilding Together.
Finally, there’s Bing Rewards. In admittedly a little bit of desperation on their part to break the hegemony of Google, Bing launched a program where you can earn 1 point for every 2 searches you do on the Bing search engine.
You can redeem points for things like gift cards. For example, you can get a $5 Starbucks gift card for about 500 points, or about 1000 searches. If that seems like a lot to you, go into your browser history and see how many Google searches you’ve done in the past week.
Among their redemption options are some great options to help charities. Every 100 points will give a $1 donation to charities like Boys and Gifts Clubs of America, Kids in Need, and Teach for America. I would have liked to see Microsoft discount the charitable redemptions the same way that Shopkick and Viggle did, but just having them there as an option is a really good thing.
As for Bing’s quality, I have to say that while it used to be awful, over the years they’ve done a lot of good work and the quality is almost as good as Google in some areas, and even better than Google in other areas. Give them a try; while getting paid a half penny every time you search doesn’t seem like a lot, it does add up over time. And of course, Google isn’t giving you squat for all the times you use it!
And so, there’s my advice on rewards programs that reward you for doing everyday things and let you donate that “free money” to charity.