Monday, April 2, 2012

How To Make The Most Out Of Checkpoints - The App That Pays You Back

(Edited to add: This guide is now outdated. Read this post for the latest info on how to earn points on the Checkpoints app.)

Checkpoints is known as the "app that pays you back". You go into any number of stores, check in, and scan items with your phone's camera to collect points and coins. You can use the coins to play two games within the app to win points. Once you've collected enough points, you can redeem them for rewards like gift certificates and iPads. This app is free for both Androids and iPhones.

I've been using the Checkpoints app for almost half a year now, and I've really grown attached to it. It is also working its magic on me: I'll make excuses to go into stores if I see items I can scan for coins and points, and I'll buy products that seem interesting to me that I hadn't been aware of before. I'm working my way up towards an iPad, so I've got a ways to go.

How to Earn Points & Coins:

  • Scan items in stores: Go visit your local grocery store or big box store, and check the app to see if there are any items you can scan. Most items are ten points and offer a coin each. There are some items that offer more points, such as the P&G items, which are fifteen points each. Occasionally, there'll be a special promotion, and you can gain twenty-five points from scanning those items. 
  • Check into locations:  You get two points for simply checking into a single location. There are some locations that have a star next to their name, and you'll get ten points for checking into those locations. 
  • Scan at Home: This is a very new feature. You provide Checkpoints with your home location information, and each week, Checkpoints asks you what you have in your pantry, fridge, or cupboards. You scan your favorite cookies, brand of coffee, etc. If Checkpoints doesn't have a record of it, you'll be asked to take a picture of the item and submit it for review. Scanning items at home doesn't give you any points, but it does give you a coin for each item. If you've moved, you can change your location, but you can only change your location once every 90 days.
  • Toolbar:You can download the Checkpoints toolbar for your browser (works with IE9 and Firefox) and every time you do a search in the toolbar, which is powered by Yahoo!, you earn a point. When you buy stuff online in certain sites, such as Macy's or Shutterfly, you can earn extra points for every dollar you spend. You can see all Checkpoints retailers here, along with the number of points you can earn per dollar spent.
  • Social sharing: You can earn bonus points for every friend you refer by signing up with your bonus code, which you can obtain by logging into your phone. You can share your code wherever, including Facebook and Twitter. You can also follow Checkpoints on Facebook and Twitter, and answer their weekly questions for bonus coins. When you answer the questions, don't forget to include your Checkpoints ID so they know who to credit.

Things You Should Know:
  • You don't have to scan the exact product listed. For example, if you're asked to scan "Newman's Popcorn", you can actually find and scan "Newman's Pasta Sauce", and you'll still earn the points and coin. 
  • Sometimes retailers cover up the bar code with their own stickers. In these cases, the bar code scanner for Checkpoints won't be able to recognize the item. 
  • Checkpoints also offers local deals within the app itself - just check the Deals tab to find discounts at restaurants and stores in your area. 
  • If you're checked into one store, and you want to move onto the next, you have to wait two minutes.
  • If you're checked into a store like Target, which offers a huge variety of items, you might see that some of the items listed in another store, like CVS, are also available at Target. If you're close enough to the other store, you can stay in Target and scan those other items. You'll also get points for getting checked into the other store.
  • You can't scan an item more than once for the day. 
  • When scanning @Home items, the bar code scanner won't be able to read single items that you've purchased in bulk from a store like Costco. Instead, you have to scan the original wrapping over all the items in order to get validated. 
  • When performing searches via the Checkpoints toolbar, some of your searches may not qualify for points, because it's obvious you're not doing an organic search, or if you've searched for the same thing within a short timeframe.
  • Checkpoints is terrible at reading items that may have truncated bar codes. 
  • Checkpoints drains your phone battery pretty fast because it relies on the GPS on your phone; if there was a way to make the app less draining, I'd love to see it.
  • Would love to have a way to eliminate the tutorial start screen. Maybe have an option like Punchcard does.
  • It's happened several times that I've scanned the exact item that's pictured on the list, but won't scan. I've sent feedback occasionally when this happens, but I never get confirmation if or when that's fixed.  
  • I would like to see the games give out more variety of points. For the slot machine game, it seems like you can only win 20 or 50 points, and that's not as fun. Maybe you could win 15, or 75, or a 100 points. 
  •  I don't like Checkpoints' practice of sending you your password in plain text, and I'd rather see a password hint or something along those lines offered. 
  • When buying items online to earn Checkpoints, the points don't show up for a few days. I would like an option to have confirmation of the points earned sent to me.
  • I would like an easier way to review the points I've accumulated.
 Where to Follow Checkpoints:

Disclaimer: The President of Checkpoints, Todd Dipaola is a friend of mine. Other than letting me know about the app, he has nothing to do with my activities.

Note: My bonus code is cheekyang, and if you sign up for Checkpoints with this code, I can get bonus points. (You cannot post this code on the Android Market in the reviews, or your account could be closed.)


  1. I know this is probably a little late but does checkpoints still do at home scanning? I cant find that option anywhere. Thanks

    1. No, they no longer do home scanning.