Your data is valuable.
So valuable, in fact, that market researchers are willing to pay through the nose for it. And if someone’s willing to pay for it, that means we can sell it.
Indeed, that’s exactly the business model that most rewards apps follow.
These kinds of apps allow consumers to earn cash back and rewards by sending across valuable data regarding their spending habits to researchers. This gives us a great opportunity for us to get free money for next to no effort.
We’ve talked a lot about the best rewards apps already on Frugal For Less, but one we haven’t yet covered is the National Consumer Panel (NCP) mobile app. That all changes today.
In this NCP Mobile app review, we’ll be covering:
- What it is
- How it works
- How much you can earn using the app
- The different rewards on offer
- The pros and cons of the app
- How to sign up
And much more besides.
Ready? Let’s jump right into it.
What is the NCP Mobile App?
NCP mobile app is essentially a barcode scanning reward app for US shoppers. It’s similar to receipt scanning apps like Ibotta except that, instead of scanning your receipts, you have to scan the barcode of each individual item to earn rewards.
The app is owned and run by NCP (National Consumer Panel), which is a partnership between two of the biggest US market research companies: Nielsen and IRI.
NCP has been collecting consumer behavior data for retail companies and manufacturers since way back in 1923. In the past, they did this by sending out scanners to their panel in the mail and getting them to manually scan each barcode.
Thankfully, these days, most of us have smartphones, which means this is no longer necessary. Now, panelists can scan these barcodes and do everything else they need to do from the NCP mobile app.
How NCP Mobile App Works
The NCP mobile app uses your phone’s camera as a barcode scanner so that you can scan items that you’ve purchased and then submit them to earn reward points. Here’s the process, broken down into 7 steps:
Step 1: Download the app and sign up
First thing’s first, you’ll need to download and register for the app. Registration is only open to US citizens over 18 years old, and not everyone is accepted. We’ll talk more about this later in the ‘how to sign up’ section of this post.
Step 2: Click ‘new purchases’
Once you’re on the app, you’ll see a welcome screen which displays your level and a big ‘new purchases’ button. Hit that.
Step 3: Select a store
You’ll then see a list of a huge number of stores. Most of the places you’ll regularly shop at will be listed on there, like Walmart and 7-Eleven. Select the store where you’ve purchased a product from.
Step 4: Scan the barcode
The app then loads up your camera and asks you to scan the barcode of that product. This part is pretty easy as the scanner seems to work quite well and is straightforward enough to use.
Step 5: Fill in some details about the purchases
The app will then ask you to provide some extra information about the purchase. This will likely be things like what and how you paid for it, whether or not it was discounted, and where you’ll be using it – all the usual stuff you’d expect market researchers to want to know.
This is probably the most time-consuming part of the process and makes what should be a 2-second job into a 2-minute job. Most complaints about the app focus on this aspect.
Step 6: Submit it
Now you just need to submit it and wait for it to be accepted. Your reward points won’t be credited straight away, it could take a few days, but they will be there eventually.
Step 7: Boost your rewards with surveys
Occasionally, the app will let you take a quick survey to earn some extra reward points. In between barcode scanning, this can be a great way to earn some extra points without having to spend money on products first.
How Much Can You Earn Using NCP Mobile App?
The NCP mobile app doesn’t pay out in cash or PayPal deposits so, technically, you won’t make any real money using the app. However, points can be redeemed against gift cards and items with a real cash value.
The longer you’ve been using the app, the more points you’ll earn per transmission. At the start, you’ll earn 150 points each time. This increases year on year and, by year 5, you’ll earn around 280 points each time.
Seeing as a $10 gift card costs 6,000 points, it will take you around 40 transmissions, at the start, to earn the equivalent of $10. By year 5, it will take roughly 21 transmissions.
How long it will take you to do this number of transmissions is anyone’s guess. It depends on how frequently you shop and scan barcodes. That being said, if I had to guess, I’d say you could probably aim for around $100 worth of rewards per year.
Is that Really Worth My Time?
I always find a useful way to look at this question is to compare the potential earnings against the time costs and other expenses.
The only expense I can really see with this app (besides actually buying the products, but you’d be doing that anyway) is the cost of electricity. The app will use a lot of power on your smartphone, which means you’ll have to recharge more frequently.
According to this Forbes article, though, charging your phone only costs around $0.12 per year in electricity. This is such a small amount that we can totally discount it and assume that 100% of what you earn through the app really is extra cash in your bank account.
In terms of time investment, though, it’s a different story. It will take you probably around 2-3 minutes to complete a transmission. Therefore, to complete the 40 transmissions it takes to get a $10 gift card, it will take you 80 – 120 minutes. That’s a lot of time.
If you’re looking for a full-time income, this app will be a disappointment. If your expectations aren’t that high, and you’re just looking for a nice way to earn a little extra back on your purchases, then it’s definitely worth your time.
You could save up points all year using the app and redeem them to get Christmas presents each December. You could also use the app in conjunction with other rewards apps to boost your monthly income by up to a few hundred dollars.
Ways to Get Bonus Points
If 150 points per submission seems a little slow, there are also bonus points available. These can boost your total point count much more quickly.
Here are the different bonus points available through the app:
- Signup bonus – 1,000 points
- Welcome survey – 500 points
- Birthday bonus – 250 points
- 3-month anniversary bonus – 1,500 points
- 6-month anniversary bonus – 1,000 points
- Yearly anniversary bonus – 1,000 points
Now that we’ve covered how to earn points, let’s move on to rewards.
NCP Mobile App Rewards
When I first checked out the NCP Mobile App rewards catalog, the available options seemed like a bit of a disappointment. I was hoping you’d be able to redeem them for PayPal credit but this wasn’t something the app offered.
However, after checking out their rewards catalog a little more, I’ve decided that the reward options really aren’t that bad.
Here are some of the rewards you can choose from:
- iTunes gift cards
- Gift cards for various stores
- Charity donations
- Household appliances like vacuum cleaners
- Discounts for various retailers
- Cash sweepstake entries
The only way to get actual cash (besides selling the gift cards you earn) is to use your points against cash sweepstakes entries and hope that you win. There are weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual sweepstakes with different cash prizes.
Here’s a list of some of the sweepstakes on offer:
- Quarterly ‘Grand Prix’ sweepstake – 1 prize: $20,000 check or new Ford car
- Quarterly ‘Super Scanner’ sweepstake – 40 prizes: $500 visa gift card
- Weekly ‘Lucky Weeks’ sweepstake – 10 prizes: $50 visa gift card
- Monthly sweepstake – 25 prizes: $500 visa gift card
- Monthly ‘Pay for Your Shopping’ sweepstake – 1 prize: shopping reimbursement up to $300
- Quarterly ‘NCP Connect’ sweepstake – 10 prizes: $500 visa gift card
Now let’s move on to the million dollar question…
Is NCP Mobile App Legit or a Scam?
The short answer is yes, NCP Mobile App seems to be legitimate. How did we arrive at this conclusion? Let’s take a look.
Here are the three main factors that seem to show that NCP Mobile App is not a scam:
1. Their parent company has an A+ rating with the BBB
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), Nielsen (their parent company) has been awarded an A+ rating.
This rating is an indication of how trustworthy and reliable NCP is, and is based on the number of complaints received and how well those complaints have been resolved.
However, it’s worth remembering that hardly any organizations are completely unbiased, and the BBB has faced criticism in the past for giving A+ ratings to downright shady businesses.
That being said, the rating still goes a long way towards proving that NCP Mobile App is legit.
2. They’re affiliated with CASRO
According to this article, NCP is affiliated with CASRO (the Council of American Survey Research Organizations), an association which aims to ensure research organizations meet strict professional standards through guidelines and enforceable rules of ethical conduct.
This should give users some added peace of mind that their data is being handled responsibly.
3. They actually pay out
Survey and reward apps have a bad reputation as many companies out there mislead customers and don’t deliver on promised rewards.
Fortunately, it doesn’t seem like the NCP Mobile app is part of this crowd, as the vast majority of customer reviews are positive.
Many reviews talk about successfully receiving the rewards after redeeming their points, there are relatively few complaints, and the complaints that are raised are mainly about user interface and design, rather than more worrying things like not receiving rewards.
Speaking of complaints, let’s take a look at what some other user reviews say about the app.
What Other Users Think
The NCP mobile app has an average rating of somewhere between 4 and 4.5 stars on the Google Play Store. This is based on over 12,000 reviews from users, which is great, as the more reviews there are, the more accurate it’s likely to be.
Of course, ratings can be manipulated so, sometimes, the best way to find out if a rewards app is worth your time is to read through the review comments on the app store – the good and the bad.
Except that you don’t need to because I’ve already done it for you! Let’s start with the good.
I read through dozens of reviews and found that most of them were positive:
- “I think this is a great app for single moms like me, that do all the grocery shopping. You can earn rewards just for scanning your items!”
- “The app is easy to use and very convenient. I prefer the app over the handheld scanner. Taking surveys on the phone app is easy too”
- “This app is so easy to use, very convenient, I love the app it beats the hand scanner. I have received several gift cards and surveys are very interesting.”
As you can see, a lot of them mentioned the fact that having the scanner integrated on the phone was a big improvement from the manual scanner, and many also praised the rewards/point ratio.
There were relatively few negative reviews, but they did come up once in a while. Here are a few of them:
- “It’s annoying having to scan every item you purchase. It hinders me from submitting every purchase. It would be easier to just scan the receipt.”
- “The user interface is odd and not intuitive. The payment screen made me scroll down after every selection.”
- “It does not give you long enough to get to the barcode of the next item before it’s telling you it timed out.”
The themes in the examples above came up time and time again. The main 3 issues that users seemed to identify were:
1. Issues with the barcode scanner
Some users had trouble with getting the scanner to recognize barcodes. Others had no difficulty with this but felt that having to scan each individual barcode wasn’t ideal and that a receipt scanning function would improve things.
2. Issues with the user interface
Many people complained that the app wasn’t very user-friendly or intuitive, which slowed down the scanning process and made using the app a little frustrating.
3. Issues with timing
Many users mentioned that the app automatically times out a little too quickly when scanning items, forcing users to have to reopen the scanner frequently and further slowing down the scanning process.
The Verdict – Should You Download It?
I’d personally recommend this app to any savvy shoppers looking to earn some rewards for their purchases.
Barcode scanning apps aren’t for everyone, but if you don’t mind putting aside a little time after shopping in order to earn a gift card or two every few months, it’s definitely worth downloading.
You can earn points a lot faster with NCP than with many other similar market research apps, and they also seem to be more legitimate than a lot of other options.
Just make sure that you’re actually interested in the rewards in their catalog before you invest time into it, otherwise, all that scanning will be for nothing.
If you’ve made up your mind and want to start using the NCP Mobile App, read on and we’ll show you how.
How to Sign Up for NCP Mobile App
To use the app, you first have to be a panel member. Whether or not you qualify to be a panel member depends on if the company is looking for market research within your demographic at the time you apply.
To see if you’re eligible, you’ll have to provide a ton of personal information, such as your name, address, age, email address, and some basic information for all the other members of your household too.
There’s no way to be sure whether or not you’ll be accepted, but it’s free to apply so you might as well give it a go! Just download the app and follow the on-screen prompts to get started with the process.
3 Alternatives to NCP Mobile App
In case you feel that NCP Mobile App isn’t right for you, here are a few alternatives that you could try.
Ibotta is one of the longest-running rebate apps on the market. Just like with NCP Mobile App, you earn rewards by uploading information about your recent purchases. However, there are a few differences.
Ibotta lets you scan receipts, whereas NCP Mobile App requires you to scan individual barcodes. If having to scan tons of barcodes each time is a sticking point for you, Ibotta may be a better app for you.
Shopkick is another cashback app with a difference. You don’t necessarily have to scan your barcodes to earn reward points. In fact, you don’t even have to buy anything at all. You can earn ‘kicks’ (Shopkick’s version of reward points) for simply walking into partner stores.
You can also earn cashback by linking up your cards with the app, shopping online, or submitting your grocery receipts.
Makeena is another receipt scanning app, but this one has been designed to encourage healthy eating. Lots of the offers listed on Makeena are for fruits, vegetables, and healthy food products, helping you to earn cashback and lose weight at the same time.
That concludes our full NCP Mobile App review! I hope you learned something.
Good luck and stay frugal!