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National Consumer Panel: Earn points for scanning your purchases

The National Consumer Panel — formerly known as the Nielsen Homescan Consumer Panel — is currently accepting applicants in many locations.

If you are accepted as a panel member, you will be sent a small hand-held scanner and will scan all the bar codes of everything you purchase. Once a week, you’ll transmit this information to the National Consumer Panel and you’ll earn points which can be redeemed for a variety of items from the Gift Catalog.

The National Consumer Panel is a “mini-USA” that represents all types of Americans. Manufacturers and retailers will look at the information you send to them to decide what products to make and sell to consumers all across the country.

While I have personally not been a part of this panel, I have known many who have. Some really enjoy it, others don’t. You can read a variety of different experiences and thoughts from those who have participated here.

If you are accepted into the program and decide it’s not for you, they’ll pay the postage for you to send the scanner back. So if you’re game to try out something, it may be worth a shot.

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  1. says

    I’ve been on the waiting list for almost a year with them. They send me a short survey (5-8 questions) in the mail every month to send back to make sure I’m still interested, but I’ve yet to get a scanner. Anyone know what I can do to speed up the process?

  2. Mandy says

    I’ve tried to sign-up with them in the past and was told I had to go on a waiting list – but not sure if it worked out as something with my registration seemed weird. And I just tried to sign up again and they said they’re not recruiting households in my area. Bummer! Thanks for letting us know, though. I’d LOVE to try this out sometime! :)

  3. Morgana says

    I’ve done this in the past and hate to say that I was miserable and frustrated with it.
    I shop once for the entire month and would end up spending HOURS scanning things- each item type scanned in, what store did I buy from, prices to enter sometimes, did I buy on sale, coupons, etc… If the bar code wasn’t in the system you had to enter things manually… Unpacking and putting away groceries took thirty minutes per bag depending on how good the sale was.
    It was fun, but if you are like me and buy more than a few items at a time, you may want to reconsider how much time you’re willing to spare for the process. I gave it a good 8 months before I finally packed the thing up and sent it back.

    • Cindy says

      @Morgana, Agreed…I hated it after the first few days! We’re a family of 6 and the time it took to scan everything was depressing. I stuck with it for a couple of months and cashed out for DVDs and a gift card (I think) but then I sent it back. Way too much effort! And, if I remember correctly, they wanted you to scan your coupons before your went to the store as well. Screwed everything up if you decided not to purchase that item.

  4. Dawn says

    I signed up in March, maybe? They contacted me in June that a scanner was available in my area. I agree with you ladies- it’s kind of a PITA at first. If you buy anything with the Kroger orange “manager special” stickers, it won’t scan. Or if you buy produce it can’t be recoreded without a barcode. Also, you can’t submit a shop without a barcode scan of something. What about coffee shops, gas stations or bulk foods? They have to go unreported. I missed the first two weeks to get points because I was downloading on the wrong day of the week. I agree, it sounds like fun, but in reality, it’s a fair amount of work for little $ reward. Kind of like blogging I hear… 😉

  5. Brian Why says

    I’ve had my scanner for about six weeks and yeah, it’s a handful to do if you shop a couple times a week (the 4 year old can’t handle more than one or two shortish stops before she’s fried). One great thing I can say is it’s forcing me to manage my time better with coupon cutting/printing. I’m being much more hawkish about what deals I follow through on.

  6. says

    I singed up and was accepted a few months ago. However, when I saw how much work it would be scanning everything, including all coupons used, filling out endless surveys, etc…compared to the relatively meager rewards program, I packed it up and sent it right back! They may still be looking for a family of 5 w/ 3 kids under 5 and 2 in diapers…because this one just doesn’t have time for all those details.

    • Dana from Alabama says

      @Ms.M., Same here! I attempted my first trip, but gave up before I finished it. I would not recommend it to anyone who uses lots of sales and coupons, as you have to enter everything in manually! The rewards didn’t look all that great compared to the time investment.

    • Sunny says

      @Ms.M., you said it perfectly. I sent mine back after about a month. The time it took was definitely not worth the rewards, which seemed like they would take quite a while to add up.

  7. Cassie says

    I tried it for a month and found it to be very time consuming. You have to scan each item, then identify if it was on sale or not, and then if you used coupons and the dollar amount of the coupon. It took me a long time because I use lots and coupons and sales.

  8. Allison says

    I was the same was Ms. M. We are a family of 5 with 3 kids 5 and under and another one on the way. I stuck with it for about 8 months and was so stressed having to scan everything before I was able to put up my groceries that it made it miserable. I think if the rewards program was better it would make it a little more worth it. For those of us who use coupons it’s too much work for the payoff.

  9. Stephanie says

    I signed up the last time this was listed and was put on a waiting list, but I was contacted a few weeks ago, saying it was my turn! I don’t have any children, just me and my boyfriend. So it was kind of exciting that we were choosen. We don’t purchase a lot anyway, so this hasn’t been too big of a hassel, but I’m sure for large families it would take a long time. It seems like you have to do it for awhile though before you get enough points to get anything valuable.

  10. Kirstin says

    I am currently a scanning member of NCP. It does take a little bit more work to scan everything but I find that it’s not that difficult to do. I just have my receipt right next to me and scan the items as I unpack them from the store to put them away. I am an avid couponer and it doesn’t bother me that much to type in my coupon amount. You don’t have to scan the coupons before you go to the store or anything like that. We are a family of 5 (3 adults, 2 kids under age 2). The major down side that I have found is with the scanner. When you have to pick which store you used you have to scroll through alphabetically, which is a little frustrating. However, the last 10 or so stores you have shopped at always show up as the first ones on the scanner. So, if you routinely shop at the same couple of stores it’s not that bad.

  11. Ann says

    I have been a member for almost 10 years. I have found the easiest thing to do when I do my grocery shopping is to take the scanner with me and scan as I put the item in my cart as they supply the batteries when needed. This makes it easier to enter coupons, sales, price, etc. I’ve gotten quite good at scanning and entering info with just one hand. Some people have even stopped me because they think I work at the store. They laugh when I tell them no but proceed to try to help them. The gift catalog items have been purchased as Christmas gifts or for things I have really wanted. So…I say to stick with it. Maybe you kids could help too.

  12. Anne says

    I waited for a scanner for a year. I was accepted in to the program this May and I already turned my scanner back in. It was WAY too much trouble. I go to lots of different stores, shop store sales, and use coupons. Entering all that data took forever, and I was always stressed out about making sure my purchases were scanned correctly. The program was well run and when I needed to have a question answered, the company seemed great to work with. It just wasn’t a good fit for me.

  13. Brian Why says

    Here’s a question: How do you scan non-food products that don’t have upc codes? We got some hair products at Sally’s that don’t have a bar code.

  14. says

    We are a family of five (3 kids – ages 4, 2, and newborn) and have been scanning for about 3 months now. I waited about one year for a scanner and actually forgot that I signed up for this program. It’s been time-consuming and I knew this going in but has also helped me track what I spend. My 4 and 2 year olds LOVE to help and it’s been a learning process for them as well.
    They have streamlined the process and you don’t have to scan anything before you go. You scan your purchases when you get back and use your receipt to track coupons, sales, total price, etc. They’ll send you a separate cardstock hand-out that has barcodes for fresh fruit, gasoline, photo development, and more. We did not have a landline phone, and was sent a specific scanner where we can use our internet to submit our purchases.

    • Brian Why says

      @Anne, Thanks for the tip, but the card doesn’t have what I need. I’ll just try customer service tomorrow. I’m sure this will come up again the next time I go to the flea market.

  15. Cindy says

    Thanks for the information. I read the comments posted and am rethinking this scanner sitting on my counter, still in the box!!
    I received the scanner the day we were leaving for vacation, and have not had the chance, or motivation to connect it. Once I read about the process, coupons, markdowns, etc. it sounds VERY time consuming. Your articles are always helpful and this gives me real experiences to evaluate before I keep this thing.
    Thanks again!

  16. WilliamB says

    What do you do for foods that aren’t standard supermarket barcoded foods – homegrown, CSA, farm purchased, donated? I sense a strong reporting bias in the results…

  17. Megan says

    I tried this for about a month and decided it was way too time consuming for me, with very little reward. They’ve gone you scanning bar code on a sheet of paper and manually entering pricing for all produce and deli items as well as the barcode on all purchases now. My time is better spent elsewhere.

  18. Amy R. says

    It’s not that it’s time consuming….the kids love scanning, etc. However, it is not worth your time and effort. We’ve been doing it for a year now, and have earned, little, if any rewards. Waste of time!

  19. Katy S says

    After waiting more than 6 months, I finally got my scanner. During the application process, NCP wanted details in depth on your computer, modem and router so they can figure out what equipment to send. Maybe they didn’t like my set up (an iMac with an internal modem and a wireless router – not uncommon, I’d assume). When I opened the box there was a scanner with no need for a computer, but required a land-line phone which we don’t have (you cannot use wireless phones or cell phones with this device). I called NCP to tell them and was told I could not participate and had to send it back. I am SO SO SO thrilled because, after going through the DVD and start-up packet it looks like a huge time commitment and not enough rewards for me. I have a 1 and 3 year old that keep me busy. I think my time would be better rewarded elsewhere at this point.

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