Target’s Cartwheel App Review

Shopping, Store Savings Guides
Target Cartwheel App Review

Tech-savvy shoppers looking to score savings at their favorite retailers might find relying on apps more efficient than sifting through paper coupons.

Target’s Cartwheel app is a good example. It lets you filter, save and use in-store Target coupons with your phone. Here’s everything you need to know before deciding to add Cartwheel to your home screen.

Getting started

Target Cartwheel AppCartwheel is free to download on iOS and Android devices from the App Store and Google Play store. You must have an account with Target, Facebook or Google to log in and use the app. Users can also access their profiles online by visiting cartwheel.com.

What it is

Cartwheel isn’t Target’s main app, but rather a free savings app that lets you browse the bullseye brand’s current in-store offers. Its interface is easy to navigate: Search storewide discounts by category or collection — such as electronics, apparel, cleaning supplies and best-sellers — or type a specific item or brand into the search bar. When you see an offer you like, just click to add it to your list.

While you’re shopping at Target, you can scan an item’s bar code with your camera to find offers for that product. Cartwheel saves all your selected coupons in one place.

» MORE: Ebates vs. BeFrugal: Cash-back shopping site comparison

How it works

When you’re ready to redeem your offers in store, retrieve your personal bar code from Cartwheel’s checkout section. Scan it at the register to apply your discounts. You can also print it out if you prefer to use a paper version.

You can reuse a coupon until it expires. Once it expires, it disappears from your list. Offers rotate weekly, monthly and quarterly, according to the Cartwheel help page.

If you add your local store to your account, you can view a map and save time tracking down items. And as is the case with most apps nowadays, there’s a social element to Cartwheel. If you log in with Facebook, you can connect with friends to view and add each other’s offers.

You might soon be able use the app as your digital wallet, too. Target plans to roll out its own mobile payment system later this year, according to technology news site Recode.

The discounts

Cartwheel discounts range between 5% and 50% off just about everything in the store. Here are some of the promotions we spotted at the time of this writing:

  • 40% off Simply Balanced coconut water.
  • 25% off cans of Progresso soup.
  • 20% off the Black and Decker 12-cup coffee maker.
  • 10% off 170-ounce bottles of Gain laundry detergent.
  • 5% off Suave haircare products.

You can combine Cartwheel coupons with your REDcard discount, manufacturer coupons and Target mobile coupons. Some offers vary by location.

Know your limits

The app creates a few roadblocks for super savers. First, you can’t use Cartwheel coupons online or on top of price matching. And when you first join Cartwheel, you can only add up to 10 offers at one time. An offer will occupy a spot on your list until you remove it or it expires, whichever comes first. You can earn the permanent ability to add more offers by unlocking badges; that’s done by completing tasks like connecting to Target’s Wi-Fi network or using the bar code scanning feature. The badges section of the app shows how to unlock each badge and how many additional offers each will earn you. Some badges are exclusive to Facebook users.

Cartwheel also limits the number of times you can apply your discounts: You can use the same offer up to four times per transaction and your bar code up to six times per day.

» MORE: ‘Buy online, pick up in store’ is a double-edged deal

Is Target’s Cartwheel App worth it?

Cartwheel won’t affect Target’s online customers, but frequent in-store shoppers can benefit from its perks.

The app makes your smartphone the only tool you need to research offers, navigate the store and redeem discounts. Plus, you can stack and reuse savings. But offers are product-specific and range in value, so the deals can be hit-or-miss depending on what you’re looking for.

To avoid impulse purchases, we recommend you make a list before browsing offers or using the bar code scanning feature.

Check out our Target store guide for more tips on shopping the retailer.

More from NerdWallet

The best vacuums
What to know about cash-back shopping sites
Keurig K55 vs. Nespresso VertuoLine: Single-serve coffee comparison

Lauren Schwahn is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: lschwahn@nerdwallet.com. Twitter: @lauren_schwahn.