How to use Target Cartwheel to save money and time

Kelly Tyko
1 / 2

How to use Target Cartwheel to save money and time

Saving time and money doesn't have to make your head spin. We take you on the twists and turns of the Target app to help save you time and money.

If you've ever passed through a Target checkout line, you'd probably recognize the most frequently asked cost-savings question after "Do you want to save 5% today with a REDCard?"

In most cases, it's, "Do you have any Cartwheel offers?"

Though saving money can make your head spin, the red-shirt wearing employees aren't talking about gymnastics but a money-saving feature built into Target's app. 

Shopper Christy Palmer says that flashing a barcode on her smartphone is one of the easiest ways she has ever saved money.

The Seattle mother of five says doing this simple act at Target with Cartwheel over the last six years has added up to hundreds of dollars in discounts. 

"You don't have to worry about clipping coupons, it's all done digitally,” said Palmer, who shares her Target shopping adventures on her blog All Things Target

Since Cartwheel's first spin in May 2013, Palmer and a legion of Target shoppers have cashed in on more than $1.5 billion in discounts, redeeming offers ranging from 5% off a pack of cheese to up to 50% off select toys.

Not just balloons: Helium shortage may deflate MRIs, airbags and research

Passport needed: McDonald's released a new meatless, vegan burger, in Germany

Palmer encourages her blog readers do the same, and a few have told her they've racked up more than $1,000 in savings. Yet, the Target regular knows many don't use Cartwheel because they see it as a hassle or just forget.

"You have to get in the habit of loading Cartwheel offers and remind yourself to scan your Target barcode at checkout," she said. "The more you scan your Cartwheel barcode, the more it will become a habit, and the more you will start to save."

Target is pushing to make it easier and more routine.

Besides the Cartwheel checkout chatter, signs throughout stores promote weekly and exclusive app coupons and a few Cartwheel offers.

Yet Target’s app isn’t just for savvy shoppers looking for a bargain. It can also be used to make in-store and online purchases, check store inventory and to map your shopping trip aisle by aisle.

Here's how to save time and money on your next Target shopping trip:

Your guide to saving with Cartwheel

The Target app, available for Apple and Android, has hundreds of Cartwheel offers each day ranging from 5 to 50% off in categories such as groceries, clothes, furniture, baby products, health, seasonal and more along with manufacturer coupons.

Starting out

  • If you have a Target REDCard or store gift cards, add to your account. When adding a REDCard credit or debit card, add PIN and follow prompts. 
  • Everyone can add up to 50 offers on their Cartwheel account whether they are a newbie or super saver. In 2017 when Cartwheel moved in the Target app, all users got extra room on their account to add offers, moving from a maximum of 34 to 50.
  • To use Cartwheel or access other app features in-store, you may need to log on to Target's free store Wi-Fi. If you allow the app to access your location, it can find nearby offers.
  • Don't do this: A screenshot of your own Cartwheel barcode or someone else's won't work, so log in on the app. 

How to find and add Cartwheel offers

  • Each week, Target stores post a few signs in front of items with a Cartwheel offer. But don't rely only on signs to guide you to savings because there are hundreds of additional offers on the app.
Cartwheel offers change regularly and sometimes are posted around stores. But to find offers, shoppers should scan product barcodes.
  • Search or browse for deals by categories. The app also curates personalized offers based on past purchases. Offers can be sorted by newest, highest discount, trending deals or by expiring.
  • Save offers to your wallet by clicking the plus sign. To delete offers, click on the green check mark.
  • Pro tip: Scan item barcodes as you load up the cart to see if there’s a Cartwheel deal or related offer available. If the name brand item doesn’t have an offer, it’s possible the store brand will. 

Other app savings

  • Target regularly has store coupons in its weekly store circular that can be accessed in the app. Occasionally, there are REDCard-specific coupons, too. 
  • To get to the coupons, select Wallet. For store circular coupons, add to your account by clicking the plus sign. The REDCard coupons are called "Thank You" coupons and need to be scanned separately prior to scanning the Wallet in the Target app.
  • Select states now have Cartwheel rebate offers also called "digital manufacturer rebates" for alcohol, which can be found in the "Adult Beverages" Cartwheel category. These single-use offers are available only in select stores in Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Minnesota, Ohio and Virginia.
  • After adding the rebate offer to your Cartwheel and purchasing product, a prepaid Digital MasterCard will be emailed to the email address associated with your Target account.
Target stores in select states have alcohol rebates with Cartwheel.

Checking out

  • To speed up the checkout experience, maximize savings and keep shoppers behind you happy, make sure you’ve loaded all applicable offers to your Cartwheel before reaching the cashier. Remember, a simple barcode scan of items is the easiest way to check.
  • If you have any app coupons, you need to make sure these are selected before checkout. App REDCard coupons, need to be scanned prior to the main Cartwheel and Wallet barcode.
  • If you’re paying with a REDCard or gift card loaded to your account, confirm the right REDCard – you can have multiple store cards in an account – has a green box around it and that the wallet background is red. Same with gift cards. Make sure there are green boxes around them.
  • Scanning the main Wallet barcode combines Cartwheel, store ad coupons and Target payment options.
  • Check your receipt before leaving the store to make sure offers were applied. If they weren’t, go to guest services. 

More tips and tricks

  • The daily REDCard 5% discount stacks, or can be used, with most Target purchases in the app or using the physical card for in-store, online and app purchases. When shopping in-store, Target also accepts printable and newspaper coupons.
  • Many Cartwheel offers can be redeemed on Target Drive Up and in-store pickup purchases. Most are listed as having a Cartwheel when shopping on the app and should come off automatically.
  • Most offers will apply only up to four times per purchase. For instance, if you’re buying five yogurts, the Cartwheel will only come off the first four. Manufacturer coupons in the app are single use.
  • Like to make multiple Target runs in a day? You can make up to six transactions scanning your Cartwheel barcode, which gives you the chance to redeem up to 300 offers a day. 
  • If you're requesting a price match, you can't apply a Cartwheel to the purchase but can still pay with the app. To match competitors' prices on identical items at Amazon, Walmart and other retailers, go to guest services.
  • Motivation: Keep track of your total Cartwheel savings on the my account page of the app. The total savings and the offers redeemed updates seconds after you checkout.
  • Don't have a smartphone? You can add offers to your Cartwheel list from a computer, tablet or browser at Cartwheel.com and then print a barcode, which also is a good backup option if your phone constantly runs out of battery. 

Happy saving! Do you have any Target insider tips? Share them with Kelly Tyko via email or on Twitter

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: How to use Target Cartwheel to save money and time