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Consolidate rewards cards onto your phone

TMCNet:  Consolidate rewards cards onto your phone

[June 22, 2011]

Consolidate rewards cards onto your phone

Jun 22, 2011 (McClatchy-Tribune News Service - McClatchy-Tribune News Service via COMTEX) -- Reward cards are a great idea. I have reward cards for just about every place I shop these days. I'm talking about those plastic cards that get you all kind of bonus points or credits that you accumulate when you shop.

For example, CVS Pharmacy has their "ExtraCare" card that you can scan whenever you patronize your local CVS. Using one of their store scanners, it will print out coupons that you can use for further discounts on particular items, even coupons that let you get products for free. You also use it whenever you go to the register to check out items as it keeps a running total on when you buy. At the beginning of every month, you get a cash-off reward on whatever you buy next based on how much you spent the prior month. And that's just CVS.

There are reward cards for Sears, supermarkets, hotels, Office Depot, Pet Supermarket, Fridays, restaurants, movie theaters. The list goes on and on. The problem is that as your collection grows, these cards can take up quite a bit of room in your wallet. I had so many that I actually couldn't fit them all in anymore. Fortunately, these companies thought of a solution _ or so it seemed at first. They designed smaller reward cards that are designed to fit easily on your keychain. But after a short time I was faced with the same annoying problem: I had so many of them that my keychain became way too bulky to fit in my pocket anymore. No, I had to find another solution, and it was to come from Mobestream Media.

Key Ring is an app that works with the iPhone, Windows Phone 7, BlackBerry phone and any Android mobile device. Basically the Key Ring app will scan your reward card, look it up in the Key Ring database and reproduce it. Once you have a reward card in Key Ring, all you need to do is launch the app at the checkout register and hold it up for the cashier to see. Key Ring will display the card's bar code on the screen, and all they do is scan it. Even if it won't scan, they just enter in the bar code number displayed there. That's it. You're done.

Entering in a new card couldn't be more easy. When you first launch Key Ring, you select the Add Card button. This activates your phone's camera. Just position the phone above the bar code on the rewards card and it will capture the code instantly. If for some reason it won't scan, there are other options to put in the code's numerical information. Once it captures the barcode, Key Ring looks up the card in its ever-growing database and labels it for you. If for some reason you have a card that's not yet in the Key Ring database, you can add all of the information manually however Key Ring has a most impressive database and chances are most all of your cards will easily scan in.

In addition to storing all of your cards, Key Ring has set up many additional benefits with retailers and offers even more discounts and coupons to make your shopping experience even better. Going to Barnes and Noble the other day offered me 4 coupons including one that saved me $8 off any DVD I opted to purchase. You can also elect to store other kinds of cards as well. I use it to hold my American Red Cross blood donor card and all of its info about my blood type.

Having something like Key Ring on my iPhone is a real joy to use. I don't have to carry around those bulky cards anymore, and I even get additional coupons from those retailers when I use it. And oh yes: It's free.

www.keyringapp.com ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Craig Crossman is host of the computer radio talk show "Computer America," heard on Business TalkRadio. For more information, visit his website at www.computeramerica.com.

___ (c) 2011, McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.

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