National Consumer Panel Reviews: Where Do I Rank It?

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The National Consumer Panel is said to be the best grocery shopping app to help you earn points for gift cards, merchandise and more.  All you need to do is download the app, start scanning the items you buy and share your data to start earning points.  You can also take surveys and even enter sweepstakes to win big!

I have seen this app pop up on a few “make money lists” in my research and really wanted to dig in to see if it’s worth the hype other bloggers say it is.  As you probably know, most websites you come across often peddle garbage that only makes them a buck and many, sadly, are in it for their paycheck rather than yours.  That’s why you will find limited ads on this website and no get rich quick schemes that are said to make you thousands in a few days.  It’s all about being honest.

So, in today’s review, I wanted to talk about the National Consumer Panel app and see if it’s worth your time.  I was a member in the past, but I am no longer active due to a few reasons that I will explain below.

Let’s begin!

National Consumer Panel Mobile Scanner Review

What is the National Consumer Panel?

The National Consumer Panel Scanner app is operated by two research powerhouses, Nielsen and Iri.  Both companies have a solid A+ BBB rating and are very reputable among the research industry.

Originally known as the Nielsen Homescan in the late 1980s, it was soon branded in 2008 as the National Consumer Panel or NCP for short.

Since its founding, Nielsen has been collection opinions and shopping data to help manufacturers and retailers make informed decisions on the products they may want to develop.

This is where the app comes into the picture.

Because most consumers don’t give away data for free, they created the panel to allow you to earn great rewards in exchange for sharing the bar codes from the items you buy.

Let’s take a look at how it all works.

Signing Up

As with any survey site I have reviewed in the past, signing up was self-explanatory, but it did take a few extra minutes as they asked a ton of questions before you get started.  Picture it almost like a demographic survey you take on the many survey websites.

To get started, NCP would ask for your email address, some personal information as well as a password and security question to get started.

After you entered the information via the form above, you were then required to fill out your demographic profile, answering even more personal questions such as your marital status, education, etc.   It took me about five minutes to complete.

You can do this either via the app or via the official website. Either way works.

Not everyone is accepted!

Now, the thing here is that unlike other survey websites where you’re able to access your dashboard immediately, the NCP will review your information and then add you to the waiting list or “reserve” panel.  As soon as a spot on the panel meets your demographic profile, then they will contact you via the information on the site and will contact you to determine which kind of scanner you should receive.  In some cases, you could use the NCPMobile app as well as instead of the physical scanner.

You must reside in the United States or Canada to participate.

How the National Consumer Panel Works

If accepted, the NCP will either send you a physical scanner, in which you will scan items after shopping or you can use the app, only if you qualify.  If you ever receive an acceptance email, then you will be notified as to what you’re accepted for.

If you’re approved for a handheld scanner, this is what it will look like, and it will be sent off to your address on file…

This scanner will plug into a home base, which is plugged into your router.  Anytime you use it, you can dock the scanner and it will automatically upload your scanning information to the company servers.  You will be asked to upload information weekly to stay active or else they will ask you to return the scanner immediately.

If you’re able to use the app, then you will be able to download the official app and scan right from your phone.  You will just need to use your camera’s phone to scan the bar codes.  As of now, this seems to be the most popular item for everyone who qualifies, but let it be known that the app is still in its beta stage.


Any time you go shopping, NCP will ask that you scan every item that you purchase as well as the price of that particular item just like the handheld.

And, if it doesn’t have a barcode, then you will be asked to either pick from a list of pre-defined items on your app or scan from a book that comes with your scanner if you have the handheld device.  If this were the case, this is what the book would look like if you were to receive the at-home scanner…

Aside from scanning, they may ask you to add detailed notes about your trip, such as where you went, if you used a club card, etc.  It really depends on your profile and what you’re scanning, but it can involve much more than scanning.

Many people feel it’s too much work for the compensation involved, but this is something only you can answer as I don’t know what you find valuable.  Some people love the idea of making $10 an hour, whereas someone would laugh at that.  I will talk about compensation in a few here, but let it be known that you do have to work quite a bit to earn your rewards.


Of course, you don’t want to scan your items and not get rewarded in doing so.  Thankfully, NCP will reward you for the items you scan, albeit it’s not much.

How much can I earn?

You will earn points for every item you scan each week, but the company will also add points to your account on your birthday and anniversary, to name a few.

For example, on your birthday, you can get 250 reward points for free, whereas on your one-year anniversary, they will add 1,000 points every year after.  Other promotions are available as well, but it really depends on the time of the year and the promotion they are running.

On average, plan on earning at least 150 points for each week NCP receives your scan, but this number can increase the longer you stay with the panel.  This can be considered the minimum for now.

Aside from the bonus points and scanning, you can also earn anywhere from 500 to 2,000+ points for every survey you successfully complete.  Like Swagbucks, they will send you surveys for you to complete, which are totally up to you if you want to do them or not.

And, not only can you earn points on anniversaries and for scanning items, but you can also win some great cash prizes, sometimes as much as $20,000+ just for using the app.  Sometimes, you can receive additional entries to a sweepstakes contest instead of taking points as well if you want to increase your chances.

These sweepstakes are held weekly, monthly, quarterly, and even annually, and the best part about it is that you don’t have to enter as you’re automatically entered as you participate.

So, what can I get?

Redemption starts at 8,000 points and include a variety of random rewards, including gift cards and even a select number of merchandise items, ranging from televisions to waffle makers.  Cash isn’t an option, however, which is a big negative to most.

I haven’t been a member for a while since I didn’t find value in the program, but when I used the program, it would take about 20,000 points to get a $20 gift card.  So, about $1 per 1,000 points.

So, doing the math, it will take you about 6-8+ months when you factor in the daily scans, bonuses and even the surveys that you complete.  This seems to be the average, at least from the reviews I read online.

What Others Are Saying

Of course, it’s not always about me when it comes to a review.

So, as with all my reviews, I make sure I include everything I find online, both good and bad, and include it below for your own analyzing.  No matter what you research online, there will always be that one person who complains about something, so sometimes, you do need to take it with a grain of salt.

Nonetheless, here’s what others are saying about NCP online:

The Pros

  • great sweepstakes prizes
  • fun surveys
  • easy to use
  • reputable company running the program

The Cons

  • have to scan weekly or risk having your account closed
  • lots of reports of harassment if you don’t return the scanner in time
  • lots of time to use as they ask you to scan everything you buy
  • very low payout
  • not everyone is accepted
  • no cash options, only merchandise and gift cards
  • bad customer support

Final Thoughts

In the end, I used to be part of the program but am no longer an active member for a few reasons.

For one, scanning is a lot of work.  If you buy 50 items and want to scan, it’s going to take you at least 30+ minutes.  When you see how much you’re compensated for your time, it’s a joke, at least to me.  I’m talking less than a dollar an hour if you do the math.  Not worth it to me.

And, secondly, you need to stay active to remain active on the platform if you have the handheld device. This means you need to scan items weekly or you risk losing your account.  This is one of the only companies I have ever researched that enforce this, so keep this in mind.  I like to work at my own pace, so this is a huge no-no to me.

NCP won’t get you rich.  Even if you take the surveys, scan items weekly and receive bonus points, you can maybe earn $20+ in three to six months.  It’s going to take some time, but it’s one of the lowest-paying opportunities I have reviewed.

There are so many better ways to earn money online, especially if you want to start now.  Swagbucks and SurveyJunkie are a few that come to mind.  Remember, even if you want to get started right now with NCP, they will have to approve you and activate you only if they have an opening.  There are no guarantees.

For now, if you have ever been part of the program or are thinking about joining, you’re always welcome to comment/vent below.

Have you tried it?

Are you thinking about trying it?

Let me know!

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Tom Nathaniel

Hi! My name is Tom Nathaniel, and I created LushDollar to help share my honest thoughts on everything money. You won't find gimmicks here. It's the Internet's most honest money site after all. I graduated from Arizona State University, and I have worked in the finance industry since 2006, consulting with multiple Fortune 5000 companies.

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