Nielsen Home Scanner: Opportunity to Earn Free Products (Accepting Applicants Again!)

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This deal has expired and may no longer be valid.

Update: Nielsen Home Scan is once again accepting applicants into this program for select zip codes. The best part of this opportunity is that you can register now, which will get you on a waiting list if your zip code is eligible, and then you have the opportunity to accept or decline an offer to participate when they approach you with an opportunity to start scanning.


It’s been months since I first shared this Nielsen’s Home Scanner opportunity with you and since it is still available I thought it time to refresh you on it (plus I can see that many of you are finding and reading the original post buried deep in the archives, so I thought you’d find it helpful to have this at the forefront again). When I say Nielsen I do mean the same company that provides Nielsen TV ratings, so it is a very reputable organization.

It’s free to join Nielsen’s consumer panel and you’ll earn points that convert to rewards when you scan the products you bring into your house. They collect the information on what you buy and how much you paid, then aggregate it with thousands of others nationwide to provide market analysis, research and trend data to companies that make the products we love and the products we hate.

They are accepting new applicants (register here), although some zip codes are full (and I don’t know which are open and which are full).  If you get a “You do not qualify” message it’s because they have enough applicants in your zip code; you can try again in a week or two and see if anything changes.

After you complete your registration, you’ll be added to a waiting list. In time they’ll contact you and coordinate to ship a scanner to your home and you can get started.

It is work to enter what you buy and you’ll need to enter info about your coupons, but if you are looking for earn household items and not buy them, it may be worth it to you. I also think it’s valuable to teach your kids about how market research is conducted and data gathered.

Your turn: What do you think of this program?

**Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Read Pocket Your Dollars’ disclosure statement for more information.


  1. Lisa Byrne says

    I did the Nielsen scanner for about 8 years I think. First off, you don't earn cash- you earn points that you save up and use for items in a catalog they send out each year. I NEVER was paid in cash. When I first started with them, they would send out a giftcard every once in a while- mine were from Gap and I got two in all. Those were great but then they stopped sending those out. Then they started sending surveys in the mail up the wazoo to scan and had me sign up for emails which sent out even more surveys to send. Scanning purchases is not as easy as it sounds- not everything has a barcode for one thing. You need to keep every receipt you have to record the prices you paid. If you use coupons- which of course you do or you wouldn't be here- IT'S A NIGHTMARE to scan a grocery store trip. I remember it regularly taking over an hour to scan a trip to the store when coupons were involved. You need to remember exactly which coupon went to each item- and store coupons- like CUB for instance- were an entirely different nightmare since the scanner wouldn't always take two coupons for one item. After doing it so many times over the years I was starting to get nutty- plus my family was sick of standing around waiting to put the groceries away until I had scanned in every item and it's coupon(s)- I quit scanning grocery store trips and would just scan small trips to the grocery store and most other barcoded purchases I had made that week. (Yes you have to scan EVERY week and if you forget you don't get your points. You also then don't qualify for the "sweepstakes" they offer each year- all for missing ONE transmission.) Nielsen then said I wasn't buying enough stuff or scanning often enough. Some weeks I didn't have anything barcoded to scan or I had shopped at a store they didn't have a listing for! Finally I gave up on it. (I had to send back their equipment- which I did exactly as I was supposed to. There was an issue on their end with receiving it and they were threatening to bill me $400+ dollars for the scanner if THEY couldn't find it!) If you have a LOT of time on your hands and either no children or 1 child maybe of an age they can help you with it- then I would say join up. Otherwise you will come to find as I did that it becomes a total inconvenience and nothing you will earn out of that catalog is worth the time it takes to get the points for it in the first place. I thought it was okay up until the last 2 years I did it. By then I had three kids and less time to devote to it- it's very detailed and specific- and there were so many surveys coming all the time it started to feel like a job that I wasn't getting paid for. That's just my two cents.

    • Valerie Y says

      Thanks, Lisa, for the honest review. I think it's really helpful to people to know the good and the bad both, so they can make an informed decision.

      In the era before scanners, I was in a program where I had to manually enter by hand (yes, WITHOUT a scanner) all the barcodes of groceries I purchased. It took forever, and I had kids. The points I acquired and the small "incentives" I received did not end up being worth the time it took to do it, and it was a lot of writing. I don't think I did it for Nielsen, but I can't remember the company any more. This was the mid or late 1980s.

      Everyone has to make decisions as to what is worth their time and what isn't. Again, thanks Lisa!

    • says

      An hour? I find that hard to beleive… most commonly purchased items that you buy often…you should remember the price on them. Also if you have coupons you usually know what they went for and how much you saved.

      And lastly, I rarely use coupons…. We make good money, and I am just doing this to waste time.

      I spent $879 yesterday at the grocery store to fill up my chest and upright freezer, my cuboards and my fridge and its freezer… It took us 25 minutes to scan AND PUT IT ALL AWAY. And we organized the items too….

      Your post is clearly one sided and biased.

  2. SarahBB says

    On the waiting list too, Carrie, thanks! Any more specifics on what the rewards and "points" are? I didn't see much info on site. Thanks again for all you do, this looks fun!

  3. Jessie says

    I am on the waiting list as well. What could it hurt? My daughter was just asking me about how t.v. shows know how many people watch. this would be a good start too.

  4. Mike says

    Does anyone know how quick the points add up? An example would be great. How much time do you spend on this each week?

    • says

      Mike – It really depends on how much you buy and like anything, it takes more time up front than it does after you get everything programmed into the scanner. Reminds me of couponing really, takes time up front while you learn and then hopefully it gets fast enough that it isn't an over-the-top inconvenience. Of course, if you don't like it you aren't out anything to just return the scanner.

  5. JoAnna says

    I was a part of this program a few years ago but ended up sending the scanner back. I was not able to keep up with scanning all my purchases–it is time consuming especially when using coupons. Maybe they have made the system more user friendly. I did earn a nice watch though.

  6. Shelly says

    I had signed up for this but sent the scanner back. It was very time consuming. You have to scan every purchase no matter where you got them. It requires way more time than they want you to believe. I don't shop much and still didn't have enough time to do what they required.

  7. Holly says

    I am on the waiting list too! I guess that's better than last time because they said they didn't need anyone in my area. This sounds fun.


  8. says

    I did this a few years ago and gave up. Hopefully they have changed their system, but back then it took WAY too much work to earn enough points for anything, and it was a HUGE hassle, especially if you shopped with coupons. It definitely wasn't worth the time and hassle. Doing surveys online has been a better (and more flexible) way to earn some money at home. My two cents.

  9. Anne says

    I signed up now i wish i'd read Lisa's post. I don't think mine would come up anytime soon the way i answered the questions ;)'

  10. SarahBB says

    Yep, I appreciated Lisa's post too– hopefully I can just reject scanner before they send it–with 3 kids and full time job–too much for me to fit in, I think!

  11. Karen says

    Before you refuse the offer I suggest you try it. You won't be out anything if you try it and end up quitting. I've been doing this since December and the scanner hasn't had a problem with more than one coupon per item. There are generic type stoes preloaded in the scanner like "butcher" or "grocery" in case the store name isn't listed. There is also a sheet of barcodes for things like gasoline and produce…things that don't have barcodes. If you buy $12.45 worth of fruit you scan the fruit barcode and put in 12.45…you don't enter each piece individually. I read a negative post between the time I accepted and got the scanner that almost made me refuse it. I'm glad I tried it. Surveys are optional and earn you bonus points. Mine have all been online. I find it easier to scan things at home with my receipt in hand than take the scanner with to the store. Some of the stores I shop must have their prices sent to Neilsen because I don't always have to put prices in. I've also figured out that, in my case, I remember coupon y values for items. If not it is usually on the receipt. I got a free insulated tote bag as a gift from them a couple weeks ago. As Carrie said, I get quicker each time too.

  12. Lisa Cunningham says

    Whew, after reading Lisa's description, I know I don't want to do this! I'll be unsubscribing when they contact me.

  13. Heather says

    I'm on the waiting list, but now I wonder if I will be able to do it since I don't tend to shop every week… so I wouldn't have purchases every week…

  14. Karen says


    If you don't have purchases one week you enter that in the scanner. I don't know if you get points that week or not.

  15. Pam says

    I recently returned my scanner after 4 years in the program. I wish I had never seen the thing. I spent at least an hour a week tediously scanning my purchases – that is not counting all the times that I cheated and just didn't scan purchases because I knew I had used coupons and it would be too big of a hassle. I dreaded getting home from the grocery store and then trying to scan everything as I put it away while I and my kids were usually hungry and ready for lunch. After 4 years of inconvenience and hassle I finally returned my equipment and cashed in my points. For four years of effort I earned enough points to purchase 3 sleeping bags and a lunch bag. My time is more valuable than that. I stayed in it in hopes of winning the big $20,000 sweepstakes that they give away to scanners, but I can't devote that much of my life to it anymore. I recommend getting a part time job instead. There is nothing free about homescanning – it is just low paid work. Do not do this unless you feel you have extra time!

  16. Diana says

    I am on the waiting list also. Can anyone who has done it give examples of some the things you can earn and how many points you need?

  17. Theresa K. says

    Give it a try, for sure! I also tried for a year (just one year ago). I scanned all purchases carefully. It was fun at first, but then became tedious. Adding coupons or special prices slowed things down even more. I never earned a thing, partly due to machine breakdown (without me knowing) so my purchases hadn't been transmitting even though I received a message saying that it had. Also, the online surveys were too time-consuming. I worked through customer service, which was very friendly, but it routinely took them 1 to 2 weeks to get back to me. The time spent scanning would be better spent researching specials and couponing, in my opinion.

  18. Pam says

    Diana- there is a catalog of about 100 items you can purchase with your points – kids toys, flashlights, sleeping bags, a few kitchen items, dvd player – real misc. The items change every year, so you may work toward an item and then have it become unavailable – this happened to me. I believe you get 200 points each week for transmitting. A sleeping bag with a $35.00 value was 25,000 points. Some items (coach purse) are over 100,000 points and would take many years to earn.

  19. Jennifer says

    My husband and I have been doing this for a couple of years. I don't find it hard, I just scan things as I put them away, and do one store at a time. The hard part for me is you have to have a land line phone to scan it. Which, when we started the scanning, we had; we have since dropped it. Now we can only scan it when we go to my parents house, or to my parents business. It just does not work if we try to submit it over the cell phones.

  20. Cheryl says

    I'd be really careful about sending your readers to this program. I was really excited about it based on your recommendation and then when I got it and realized what was actually involved (which I think others have detailed and I have as well in other comment sections), it's just not a good program. And please correct your posting – you do not earn money. You slowly earn points for "prizes" that to me weren't worth all the time. Please do research on this subject – there are many other blogs out there that are very honest about the fact that this is not a good program. I unfortunately did not do that research until the scanner landed at my doorstep. Thank you.

    • says

      Cheryl – I am glad you took a minute to share your opinion. Some things that work for one of us aren't of interest to another. Good thing the program is no obligation, you can cancel even before the scanner shows up or send the scanner back at any time. This isn't the right fit for your family, but others enjoy it. I believe my role is to share honest information and facilitate a respectful, honest dialogue, like what we have going on here. Thanks again for sharing.

      • Cheryl says

        How about, in the interest of sharing honest information, that you state that it is not just a matter of scanning your groceries, which really to most of us does not sound like a big deal. It is a matter of also manually entering in each coupon we use (and I would believe that all your readers use many coupons) and also manually entering in each price if your store does not happen to be in their system? Please maybe make it not sound like such a quick and easy deal. Or possibly take out the little blip about making money because you don't make money…… takes a really long time to earn enough points for "junk" and there is a good chance that, once you do earn enough points, they no longer have that prize you are working so long towards………I'm just looking for that honesty in these blogs.

  21. Kitty says

    I could not do it because I have an Apple computer and it did not work well with the scanner.

  22. Laura says

    Carrie, these reader posts are so valuable! I had signed up for this last summer because of a blog I read that was OH SO ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT EVERYTHING and urged all their readers to SIGN UP NOW BEFORE IT'S GONE! But what I didn't realize is that they were making money off these referrals – or points, as the case may be – and they gushed about what a good deal it was but censored anyone who posted a negative opinion on their blog about it. Thank you for not censoring the posts here. I was so thankful to read a few posts here from people who had given it up, explaining how much time it took and why they gave it up. When our scanner arrived, after reading the posts, we promptly sent it back. We have three small children, I work full time, and as others have said, our time is more valuable than the (in my opinion) less-than-valuable junk they offered in their catalog. If I *want* a flat screen TV, I'd rather shop around and find a good deal on a reputable manufacturer and model, and buy it when I've saved the money, instead of working weeks months years for it and then getting an off-brand or cheaper model. We did not see any "rewards" in the catlog that we'd even really want, to give us incentive to put in the time.

    And again – THANK YOU for not censoring the posts that are less-than-favorable. It's yet another reason why I love what you do here. :-)

    • says

      Laura – You are welcome. There are times when I do earn a small commission from referrals to different products or services I mention, but as of January 2010 I always put a disclaimer within the post so that readers are fully aware of any time I might be receiving compensation for something.

  23. Cheryl says

    Kudos to Laura. I absolutely agree and am really glad for the opportunity to voice my opinion. Thanks, Laura, and of course, thanks to Carrie.

  24. JackieM says

    I have been doing this since March when I was accepted. I have found it not really all that hard and my kids love to help. It does take some time, but it has not been an inconvenience to me.

  25. Judy says

    I too was in on this probably 15+ years ago. I did it for several years and only earned a couple of little things. The points don't add as quickly as the time spent doing it. My kids were younger at that time and also would get discouraged about the time it took to put away the groceries. I too stopped scanning groceries and then didn't have enough points each week. I finally sent it back and was a happier person!! Shopping was becoming stressful because of it!!! I didn't know if this was still around. Sounds like not much has changed.

  26. Cheryl says

    Carrie – Thank you so very much. I so appreciate the clearer picture being presented, as will your readers, and your blog is now the only one of its type that is really presenting it honestly. Thanks again.

  27. holly hatala says

    I received an email today stating that they fed exd my scanner on the 9th. Which means I was not contacted b4 the shipment went out. I could care less. I'm so excited to give it a try & see if it works 4 ME! That's the whole point I think some people are missing. One or two negative opinions is not enough to tell you that it's not gonna be a wonderful thing for you!

    • Cheryl says

      I think everyone does get that point, that it may very well work for some and not others. I had just wanted to be sure that all sides were put out there so that people could really make an educated decision. I was just as excited to get mine as you are, but my mistake was that I really did not do a whole lot of research on my own before the fact – I just took the word of all the bloggers who seemed to think it was wonderful. I realized that no one was really presenting a clear picture and I am SO very happy to see that Carrie has changed her description – thank you for that, Carrie!! I am unemployed and have all the time in the world, but I still felt my time was worth more than what it would take to earn anything out of their catalog. It would have taken years!!! Anyway, Holly, I truly wish you all the best with this endeavor, I get that we are all different. Check back in at a later date and let me know how it is going for you.

  28. says

    I just got my scanner a week ago and we have a family of 8, My fiance, myself, and my 6 kids ages 1month (twins), 1yrs, 3yrs, 7yrs, and 10yrs.

    We love scanning the stuff. My kids like it because it is similar to them scanning it at the checkout.

    You can scan more then just the grocery items. You can scan paper towels, car parts, lotion, etc…

    We spend right under a thousand a month on groceries and probably $400 on household items. The way I look at it is we help show what we buy, they compare it to others, and we earn points on stuff we get anyways. Might as well.

    I wonder if there is a breakdown of the points, like if you scan/spend $200 you earn 100 points… so you know about how many you earn…

    I know their web page shows your available points, but it would be nice to know instead of always needing to look.

    If you type in the first letter by selecting the number it falls on on the scanner you do NOT waste time scrolling through the store lists…

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