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Nielsen HomeScan Consumer Panel Review: Scam or Legit Way To Earn Rewards?

Nielsen HomeScan Consumer Panel Review: Scam or Legit Way To Earn Rewards?
Amy Baum Oct 26, 2017
Want to Earn Some Extra Money?

There are numerous ways to earn rewards from home. Many of these opportunities are based online, but some are pretty unique. Nielsen HomeScan Consumer Panel is one option that stands out from others.

This program rewards you for scanning your grocery items each week. The goal is to collect data about purchases, products, and more.

There is a lot of info to consider before joining this program. That’s why I’ve put together this in-depth Nielsen HomeScan Consumer Panel review. You’ll learn about pros and cons, available rewards, how the process works, and more. Read on to see if Nielsen HomeScan is right for you.

What Is Nielsen HomeScan Consumer Panel?

If you’re familiar with the name Nielsen, you may have heard of Nielsen television ratings. Nielsen ratings are a system used to gauge audience size and other info about television viewing. TV viewers could earn money by providing feedback.

This popular system started in 1950, and they’ve expanded since then. Nielsen HomeScan Consumer Panel is their modern program. It’s also referred to as National Consumer Program because it’s a joint venture between Nielsen and IRi. These are two major consumer data collection companies.

Panelists are hired to scan the barcodes of products they buy. They send this info to Nielsen to help build consumer data. The scanning is done with either a scanner provided by the company or via a smartphone app. Visit the How It Works page to learn a bit more. I’ll also provide plenty of detail below.

Nielsen HomeScan Consumer panelists accumulate points for scanning items they buy. These points are exchanged for various rewards. You’ll learn more about the rewards system below – potential prizes, how long it takes to earn them, and more. Panelists are also entered into sweepstakes for additional rewards.

Nielsen HomeScan Consumer Panel Pros & Cons

First, let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons. These are collected from panel users ranging from about 2009 to 2017. I found most of this feedback in the comment sections of Nielsen HomeScan review posts. Other sources include forum threads and “earn money online” websites.

From what I read, the program has essentially stayed the same throughout the years. The user feedback from 2009 is pretty much the same as it is now. The only major change was an upgrade to the scanning equipment. Here are the most popular pros and cons I found:

Pros:
  • The program is easy to understand and use.
  • The program is free to join.
  • The scanner is shipped to you for free.
  • Your opinions and purchases are used for helpful market research.
  • You can easily quit the program if you want or need to.
  • The company pays for shipping and returning the scanner.
  • Some users report good experiences with customer service.
  • You can earn extra points and rewards in various ways.
  • You only have to scan purchased items once per week.
Cons:
  • You don’t get paid in cash; you receive rewards, prizes and sweepstakes entries.
  • It can take a long time to accumulate enough points for rewards.
  • Some users report poor experience with customer service.
  • The rewards can be hit or miss.
  • The amount of effort isn’t worth it for some former panelists.
  • For some people, scanning items takes several hours.
  • You may be placed on a waiting list for weeks or months before you get accepted.

Overall, I noticed two things when compiling these lists. First, some of the pros and cons are very subjective. For example, there are some who enjoy their customer service and others who don’t. And some people may be perfectly fine with rewards versus cash payment.

I also noticed the balance of pros and cons is about 50/50. To me, this is actually a good thing. It gives you a realistic look at what to expect. The feedback didn’t seem dishonest or embellished. It’s not a perfect program, but it’s not all bad either.

To me, it seems that Nielsen HomeScan is totally legit but not a good fit for everyone. There’s still a lot more to learn about this opportunity though. Keep reading so you can decide if it’s right for you. You’ll also see my final verdict on whether I think Nielsen HomeScan is a scam or legit.

Nielsen HomeScan Eligibility Requirements

nielsen homescan review

Any adult in the U.S. can sign up for Nielsen HomeScan Consumer Panel. However, the panel is not always available in every area. The FAQ Section says this is because the company targets certain demographics in specific areas.

It’s likely that they met their goal in your area if signup isn’t available for you.They do go on to state that they may re-open registration in your area. So if you’re interested in joining, check back occasionally. Below you’ll see the simple steps to sign up for Nielsen HomeScan.

How To Join Nielsen HomeScan Consumer Panel

Joining the Nielsen HomeScan Consumer Panel is pretty straightforward. Just follow these steps:

  1. Visit their signup page and enter some basic info about yourself. On this page, you’ll enter your name, age, location, and contact information. If registration is open in your area, you’ll be moved on to the next step.
  2. Answer a few questions about technology in your home. This helps Nielsen figure out what type of scanner you’ll use. Some people have the option to scan via their smartphone.
  3. Wait for an approval e-mail. According to the Nielsen HomeScan FAQ, most users get approved within a month. But they also say some people get picked immediately and others are put on a waitlist.

From what I read, you may be on a waitlist for a few weeks or months. This 100% depends on the current needs of Nielsen HomeScan. So don’t be put off if you aren’t chosen right away. You may receive an e-mail later on.

How To Earn Points/Rewards With Nielsen HomeScan

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get to the fun part – how to earn rewards. The main way to earn rewards is through scanning products you purchased.

But I also discovered that there are additional ways to earn points. Below I’ll provide info about each method available. I also recommend watching the how-to video on the signup page.

Earning Points Through Scanning Products
  1. Use the scanner to scan your purchases. You’ll either be shipped a handheld scanner by Nielsen or have access to their smartphone app. You scan every item you’ve purchased each week.
  2. Share your shopping data once per week. You’ll provide the data you’ve collected to Nielsen. This process is not detailed very well on their website. But there is a site for active Panelists. It seems that you’d provide your shopping data there.
  3. Once you’ve entered your data, you earn points. You earn points for each week that you’re an active participant. Nielsen HomeScan also mentions that the longer you’re a panelist, the more points you earn per week.

Again, this is the primary way you earn points. According to Nielsen, scanning items takes about one hour per week. Reviews vary on this – some people say it takes 1-2 hours, but others say it takes more. So it likely depends on how quickly you scan, enter data, and so on.

Participate In Surveys

On the Rewards page, Nielsen HomeScan says that surveys are an important part of being a panelist. To me, this statement makes it seem like you can anticipate surveys on a consistent basis. Your rewards for taking surveys are points, sweepstake entries, and random prizes.

Participate In Studies

Nielsen conducts studies that panelists are invited to participate in. The likelihood of invitations probably depends on if you meet the demographics for the study. The company says you get “additional rewards” for completing studies. So this may mean points, gift cards, sweepstake entries, or small prizes.

Nielsen HomeScan Consumer Panel Rewards

As mentioned above, the awards vary from small trinkets to major gifts. Below you’ll find a list of gifts that current and former panelists say they’ve received. But first, visit the NCP Online Rewards page. To sum up the page:

  • Rewards are listed in a gift catalog. They’re listed at different point levels, so you can either save up or get smaller rewards.
  • Gifts come in a wide range of point levels. You’ll see some of the diversity in the gift list below.
  • Some rewards pictured on this page include a coffee maker, sunglasses, tablet, and TV. This may not be 100% indicative of what’s always available, but it’s a good look at the overall variety.
  • When you regularly participate in the panel, you’re entered into Nielsen HomeScan sweepstakes. These are held weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly.
  • Sweepstakes prizes include points, gift cards, and cash. So technically it’s possible to earn cash through Nielsen, but only as a bonus.
  • Participating in surveys and studies will net you more rewards. Though it is not stated, it seems you’ll receive e-mail alerts when these are available.

So, let’s take a look at what some panelists have actually earned. This list is based on blog posts, comments on posts, forum threads, review sites, and more. I’ve compiled a diverse list of small and large rewards.

  • toys
  • misc. gift cards
  • KitchenAid mixer
  • iPod
  • $10 gift card (type not specified)
  • storage containers
  • $20 iTunes gift card
  • reusable shopping bag
  • picture frame
  • toaster
  • sandwich maker
  • blender
  • Nikon camera
  • video game system
  • jewelry
  • home and kitchen items (not specified)

From the looks of it, the rewards catalog has a lot to offer. Of course, you’ll need a significant amount of points for big-ticket items like cameras and video game systems. It’s up to you whether you’d like to save up or indulge in smaller gifts.

Nielsen HomeScan: Scam Or Legit?

The Nielsen HomeScan Consumer Panel is completely legitimate. Here are the main reasons I came to this conclusion:

  • Nielsen is a reputable company that’s done market research for decades.
  • The program has been in place for 27 years.
  • The purpose behind the program is transparent. You provide valuable consumer feedback, and you get rewarded for it.
  • There are no fees for joining or participating.
  • You can quit anytime you’d like without being penalized.

Having said that, I don’t think this opportunity suits everyone. If you’re looking to earn money, this program isn’t right for you. It’s also not the best fit if you want rewards quickly.

Point accumulation takes time. Understandably, many people prefer money, gift cards, or rewards that they can get as quickly as possible.

I think this program is best for people who can view it as a hobby. It’s also great for anyone who genuinely wants their consumer opinion heard. You just invest an hour a week into it, and you get points over time.

It may take awhile to get enough points for big rewards. If you’re comfortable with that, then you may be a perfect fit for the Nielsen HomeScan program.

Final Thoughts

Now that you’ve read my Nielsen HomeScan review, I hope you’ve learned what you wanted to know. This opportunity is definitely different than other options. But if it interests you, sign up to get started.

There are hundreds of other ways to earn money, gift cards, and rewards. Check out the Make Money section to explore our reviews, tips, and more. For even more info, make sure you read the Money Making Apps and Best Survey Sites posts.

Amy Baum

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Comments (14)

I’ve been a Nielsen Homescan Panel member since 2008. I also participate in one of the long-term specialty panels that tracks specific types of purchases over time. As your membership in the panel matures, you get promoted so that you actually earn more points per survey or scan transmission. If you tend to shop so that you buy a large number of items per trip, then the scanning process can take a while. The company provides a booklet with scan codes for items that may not have the UPC bar code, such as fresh produce or meats. I have used both the hand-held scanner and the smartphone app to record my purchases. The scanning is straightforward, much like the cashiers in the stores. The smartphone app uses the phone’s camera to take a picture of the UPC code on the product. With the handheld scanner, you connect it once a week to the telephone line or the USB port on your computer, and use the scanner to make the transmission. There is software that must be downloaded from the company website to make the interface with the computer work. The smartphone app transmits it’s information immediately. Some of the rewards are “off-brand” like low- to midrange- tablets. Customer service has always been very polite and courteous when I have need to call.

Hi Robert,

Thanks for the response! Nielsen Homescan Panel (now called National Consumer Panel) has been around for a long time, so there’s no reason to doubt their credibility. They have a great rewards system, and it’s one of the best and easiest ways to earn some extra cash. Glad you’re enjoying it.

I was a member for about 6 years until August 2017 when they cancelled my membership after I moved house and could not set up scanner in my new home until I had a landline connected. When it was finally connected I set up my scanner and began scanning my shopping again. I then received an email informing me that as I hadn’t scanned for a while they were going to send a debt management company to see me and collect what I owed unless I gave them back their scanner. I wrote back explaining I had moved and asked them what exactly were the debt management going to collect from me as I did not owe them money for anything and that they owed me points for all the scanning I had done for them. I also asked them why they thought I would want to steal their scanner and for what purpose? Nielsen arranged to phone me and discuss the situation and we arranged a mutually convenient date and time. Never heard from them and they still owe me points for scanning. I provided my new address but never received written correspondence.

Hi Dorothy,

What an odd situation. Let us know how it works out in the end, and sorry for your inconvenience. Glad to hear that you were able to earn for a strong 6 years.

I often received $15 prepaid visa gift cards, maybe once a month. I would consider this a cash reward :)

Hi Jason, I recently moved to Berwyn, Illinois, I was a Panel Member in Puerto Rico. I would loooove to continue but can’t find a phone number to call or a website that don’t reject the application based on the area code’s phone number. I’d like someone to call me or please give me a number I can call and have the chance to apply. Someone can help me, I’m sure. Thank very very much, Blanca I. Rodriguez 1(787)374-8162 in Berwyn, Illinois.

I just downloaded the Nielsen Computer and mobile Panel app, per their instructions and they want me to allow all permissions. Then app says it needs access to my storage to write a log onto my sd card to prevent unnecessary data charges!!! Don’t know as I’m comfortable with them having their way with my electronics!!!! Seems a little too invasive, they want access to texts, and, location, and want me to add all devices we have. What does anyone think?? I feel as though I’m going to be the next story line for The Twilight Zone!!!

I joined NCP about year. They sent me a scanner, and said it was easy. I’ve scanned every purchase, with price, sale and coupon. Every day! Blahh… But I went to vacations and could’t scanning this time. Then I return home I saw an email, asking if I would return the scanner since I had not submitted anything. The NEXT DAY, I got a letter, saying the same thing, adding “You will be turned over to a collection agency if we do not receive the scanner within 10 days.” I returned it the next morning.
so.. I spend my time and hadn’t any rewards for my time and efforts
I will never trust NCP or their opinions again.

It’s tedious and really not worth your time. The rewards are pitiful. I was part of the program for 4 months and I would have had to scan for maybe 8 months to get a $10 gift card. They had a $15/month program which was BS too. If you went away you’d lose the $15 for the month. If you missed a weekly transfer (even if you had been scanning every purchase) you’d lose the $15. And it came in the form of a Visa gift card which is just as tedious to use as the frigging hardware.

It took 5-10 minutes for every grocery trip. Scan. Scan again because it didn’t pick it up the first time. Enter the price. Enter the quantity. Enter the deals in the most confusing way possible. Repeat for the other dozens of grocery items as your frozen goods are defrosting and your dairy is sitting on the counter.

Don’t be tempted. It’ll drive you insane before you earn a cent.

I didn’t care much for the hand scanner. it’s a bit better with the phone app.
Personally, i scanned products in this order: dairy first, then frozen. then produce, and last with canned, boxed and other items. It helps if you plan ahead and group your items so that the frozen items are together, etc when they go on the conveyor; that way the cashier is more likely to put them together in the bag, and they will likely show up on the receipt near each other.You can also scan all your dairy, then check them off the receipt all at once, and repeat this for other categories, rather than scan, check, scan, check.
I agree that the rewards are not quite what I hoped for. I don’t care much for the items in the gift catalog. I prefer to get the Amazon cards instead, then I can get what I want.

I agree with the person who said that you had to scan then enter quantity, price and then say whether it was on special. Then I got the App which seemed to work a little better but a phone call from them wanting to “check that their data was correct” and the person started asking names and birth dates of my children and the circumstance of their living with me. They also wanted to know if I had a dog for goodness sake. I said that such a request was intrusive and that I couldn’t see the relevance of such information and they pretty well said that if I didn’t so-operate then I wan’t of use to them.
For the work invovled and the pitiful “rewards” i really don’t need them in my life.

Very tedious process. They make you do all the work and the rewards are pathetic. Add to this, their messed up “customer service”. I was on their panel for a few months but in between the landlord changed the wifi arrangement at my place and took back the booster so the scanner was now incompatible to transmit the data without an ethernet connection. Nielsen folks called me up to check on why I was not transmitting the data and I explained the situation to them telling them that I have managed to sort out the issue and will be transmitting again from the following week (which I did). As soon as I transmit the data, next day I receive a very patronising email from them with the subject “Please Return Our Equipment” where they ask me to return their scanner as it their property, and also mention that they “recognise that scanning is not for everyone”. Extremely rude and a dismissive tone of clear finality. Take my advise, find a more productive use of your time. These guys are not worth it.

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