The majority of us probably have had at one time or another a loyalty reward card from a store or two. You know, those little plastic debit cards or the miniscule keychain version. From there it just snowballs. Next thing you know, you've got 20 of those little plastic nusiances hanging from your keychain. I'll sign up for just about anything if it saves me a buck or two. When I heard about CardStar for BlackBerry back in May of last year, I was ecstatic! No more having my husband complain that the cards hit his knee when he drove my car or the added bulk when he carried my keys in his pocket. All my cards were safely relocated onto my device and all were still easily accessible when I went out shopping. I've used the app numerous times and never had much of a problem with it except for a difficult scanner here and there. Yesterday I ran across an app called Key Ring Reward Cards in BlackBerry App World. I was very curious to see how this app would compare to CardStar and if I'd prefer one over the other. Keep reading after the jump to see which app came out on top!
Let's begin with a brief introduction to each application...
CardStar, by CardStar Inc., lets you store your rewards, club and loyalty membership cards on your BlackBerry device. With CardStar, you select the merchant and then enter in your membership/barcode numbers. Once the information is saved you receive notice (in the app) of certain promotions going on for that particular merchant.
Key Ring Loyalty Cards
Key Ring Loyalty Cards, by Mobestream Media, states you can simply scan (yes SCAN!) or type the barcode number into the app to add all each of your cards. After you've added your cards you'll instantly receive coupons (in the app that are available to print) if any are available.
Both CardStar & Key Ring are currently available for BlackBerry, iOS, Android & Windows Phones. CardStar is also available for the Ovi platform. CardStar's current version is 1.4 MB (the main reason most complain about this app) while Key Ring comes in at only 789.4 KB.
Both are free apps.
Getting Your Cards into the App
With CardStar, you have to manually select each retailer that you have a loyalty card for and then enter in your membership or barcode number.
Key Ring has the same option as CardStar to select & manually enter in your memberships or you can scan the barcodes and let the app decode and add the number itself. If there isn't a barcode you can simply select the no barcode box and type in your membership number. The scanning does work but it is a bit tricky. After talking with Chris Fagan, the CEO of Mobestream Media, and following his tips, I was able to successfully scan my cards into the app using my BlackBerry's camera. Good lighting is a must. I found holding the card under a light source or out in the sun makes the barcodes easier for the BlackBerry camera to get a clear shot and decode without a hassle.
CardStar allows you to back up your cards onto your device's media card. You can then email that file to any other devices that you may want to have the same cards available on. At this time that is your only option for sharing cards. You do have the option of consolidating all your cards into 1 or 2 cards through an affiliate program just to have on hand in case you forget your device.
Key Ring's backup is cloud based. Once you create an account and sync your cards to the cloud, you're done. Any other devices with the app and using the same account can just click sync and the cards will automatically update (I have it on 4 devices, 3 of which are different platforms). You can also login via your computer and manage your cards online. Key Ring also has an option to email the card to specific people via email. This works out great in instances like when I'm visiting my mom in Virginia and need her loyalty card for a local grocery store. I don't want to have to sign up for a card that I may only use 4 or 5 time a year. Key Ring can also give you a printout of all your memberships with barcodes.
Both CardStar and Key Ring have the option of displaying your barcode (if there is one for that loyalty program) or membership number in case the scanner won't scan it. I've scanned from both apps at numerous locations without any issues except once or twice at Best Buy, who still hasn't updated their scanners. Very rarely will the cards scan from either app if the clerk tries to swipe it over the flatbed scanner.
New Loyalty Programs/Exclusive Savings
For CardStar, if you know a store has a loyalty program you'll have to either sign up online or actually go into that store and get your membership number that way.
Key Ring has an in app option to join new programs that are available in your area. You simply fill in your info and you're done. The membership number is automatically loaded into the app. No more filling out those little flyers!
When joining new programs within Key Ring, there may be special offers available once you sign up. Free queso, yum!
In App Promotions/Coupons
CardStar shows certain promotions at retailers much like what you would see on the retailer's website.
Inside the Key Ring app, you will find promotions and specials as well as exclusive coupons. The app will even let you know if the coupon needs to be printed out in order to redeem in store. In an update that is coming, you will have the option to share these offers via Facebook and Twitter.
CardStar has the option to go to the retailer's website and get contact information, some account login access and location searches.
CardStar's last update was back in December I believe with the introduction of the in app promotions.
Chris at Mobestream Media informed me that they have a dedicated team working on the BlackBerry version of their app and that future updates (hopefully being released very soon) will include similar features that are already available in the other platform versions such as the following:
- Facebook & Twitter integration enabling the ability to share deals & coupons with friends/family
- Notes section (great to make shopping lists for each store!)
- Website/Contact Info
I'm always trying to simplify my daily routine by utilizing my BlackBerry to the fullest extent. I've been using CardStar for over a year and have recommended it to numerous friends and family. It's a nice app but doesn't seem to be doing much with the BlackBerry version like they have with the other platforms. With the functionality and options that Key Ring Reward Cards already offers and the updates it will soon have, I for one have made the switch (I literally scanned all 32 loyalty cards and entered in 8 manually, only because they didn't have barcodes, into my BlackBerry last night) and have already started telling my friends and family about it. This is definitely the app to have regardless of which platform you use and especially if you are a multi-platform user. Just knowing I can easily recover my cards via the sync option if I lose or switch devices without having to re-enter a thing is a huge plus for me.
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