How to Save Money With the Target Cartwheel App

Forty dollars. That’s the amount of money I helped someone save on her recent trip to Target. I just happened to be near the self-checkout lanes with a woman who had a large purchase of women’s apparel. The Target Cartwheel app was offering a 30% discount on purchases in that category so I offered to use my account to help her save a few bucks. She finished scanning her items and her total came out to $163. After applying the Cartwheel discount, the total dropped to $123. She was pretty surprised and happy with the savings. She may not have had the app when I met her, but I bet she does now. Her friend even admitted to seeing the offer plastered all over the store but just ignored it. I bet they’re not ignoring it now!

What is the Target Cartwheel App?

Cartwheel by Target is a mobile app dedicated to helping Target shoppers save more money each time they make a purchase. It’s available for Android and iOS, and is completely separate from the normal Target app. Each week Cartwheel offers discounts on hundreds of items. Sometimes the offers last for a week and sometimes they can last for over a month. You’ll tend to see a big refresh each Sunday, which is common as retailers release new weekly specials, but you’ll also find a few new offers being added throughout the week.

Getting Started

After you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll need to create an account. You can either use your existing Target account, create a new account, or log in with Facebook or Google. If you choose the Facebook option, you’ll be able to see a list of your Facebook friends who also use Cartwheel, how much money they’ve saved, and which offers they’ve added to their account.

Once you have your account setup, it’s time to start adding offers. If you’re lounging around at home, the easiest way to find items with discounts is to browse the pre-selected offer list. There are tons of items available in almost every shopping category. From laundry detergent to pet toys to groceries to televisions, you’re bound to find something qualifies for savings.

If you’re at the store, browsing the list isn’t exactly a time-efficient way to find savings. The best thing to do is use Cartwheel to scan the barcodes. If there’s an offer available, it will pop up and you can choose to add the item to your offer list. If there’s no offer available for that specific item, it will show you a similar item that does have a discount . For example, if you scan Zyrtec allergy medicine but there’s no offer, Cartwheel might recommend the Up & Up (Target brand) equivalent of Zyrtec, which does have a discount. For what it’s worth, Up & Up brand discounts are typically fixed at 5%. In general, Cartwheel discounts range from 5% to 50%.

When you’re ready to go, all you have to do is show the cashier your personal bar code, which contains all of the items you’ve added to your account. They’ll ring up your entire purchase so you can see the total, and then scan your barcode to activate your savings. It’s as simple as that! On another savings note, Cartwheel savings can even stack with Target weekly sales and manufacture coupons!

Unlock Your Savings Potential

When you first start using Cartwheel, you have about 10 spots available to add offers. As you complete challenges simply by using, shopping and saving, you’ll unlock Cartwheel badges and additional offer spots. The more available spots you have, the greater the chances of using multiple offers in one purchase. Here is a list of badges and challenges that can be unlocked:

  • Whiz Kid – Adding your first offer to Cartwheel (+1 offer spot)
  • Shopping Buddy – Your friend(s) start using Cartwheel (+1 offer spot, and only available if you login with Facebook)
  • Social Saver – Add an offer from a friend’s account/stalk your friend’s activity (+1 offer spot)
  • Offerus Maximus – Fill up all over your available offer spots (+1 offer spot)
  • Super Scanner – Complete your first purchase with Cartwheel (+1 offer spot)
  • Weekly Warrior – Stack the weekly ad sale price with Cartwheel savings (+1 offer spot)
  • Sir Stacks a Lot – Stack a Cartwheel offer with your Target REDcard 5% savings
  • 30 Day Challenger – Use Cartwheel four times in one month (+1 offer spot)
  • Star Collector – Add offers from the Collections list (+1 offer spot)
  • Well Connected – Use Cartwheel while connected to Target’s in-store WiFi (+1 offer spot)
  • One Trip Pony – Save $10 in one trip (+1 offer spot)
  • Last-Minute Louise – Redeem an offer on the day it expires (+1 offer spot)
  • Instant Replay – Redeem an offer more than once (+1 offer spot)
  • Smart Saver – Reach the $10 savings threshold with Cartwheel (+1 offer spot)
  • Big Saver – Reach the $25 savings threshold with Cartwheel (+1 offer spot)
  • Uber Saver – Reach the $50 savings threshold with Cartwheel (+1 offer spot)
  • Benjamin – Reach the $100 savings threshold with Cartwheel (+1 offer spot)
  • Blazing Saver – Reach the $250 savings threshold with Cartwheel (+1 offer spot)
  • High Roller – Reach the $500 savings threshold with Cartwheel (+1 offer spot)
  • Genius – Reach the $1,000 savings threshold with Cartwheel (+2 offer spots)
  • Ninja – Reach the $2,500 savings threshold with Cartwheel (+3 offer spots)
  • Wizard – Reach the $5,000 savings threshold with Cartwheel (+4 offer spots)

Bonus for Starbucks Lovers

Cartwheel also offers Starbucks offers from time to time. The offers are only good for stores with a Starbucks location. The current offer, which lasts through June 30, is 10% off of a pastry item. A recently expired offer was 25% off of a frappuccino.


I started using Cartwheel in 2015. I don’t remember when exactly but it was probably around the holidays after I got laid off from my job. Until then I had been relying on my wife’s Cartwheel account to help us save money. With plenty of free time on my hands, I found myself making a ton of solo trips to Target. I figured it would be best to get the app too. So from Q4 2015 to the time of this post (June 2016), my Cartwheel savings total $77.71. After factoring in the $40 that I helped that woman save, my adjusted total is $37.71. My wife, who has been using the app since 2013, has saved $72.31. This totals $110.02 in savings over the last three years.

Our main purchases at Target tend to be grocery items that are cheaper than our local grocery store, personal care items, and miscellaneous household items like garbage bags, cleaners, etc. Cartwheel offers typically range around 5% to 10% for these items. The cost of these items is generally $10 or less, so the majority of our savings per trip are literally just cents. Those more expensive items, like women’s apparel, will help you rack up savings quicker. I believe the saying goes, “The more you spend, the more you save.”

Overall the app works fine. Between me and my wife, we haven’t had any major complaints about how the app works, or doesn’t work. It functions as it should and more importantly, it helps us save money. I definitely recommend this app for anyone who shops at Target.


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