Introduction: Bonus Card Barcode Hack

Picture of Bonus Card Barcode Hack

I got sick and tired of having a dozen little "bonus" cards to carry around, so I made this simple fix. Basically, I just scanned in all my barcodes, fit them nicely into a row in photoshop and then printed them out onto a card. There are more detailed instructions that follow if you need them. This page shows the finished product.

Step 1: Scan Your Barcodes

Picture of Scan Your Barcodes

Get all the cards you have with barcodes, line them up on a scanner and scan into the computer. I used grocery store bonus cards, gas station card, bookstore bonus card, library card, and student ID (of course I blurred them for this instructable just to be safe).

Step 2: Line Up Barcodes in Photo Editing Program

Picture of Line Up Barcodes in Photo Editing Program

I had some 'key chain' cards lined up on one side and regular ones on the other to fit them best.

Step 3: Trouble Shooting

Picture of Trouble Shooting

My original plan was to print each side in the center of a piece of card stock paper on opposite sides, then just cut it down to size. What printed out was much too large (because of the pixels per inch used in the scanning process). I shrank them down using a copier and ended up just putting the two sides (from different pieces of paper) into a laminator - no need for card stock and no worry about the barcodes smudging over time. If you print out on cardstock, you may want to consider putting scotch tape over each barcode to avoid smudges. I've done this in the past on actual cards and it helps.

Barcodes can be enlarged or shrunk down without it affecting the ability to scan them, so don't worry about distortion. As long as all the bars in the code are in correct proportion, you're good to go.

It would be helpful to cover the barcodes your not using with your fingers so that the scanner doesn't get confused. I will likely go through self scanning checkouts when possible to avoid clerks from freaking out and calling the manager to ask if it's ok to use my card.

Again, below, is the finished product. And I already tried it out at the grocery store and it worked.


Swansong (author)2017-10-06

That's an awesome idea, my wallet is full or rewards cards I only use every once in a while :)

3366carlos (author)2016-06-24

awesome dude

dleasure (author)2014-02-09

Go Zips

dlighter1 (author)2013-05-25

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card scanners

drmci1 (author)2012-01-22

Doesn't work with my windoze phone---think the screen is too reflective and scatters the laser, I think...maybe a screen protector would help? Anyone with experience?

angelabchua (author)2012-01-12


jumpfroggy (author)2011-01-03

Great idea! I've been meaning to do this for a while, since I hate how much bulk all those cards take. I've been too lazy, though.

I ended up finding an Android app "Key Ring" that does the same thing. I'll try it, see if their scanners can actually read the barcode. But this is such a useful thing, esp. since you can have one flat paper printout instead of many oddly shaped and thick plastic cards.


domenicab (author)jumpfroggy2011-11-24

Key Ring works great for me! Typically no issues working with scanners. And since I travel constantly, it's also handy to manually enter all my airline and hotel reward card numbers. Even sans barcode, it is a great storage program for all things reward/membership/club/etc. Hope it is useful to others as well!

toxa (author)jumpfroggy2011-01-08

hm, gonna try it too

bpeacock (author)toxa2011-09-10

I havent gotten Key Ring to work. Nice app but all of the stores, shoppers, scene, SPC card, library card, all dont work,

laaha (author)2011-02-11

I've been having cards like that for some years now and I love it though the cashiers often look at me weirdly.

Avatar_I_Am (author)laaha2011-04-21

Don't forget that NEARLY all store that give out or require a discount card will put your phone number in the account: At Safeway, Giant, Petco, Petsmart, etc.. All I do is type in the "phone number" on record at the chackout screen and no need to cary any discount cards!

monicamac (author)Avatar_I_Am2011-07-13

As someone who worked for 4 years as a cashier at a store that used a discount card, I really beg people not to do this. This is a great hack that will save you wallet space while also saving the cashier from having to hold up lines to log into various systems in order to find your number. For most discount cards you can just copy the number on the front of the card or near the barcode, you don't need the barcode itself. Honestly, when there's a huge line up and someone says "I don't bring my cards, look me up in your system" it makes me furious.

Avatar_I_Am (author)monicamac2011-07-25

Yea, but why copy several- if not a dozen or more- codes when your ONE phone number will work at every business where they have discount or club cards?
To date I 'belong' to NINE club/discount businesses, and all I ever need is my ONE phone number to access whatever dicounts are offered.
Is it not simpler- and faster- to just need to remember the ONE number that you aleardy have memorised, instead of needing to carry a card with many numbers, need to dig it out, unfold it, find the proper number, tope in THAT number... I would be done and gone in half the time.

jblanke (author)2011-01-02

What they should do is sell universal cards, you could buy them for $1 anywhere. Then, you would take this card and register the barcode number on all of the different stores website, like,, etc.. Then you would need just the one card and scan it when you checkout. It's the same thing as giving them your phone number, exept it's not, and it's way faster.

For now, if you shop at ralphs, just ask the chashier for a club card and they will give it to you along with a registration form. Throw out the form and just use the card, unregistered. It's what I do, I still get points, and i can redeem them for 10 cents off a gal on gas once a month at ralphs gas station, or now at shell gas station.

freakyqwerty (author)jblanke2011-07-21

Good idea!

Chronos2187 (author)2011-01-17

Another good way to consolidate those cards if you have an Android phone is the Key Ring App. It does the same thing but displays the barcode you select on your phone for the store to scan. The best part is it's free

Yandle (author)2011-01-03

Here is a free web based bar code generator

it does really great images in a few major formats

I worked out some of the Barcode Symbology codes for the bigger companies I carry cards from.

Safeway = UPC-A
KingSoopers (Kroger) = UPC-A
BestBuy Reward Zone card = Code 128

Yandle (author)2011-01-02

Hell yes, awesome idea!

carniemechanic (author)2011-01-02

Brilliant! I travel with a carnival, so I have a stack of these things.
Does anyone know how small the bar codes can be and still function?

Use the IPhone APP Card King all your cards on your Phone
As for firing I went to the Giant on Dec 22 and was told they would not take card off phone anymore I made a few phone calls, when told that my 50,000 friends in my phone club wanted to know who to call to complain, he said he would fix it, and next time I went to the store they took the code off the phone other people say they have no more problems either.

Thanks, but I break tough phones; an iphone wouldn't do for a guy like me.

cmolle (author)carniemechanic2011-01-02

Download a free barcode program, type in the info that the original bar code contains and then simply reprint the bar codes. By printing the bar codes instead of copying them, you can get the bar code very small - possibly 1/3 the original size.

They can actually become quite small, but I wouldn't shrink them past maybe an inch since you can't know how well the scanners at the store work.

ladybgood (author)2011-01-02

er....there's an app for that. Just keep them all on your phone.

carniemechanic (author)ladybgood2011-01-02

Thanks, but an iphone is way too fragile. I would break it in no time.

Thursday Next (author)ladybgood2011-01-02

not everyone has an iphone. Hard as it may be to believe some people (like me) don't have a cellphone of any kind.

rockne1865 (author)ladybgood2011-01-02

IPhone has an APP called Card King (you take a picture of bar code with your phone and pick Company logo from a list) and that bar code number has no info its just a file number for files in the companies data base. as for privacy you gave that up to get the card! (THE CARD IS DATA MINING & THEY DON’T JUST SELL TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER THEY SELL TO EVERYBODY!) I like to use cards I find on the ground :)

tracydanger (author)2007-01-22

I actually did put the names of each store/place above each respective barcode (some were already above them, others I had to add in photoshop). Another idea I had, that detracts from the small wallet idea, was to put each picture in my palm pilot and scan it from there, but I don't carry my palm pilot around everywhere, so that would just add more weight to my pockets. For someone that has a smart phone or pda that they always have with them, that would work fine - keep it all digital.

jeffreyf (author)tracydanger2007-01-23

As Cement Truck mentioned, I'd be concerned that the various levels of reflectivity on a PDA or phone screen would be problematic. That's why I was thinking something like e-ink would work well. If anyone has a Sony Librie or equivalent, I'd be very curious to know if it works with bar-code scanners.

rockne1865 (author)jeffreyf2011-01-02

I have the Card King app on my IPhone and you need a hand scanner to read it. If they don't have a hand scanner they type the numbers in works fine.

aqwiz (author)tracydanger2010-12-28

a nook, or kindle, however with the right pictures stored on it in pdf format would work wonderfully.

Capolan (author)tracydanger2007-02-01

I work with the programming code of barcoders and imaging systems quite often - I don't think that the barcode as generated from a PDA screen would work very well, at least not I2of5 standards. I do agree with Cooblades -- the free barcode generators out there are a better idea than photocopying -- they're much more precise and they will scale in size properly giving an accurate read. Skip all of this and just RFID yourself :)

cooblades (author)tracydanger2007-01-28

It would have to depend on the barcode reader. Most store laser barcode readers cannot scan and decode barcodes off screens. However if it was a higher end store with imaging barcode scanner (they use a camera instead of a laser), then you wouldn't have a problem. There are many free barcode generating programs. Just google one and enter in the barcode numbers. Saves you pretty much steps 1 - 3.

binnie (author)cooblades2007-01-31

some places use different code types.... might not work

Andrew546 (author)tracydanger2007-01-22

Yeah, but it's kinda small. I can tell you from experience its much easier to identify a logo rather than read down a list of stores. I don't know about the PDA idea, you'd have to see how well it'd work with the scanner. But if it did work that way, you could just have individual files for each bar code, and just open up the relevant one as needed.

Roflolommo (author)2007-04-03

well you cant blame them for freaking out if i ever become a cashier and someone pulls out a sheet of barcodes on me im gonna stare blankly at them till they go away.

I kind of think that even "minimum wage" cashiers have problems with dozens of club cards filling up their wallets too. I've been a cashier before - my reaction would be "cool how can I do that?"

Actually, that's how almost everyone responds - "Cool, how'd you make that?" I only remember one person that gave me a hard time at a Speedway - as if somehow I was cheating the system. She must've been having a bad day.

Roflolommo (author)tracydanger2008-08-05

well see first you go around and take a bunch of pictures of other peoples credit cards...

er0401 (author)Roflolommo2011-01-02

What's the word for that uh FRAUD

bettbee (author)er04012011-01-02

Well luckily scanning credit cards won't help you . . .

unpure (author)bettbee2011-01-02

Front and back?
(Or just back and read the indentations backwards)

Sure you can't go into a shop and buy anything, but paypal doesn't want chip or pin or any of that stuff... :/

gluvsu (author)Roflolommo2011-01-02


gluvsu (author)Roflolommo2011-01-02


majeral (author)2011-01-02

This is good, I have done something like this but not as "neat" here is a site that makes them for you

Thanks going to do your!!

Thaikarl (author)2011-01-02

i had trouble getting some scanners to read my "justonecard" card - to many barcodes on one place. had to cover the odd ones with my finger.

little known fact: safeway club cards work at QFC - if you go thru the 'self-check-out' stands. the human checker won't scan the safeway card, but you can do it yourself at the self-scanners. one less little card to carry round.

and i always put slightly modded information on the applications for store cards, so they don't have any of my real personal information, and i use a phone number i got off a pay phone so they can call me anytime and i won't know.

for fun, when you make the application use a name like "Imah Jerke"
then when the checker reads your name off the recipt they have to choke on the words "thank you Mr. Jerk. you saved 29cents today"

cmolle (author)2011-01-02

Kudos! This is a great idea!

bd5 (author)2011-01-02

Great! What a great idea!

Flegeance (author)2011-01-02

Great idea. If any cashier does not take this for a Bonus or rewards program ask to talk to their manager. They have no grounds to refuse it. Whats the worst that can happen you give someone your bonus points, big deal. .......Actually if a whole town does this and uses the local soup kitchens rewards number at a grocery store it could be a big help for the Soup Kitchen and the homeless.

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