Passbook is the feature that I was most excited to try when I bought my new iPhone 5. Here’s what you should know.

Do you have club, loyalty, and discount cards and coupons haphazardly scattered all over the place? As for loyalty cards – isn’t it annoying how you can never find them in your wallet when you’re ready to pay at the store? Luckily, there’s a new app to help solve those problems.

Passbook is the latest native app release with the iO6 update. The handy application is meant to act as a digital hub for your boarding passes, movie tickets, retail coupons, and loyalty cards, so you simply pull up the app and present your device to the retailer to scan the barcode.

As you can imagine, it is the feature that I was most excited to try when I bought my new iPhone 5. (Note to readers: Passbook is available on the iPod Touch and the iPhone but not on the iPad.) I soon discovered that Passbook is not as intuitive as most Apple products. It took a fair bit of trial and error to get it set up and functioning properly. If you’re planning to use this app, here are some tips that could help.

How to add coupons
There are two different ways to add coupons to Passbook:

1. Populate coupons from Passbook-compatible apps from your favorite stores.
2. Add coupons from e-mails and websites.

To add a loyalty card from a Passbook-compatible app, you must first download the app from the app store.  Sign in to an existing account or set up a new account on the app. Then you can either view coupons and club cards, complete with information and barcodes, or instantly create a card. Then simply tap the “Add to Passbook” button to add the card to your Passbook app.

Here’s how I added my Sephora Beauty Insider card to Passbook:

  1. First, I downloaded the Sephora to Go app on my iPhone 5.
  2. Then I signed in to my Beauty Insider account.
  3. I was then prompted to add my Beauty Insider Card to Passbook. Then I tapped on the button and that’s it!

I visited Sephora the same weekend to stock up on some of my beauty staples. At the checkout counter, I launched passbook and handed my phone to the cashier. She typed up my Beauty Insider card number rather than scanning the barcode. Disappointing! Oh well, it was still easier than hunting for the card in my wallet.

Major business such as American Express, Starbucks, Fandango, American Airlines, Target, Walgreens, have already released apps to integrate with Passbook, with lots more in the pipeline. Here is a comprehensive list of Passbook-ready apps.

You can also add coupons to Passbook from e-mail attachments and URLs. That’s good news for couponing fans. In fact, recently started offering Passbook coupons from major retailers like Macy’s, Old Navy, PETCO, Barnes & Noble, Jo-Anne Fabric, ULTA Beauty and more, on their website. To get those coupons on your Passbook, simply visit the URL on your iPhone browser. At the top of the page, you will see a “Get Coupons” button under a Passbook icon. Click it and you will be directed to a list of available coupons for Passbook. Just add your favorite offers by hitting the “Add to Passbook” button.

Getting coupons from your inbox into Passbook is also easy. Just open and view the coupon in the mail app on your device and hit the “Add” button in the top-right corner.

Activate Automatic Updates and Location Features in Passbook

Passbook has two really nifty features:  “Automatic Updates” and “Show on Lock Screen”. To activate these, tap the “i” (information) icon in the lower-right corner of your coupon or card. Doing so will pull up a screen where you can turn on both features.

“Automatic Updates” alerts you of any changes related to your card. So for example, if you have a boarding pass stored in Passbook, and there’s a gate change you will be notified. The same goes for any changes made to your rewards balance in club cards.

The “Show on Lock Screen” feature automatically detects when you’re near a location and displays the relevant card (if any) on your screen.

Bottomline: The Passbook app has a lot of potential even though it missing a crucial feature that would make it amazing – the ability to make payments directly from the application. In spite of that missing piece, it is a handy application that could make life a little more convenient. I’m excited to see it evolve as more retailers embrace the concept.

Have you used Passbook yet? What you do you think?

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About The Author

Kerry is an app marketeer and the creator of Kerry has published over 100 iPhone & Android Apps. Kerry's background as a search professional includes over 10 years of experience in all aspects of digital marketing. His expertise includes iPhone & Android App Marketing, SEO best practices, keyword research, content optimization, social media, and mobile application development. Kerry has been successful in building several online businesses (apps and websites) and he remains a thought leader in developing unique ideas for marketing via the web. Kerry’s clients have included Sony, Orbitz, Cheap Tickets, Campmor... just to name a few. Visit Kerry at:

13 Responses

  1. Lane

    This is a great article! Thanks so much for taking the time to spell this out. Will save me a lot of hassle. I wasn’t even going to bother using Passbook but I definitely will now!

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    Hi there, after reading this remarkable paragraph i am also happy to share my familiarity here with colleagues.

  4. Jim

    After reading the article I realize that it is way too much trouble and way too time-consuming to manage and use Passbook. It is much easier to pull a card out of my wallet. Thanks anyway, though.

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  6. Lori

    What is the scan code on the passbook for? I tried scanning my card directly into passbook but it didn’t work. Can you scan the barcode for a card using the scan code link?

  7. Rob

    I only just got an iPhone. Tried passbook and found it to be non-functional. I tried to scan my airline ff card, my roadside assistance membership card, my liquor store loyalty card, my outdoor clothing store loyalty card, my public transit card.

    Not one was recognised.

    I think I can guess the answer – it is one of those services that is only available to residents of the USA

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