Retail shoppers who download a Shopkick Inc. mobile application on their smartphones to earn rewards points, or "kicks," may earn extra points by paying for purchases with a Visa-branded card.

Visa is the first major card brand to link rewards points through Shopkick's Buy & Collect program, says Leigh Amaro, Visa's senior business leader for information products.

In August last year, Shopkick introduced its free application for Apple Inc. iPhones and Google Inc. Android mobile phones to provide rewards to shoppers when walking into participating stores.

About 4,000 U.S. stores offer the Shopkick rewards and support the Buy & Collect program. They include American Eagle Outfitters Inc., Old Navy (owned by Gap Inc.), Toys R Us Inc. and Arden B. (a subsidiary of Wet Seal Inc.)

Shoppers entering a Shopkick merchant location must have the Shopkick application open on their phone so it can pick up the audible signal from a device the merchant places in the store doorway.

When the doorway device detects a Shopkick-registered shopper, Shopkick automatically adds the "kicks" to the shopper's Shopkick account for use at any of the participating merchants. Generally, a shopper earns 60 to 100 kicks for walking into a store, depending on how many kicks the merchant has agreed with Shopkick to offer.

Shopkick will alert existing application users about the optional Buy & Collect program through a text message and direct them to join the program by linking their Visa account to Shopkick.

"When you think about it, our program with Shopkick also allows consumers to do some double-dipping because they may get travel rewards or other points from issuers in addition to the kicks from Shopkick," Amaro says.

The Buy & Collect program goes beyond regular card-loyalty programs because "it drives consumer behavior" by giving rewards for visiting a store, scanning product bar codes for information or purchasing an item, says Richard Oglesby, a senior analyst with Aite Group.

"A lot of digital marketing providers are going this route with a consumer behavior- or performance-based program," Oglesby says. "The next level would be to tie it all in with a mobile payment so that the program and the payment method are all linked together."