Gone are the days when shoppers had to browse weekly sales flyers and clip coupons from the Sunday paper to save money. Now, mobile apps and websites help shoppers do everything from instantly locating the store offering the best price on a specific item to getting money back on a purchase that’s already been made.
There’s probably a shopping app for anything you need to purchase, from groceries to airline tickets. Many of them don’t actually make shopping easier or save users much money. But the five free apps listed below are among the best—they really can help you shop smarter and save money…
ShopSavvy: A Big Advantage When You’re in a Store
Whether you’re shopping for groceries or preparing to make a bigger purchase such as a TV or appliance, if you’ll be visiting a brick-and-mortar store during your search, this app will help you find the best price. While in a store, simply use your phone’s camera to scan an item’s barcode, and the app will show you how much other stores charge for it—both locally and online. ShopSavvy* is especially useful if you’re in a store that offers price matching. When you find an item selling for less from another retailer, show the information to the customer service desk and ask for the lower price. If you sign up for ShopSavvy’s free cash-back program, you’ll get money back when you shop at retailers like Macy’s and Walmart, increasing your savings.
Paribus: Avoid Buyer’s Remorse
Many people worry, Did I overpay? after making a purchase—and even if you don’t worry about that, it would be nice to get some money back if you did overpay, right? Paribus tracks the prices of products that you’ve recently purchased online. It does this by monitoring your e-mail for receipts sent to you by certain e-commerce sites…and then tracking the items you’ve bought in the past 90 days to see whether those sites have dropped their prices on those items. When Paribus finds that a merchant you bought from has dropped its price, it will automatically send a request to the retailer to refund you the difference.
Paribus works with a select list of major retailers that have money-back policies for price drops, including Amazon, Zappos and Home Depot. But note that Paribus retains 25% of any refund it secures for you, and it requires access to both your email account (to scan for digital receipts) and your credit card information (to process your refund). Paribus also recently added shipment tracking, which follows items you’ve ordered from Amazon and Walmart. If a package doesn’t arrive on time, the app requests compensation for you.
Flipp: Organize Your Grocery Shopping
Flipp streamlines your grocery shopping while finding you the best deals and is ideal for shoppers who don’t mind going to multiple stores for groceries. Use your phone’s camera to take a photo of your handwritten shopping list, and Flipp turns it into a digitized shopping list within the app and breaks down your list by category (such as Dairy & Eggs, Household, etc.). You can also use the app to add items to your list. If you’re looking for a certain brand, include that on your list. If you’re simply looking for the brand that offers the best price, you can be less specific. From there, the app scans local store flyers to find sales and coupons for the items on your list and lets you know where the best deals are.
Flipp doesn’t just save users money—it also includes a “Store Mode” feature that sorts your grocery list by store aisle so you can easily navigate each store and complete your shopping in less time.
Gift Card Granny: Gift Cards for Less
Gift Card Granny allows you to buy unused gift cards (both physical and e-gift cards) at discounts to their face value. On cards for the most popular retailers, such as Amazon or Walmart, you might receive a discount of only 2% to 4% (so that, for example, you might be able to buy a $100 gift card for $96 to $98). But gift cards to more specialized retailers can be found for as much as 50% off. Recently, gift cards for Payless Shoes were at a 43.5% discount.
Yapta: Tracking the Best Flight Prices
Planning a trip? The Yapta site and app track flights you’ve already booked or are interested in booking and alert you when the price drops. For fares you might want to book, you can customize settings to decide how big a price drop warrants a notification. For flights you’ve already booked, the “Airline Refunds” feature alerts you when the price drops below what you paid and lets you know whether you are eligible for a refund. Since airlines constantly tinker with ticket prices, this helps travelers avoid worrying about overpaying. Yapta maintains a list of airlines that offer refunds when prices drop—some, like Alaska Airlines, will refund travelers for any price drop, while others, such as American Airlines and United, will give money back only if the ticket price drops by $200 or more.
Yapta’s app is only available for iPhones or iPads, but you can access the service through its website.
*Unless otherwise noted, the apps are available for iOS and Android devices.