8 Best Mobile Coupon Apps to Save Money Shopping With Your Smartphone

using a smartphone while shoppingExtreme couponing can save you a lot of money, but it can also take a lot of energy. Fumbling through newspapers, clipping the best deals, and waiting for them to scan at checkout can make any quick supermarket trip an epic errand. People with kids or full-time jobs typically don’t have the time to scour the Internet and print out, organize, and use anything more than the occasional coupon.

That’s where couponing apps can come to the rescue. The ability to upload, “clip,” and scan coupons directly on your smartphone can make the process a lot more efficient.

If you type “coupon” into your smartphone’s app store, you’re sure to get hundreds of returns. Plenty of apps promise to save you money, but finding the most functional ones with the best features is another story. Ultimately, it can be worth it though – the best couponing apps can save you some serious time and money.

Top Couponing Apps to Save Money

1. SnipSnap

snipsnapMy absolute favorite coupon app is SnipSnap. While prepping my usual mountain of flyers on Black Friday last year, I got frustrated with how many different coupons and offers there seemed to be. I started looking for a way to streamline the process and came across SnipSnap, which I immediately downloaded and put to use.

Consider it a virtual coupon binder. With SnipSnap, you can search stores and retailers for coupons and then download them individually directly to the app. The app automatically sorts them by expiration date, but you can search your saved coupons by retailer for easy access. When you get to checkout, the cashier simply scans your phone for each coupon or types in the code displayed under the coupon.

There’s also a handy “Near Me” feature that finds coupons based on location, which means you can pull up the app while waiting in the checkout line and score unexpected discounts. It can even track your movements and remind you when it matches a store’s location to a coupon you already have so you never miss out on a deal.

  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms: iOS and Android
  • Pros: Simple interface, “Near Me” feature, scannable coupons.
  • Cons: Some coupons are for different geographical locations, and cashiers don’t always know how to input codes. I’ve had to show them the code found underneath the coupon and even read out the numbers so they could input them.
  • Best For: Casual couponers who prefer speed and convenience to exhaustive lists and options.
  • Works With: Malls, national retailers, independent retailers, percent-off discounts.

2. Yowza

yowzaDespite its silly name, Yowza offers pretty serious savings. While most couponing apps are user-driven (meaning users are the ones who upload and share coupons), Yowza allows retailers to upload coupons and offers, which usually results in better savings. You can still search based on location and retailer, and because Yowza is location-driven, you can score savings based on your area that you might not get with a nationally based couponing app.

You can also search for your favorite stores, even if they’re outside your area. With a library of more than 70,000 retailers, Yowza offers a huge selection of coupons which you can save to your account for future use. You can also download and scan straight from the app, saving time at checkout.

  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms: iOSĀ and Android
  • Pros: Retailers upload offers, more predictable results.
  • Cons: May not have as many offers as other apps.
  • Best For: Couponers who want to support local businesses and use retailers’ coupons.
  • Works With: Independent retailers, product discounts, national retailers.

3. CardStar

cardstarLoyalty cards are a simple way to get rewards and discounts without much fuss. Unfortunately, storing the cards and finding them at checkout is a fuss. I’ve missed out on savings because I’ve lost a loyalty card, forgotten about it, or couldn’t find it in time.

Enter CardStar, a genius way to score savings based on store loyalty cards. Instead of keeping them in your wallet, you scan each of your loyalty cards into the app. Then, when you’re at checkout, the cashier scans your phone, rather than the card. The app can also store info about those cards, such as the phone number you used when opening the account. CardStar also lets you know when one of your loyalty cards has an extra offer, like discounts and free merchandise for cardholders.

One drawback is that some cards seem to scan more accurately than others. If a card doesn’t scan during the setup process, it’s best to pop it in your wallet and use the plastic version while shopping.

  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms: iOS and Android
  • Pros: Streamlines loyalty cards, lets you know about special offers.
  • Cons: Scanning can be inaccurate, so some cards may need to stay in your wallet.
  • Best For: Loyalty card lovers.
  • Works With: Retailers with scannable loyalty cards (check for a barcode on the back).

4. Coupon Sherpa

coupon sherpaWhile there are a ton of apps for mall-type retailers, it’s trickier to find apps that work well for grocery stores – most grocery store coupons are product-specific, while retailer coupons usually apply to the entire purchase. That’s where Coupon Sherpa has an edge over the competition, as it searches for and stores product-specific coupons, as well as those for entire stores and online retailers, offering you the best of both worlds.

After downloading the app, you can search for and save coupons to your virtual wallet – just keep in mind that you still may need to print them for some deals if they don’t have a scannable barcode. When in-store, you can then use the app to scan the coupons for your savings. It’s just like any other coupon shopping trip, except that some of your coupons are stored on your phone for quick access. Another cool feature allows you to save specific stores within the app – it then lets you know when new coupons are available for both in-store and online redemption.

  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms: iOS and Android
  • Pros: Offers more product-specific coupons, works for online and in-store purchases.
  • Cons: Online deals are more reliable, still may need to print out paper coupons.
  • Best For: Couponers who like a more traditional coupon experience.
  • Works With: Grocery stores, paper coupons, product discounts.

5. ShopKick

shopkickIf you love the idea of getting points when visiting retailers even if you don’t make a purchase, ShopKick might be good for you. It is a rewards app and a deals app rolled into one tidy interface. It works using your location services, since the app records when you walk into a retailer – a major advantage over rewards programs that require you to purchase something to get points.

ShopKick is also a deals app, since it alerts you of deals and coupons when you walk into a store. It’s perfect for when you’re doing a lot of shopping or don’t know which stores you’re going to visit, like when you’re walking in and out of retailers in a mall. Once you rack up enough points, you can exchange them for gift cards to retailers. You can also score points for sharing socially, taking surveys, and other actions. You can earn anywhere from 50 to 200 points for walking in a store, with bonus points for other actions – a Target gift card is 2,500 points for $10, so those points can add up quickly.

Unfortunately, ShopKick needs to be running to get points, and that tends to drain precious battery life. Still, it’s excellent for longer shopping trips and a solid way to get some cash back on your window shopping efforts.

  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms: iOS and Android
  • Pros: Scores points without having to buy, lets you know about deals when in-store.
  • Cons: Eats up phone battery and requires data usage to track your movements.
  • Best For: Shopping binges where you’re in and out of stores, such as on Black Friday.
  • Works With: National stores, malls, some independent retailers.

6. Grocery iQ

grocery iqIf you tend to do the bulk of your couponing at the grocery store, Grocery iQ was practically built for you. Part grocery list, part coupon match-up app, you can create and save lists based on what you already tend to buy, which means fewer impulse purchases just because you have coupons. In Grocery iQ, you create a custom grocery list and use that list to search for coupons available at stores you generally shop at and for products you typically buy. You can even sync lists with your spouse or enter items via voice so you don’t forget a thing.

Grocery iQ also lets you enter loyalty card details and save deals directly to your account with your loyalty card, so they’re applied when you swipe at checkout. And while you have to print out some of the coupons you want to use at checkout – some cannot be scanned – the app takes a lot of the footwork out of finding, matching, and clipping them.

  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms: iOS and Android
  • Pros: Helps you tailor a personal shopping list for fewer unplanned and unnecessary purchases, and works with many store loyalty cards, such as Safeway and Kroger.
  • Cons: Some coupons are paper-based, so you still need printer access. It can also take time to set up lists and sync.
  • Best For: Managing your grocery list and using coupons concurrently.
  • Works With: Grocery stores, scanned and paper coupons.

7. Checkout51

checkout51Just because you don’t want to coupon doesn’t mean you should miss out on savings. Couponing apps generally operate in the same way as the coupons themselves – you show them before purchase and receive a discount. However, Checkout51 works differently. It offers cash-back rebates on products you’ve already purchased, as evidenced by your receipts. This way, you save money without ever having to take coupons to the store.

Here’s how it works: You go to the store and shop as usual. When you come home, you use the app to take a picture of your store receipt. The app then scans the receipt and deposits cash back into your Checkout51 account based on the current offers and rewards, such as $1 for a package of Oreos. Once your balance hits $20, you have the option to keep saving or get a check sent to you.

  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms: iOS and Android
  • Pros: Great way to save money even if you don’t like using coupons.
  • Cons: There can be a limited number of rebates for a specific item, so you need to upload your receipt ASAP.
  • Best For: Non-couponers who feel awkward getting discounts at the register.
  • Works With: Grocery stores, both national chains and local establishments.

8. Yipit

yipitWhile it’s not exactly a couponing app, Yipit can offer substantial savings and is worth an honorable mention. One of the big problems subscribing to daily deal websites is getting 15 emails every day on discounts for everything from clothing to travel. Yipit shows you the best of the best each day based on your location and profile. Instead of taking the time to comb through all those deals, you can view them based on your location, all in one simple place.

While some of the locations are still unavailable, most major cities are now represented, so it’s worth a second look. Just remember: Yipit can streamline your routine, but it can also result in impulse buys. Make sure that if you do use the app, you do so wisely and purchase items because you need them, not because they’re on sale.

  • Cost: Free
  • Platforms: iOS and Android
  • Pros: De-clutters your email inbox, won’t miss a great deal.
  • Cons: Could tempt you to make impulse purchases.
  • Best For: Dealing with a mountain of subscription emails that probably just get deleted anyway.
  • Works With: National and local discounts, daily deals subscriptions.

Final Word

Hardcore couponing definitely isn’t for the weak of heart or short of time – it takes hours of searching, clipping, and matching to get the best deals. However, if you have a smartphone, you might already have the most powerful couponing tool in your pocket. Armed with the right apps, saving money and scoring discounts is a lot easier. Even a self-proclaimed coupon-hater like myself can seriously appreciate an unexpected discount or simple money-saving strategy: Why pay more if you don’t have to?

What other couponing apps can you suggest?

  • moofdawg

    Thanks for this great article! Another free one that has helped me save money is the Wallaby app. It keeps track of your credit card rewards and tells you which card to use the get the most cash back/rewards. I highly recommend it. Yay to saving money!

  • Baptiste Kolh

    Thanks for this good read! I really enjoy the new service giift (app and website) to know the real value of all my coupons, gift cards, loyalty programs…

  • Lee Send

    Another one I LOVE is Shopular!

  • http://www.threethriftyguys.com/ athriftyguy

    There are some great ones that are more current now, including Honey – which even pays you for referring others to it ($5 referral). Thanks