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Top 5 Smartphone Shopping Apps to Help You Save Money

By Isabel Eva Bohrer

smartphone shopping coupleShopping with smartphones and tablet computers is becoming increasingly popular. Thanks to apps, you can use your mobile devices not only to shop, but to save quite a bit of money, too. Whether you want to save money on gas or reduce your travel expenses, there’s probably an app that enables you to do it. In fact, no matter where you are, you can consult your smartphone or tablet to reduce the price of just about anything, including items you shop for on a daily basis.

Apps can be utilized to scan barcodes, find out more about specific products, redeem coupons, and search for the lowest price for a product in your area, either at a local store or online. Once you’ve found the product you’re looking for, you can download another app to keep track of your finances.

Apps to Help You Save Money

1. Google Shopper

google shopper logoGoogle Shopper will help you find the product you are looking for at the lowest price. Whether it’s a book, CD, DVD, or video game, you can use your camera’s phone to scan the cover and the app will search the Internet for stores nearby or online. Another option is to search using the barcode scan, which will allow you to find out more about the product in question.

Barcode scanning is available for just about any product, so you can compare groceries as well as electronics. However, the chances of saving money are more likely with higher-priced products. While the price of a bag of rice is fairly consistent across the board, you could find yourself saving hundreds of dollars if you compare the prices of electronics. Once you find the product you want, you can make purchases directly using your phone or tablet, save your search, and share your finds with friends and family.

Version 2.0 now also includes a “Nearby Offers” section, as well as a “Today’s Offer” section. The former provides a list of offers submitted by nearby businesses through Google Places. The “Today’s Offer” section, in turn, is now available for over 30 cities and allows you to consult daily deals or subscribe and get offers delivered to your inbox via Google Offers. For example, with a daily deal you could find yourself eating pizza at a reduced price, or saving money on a designer suit you have always wanted to buy.

  • Cost: Free
  • Available For: iPhone and Android
  • Best Feature: The “Search by Voice” feature. Say the name of a product and Google Shopper will find it for you.
  • Ideal For: Bargain shoppers who like to compare prices before making a purchase.
google shopper screenshot

2. Yowza!!

yoqza logoIf you are a coupon addict, this is the app to get. Yowza!! negotiates deals specifically for its users, providing instant coupon results based on your city and zip code search. You can also be notified when your favorite store adds a coupon, share your finds via Twitter, Facebook, or email, and track how much you saved.

There is no limit to what the coupons can offer. Whether you are looking to buy a guitar, a dry cleaning product, or photo frames, Yowza!! can help you get a discounted price.

Unfortunately, Yowza!! currently only works for the United States, although there are plans to expand abroad in the near future. In the meantime, if you are located in the U.S. and are looking for a discount on a specific brand, you can contact Yowza!! and ask them if they can add it to their list of coupons. The fact that the developers of this app are keen on corresponding both with customers as well as merchants makes the experience more successful for all parties involved.

  • Cost: Free
  • Available For: iPhone; partners with the Where app for Android, BlackBerry, and Palm Pre
  • Best Feature: The cashier scans the barcode right off your device – it is completely paperless and hassle-free.
  • Ideal For: Given the wide range of products offered by Yowza!!’s coupons, the app can be used by just about any kind of shopper. Those who enjoy browsing different kinds of products will especially find inspiration with this app.
yowza screenshot

3. Consumer Reports Mobile Shopper

consumer reports mobile shopper logoConsumer Reports is known for its unbiased expert ratings and buyer advice, and now you can receive it from an app. The Mobile Shopper enables you to consult the ratings, check and compare prices, and use a barcode scanner to find the nearest deal, including both online and local retailers.

The app provides a Consumer Reports product database of the most popular tested and untested products in the following categories: appliances, electronics, home & garden, babies & kids, and car products (i.e. doesn’t include new or used car model information).

For example, if you are looking to buy a digital camcorder, consult the electronics section on the app. Here, you will find unbiased reviews of several different camcorders, including evaluations of features such as flip-out LCD, image stabilizer, full-auto switch, auto-focus, zoom, optical zoom, digital zoom, 3D capability, viewfinder, and built-in projectors. The buying guide, which is also available online, defines all of the features, and helps you decide which camcorder is right for you.

  • Cost: $4.99 per year
  • Available For: iPhone and Android
  • Best Feature: Consumer Reports is an expert, independent, nonprofit organization. The information you are getting is the real deal, not something clouded in commercials.
  • Ideal For: This app is ideal for shoppers who like to educate themselves before making a purchase. Thanks to Consumer Reports, you can learn about the specific features of an item, compare brands, and ultimately make your own informed decision. It’s best to come with an idea of what product you want to buy, learn more about it, and then buy the brand and model that works best for your needs.
consumer reports mobile shopper screenshot

4. FastMall

fastmall logoFastMall will change your mall experience. With more than 50 features, it provides you with step-by-step directions to locate stores, restaurants, bathrooms, disability accesses, and more at all the big shopping malls in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, France, and other countries.

The basic store directories are free. Shops are listed in alphabetical order, along with the level of the mall on which they are located. In addition to store descriptions, you can browse available deals.

FastMall prides itself on community-driven features where you can not only read reviews of the stores by other users, but contribute your own too. If you spot outdated information in a part of the app (such as an old phone number in one of the store descriptions), you can easily get in touch with FastMall and have them correct it.

For your own convenience, you can also add text, photos, or videos and share them. For example, if you want to remember where you parked your car, go to the “Where Did I Park?” section, or if you want to jot down the details of a particular product you loved, go to the “My List” section. You can then also share this content with others via email or social networking sites.

  • Cost: Free. For an additional $0.99 to $2.99, you can download Virtual Maps, which calculates turn-by-turn directions. You specify whether you want these to include elevators or not. If you’re using the Virtual Maps feature, shake your phone to find the nearest bathroom. Note that Virtual Maps are not available for all malls.
  • Available For: iPhone
  • Best Feature: Does not require Wi-Fi or GPS and therefore won’t cause you a skyrocketing data bill.
  • Ideal For: As the name implies, this app is best suited for those people who shop at malls. If you are already familiar with the stores at your local mall, you can use FastMall to help you locate deals. If you are new to a mall, consider downloading the Virtual Map if it is available, especially if you are shopping with young children.
fastmall screenshot

5. Groupon

groupon logoEach day of the week, Groupon features a unique, new experience at a discounted price in cities across the world. From restaurants and theaters, to spas, stores and special events, Groupon partners with local businesses to offer daily deals. Given the wide range of cities in which Groupon deals are offered, it is beneficial if you choose to browse only those in your city, or in a city you plan to travel to in the near future. Many Groupon deals expire after six months.

If you see a deal you like, buy it. If enough people do the same, the deal will activate. The Groupon business plan is to offer “group” deals that provide local business with lots of new customers, who in turn are assured maximum discounts. As such, Groupon also makes it easy for you to share deals with your friends via email or social networking sites. See our Groupon review for more information.

The Groupon app allows you to purchase on the go, so you won’t ever miss an unbeatable deal again. You can keep track of deals by location, date, and expiration. In addition, you can save paper and time as you redeem the coupons directly from the screen of your phone.

  • Cost: Free
  • Available For: iPhone, Android, Blackberry, Windows, and any other mobile web browser
  • Best Feature: You can find deals as you go along and use them right away, all with the touch of a button.
  • Ideal For: Shoppers who enjoy browsing deals on a daily basis. You never know what deal might show up tomorrow, so you have to come back to check. If you are looking for something very specific, this app probably isn’t right for you.
groupon screenshot

Final Word

Thanks to smartphone apps, you can shop on the go and be assured that you’re receiving the best deal. Discover new products, share them with friends and family, and save both time and money. By downloading multiple apps, you can use one at the grocery store, and have another ready for the bookstore.

Whether you enjoy browsing or have a specific product in mind, shopping apps can help you learn more about individual items and compare their defining features. Once you find a product you like, you can compare prices both online and offline. With the right app in hand, your daily shopping experience will be hassle-free and inexpensive.

Which smartphone apps do you use frequently to save money?

(photo credit: Shutterstock)

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  • http://twitter.com/SamFeuer Sam Feuer

    FastMall is 100% free for the user. The post above mentioned a potential cost, just FYI.

  • http://www.carinsurancecomparison.com/ Tyler S.

    Always check to make sure the Groupon is actually a good deal for you, and is accepted at your local shop. I’ve had some problems with these kinds of deals in the past.

    • ImpulseSave

      I’ve heard that groupon works best when you live near a big city. I haven’t used it yet because I’ve seen so many mixed reviews. Is this true?

      • Bendavid_lr

        I have used Groupon with great success and have found the customer service from the service providers to be top notch. Find the really great deals meeting your personal interests and give it a try. Every item I have purchased came with free shipping as well.

  • Alisa B.

    Personally, I like iSlick app, it’s free and it’s continuously updated with the latest deals and sales being held in a variety of stores like Amazon, Ebay, Newegg, Bestbuy etc. I find myself checking it daily. Groupon app is also a good one.

  • http://www.cashone.com/ Robin Williams

    Wonderful apps, indeed these apps make the shopping experience easier. Personally I like Google shopper because with its daily deal I can find stuff at reduced price.

  • Jeff

    One good tip with Groupon while traveling……is to look for deals in the cities you will be traveling to.

  • Kyle

    Check out Ibotta. You’ll be hearing about it everywhere in a couple months’ time.

  • Lee Send

    Shopular is awesome! I love it because it delivers me deals from my favorite retailers like Banana Republic, Gap, etc when I’m at the mall!

  • Malaysia Jill

    Where is YNAB??? I’m a “saveaholic” and YNAB is definitely my favorite!!!

    Here are my other “Saving Money Tips”

    1) drop the smart phone and get a “dumb” one. Save about $50 per month. Get a low-priced tablet (e.g., Kindle Fire) or use your old iPhone as a wi-fi only device. Wi-fi is available everywhere; you really don’t need to pay for cell-based data plans

    2) call your car and home insurance company and tell them you want to go through all your coverage because you found another carrier that is cheaper. They’ll probably help you “find” 10% off or more.

    3) speaking of car insurance – An expensive policy from GEICO, Progressive, etc. is not needed. You can find one usually for less than $25/month from 4AutoInsuranceQuote. If you spend too much on car insurance from one of those big companies, chances are you are simply funding their expensive TV ads with cute animals.

    4) compare what your house is really worth to your assessment. Many assessments have never been properly adjusted down to reflect the market over the last 4 years. We cut our property taxes by about 20%.

    5) re-fi your 30-year mortgage to a 15. The interest rate will drop by at least 50-75 bps, more depending on your current rate. The payment may go up slightly, but it is because you are paying off your loan faster. If it’s possible, get the mortgage paid off before the kids go to college. At a minimum, have it paid off before you retire.

    6) review your credit card bills for all the things you are paying $10-20 per month for that you no longer need. I bet everybody has at least a couple

    7) drop all magazine (paper and on-line) subscriptions. If you look around, you can find comparable content for free.

    8) review your investment portfolio for ways to replace higher fee mutual funds or ETFs with lower fee ones. S&P500 funds/ETFs shouldn’t charge more than 0.10% in fees. Fees may be higher for specialty funds, but they are all coming down fast. If your company 401K uses high-fee funds, talk to the folks in charge. A difference of 25 bps in fees will mean a difference of about 5% in your portfolio value after 25 or 30 years.

    9) and of course the most impactful — never carry a balance on a credit card. If you can’t resist, cut up the cards.

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