Amid the chaos of digital retail, quality online comparison-shopping engines — otherwise known as price-comparison tools — are bright guiding lights for shoppers short on time and money.
With a few simple clicks, you can see prices across numerous sites in addition to those offered by brick-and-mortar stores to ensure you’re getting the best deal possible without having to spend a ton of time on research.
These are some of the best price-comparison app options on the market right now.
Best Retail Price-Comparison Websites for Online Shoppers
Comparison-shopping engines are basically retail search engines that facilitate comparison-shopping for consumers of every stripe. While each comparison-shopping engine has a slightly different format, layout, and capability suite, the primary function is the same: to minimize shoppers’ out-of-pocket spending on products they plan to buy anyway.
Some comparison-shopping engines work as browser plug-ins that alert online shoppers to better deals in real time. Others have bar code scanners that compare brick-and-mortar pricing on scanned goods with list prices at dozens or hundreds of other retailers. More than a few feature multiple price-comparison capabilities to accommodate the multifaceted reality of modern shopping.
No matter how you prefer to shop, there’s a retail comparison-shopping engine for you, and these are the best.
1. Capital One Shopping
Capital One Shopping doesn’t have a built-in bar code scanner, although it could help you find a lower price on one. That’s because it is a mobile-friendly browser extension that searches thousands of online merchants to see if you’re getting the best deal on the products you need. And because it’s free, there’s virtually no downside to using it.
Capital One Shopping automatically searches for better offers from other merchants as you browse Amazon products. If the product you’re searching for is cheaper somewhere else, the tool displays any lower-price matches along with product summaries that include detailed information, including the total price (with tax), price history, and delivery cost estimates.
When you browse other retailers’ inventories, it tests coupon codes from major merchants with a single click, then automatically applies the best coupon to your selection.
Capital One Shopping is an essential companion for the savvy comparison shopper. Activate it whenever you browse products online. There’s no reason not to.
Capital One Shopping compensates us when you get the browser extension using the links provided.
ScanLife is a free mobile scanning app available for iOS and Android. It can read bar codes and QR codes. It’s ideal for on-the-go price comparisons at brick-and-mortar retailers. Simply scan the product code and review real-time price matches. If you find a significantly lower price from another vendor, you can navigate to that merchant’s website on your phone or wait until you get home to pull the trigger.
Many ScanLife product listings have detailed information about the specific SKU, including physical characteristics like dimensions, technical details, and color as well as a qualitative description. Some listings also have user reviews.
ScanLife is ideal for determining the lowest possible prices on low-priced to moderately priced consumer products, such as home goods, toys, and clothing. It’s not appropriate for online-only comparison shopping. Think of it as a retail guardian angel that stops you from making questionable purchasing decisions in-store.
3. Amazon App
The free Amazon App is a miniature version of Amazon’s ubiquitous browser-based shopping portal, complete with order tracking, sophisticated shopping list tools, a watchlist with price alerts for limited-time deals, and voice search. It’s available for iOS and Android.
The Amazon App’s comparison-shopping feature is built around a bar code scanner that instantly searches Amazon for similar products. If Amazon can beat the price, great. If not, you can buy the item on the spot or use another price-comparison tool to cast a wider net across the e-commerce universe.
Either way, the app delivers the same wealth of information available in regular Amazon listings: specifications, qualitative descriptions, shipping options, and lots of user reviews.
The bar code scanning feature’s ideal use case is showrooming — that is, visiting a brick-and-mortar store for the express purpose of comparing its pricing and selection with Amazon’s. And because the Amazon app has a slew of additional capabilities, such as one-click ordering through the Amazon online store, it’s definitely worth keeping on your phone.
Price.com is built around an e-commerce hub with a staggering selection of consumer goods marketed by dozens of affiliate merchants. Though its main website is a perfectly functional retail hub, Price.com’s comparison-shopping power really shines in two places: a browser plug-in capable of scanning prices on demand at hundreds of retailers and a photographic app for iOS and Android made for on-the-go price comparisons, both of which are free.
If you’re shopping from the comfort of home, use Price.com’s browser plug-in to ensure you’re getting the best deal on the merchandise you know you want to buy. On the go, use the app to snap a photo of the product or scan its bar code to obtain instant price comparisons across the entire e-commerce universe.
Price.com’s website and app have some excellent value-added features too, such as recommendations for similar products, cash-back opportunities made possible by Price.com’s affiliate relationships, and exclusive and nonexclusive coupon codes.
Price.com is a versatile comparison-shopping tool that’s equally useful for at-home and on-the-go shoppers. Coupon codes and cash-back opportunities might entice you to complete purchases within the Price.com ecosystem, but don’t feel obligated.
ShopSavvy is more than a free price-comparison engine. As the owner of consumer-friendly brands like Tom’s Guide and Top Ten Reviews, ShopSavvy is a price-comparison site carrying the torch of product-testing trailblazers like Consumer Reports.
If you don’t have time to read detailed product reviews backed by real-world testing and expert analysis, ShopSavvy’s price-comparison app has you covered. Its primary feature is a bar code and QR code scanner that returns unbiased, real-time pricing on similar and identical merchandise from hundreds of major retailers.
The results are easy to parse, with the lowest price headlined and the brand hidden until you click through. Affiliate-driven cash-back opportunities sweeten the pot.
Come for the educational content, stay for the user-friendly scanner app with exclusive opportunities to earn cash back. The biggest drawback is the absence of in-app purchasing capability. ShopSavvy is available for iOS and Android.
Shopping.com is a mobile-friendly, eBay-owned price-comparison engine that curates deals from hundreds of different online retailers, covering more than 1 million distinct products in all. Use the simple search bar to find the products you’re looking for or browse participating retailers’ inventories using common product keywords.
If you’re in the mood to be inspired, peruse Shopping.com’s Top Products and Top Deals sections. You’re sure to find the best prices without sorting through dozens of confusing search results.
There’s nothing revolutionary about Shopping.com, but that doesn’t mean this free price-comparison tool isn’t worth checking before you make a purchase.
7. Google Shopping
Google Shopping is a fantastic app for shoppers who prefer digital browsing to the real-world alternative. And it’s not just for Android users.
Google Shopping is simply a free, retail-oriented version of Google’s famously spartan search bar. Search for “umbrellas,” and the only returns you see are portable rain-shields, with no Wikipedia entries or “history of the umbrella” articles clogging up the results. Google Shopping lists products for sale at third-party retailers and resellers, usually displaying the lowest final price, including shipping and online retail taxes, first.
Similar price-comparison and comparison-shopping tools are built into the Microsoft Edge browser and Microsoft’s Bing search engine. But with the vast majority of online shoppers choosing Google over Bing and using browsers other than Microsoft Edge, those shopping sites don’t carry the same weight as Google Shopping, even if they do offer a comparable breadth of different retailers and discounters.
Google’s in-house price-comparison tool is perfect for online shoppers who would begin their buying journeys by searching Google anyway.
Comparison-shopping engines are particularly useful during the holiday shopping season, when deals come and go in a matter of hours and retail holidays like Black Friday and Cyber Monday increase competition for digital shelf space.
Comparison-shopping engines are also helpful planning tools for consumers anticipating big-ticket purchases any time of year. A price change of a few percentage points might not mean much if you’re buying a $15 lawn chair, but the bottom-line impact is significant when you’re shopping for a $1,000 computer.
Whether you use it for every purchase you make or just for high-dollar investments, you owe it to your household budget to use price-comparison sites to comparison-shop for the best available deal. Your future self will thank you.