Merchants hate them, we buyers love them. We’re talking about the smartphone and tablet apps that let you find the cheapest price for a particular item, even when it’s not where you happen to be shopping. Other apps provide coupons and even refunds when you shop.
Here are my top choices for the five best free apps to help you save money any time of year, especially at the holidays, when we all count our pennies more carefully.
- Red Laser was one of the first price comparison apps, and it still is the gold standard. Just scan an item’s bar code to get price comparisons from local and online stores. The latest version includes coupons and also lets you make purchases directly in the app if you see a cheaper price than where you are shopping.
- Yowza lets you forget the paper coupons that came with the Sunday paper. You register by age and location, so you get targeted offers. That means I don’t get the same coupons as my college-student son, or my daughter, who is the mother of my two absolutely brilliant and totally adorable young grandchildren.
- Flipp also turns those Sunday circulars into digital versions. Unlike Yowza, which sends you specific coupons, Flipp shows you the entire store flyer, which you can flip through (hence the name) just as you do with the paper version, and digitally “clip” a deal or coupon you want to use.
- Tingo is both an app and a website, that will refund you money if the price of your hotel reservation drops after you make the reservation. Tingo tells me it has refunded more than $700,000 to customers in its first year.
- Gas Buddy directs you to nearby gas stations with the best price per gallon. A similar app is Poynt.
LORI won’t find you the cheapest price, but it will help you locate a local business owned by a woman. The app has nearly 500,000 female-owned business represented, many of which offer rock-bottom prices.
It takes time to save money. These free apps save both.