Whether I’m shopping for groceries or gifts—or just filling up my gas tank—my smartphone is never far. It’s how I check prices and availability and find deals and rebates. Here are a few apps for iPhones or Android devices that can help you, too.
Find sales. A key part of many shopping routines is browsing ads in the Sunday paper—but now, thanks to Flipp, you can do that anytime, for almost any major store. As you scroll through the circulars, tap to add items to your shopping list and compare promotions across stores. Within the app, you can link your loyalty cards to stores like CVS and Rite Aid and add digital coupons for items on your list to those accounts.
Plan ahead, or order curbside. These days, most chains have their own apps, and using them can make your trip more efficient. On the Wegmans app, for example, you can create shopping lists that are automatically categorized by aisle. Looking for your favorite brands? The app stores items you buy often for easy list-building, and you can view past receipts to find products you loved.
Target’s app links to your “wallet,” allowing you to store gift cards digitally rather than fumble through your actual wallet, as well as to Target Circle (formerly Cartwheel), which includes dozens of money-saving offers and gives rewards for every dollar you spend. Thanks to the pandemic, most major retailers, including Target, make ordering for in-store or curbside pickup simple on their apps.
Stop clipping and start scanning. While I still carry paper coupons occasionally, you’re more likely to find me scanning receipts to get money back through rebate apps. With Ibotta, you can claim offers on brand-name and generic products, and then redeem them by snapping a photo of your receipt or linking your loyalty cards. In some cases, you can even combine print coupons or store deals with app savings for a bigger bonus.
Pay less at the pump. One of the first gas apps continues to be among the best: Gas Buddy, which will show you the lowest price for gas near you or along your route, making it especially useful on road trips.
AAA members can check gas prices on the recently updated AAA Mobile app, as well as book travel, access member deals on attractions, and request roadside assistance.
Over on Checkout 51 (in addition to grocery rebates), you can save on gasoline. Use the GPS-based map to find a participating station nearby, and you’ll get back anywhere from five to fifteen cents a gallon by saving the offer and sharing your receipt.
Do a final check. Before cashing out at clothing, electronic, and other non-grocery stores, be sure you’re getting the best price. First, scan products using a barcode reader app or your phone’s camera to search for lower prices online. Many retailers—including Best Buy, Target, Home Depot, Lowe’s, and OfficeMax—will match a competitor’s lower price; occasionally, an item may even be cheaper on the store’s own website, but they should match it if you ask.
And, of course, look for coupons! RetailMeNot is my go-to, as the app has an impressive database of codes and coupons categorized by online or in-store deals.
Cash in your receipt. Whether you bought a single item or have an armful of bags, your receipts can earn you a few cents back. Simply snap a photo of each one on the app Receipt Hog, and it will reward you in coins that can be redeemed for cash or an Amazon gift card. (The receipts, in turn, are used for market research.)
Matthew Biddle is a Tonawanda-based writer and frequent contributor to Buffalo Spree and Forever Young.