Shopping: The Best Money Saving Apps for Consumers
This first subsection of our best money-saving apps all deal with shopping. They offer savings, coupons, price comparisons, etc.
So, if you plan on shopping shortly (don’t we all?), then consider some of these money-saving shopping apps.
Capital One Shopping
Capital One Shopping—formerly Wikibuy—is a terrific tool for comparison shopping. It can be used for both online shopping and in-person shopping. The app helps you find lower prices at different stores, ultimately saving you money. Plus, many purchases come with in-app rewards that can be redeemed for real-world products. That’s a win-win!
You can add the Capital One Shopping app directly to your browser so that it automatically comparison shops whenever you’re browsing for a product. The app will even apply applicable coupon codes to your purchases, saving you even more money than you’d assume. Other features in a “Price Drop Notification” inform you when a product you’ve previously looked at has fallen in price and a Universal Search that allows you to submit in-person photos of a product for price comparison.
The app is free and easy to install.
Join Captial One Shopping
Ibotta is a cashback savings app that provides shopper rewards in a few different ways. First, Ibotta has partnered with specific stores and provides cash back rewards on a constant rotation of those stores’ products. Second, many of those stores also have Ibotta rewards tied to the simple act of using those stores’ loyalty programs. For example, retailers like Walmart and Chipotle offer up to 10% cash back if you make your purchases using the Ibotta app or your Ibotta code. How simple!
You can also refer friends, earn specific bonuses, and even go on “bonus streaks”—the gamification of shopping! These are all alternative ways to earn money with Ibotta.
The app is free and easy to install. Payments are made to you via PayPal or Venmo. Common purchases that people use Ibotta to include groceries, alcohol, vitamins, and electronics. Ibotta is quickly growing in popularity on the list of best money-saving apps.
Shopkick uses your phone’s geolocation to “check-in” the specific businesses for rewards. You can also use Shopkick to scan barcodes for specific product-based rewards. These rewards are called “kicks.”
When you open Shopkick, a map will present you with an assortment of local retailers that provide “kicks” simply by walking into the store. You’ll also be able to view specific brands in those stores that provide additional “kicks” for scanning their products.
Your “kicks” can be redeemed common reward items like restaurantgift cards, movie tickets, iTunes points, etc.
Lots of retailers are already participating in Shopkick’s program. You’ll recognize names like Target, Kroger, Best Buy, and many more. Many grocery stores are part of Shopkick’s network, too.
Most of us shop, whether we are using an app or not. So why not try out one of our best money-saving apps like Shopkick?
RetailMeNot is a terrific money-saving app that provides access to product deals, discounts, storewide sales, rebates, and coupons. You can use the app to filter on any axis you like—based on store, product, location, etc. Once you apply that filter and perform your search, RetailMeNot will provide many money-saving options that meet your criteria.
Over 50,000 stores work with RetailMeNot, so it’s guaranteed to save money in your shopping life. The app is free and easy to use. It’s an easy include in our list of best money-saving apps.
Paribus is an automated price-checking app that specializes in finding the best purchase prices for your online shopping. But the way the app works sounds a little…futuristic?
With your permission, Paribus scans your emails for purchase confirmations. The app then determines if you’ve made those purchases at the best possible price. If you could’ve saved money elsewhere, the app will either 1) let you know or 2) automatically attempt to cancel your order and re-buy the product at a lower price.
Paribus also keeps track of promised shipping dates and keeps watching product prices even after your purchase (just in case the price decreases later). Now, if you’re wary of “big brother,” then giving Paribus access to your email might make you uncomfortable. That said, the app was scored A by the Better Business Bureau.
Paribus aims to be your personal money-saving bloodhound, sniffing for hints that you could’ve saved some cash.
Grocery IQ is an all-in-one grocery shopping app that allows you to make lists, scan barcodes, but most importantly, find coupons that you might not have known about. That’s why this makes our list of the best money-saving apps. The coupons feature in Grocery IQ will be useful to anyone who shops for food—and that’s most of us, right?!
GasBuddy is another specialized money-saving app. Any guesses?
You can probably surmise that GasBuddy comparison shops gas station prices based on your smartphone’s geo-location, offering up thecheapest gas options in your area or on your commute. Never overspend on gas again! Just use GasBuddy.
What do hotels do with all their unused rooms every night? The answer used to be: they go to waste! But Hotel Tonight solves that problem by creating an auction of sorts between hotels looking for occupancy and potential clientele.
If you’re rolling into town late at night and looking for a room, open up the Hotel Tonight app. You’ll see which hotels have vacancies. Remember: those hotels are all bidding against one another for your business. You can always find rooms offered far below their typical price. And the longer you wait into the evening, the lower the prices will drop.
Groupon is a well-known deal-finding app that provides large-scale (e.g., group) coupons on products and activities in your area. An example of a typical Groupon might be “buy one, get one free” on sporting event tickets or specialized classes (e.g., art classes or scuba lessons).
If you’re looking to try something new and save money while doing it, Groupon is a great app to look into.
Bill Monitoring: The Best Money Saving Apps That Monitor (and Cut) Your Bills
Trim is simple, effective, and free. Trim promises to identify subscriptions and recurring bills that you can cancel (or at least negotiate to smaller amounts). You link Trim to your credit card and/or bank account, and the app skims your bills for opportunities to save some dough.
Trim has a feature where they will negotiate bills lower on your behalf. If you use this service, Trim will keep 1/3 of whatever savings occur, and you keep the remaining 2/3. Again—this is a win-win! The best money-saving apps will actually work on your behalf to save you money!
Truebill makes two promises to its users. The first is that it’ll help you find unused subscriptions that you can cancel. The second is that it’ll help you lower the bills that you do need to keep. The app connects to your bank account or credit card to scan and sync your data, find subscriptions and other bills, and then double-check with you, “Are you sure you need to be paying for this?”
The Truebill app is free…kind of. They will negotiate on your behalf, saving you from those annoying customer service calls. In return, Truebill will keep 40% of whatever money they save you. So if they lower your cell phone bill by $20 per month, you save $12 per month, and Truebill keeps $8 per month. You both win.
They also offer a premium account for $5 per month. With this feature, Truebill turns their monitoring up a notch, looking for things like overdrafts, late fees, and they even will cancel services on your behalf when you permit them. Don’t want to stay on hold for three hours to cancel that nasty cable service? Truebill will do it for you. That’s worth the value already!
Savings and Budgeting: Planning Your Savings
These apps all help your plan and organize your money. Some resemble a typical spreadsheet budget. Others use the principles of behavioral finance to encourage good budgeting behaviors.
This subset of our best money-saving apps helps you manage and measure your personal finances.
YNAB—or You Need A Budget—is a terrific budgeting app with a cult-like following. The app is not free. It costs $7 per month. But loyal YNAB users will proudly proclaim how this app saves them hundreds of dollars per month.
The key behind YNAB is that it’s more than a numbers app. It’s a behavior app. YNAB strongly encourages its users to follow its four basic behavior rules. It changes the way you think about money. For example, users will proudly proclaim how they’re “YNAB poor” or “YNAB broke.” It’s a way of saying, “I’ve already given all my money an important job to do in the future, so I can’t spend that money right now.”
If you’re interested in changing your money mindset, YNAB might be the best money saving app for you.
Mint might be the most well-known budgeting app on this list. It automatically syncs with your bank account to track and categorize every purchase you make. If you set up the app as intended, you can create a completely hands-off budgeting experience. Most banks and credit card companies allow Mint to scrape their data, making your budgeting life easier.
Like most apps on this list, the biggest obstacle to success with Mint is often you, the app’s user! If you miss transactions with Mint (or any other budget), the story you see will be incomplete.
The Joy app uses the idea of financial fulfillment to show users how to pursue happiness with their spending—and save money in the process. The core tenets of Joy are excellent. First, they suggest that you buy “experiences” over material goods. They also suggest you invest in others, that you turn purchases into special treats, and that you focus on “buying time”—because your free time has an important value!
The goal behind Joy is that if you focus on happiness, you’ll end up spending less money on “unhappy” things. And so far, it’s working! Joy users give the app great reviews. It’s one of the best money-saving apps out there.
Peak Money is a budget and goal-setting app that encourages its users to create goals (or “peaks”) to climb towards and save money for. For example, let’s say I want to save $1000 for vacation next summer. I would create a “peak” for $1000 and then slowly start setting money aside towards that peak. I would actually withdraw money from my bank and deposit that money with Peak Money.
But wait—why would I give money to an app? Peak Money keeps your deposits in an FDIC-insured bank account, and they offer interest in the form of Peak Rewards. Right now, Peak rewards are set at a 0.50% annual rate, which is a bit lower than most high-yield bank accounts.
But Peak Money provides useful visual aids to allow you to “see” how you’re approaching your “peaks.” If you need a little nudge to meet your savings goals, then Peak Money might be right for you.
Qapital is another money-saving app that focuses on letting you save for goals. It uses “micro-savings” activities to slowly build up your savings and assign those small increments to your established goals in the app.
Similar to other money goal apps, Qapital holds your money for you in an FDIC-insured bank account. This prevents you from accidentally spending that money on anything else.
There are a few different techniques within Qapital to increase your savings. For example, you can “round up” on purchases to the nearest dollar, sending the excess money to Qapital. Or you can set up an “If This, Then That” channel to trigger—every time you do X, then add money to your Qapital account.
Investing Apps: Invest Money Now, Save Money For Later
Investing doesn’t put money in your pocket today. Instead, the goal of investing is typically long-term.
It’s about saving money for retirement or another distant future goal. Here are our picks for the best money saving apps for investors.
Stash is an investing app that provides fantastic educational content and diverse investments to its users, albeit with higher fees than many other investing apps.
Unlike some other apps that expose users to the “wild west” of investing, Stash emphasizes helping new investors via simple education. It’s terrific for people looking to get started with investing. Once someone feels comfortable with managing their portfolio, they can switch to a lower-fee platform. But Stash is perfect for beginners.
Acorns use the power of micro-savings to turn your little seeds into big money in the future (e.g., like acorns into an oak tree). The app asks for permission to round your purchases to the nearest dollar and then invests those extra cents into long-term investments on your behalf. It’s a terrific combination of behavioral finance (making small savings you’d never notice) and a long-term mindset.
Robinhood has made headlines this year by providing commission-free stock trading at the simple click of a smartphone button. It’s the easiest that stock trading has ever been. If you want mobile access and free access to the stock market, then Robinhood might be your answer.
Just be careful. Investing has pros and cons, with opportunities for great profits and tough losses. Some people think we’re overdue for a market crash. Others say the market will only go up. In truth, there’s an ebb and flow between bull and bear markets.
Rize is a micro-savings and investing app that promises higher-than-average interest rates and access to ETF investing. Rize has two so-called “power up” features for its users, both of which automatically increase the amount of money you invest over time.
Digit is another micro-savings app that withdraws money from your bank account and deposits it into an investment account without, they claim, you ever really noticing. Digit takes a look at your spending and saving habits and finds optimal times to withdraw small bits of money—typically around $10—into your investing account.
The idea is that your investing withdrawal will blend in with the $5 coffee, the $25 gas fill-up, or the $12 sandwich. Why not add investing to your list of small, everyday purchases?
The downside is that Digit charges $2.99 per month, while many of these other best money saving apps are free.
Banking Apps: The Best Money Saving Apps That Store Your Money
Chime is an all-in-one banking app that provides a checking account, a savings account, and a credit card. The app ties your accounts together via one easy-to-use app. Chime’s checking account is provided with zero fees. Its savings account offers a 1.0% interest rate on its savings account—which is pretty good with today’s low-interest rates. And Chime’s credit card is backed by Visa, so you know you can use it anywhere.
The best part of Chime is that it was designed with mobility in mind. Their app interface is terrific and can be used by any smartphone user.
If you’re looking for a great all-in-one money-saving banking app, then Chime might be your answer.
Twine is a money-saving app designed for couples looking to save money together. Two people can contribute to the same Twine account by simply linking their respective bank accounts to Twine. Once the FDIC-insured app holds the money, the users can choose to place their money in a “conservative” savings account or into more “aggressive” investing accounts.
Gone are the days where a couple struggles to maintain their joint bank accounts. Twine is the best money saving app for that job.
Varo is an online-only banking app that provides high-interest savings accounts from the ease of your smartphone. Plus, Varo has partnered with Allpoint ATMs to provide in-person cash withdrawals for users looking for a physical way to access their cash.
Varo differentiates itself from other online banks with its highly-rated user interface and ease of use.
Money-Saving Apps That Pay You For What You Already Do
Believe it or not, someapps pay you for walking down the street, watching TV, surfing the web, etc.
Let’s review some of these fun and funky apps that pay you for what you already do.
Viggle is an app that pays your reward points for watching Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, and other streaming networks. The more you watch, the more you earn. The app syncs with your streaming device to know when and what you’re watching. There are even “bonus” times when you can multiply your earned points by factors of 5, 10, or 15.
Ok, so I’ve got all these Viggle points…now what? Viggle is associated with another rewards app called Perk, through which you can redeem your Viggle points for gift cards or specific merchandise (e.g., electronics).
Watch T.V., get rewarded. Not a bad deal!
The Job Spotter incentivizes users to take pictures of employment, hiring, or help wanted signs. The app is a product of Indeed—the giant careers website. In your informal role as a Job Spotter, you’ll be on the streets notifying Indeed of new employment opportunities in your area.
Most users average around 50 cents earned per picture taken, though the payouts can vary based on the quality of the job you find. The best payouts tend to come from the signs that are most difficult to find. That is, the small business café looking for a new manager will be a more valuable Job Spotter sign than the huge banner at Target looking for more cashiers.
The Fetch app gives you rewards and bonuses for buying specific products. All you have to do is send them pictures of your receipts from shopping, and Fetch will reward you based on what you’ve purchased.
You can also proactively use Fetch to find rewardable purchases before you make them, but we like the fact that Fetch can be used at any time in your purchasing cycle. The reward points can be redeemed for gift cards that you can use at most major retailers.