January 29, 2013
I’m a cheapskate—within reason, of course. You won’t see me on Extreme Couponing, but when I buy something, I like to make sure I’m getting the best possible deal. Fortunately, smartphones make it easier than ever to be a smart shopper. Here are some iOS apps that can help you find deals on everything from a cup of coffee to a DVR, and stay organized while you’re at it. All of them are free.
Coupon Sherpa: This well-designed app offers coupons for discounts and deals at a wide variety of retailers, restaurants, service providers, and select grocery stores. Search for coupons (which are for in-store use only) by category or by retailer. Some can be scanned from your phone at checkout; others must be printed.
Decide: This app offers product information, reviews, and ratings on appliances, audio equipment, sports gear, computers and electronics, and more. The Price Predictor feature advises whether to buy now or wait, based on factors such as product updates, new releases, and likely price changes. You can set alerts for price fluctuations, rumors, and other info that might influence your purchase decision.
GeoQpons: Track down deals in your neighborhood at local and national retailers via this app, which provides coupons and gives directions to the nearest stores that accept them. Again, some offers can be scanned, while others require a printed coupon.
Google Shopper: Like most things Google, Shopper is nothing if not comprehensive. You can search for a product by entering a name, or by scanning the bar code or cover art for books, CDs, and other media. The app then produces prices, reviews, related products, and retailers (both online and local) that sell it. You can add items to shopping lists and share information with other users as well.
RedLaser: After you use RedLaser to scan the bar code on an item, it shows you the best prices at local stores as well as at online retailers, along with product descriptions and reviews, coupons and bargains, and other details. You can also create shopping and gift lists, organize your credit and customer loyalty cards, and keep track of your purchases.
Slice: Tracking online purchases, deliveries, and returns can be a pain. For each online transaction you complete, Slice collects the pertinent information, including receipts and shipping details. It even lets you know when to expect the package on your doorstep. The app also works with iTunes, Kindle, and Netflix, and it monitors “daily deal” vouchers at sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial.
Smoopa: This price-comparison tool uses crowdsourcing to find bargains. Suppose you’re out shopping for a portable hard drive. You find a model you like, scan the bar code, select the store you’re in, and enter the price. Smoopa compares that price to all in-store and online prices (including shipping costs) in its database to let you know if you’re getting the best deal. The price you report then joins Smoopa’s database, and you can earn reward points for participating.
SnipSnap: Never forget a coupon again, says SnipSnap. Just take a photo of the coupon you want to use, and SnipSnap generates a scanned version to redeem in stores. You can browse and share coupons with other users, too. The app lets you organize coupons and search for stores; it also advises you of impending expirations, and even alerts you when you enter a store if you have coupons to redeem.
Dozens of apps can help ease your shopping stress; a few others worth checking out are Amazon PriceCheck, BuyVia, CardStar, ShopAdvisor, and ShopSavvy. Finally, don’t forget to check for store-specific apps: Many major retailers, such as Best Buy, Target, and The Home Depot, have their own mobile tools that can put you first in line to snag a deal.