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Smartphone apps are not all about fun and games. While it’s nice to tap into Angry Birds or Instagram while you’re waiting in line at the bank, neither app will do anything to pad your checking account.
Thankfully, there are many apps designed to save or earn you money every time you visit the grocery store, fill up on gas, and even watch TV. Here are five apps you can carry in your pocket that should have a positive impact on your pocketbook. Of course, it goes without saying that all of these money-saving apps are free!
SavingStar Grocery eCoupons (iPhone, Android)
While there are dozens of quality apps that can help you navigate the aisles at grocery stores and save money on selected items, SavingStar actually returns cash back to you. The app, which works for nearly 25,000 U.S.-based grocery stores and drugstores including Stop & Shop and CVS, is designed to work in conjunction with your store’s loyalty card. SavingStar eliminates the need to clip and bring coupons with you by showcasing discounts and deals within the app. These eCoupons can be found as your are preparing your grocery list or while shopping in the store. When you purchase the item at checkout, rather than receiving a discount, the funds will be transferred to either your checking account, gift card, or charity of your choice. You can start collecting once five dollars in discounts is redeemed. Note that SavingStar is not a mechanism for double-dipping on discounts. You can’t get a discount on an item and cash back from the app. However, SavingStar does help you identify exclusive deals you wouldn’t be able to access with your card. It will also keep your wallet or purse clear of crumpled coupons.
GasBuddy - Find Cheap Gas (iPhone, Android)
The best app hands-down that will help you locate cheap gas near you is GasBuddy. Once you download the free app, it will ask you for permission to track down your location to find gas stations near you. Station selections are then sorted by price or proximity to you. You can also enter in a city, state or zipcode to find prices in other areas. Gas prices are reported by members of the GasBuddy communityof more than 500,000 active users. Reporting price information into GasBuddy is a snap, and if you do it enough times you will be eligible to participate in a weekly contest where $250 prepaid gas cards are awarded. GasBuddy is a lot of fun, in addition to helping you save a few bucks every time you fill the tank.
Price Check by Amazon (iPhone, Android)
If you are a hybrid shopper who likes to touch and sample products at department stores but also seek the best deals from online retailers like Amazon, the free Price Check is the app for you. When you find something of interest in a store, this app lets you compare prices with Amazon and its merchants by scanning the barcode, taking a picture, or through voice- and text-based search. If you find that Amazon has the better deal, log-in to your account and purchase the item on your phone with one-click checkout. Just don’t tell the salesperson in the store see what you’re up to. Major retailers are understandably upset when consumers treat their stores as “Amazon Showrooms”, and there will likely be greater pushback on this practice before the holiday shopping season. In the meantime, if you are in the market for a new entertainment center or high-end purchase, you may as well tap into the power of Amazon as you are roaming through the store.
This is one all of us couch potatoes have been waiting for! Viggle is an app that not only recognizes what you are watching on TV at any particular point in time, but also rewards you for watching certain shows. Similar to location-based services like foursquare, Viggle lets you “check-in” to your favorite TV shows as you watch them. Each time you check-in, you receive points from Viggle, which can later be redeemed for coupons and other rewards from retailers like Best Buy, Burger King and Fandango. If you record a lot of television shows on your DVR to watch later, take note: Viggle, at this point, only rewards you for watching live programs. If you already spend a lot of time hanging out watching TV, however, you might as well get rewarded for your efforts.
Belly Card (iPhone, Android)
It’s great when your favorite sandwich shop or nail salon offers a freebie after 10 purchases. Of course, these deals only work if you have that store’s punch card with you to be redeemed. Rather than stuffing your wallet with several cards that you may or may not take advantage of, you can download Belly and pick up rewards from participating businesses simply by scanning your smartphone to an iPad the store set up at checkout. Further, Belly deals are often more creative and substantial than getting a free turkey sub or mani/pedi. A boutique grocer in Chicago, for example, offers “brunch in bed” after a certain amount of purchases, while some grocery stores let frequent shoppers actually cut in line. Rather than give out free sandwiches, one creative restaurant using Belly will name a sandwich after you if you give it enough business. Belly, which debuted in August and is financially backed by the founders of Groupon, operates in several markets across the United States and is expanding quickly.