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The Best Apps and Services to Help You Save Money When Shopping

No one likes spending more money than they have to. With the right apps on your smartphone, you could put quite a few dollars back in your pocket at the end of a shopping trip.

Most of these apps operate pretty similarly: you buy things, then scan your receipt or the item and get money back. The money usually goes to some sort of collection account where you can save it up, then redeem it for a gift card or even send it to Paypal. While it takes a bit of extra work to make it happen, it’s surprisingly worthwhile. You’d be shocked at how much money you end up saving over the course of a year.

Walmart Savings Catcher (iOS, Android)

If you shop at Walmart, the Savings Catcher is a must have. It’s technically part of the core Walmart app, but it’s worth having installed just for the Savings Catcher.

It works like this: you shop at Walmart and buy the things you normally would. When you’re finished, you open the Walmart app, head into the Savings Catcher, then scan the barcode on your receipt.

The app will check competing stores for sales and other discounts. If it finds cheaper prices for anything you bought, that money goes into your Savings Catcher account. You can then apply that money to a Walmart gift card. It’s a win-win for both you and Walmart—you get back the money you would’ve saved by shopping at several different places, and Walmart ensures that it gets the money back by offering you a gift card. The odds are you’re going to shop there anyways, so it works out very well.

Target Cartwheel (iOS, Android)

Like the Savings Catcher, Cartwheel is part of the main Target app. Unlike the Savings Catcher, however, this doesn’t give you money after-the-fact, but instead saves them dollars on the front end. That’s what I’m talking about.

Just fire up the Target app, tap on Cartwheel offers, and look through the categories. When you find an offer you like, tap the little plus button to save it to your Wallet. Do this for all the offers you like.

When you get to the checkout, simply open the wallet and scan the barcode (or show the cashier your phone if you’re not into self checkout). That’s all there is to it—you just saved money. Seriously, check your receipt when you’re finished.

Ibotta (iOS, Android)

Ibotta isn’t just for a specific store like Cartwheel and Savings Catcher, but rather works with a ton of different stores. That means you can double up on the savings by using it alongside tools like the Savings Catcher or Cartwheel.

Once you have the app installed, you just choose where you’ll be shopping (or select a category). Look through the items and tap the plus button for things you plan on buying. After you finish shopping, you’ll need to upload a picture of your receipt (you can scan the barcode for some stores). You may also need to scan the barcode for the item—these are very specific, so it has to be exact brand and size specified in the Ibotta app.

You’ll get credit for all the applicable items, which will be added to your Ibotta account. You can connect this to Paypal to transfer the money to your account once you have at least $20. Free dollars!

Checkout 51 (iOS, Android)

Checkout 51 is basically the same thing as Ibotta, just from a different company. The gist is exactly the same: tap pluses to add products, then scan your receipt after you buy them. You’ll also have to scan the barcode of the exact product.

The biggest difference here is that you can’t connect Checkout 51 to your Paypal account for nearly-instant transfers. Instead, this service sends you a check (again with a $20 minimum). Seems really inefficient, but hey—saved money is saved money.

Paribus (Web, iOS)

While the other apps on this list are tied to in-store shopping, Paribus is all about online shopping. It monitors your inbox for shopping receipts, then keeps an eye on each store and refund policies. If the product you purchased goes on sale within an applicable window, Paribus requests the refund for you.

Not only that, but Paribus goes a step further to offer delivery tracking for some services, like Amazon. If you order a product that’s guaranteed to arrive on a certain date and it misses the mark, Paribus will help you get money back for late delivery.

While Paribus is available as an iOS app, it’s also available online. Since it doesn’t require any sort of receipt scanning and whatnot, you aren’t necessarily required to use it on your phone.

Earny (Web, iOS)

If you like the idea of Paribus, you’ll probably like Earny…because it’s basically the same thing. Seriously—there isn’t really a big difference between the two. Earny also scans your receipts in your inbox, hunts for price drops, and requests the difference for you.

If you’d rather not give two different services access to your email account, you could just pick one and go with it. But it also might not hurt to use them both, just in case one misses a refund that the other can pick up.

Flipp (Web, Android, iOS)

Flipp is different than the other services on this list in that it doesn’t save you money after-the-fact, but rather helps you shop for deals and coupons before you go shopping. It’s basically a circular collection service that allows you to easily look through everything in your area.

It’s not just scanned copies of circulars, though—it also allows you to easily shop for any item within the circular and clip the item for your shopping list. It’s a comprehensive system. Clipped items also sync to the app so you can take the list with you.

Image Credit: Saravoot Leng-Iam/shutterstock.com


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