Shopping is only a way to spend money. Despite what an advertisement might say, you are never truly “saving” money when shopping. But if you do want to spend less, whether it is online or at the grocery store, these apps can help you spend less. And believe it or not, it's actually really easy to spend less. There are money-saving apps that can score you discounts when you're shopping online, in the grocery store or on Amazon, and some can even return your dollars in the form of real cash or gift cards. And let's be real: Who doesn't love spend less? Read on to learn more about the best money-saving apps to keep as much cash as possible in your bank account the next time you go shopping.
The 8 Best Money-Saving Apps of 2021
Best App for Rewards: Swagbucks
If you want to save money when shopping, searching and doing other common activities online, Swagbucks should be a part of your vocabulary. This money-saving app includes a custom search engine (pretty much like Google with different advertisements) that gives you points for searching, plus you can earn points from online surveys and shopping at partner stores. Those points quickly add up to free gift cards for stores like Amazon or cash back in your PayPal account.
Amazon and Walmart gift cards are as good as cash to many, who will do a big portion of their shopping at those stores regardless, but you can’t beat cash back in your PayPal account. From there, you can move it to your bank and get actual cash or use it for savings, shopping or anything else.
Best App for Busy Online Shoppers: Honey
Honey is a browser plugin for Chrome, Safari, Firefox and Opera browsers that helps you save money by automatically applying coupon codes at the checkout stage of online shopping. Sorry Internet Explorer users, you have to upgrade to something better to use Honey - Chrome is a solid choice for most Web users.
With Honey installed, you will see a popup in the checkout phase at any eligible online store. Just click the popup and Honey will try out all known coupon codes and automatically apply the best one. It also offers a rewards program for a wide range of stores that works at 37,000 online stores and gives you “Honey Gold” points that can be redeemed for free gift cards. Don’t shop online without it!
Best App for Online Deals: Shopkick
For those who do a mix of online and offline shopping, Shopkick is a top money-saving app to know about. You can earn rewards points, called Kicks, from a wide range of activities. Some options include walking into a physical store, buying eligible items and uploading your receipt, shopping at online partner stores and watching online videos.
Many of these are activities you do anyway, and you shouldn’t go buy something just because it has a discount on an app. However, if you were going to the store anyway or buying an item anyway, you might as well save a few bucks through gift cards to stores like Amazon, Starbucks and Target. And if you were just looking for a reason to get out of the house, getting rewards for just walking in the door and finding specific products on the shelf (no purchase required) is good motivation.
Best App for Your Web Browser: Wikibuy
Wikibuy is a browser plugin app like Honey and is available for Chrome and Firefox. An iOS version is available for iPhone users, and the site claims an Android version is in development. For coupon savings in the shopping cart, Wikibuy looks to be more powerful than Honey in many aspects, but in testing, it did not always work as reliably.
But if you do find Wikibuy to be a good fit for your browser, it has more supercharged saving features beyond coupons. Going to the Wikibuy website gives you options to shop by store or buy the product for savings and points that can be redeemed for gift cards or a big list of products.
Best App for Amazon: CamelCamelCamel
While it sounds like a ride in the Arabian Desert, CamelCamelCamel has nothing to do with the humpbacked animal. This money-saving app is a price tracking tool for Amazon. Through the website or browser extension, users get access to charts and details of price history for virtually every product listed for sale on Amazon.
Unlike big box retail stores, Amazon prices change constantly. Comparing current prices to past trends helps you know if you would get a good deal buying today or if you should hold off until the price comes back down to average. If you shop regularly at Amazon, this can lead to huge savings.
Best App for Groceries: Ibotta
Sunday paper coupons and deals still show up for subscribers, but fewer and fewer people get a newspaper, so they have to look elsewhere for coupons. For the digital generation, Ibotta is the new version of grocery store coupons. Pull up the app before you go shopping or in the store if you forgot to review deals ahead of time. Browse by popularity or grocery department to find savings on items you would buy anyway. Ibotta even includes discounts and deals on beer, wine, and spirits, a rarity for many shoppers.
When you get home from the shopping trip, pull the app back up and scan barcodes for eligible items and take a photo of your receipt. After a short review, you’ll get the coupon value added to your account. Once you hit $20, you can withdraw to PayPal for cash back.
Best App for Online Cash Back: Rakuten
Rakuten is one of the most popular shopping portals on the Web and offers up to 40 percent cash back on purchases at more than 2,500 partner stores. There are no complicated points to worry about, just a simple percentage cash back program on eligible purchases.
Rakuten offers a browser extension as well so you don’t forget which stores work for savings. Keep in mind that stores only let you use one cash back or reward program per purchase, so you have to choose between programs like Rakuten, Honey, Wikibuy and others. It is best to choose one that you like most and stick with it for the majority of your shopping.
Best App Before Online Shopping: Cashback Monitor
One cash back portal to rule them all. That is one way to think of Cashback Monitor. As you just learned, you can only use one cash back program per purchase, so it is often best to pick one you like most and stick with it. If you are willing to do a little more work to chase the best savings, bookmark Cashback Monitor.
This site tracks cashback rates and miles and points earning rates for a wide range of cash back programs, including those listed above. Before any purchase, you can head here to find out the best portal to use to maximize your savings and rewards. The site isn’t beautiful, but it is functional. When it comes to saving money, that’s what matters most.
What is a Money-Saving App?
A money-saving app helps you save money on the go. It can be downloaded on your smartphone, tablet, or as a browser extension on your computer. These apps can save you money both in a physical store and online shopping. Different money-saving apps do different things; some offer cash back, some are best for groceries, and others scour the web and find discounts before you checkout online.
How Does a Money-Saving App Work?
Different types of money-saving apps work in different ways. Some offer you cash back rewards by watching videos, shopping in particular stores, or scanning your receipts. Other apps search the internet for relevant promo and discount codes to apply to your online shopping cart. There are even money-saving apps that tell you which app will save you the most on an upcoming purchase.
How Much Does a Money-Saving App Cost?
Money-saving apps are generally free. Typically, you can only use one money-saving app at a time, so choose the one that best suits your needs and shopping preferences and stick with it. It’s a good idea to decide what you want to purchase first and then use the app to give you a discount or cash back. If you use the app first to see what you can save on, you may spend more money by purchasing things you wouldn’t have bought otherwise.
What Are the Biggest Advantages of a Money-Saving App?
Money-saving apps offer a variety of advantages, including:
- Time saved by applying digital coupons automatically
- Rewards for shopping places that you usually shop
- Updates on the price history of an item so you know if you’re getting a good deal
- Rewards for everyday activities
How We Chose the Best Money-Saving Apps
We chose the 8 best money-saving apps by first reviewing and researching multiple money-saving apps and then selecting the top contenders. We chose the best money-saving apps based on what devices they’re compatible with, how they save you money, the rewards and perks offered, and whether they can be used in-store or online.