15 free apps that will save you money
From deal-making coupons to vacation planning, here are apps for your mobile device that will keep money in your bank account.
Mon, Jul 23 2012 at 2:01 PM
There are tons of free apps, but the best ones can save you some hard earned coin. Whether you’re looking for the lowest prices on gadgets, planning your vacation or gassing up your vehicle, these are the apps to download. There’s even an app here to help you save on premium apps.
Hoping to find an amazing deal for that gadget you’ve been pining after? Look no further than iSlick, an app for iOS and Android that ferrets out discounts from multiple big-name vendors such as Amazon, Newegg, Best Buy and Ebay. With real-time deal notifications, you can stay on top of the best prices on coveted online items, including HDTVs, Blu-Ray movies, groceries and home essentials.
The community also upvotes entries from users that detail the worthiest offerings, so you get the best deals right at the top. The ability to add friends and get followers keeps you on the pulse for sales uncovered by like-minded shoppers. (iOS | Android)
Ever feel that pang of regret when, after just having filled up your gas tank, you drive by a station with an advertised price per gallon that’s markedly lower? GasBuddy aims to eliminate that anguish by providing a nifty little app to help you find the cheapest gas prices in your area.
With one tap, the app detects your current location and drops pins all around you that report nearby gas prices. You can even filter by the type of gas you need — Regular, Midgrade, Premium or Diesel — and view stations in a list or on a map. Worried about inaccuracy? A smart incentive — a $250 gas gift card raffled away weekly — ensures that the community keeps reporting up-to-date costs. (iOS | Android)
After your first few app purchases, things can start to head down a slippery slope. So how about an app to help you find more apps on the cheap once you’ve gotten addicted? That’s precisely the concept behind AppShopper.
AppShopper lets you keep track of the latest changes to the App Store including price drops, updates and apps that have just debuted. You can also start a Wish List and get automatic notifications whenever there’s a sale or an update. If all you wish to download are the tried and tested, a Top 200 section within AppShopper lets you peruse a list of only the apps that other AppShopper users think are worth looking at. (iOS)
Shelling out the dough for your flight and hotel may be the most painful part of going on vacation. Luckily, the handy app Kayak exists to ameliorate that grief. Its wealth of features are as vast as they are varied, including currency conversion, car rental and airport scrutiny.
But what you should really pay attention to is Kayak’s robust flight and hotel search, which is top notch. The app rounds up flight and hotel options from various sources so you can pick out the most convenient choice (or the most economical). You can even set price alerts to get notifications when fares tumble. (iOS | Android | Windows Phone)
The benefits of signing up for a Google Voice number are plenty: You can place calls, send text messages and get text transcriptions of your voicemails all for free, and mask your real number with one provided by the service (handy for keeping your business and personal lines discrete). But in addition to these features, Google Voice also lets you make cheap international calls with a transparent, flat rate. (iOS | Android)
Amazon Price Check
You know the drill: You spot a big, flashy “Sale!” sign in a retail store, and make a beeline for it. But are you really getting the best bang for your buck, or is this supposed “deal” actually not very good in the end? Amazon Price Check can help you figure that out.
You have four convenient methods to check a price tag: scanning it, snapping a picture, saying it out loud, or typing it. The app processes information for the product in the cloud and beams down price comparisons from Amazon.com and its merchants. You can even check the Used or Refurbished tabs to see how low the cost really goes. (iOS | Android)
Where you live, it’s impractical to own a car (or just too expensive). But you also need to drive somewhere from time to time. Enter Zipcar, an ultra-convenient car sharing business, to come to your rescue. The service also has one of the most serviceable apps we’ve ever seen.
The cars are located in 16 major cities and on university campuses across North America and the UK. Once you’ve secured a membership (the annual fee is usually $60), you can download the app to view available Zipcars on a map or in a list using your current location; reserve a car at any time; change, extend or cancel reservations on the go; or even honk your horn from your smartphone using the virtual key on your display. Hourly rates start at $7.50 (or higher, depending on your location), and gas, insurance and 180 miles are included. Goodbye, exorbitant car insurance rates. (iOS | Android)
Do you approach the meager monthly data cap on your cell phone bill too often — and much too closely — for your comfort? You may want to look into Onavo Extend. The app boasts the ability to compress emails, downloads and any plain ol’ surfing to get up to four times as much data from your plan.
So how does it work? It’s pretty simple. The app diverts the data coming down to your smartphone through its cloud-based serves, so by the time content gets to you, it’s already been compressed. Additionally, Onavo can let you know exactly how much money you’ve saved, your monthly usage, and which apps are draining the most data out of your plan.
Unfortunately, in addition to iOS gadgets, the app is only available on select Android Ice Cream Sandwich devices. Also, users have made comments about experiencing slower download speeds because of the data’s rerouted path. But for those interested in squeezing out the most they can from their smartphones plans, Onavo Extend works as advertised. (iOS | Android)
Getting sick of over-sterilized hotel rooms whenever you travel? Crash at a real person’s crib instead. Airbnb has fostered a trusted community of users who have put up their available pads for rent. You can browse by city or set up parameters — check in and check out dates, number of guests, shared or private room, price range, etc. — for more specific results. An emergency “I need a place tonight!” button serves up your best options right away. (iOS | Android)
Are you still buying CDs or single MP3s from retailers? To save a few bucks, sign up for an unlimited music streaming service instead. Spotify offers a vast database of tracks — more than 15 million in total — and lets you play these back on your mobile device for just $9.99 a month (for Premium membership). Using the app, you can listen to your tunes offline, share music with friends, star your favorite tracks and sync your best playlists. Deep social integration with Facebook and Last.fm adds inestimable fun to your music consumption. (iOS | Android | Windows Phone)
How would you like to peruse a list of tried-and-tested vacation spots, all on sale? On the Jetsetter app by luxury discount purveyor Gilt Groupe, you can. Save up to 50 percent on hotels from all over the world from San Francisco to Thailand — or look for a cruise or safari. Editor reviews and professonal photos let you thoroughly scrutinize a resort before booking. The app even includes a 360-degree view for some hotels, so you know exactly what you’re getting into. (iOS)
Looking for a source of deals that covers everything from cupcakes to yoga? Groupon is your answer. The service puts a mob of potential buyers in control, letting them decide whether or not the deal is on. Users can view deals by location, or sort the ones they’ve already signed up for by expiration date. You don’t even have to print out coupon after coupon: The Groupon app lets you buy and redeem deals directly from your smartphone. Plus, a handy section called Groupon Now Deals lets you survey nearby offers that you can buy and use immediately. (iOS | Android | Windows Phone)
Junk your haphazard booklet of overflowing coupons, and use this app instead. Your smartphone can now act as your album of deals, scoring you savings in restaurants, gas prices and multiple retailers.
On the CouponCabin app, you can survey your favorite brands to see what’s on sale, mark stores and coupons for quicker access in the future, and share deals with friends so they don’t miss out. Calendar reminders give you a clever way to stay updated with the thousands of coupons that are refreshed several times a day within the app. (iOS | Android)
Amazon’s Gold Box Deals are first-rate — when you’re nimble enough to catch them, that is. Luckily, the online retailer has crafted a dedicated app that lets you check the availability of current offers, schedule reminders and make purchases, right on your smartphone. Other features include the ability to see the day’s calendar of deal offers, setting up alarms to remind you of individual deals that pique your interest, and activating Apple’s push notifications to get alerts about future deals in specific categories. (iOS | Android)
You pay monthly for data on your phone, but under many plans, you have to pay another $20 or $30 if you want to share that data with your notebook through tethering. Fortunately, Fox.fi app on Android can cut out that expense completely.
The way it works couldn’t be any simpler: Download the free app — no rooting or tether plan required — and it turns your Android smartphone into a WiFi hotspot. The app is secure too — the access point has WPA security built in. And for older phones, Bluetooth mode is always an option. (Android)
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