Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This influences which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. Here is a list of our partners and here's how we make money.
Mobile phones and sleek apps make it too easy to spend money at any given time, but the convenience is nice when you need something. Some of the top shopping apps may already be installed on your phone, while others may be unfamiliar.
This list looks at six chart-topping free apps in the shopping category on the Apple App Store. Apps featured are available on the Google Play store as well. Read on, especially if you’ve been wondering what Temu is, and how it compares with Amazon.
Best for: A big selection of cheap products at your fingertips.
Details: It feels like Temu landed at the top of the shopping category on the App Store out of nowhere. Like Amazon, it’s an online marketplace with a wide selection of products from millions of sellers. Browse the app or website for just a minute and you’ll be struck by the volume of products at prices under $10 from brands you’ve probably never heard of. One Temu “lightning deal” at the time of this writing featured a pair of men’s casual cargo pants for just $9.77. How long will $10 pants last? Expect prices to fluctuate frequently, especially once a lightning deal ends.
Temu offers free shipping for most items (although an order minimum may apply), and its website says shipping time will range from six to 20 days, likely due to many items arriving directly from an overseas factory or warehouse.
Nerdy concerns: Cheap stuff may lack quality, which could lead to more spending in the long run. Complaints about delayed packages have been well-documented in the news media and on the Better Business Bureau’s site. That said, Temu is a real shopping platform with big-time popularity.
Best for: Browsing fashion items cheap enough to keep up with the fast-changing trends.
Details: Shein is a lot like Temu with its direct-from-the-foreign-source approach but with more of a fast-fashion focus. The items are plentiful and prices are cheap. While clothes are front and center, the app has products in many other categories. Offers and coupon codes display prominently on the app and site. One winter coat on a special flash sale was $13.95 at the time of this writing. But will it keep you warm?
Standard shipping, which Shein’s site says is usually around 10 days, is free for orders over $29. Lesser orders will run $3.99.
Nerdy concerns: Quality could be a concern with Shein too, given the bent toward trendy styles at super cheap prices. Perhaps more notably, some of the company's labor and business practices are being scrutinized as Shein considers going public.
Best for: Shopping for almost anything — and quick delivery for Prime members.
Details: If Amazon hasn’t already infiltrated your life, more power to you. In the age of e-commerce, the shopping app is where many consumers start when in need of a new TV, a pack of batteries, cat litter, a cardigan, a phone case, light bulbs, soccer balls or just about anything.
Free same-day and two-day shipping on tons of items is a mainstay of the monster retailer, but Prime perks come with a membership fee.
Nerdy concerns: At $139 annually or $14.99 a month, Amazon Prime isn’t exactly cheap, even if it does buy near-instant shopping gratification. The good news is that eligible college students and people ages 18 to 24 can snag a Prime Student membership for roughly half the cost ($69 annually or $7.49 a month). Amazon's shopping app is also known to be a safe and familiar.
Best for: A mobile extension of your local Walmart store.
Details: Fans of the massive discount chain may find Walmart’s app useful. You can use the app like Amazon and search for just about anything for delivery, or shop for groceries and arrange for local delivery or a store pickup. The app also integrates pharmacy and vision services if you use Walmart for prescriptions or eyeglasses.
Walmart+ members can take advantage of free shipping and other perks.
Nerdy concerns: The perks of Walmart+ come at a cost. A membership, which includes free shipping with no order minimum and free delivery from your local store, is $98 a year or $12.95 monthly. But it’s not required to shop the app.
Best for: Discovering unique products from brands that use Shopify web tools.
Details: The Shop app from Shopify is designed to help you discover products and stores from a range of brands. It acts as a mobile hub for products from tons of Shopify merchants and features a feed of recommended products. You can use the app to check out various stores, order products, track packages and manage payment installments if using Shop Pay.
Look for the “Shop Promise” badge for products with faster shipping.
Nerdy concerns: Similar to social media, Shop’s feed of products picked for you could encourage unnecessary spending. On the plus side, your repeat buys could be a boon to an up-and-coming e-commerce business. Big businesses use Shopify too.
Best for: Browsing Target deals and offers before (or instead of) going to the store.
Details: Target’s app may be essential software for store loyalists and Target Circle members. Use it to add items for a drive-by store run, or buy products for delivery. The app features a “deal of the day” front and center, and Circle members can use it to browse and save discount offers for a store visit, store pickup or checkout for delivery. If you head to the store for a traditional shopping trip, you can use a barcode generated in the app to apply the offers you’ve saved when checking out.
There’s a $35 order minimum to get free two-day shipping at Target.
Nerdy concerns: Finding offers, saving them and using a barcode to apply the discounts in the store could be tedious for some.
Other shopping apps to help you save and earn
Other categories of shopping apps can help you find discounts or earn a little back on what you spend.
Cash-back apps are all the rage today. Some gamify the shopping experience, while others focus solely on earning something back when you spend money. Apps like Fetch Rewards, Ibotta and Dosh come to mind.
Browser extensions for finding coupons are software add-ons for desktop browsers like Chrome and Safari that run in the background while you shop on store sites. Apps like Paypal Honey, Rakuten and NerdWallet’s shopping extension find the codes and apply them in seconds. Don’t forget about gas apps to help you pinch pennies at each fillup. Upside and GasBuddy are popular among drivers.