The gist: Save money on holiday gifts using mobile apps.
With a whole slew of shopping apps available for the iPhone and Android, smartphones will be the weapon of choice for many this holiday season. Instant access to everything from coupon downloads to mall maps provides new and innovative ways to make every penny count. Here are NerdWallet’s 8 favorite shopping apps for optimizing your holiday experience.
||Price Comparison + reviews|| Free
||Loyalty card digitization||Free||√||√||√|
||Mobile coupon delivery||Free||√||√||×|
|DealMap||Geographic map of discounts||Free||√||×||×|
||Digital shopping list w/ budget||$0.99||√||×||×|
|FastMall||Download maps of malls
|Lemon||Digitize and store receipts
|GasBuddy||Find cheap gas along the way
1. Google Shopper
While there are countless apps like it, none can hold a candle to Google Shopper. It’s the most comprehensive and versatile shopping app on the market, providing multitude of options for launching and browsing price comparisons. You can speak product names into the phone, scan barcodes or, if the item is a form of media, scan the cover art. Once searched, Google Shopper delivers online prices, reviews and product specs. Additionally, you can find local stores and peruse nearby special offers.
2. Key Ring
Sick of lugging around a key ring full of store loyalty cards? The Key Ring app eliminates the constant cumbersome shuffling and searching through absurdly thick stacks of rewards cards. Key Ring digitizes your cards, creating an electronic database on your phone with account numbers and barcodes. You’ll never forget your card at home or loose it in the mayhem of your purse or wallet. The app even allows for synchronization between family members who share rewards.
3. Coupon Sherpa
Whether you don’t have time to sift through and cut up ads or you tend to leave your coupons sitting on the kitchen counter, Coupon Sherpa means no more forgetting or fumbling with slippery scraps of paper. Sherpa puts over 100 mobile coupons for some of the most popular chain stores on your phone. Bring up the relevant offer at the register and have the cashier scan it directly from your device.
Similar to Coupon Sherpa, Dealmap brings you discounts from stores and restaurants across the country. You can search by business category or deal type with access to over 400,000 special offers. Unlike Coupon Sherpa, Dealmap includes promotional deals that don’t require a coupon. Enter your zip code and Dealmap brings up a map of your local area with all relevant locations and their corresponding offers. If you come across a deal not listed in the app, you can submit it to the database for other users to enjoy.
5. Gift List
The Gift List by Gennubi is the only app on our list that costs money, and we’re not exactly sure the cost is completely justified, but for 99 cents, why not? It’s extraordinarily useful in tracking your holiday purchases while sticking to a budget. You create quick profiles for each person you’re shopping for by entering his or her name, the items you intend to purchase a budget for each individual. It’s a surefire way to ensure you don’t have to make an unnecessary last-minute trip for a forgotten pair of socks or overlooked stocking stuffer.
Chances are, holiday shopping will probably land you in a shopping mall at one point or another. And chances are, you’ll probably need to hit up the restroom once or twice during your visit. Though FastMall prides itself on its bathroom-finding superpowers, the app is invaluable in navigating the general chaos of labyrinthine shopping malls. FastMall provides mall maps with turn-by-turn guidance as you wend your way from shop to shop. If you’ve ever spent 15 minutes searching for the “You Are Here” arrow on a static directory only to realize no such arrow exists, download FastMall and simplify your navigation.
Receipts are tricky. They get lost in bags, crumpled in pockets and forgotten in purses. If you’re like me, you don’t pay much attention to receipts and end up tearing apart the house in a panic whenever a return has to be made. The Lemon app converts paper receipts into digital copies stored in a single, organized database. You take a picture of the receipt and Lemon reads and stores the information. It can analyze e-mail receipts as well. Whether you need them for personal records or purchase verification, there’s no better way to keep organized during the holidays.
Always a useful app, GasBuddy maps out gas prices at nearby stations. Don’t let your gift purchases distract you from reducing the fundamental living expenses. You have the potential to save a lot of money in stores this holiday season, and GasBuddy helps you save money between stores. Don’t let your savings go to waste. Use GasBuddy for smart navigation and cheap transportation as you pilot through the retail pandemonium.
For additional savings, check out the NerdWallet discount tool to see where your credit card can earn you deals for the holidays.