I get asked all the time which money saving apps are worth it. All. The. Time. I figured I’d create a list to make life easier.
There are tons of amazing money saving apps, a few good ones, and a few that are better left untouched. I’ve been using most of these for months, and can give you the low down on which you want and which to steer clear of. I tried everything out on this list to give it a proper review. The ones that I use regularly have stars next to them and those would be my highest recommendation, since I’m pretty picky about what’s worth my time.
Most have websites as well. Sign up on the website to get your login info, then download the app. I listed the apps in three categories: “Recommended”, “Not Recommended” and “I Can’t Decide” (where it depends on your situation). I’m feeling pretty confident that this will help you wade through what’s worth your time and whats not.
The Ultimate Guide To Money Saving Apps:
- ☆Close5: This is my new obsession. It’s like craigslist meets Facebook yard sale groups, but better! Download the free app to see an up to the minute photo display of what people are selling close to you. Everything is sorted by your location, and all of your identifying information (like your address and email) are protected by Close5. It’s SO EASY to list things and make arrangements for pick up! You can either make money from the app by selling things you no longer love, or save money by grabbing items at a steep discount. (We just picked up a Fooseball table for our family room for $50!)
- ☆Shopular: This is a fantastic app that covers most major retail stores. As you approach a store, it gives you an alert for your phone with special promotions and coupons. It loads the coupon for you right in the app and lets the cashier scan it right from your screen. You can also save stores as your favorites to see a quick list of current promotions. My favorite way to use this app is for the 50% off one item at Michael’s Crafts or 20% off Bed Bath and Beyond that seems to always be available!
- ☆Ebates: Allows you to get a percentage back on any of your online purchases. It ranges from 2% to 10% depending on the store and the Ebates promotions going on. All of the money that you earn then goes into your Ebates account. They’ll send you payments every 3 months but if you have less than $5.01 in your account, they’ll hold it until you have over that.
- ☆Receipt Pal: Receipt Pal is my second favorite app on this list! It’s crazy easy. Just snap a quick photo of every receipt you get (you can even forward them e-receipts) and they give you 100 points for every 4 receipts. In 2 months of use, I earned a $50 Restaurant.com gift card. You can also get Amazon gift cards and Fandango gift cards, but no cash. Which is perfect for me… because this pays for our date night every 2 months or so. J
- ☆Receipt Hog: Almost identical to Receipt Pal. Upload a snapshot of your receipts, but they only give you points for receipts from grocery and stores like Target and Walmart. Restaurants and coffee shops don’t earn points at all, and stores like Office Depot, etc. earn spins on slots that can win you points. Your points cash out to money via PayPal or Amazon gift cards. In two months of use, using the same receipts as Receipt Pal, I qualified for the $5 cash out. (But it’s actual cash and not a gift card).
- Hint: Use my referral code (SNUMP641) when you sign up with Receipt Hog to get 5 bonus spins for coins!
- Sign up for Receipt Hog here.
- ☆Ibotta: This is my ABSOLUTE FAVORITE APP EVER! Ibotta pays you small cash rebates for items that you buy any day. Not only that, but you can buy any brand of the items. Things like shredded cheddar cheese, milk, frozen veggies, green peppers, ranch dressing, strawberries etc. The rebates per item are small (think 10 – 20 cents), but it’s easy to get $1-$2 back a week in rebates for just your normal list without buying anything special. That’s about $104 a year for something that takes about 30 seconds per trip! They also have name brand coupons that you can earn even more for (usually 50 cents to several dollars) if there is something that you plan to buy anyway. You can use the database at Krazy Koupon Lady to match Ibotta deals to coupons to get things for free or almost free. If you don’t have time to coupon, this is still worth the time just for the generic rebates!
- Make sure to sign up here for Ibotta so you can be added to my team. I can help you earn bonuses from my use of the app.
- Mobisave: I can’t offer a full review on this because they just accepted me into the program yesterday after a 3 month long wait! It’s a grocery rebate app like Ibotta and others reviews of it are good, so I think it’s worth your time to apply for the program. By the time you get accepted, I’ll have come back and offered a full review on it so you know whether its worth it to download it and use it. I have a lot of hope for this one, and usually things with a wait list thing long are worth waiting for.
- Checkout 51: This is a rebate app much like Ibotta, but occasionally it will give you freebies as well. Last week, you could buy a Kit Kat bar and they would give you a rebate for the full cost. They also offer one generic rebate a week for a quarter. I almost never use this, unless they have a freebie, since they rarely have enough things that I would buy anyway. Occasionally I combine their offers with coupons to get freebies. If your short on time though and easily overwhelmed, I would skip this one.
- Walmart Savings Catcher: I love Walmart Savings Catcher! If you shop at Walmart this is a fantastic program! Just download the app, upload your Walmart receipt and they scan your purchases, with all of the local stores deals to apply other stores lowest price to your receipt, then refund you if you overpaid in Walmart gift cards. In just 2 trips that I took to Walmart in the two months, I got back $8.00! Well worth it! It’s super quick and easy.
- Cartwheel: Cartwheel is the app for Target deals. You can combine Cartwheel offers (things like $2 off a box of diapers or 10% off Up and Up All Purpose Cleaner) with Target online coupons and their weekly deals to get fantastic deals in Target. MyfavoritepartofCartwheel is that you can save on the Up and Up brand (Target’s generic brand) which is usually pricedthesameasWalmart’s generic brand. PLUS, you can combine itwiththeTargetREDCard (TheTargetREDCard is NOT a credit card.) which already says you 5%perpurchase.
- For example: I pay $28.99 for 160 diapers at Target, and with a 20% off Cartwheel offer, that price is reduced to $23.20. Also, they have a special in the weekly ad for a $10 gift card when I buy 2 boxes and stock up, so that makes the cost drop by another $5 to $18.20. Then, I use my Target Red Card to pay (again, not a credit card… just a debit card.), and I get an additional 5% off. So my total per box of diapers is $17.30! At Walmart for the same number of their generic diapers (which aren’t my favorite) is $22.18. So I managed to get my favorite diapers for $4.88 lower!
- Sign up for Cartwheel for Android here.
- Sign up for Cartwheel for iPhone here.
- Sign up for the Target REDCard (a debit card that works with any bank) to get 5% off of every Target purchase and free shipping from Target.com here.
I Can’t Decide:
- Groupon and Living Social: Offers you local events and experiences and restaurant meals for a deep discount. I’m on the fence about these. Do they have the potential to save money? Absolutely! I’ve gotten four tickets to an amazing winter zoo event with Christmas lights, sledding and train rides for $24 and a full head of highlights and a haircut for $60. My issue with fully recommending this is that if you’ve had problems with staying on budget in the past, it could be compared to telling a compulsive gambler to walk through a casino without playing a single game.
- It’s really hard to say no to all of the amazing deals showing up every day. (That’s how they make their money). So, I would say… if you’ve demonstrated in the past that you can say no temptations like this, then go for it! If you think you’ll overspend on things you don’t need, skip this one. You can always search the site for specific things you want (like hair cutting deals and experiences for a birthday present).
- Neilsen Homescan (NCP): Neilsen will give you points that you can redeem for prizes (products) by scanning in everything you buy for your home. The prizes aren’t impressive, and the length of time you would have to scan for isn’t worth it by far. Unless your incredibly bored, I would skip this one.
- Saving Star: Similar review to Checkout 51, only I’m less impressed. In two months, I haven’t found a single item to get a rebate on. Even when couponing. So if your busy, I would skip it.
- Snap: Similar review to Saving Star. In two months, I’ve found 25 cents worth of rebates. If your busy, just skip it.
- Isay mobile: I personally don’t recommend this because I don’t typically recommend survey sites. If you have a lot of free time and want to earn a little extra on the side, go for it. But surveys take a lot of your time and the pay per hour is much, much lower than minimum wage. For the amount they pay you, I think you’re better off finding a hobby that can make money (like blogging, crafts, freelance etc). So it’s not that it’s not legit, I just don’t think it’s worth your time.
- Mobee: They pay you to complete mystery shopping type tasks. The payout is much less than you could get a MSI though (which I use), so I can’t see why anyone would want to do this versus becoming a ‘legit’ mystery shopper. I usually snag tasks on MSI for $8-$15 and I think that’s fair. So, it’s not that it’s not legit… I just think it’s silly to make so much less just because it’s an app and not a website.
- Media Insiders Panel: They’ll pay you a few dollars per month to load a device on your phone that “…measures activities conducted on a device, such as sharing, viewing, clicking, chatting, downloading and more. The app also listens for TV shows, and, using technology of Gracenote, Inc., identifies which TV shows was captured”. Even if they paid $50 a month having a device that listens on my phone all the time creeps me out. I wouldn’t even test it for you guys (which says a lot because there isn’t a lot that I wouldn’t do for you!). There’s also reports all over Facebook (unverified), that it crashes the phone and several phones became unusable and had to be replaced.
- Inbox Dollars: This app pays you to read emails from them and to answer surveys. While it isn’t a scam, it’s certainly not worth the time spent to make a few dollars. You need $30 in your account in order to cash out and after 1 week, I earned $7. Which isn’t terrible, but I spent hours getting that $7. The emails they have you read are ads for programs that if you sign up for, Inbox Dollars gets major money. If you have tons of time and are bored… sure… go for it. But, personally I think you’ll have more benefit from reading, cleaning the house, or even playing Candy Crush for a few hours.
Did I miss any money saving apps? What’s your favorite?
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I love using my Walmart savings catcher. I’ve earned so much back with it. I also use Ebates as well and Inboxdollars. I would also suggest swagbucks. It’s similar to Inboxdollars but much easier to earn points and you can cash the points in for gift cards to your favorite stores. In the past month I earned enough for a $50 Walmart gift card!
The Busy Budgeter says
I can’t believe I forgot swagbucks! And Favado! Sigh. Okay, I’ll have to update. Now it’s “The Almost Ultimate Guide to Money Save Apps (except for Favado and Swagbucks)”. 🙂
Hi there!! Thanks for the awesome reviews on money saving apps. I’m about to head back to school and my husband and I are trying to save money. Unfortunately, when I looked at getting some of these apps, they were only for Americans and I’m from Canada!! Any suggestions for apps that can be used in Canada as well? Thanks!
The Busy Budgeter says
Unfortunately there are a lot of these types of services that promise a lot, and deliver very little! Hopefully I can help everyone steer clear of the bad deals!