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The Best Free Apps for Shopping



By Tracey Dowdy

I love a good deal as much as the next shopper. I check the weekly flyers before I grocery shop and do my homework when making larger purchases like my recent search for patio furniture. There are a multitude of shopping apps out there, some more effective than others and sorting through them can be as overwhelming and confusing as making the purchase itself.

Here are my favorites, designed to take some of the stress out of finding the best deals in store and online:

Red Laser

The Red Laser barcode & QR scanner has long been one of my favorites. Use it to store your loyalty cards, scan for local deals on and offline, buy straight from your phone and choose to have the item delivered or held at the store for pick up. You can even use Red Laser to scan food labels and be notified of potential food allergens in the ingredients. So, it can warn you there are peanuts in that Snickers bar as well as let you know where to get the best price for that Benadryl.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows Phone



RetailMeNot

Type in the name of the store where you’re shopping and up pops a list of in-store and online deals that can be used. The RetailMeNot app keeps track of expiration dates, sends an alert if there’s a good deal near you and allows you to share coupons with other shoppers. You can redeem coupons directly from your phone or if you aren’t ready to make your purchase today, simply “drag and drop” to save the coupon to be redeemed later.

Platform: iOS, Android



Decide Shopping & Price Predictor

The Decide Shopping & Price Predictor app lets you scan a product, see where it’s cheapest, and whether the price is expected to go up or down. You can search thousands of stores, get product reviews from experts and consumers and sign up for push notifications on price alerts. The app is free, but if you sign up for the upgrade ($4.99 a month or $29.99 for the year), you get perks like their Price Guarantee – if an item you buy based on their recommendation goes on sale within two weeks of your purchase, Decide will pay the difference.

Platform: iOS



Amazon Mobile

Amazon Mobile syncs with your Amazon.com account giving you all the same features, including one click ordering, Prime Member support, wish lists and order tracking, as well as items saved in your shopping cart. You can scan a barcode or take a photo with your smartphone and Amazon Remembers will find it on Amazon.com.

Platform: iOS, Android, Windows Phone



Coupon Sherpa

Coupon Sherpa consolidates all your online deals into one handy location. You have access to coupons from retailers as in addition to some that are only available through the app. Using your phone’s GPS, the app scans stores in your area to find the best deals, then allows you to see the coupon online or save it and print it later. The app constantly updates, so if you see a deal it’s available.

Platform: iOS, Android



Groupon

With offers on everything from organic dog food and chiropractic adjustments to European vacations and pedicures, Groupon’s usefulness is undeniable. Customizable to your location and your interest, Groupon posts daily deals that open the door to trying restaurants, services, products or even destinations that you otherwise may not have heard of or tried.

Platform: iOS, Android



With all of these apps, it’s important to remember a deal is only a deal if your purchase is going to be used. Groupon restaurant coupons that sit in a drawer until they expire or that shirt you bought in all six colors because it was so cheap but you’ve never worn aren’t really deals after all. Caveat emptor my thrifty friends.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Toronto, ON. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances and researches on subjects from family and education to pop culture and trends in technology.



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