New free, easy mobile apps can save consumers money

New free, easy mobile apps can save consumers money
YONKERS, N.Y. — Hunting down deals and finding the best stuff to buy used to be a lot of work. But these days, mobile technology can easily help shoppers find what they are looking for at a great price. The November 2012 issue of ShopSmart, from Consumer Reports, features 10 must-have, free apps that can help shoppers score some of the best deals.

ShopSmart’s feature story on sites and apps that can save shoppers big also identifies 17 must-see sites and 10 fun new ones for smart beauty picks, comfy home items, kids’ gifts and more; plus an update on new offerings from old standbys like Amazon, eBay, Google and Walmart.

“The Web is filled with tons of deals and finding the best bargain can take time,” said Lisa Lee Freeman, editor-in-chief of ShopSmart. “These apps can save shoppers time and money, possibly scoring them even better deals than they may find on their own.”

Here’s five free apps from ShopSmart’s list of must-haves:

1. Amazon mobile is a great tool for shopping on a smartphone. Users can buy almost anything, anywhere with this app. Quick barcode scanning and picture search make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for (or to check prices against those in-store) and checkout is a breeze, especially with the one-click option. Amazon mobile is available for Android, Apple and BlackBerry.

2. CardStar is best for organizing loyalty cards. Shoppers can get rid of all those bulky cards and grimy key chain tags. CardStar puts all of this info neatly into one app. To save, users show their phone to the cashier in stores and local deals may pop up on the app (if it’s open) while they are there. CardStar is available for Android, Apple and BlackBerry.

3. Coupon Sherpa helps users grab hundreds of coupons for dozens of stores. Users have a good chance of finding a deal on this app for the store they’re heading to and cashiers can scan directly from a phone. Grocery coupons, available for several chains, can be applied directly to loyalty cards, so the savings automatically comes off the bill. Coupon Sherpa is available for Android and Apple.

4. RedLaser is an eBay-owned barcode-scanner app that locates great deals. Users can scan items and find the best price locally and online or buy stuff and arrange for pickup at participating retailers. It also searches using images and voice commands to give product details, reviews and nutrition info. Redlaser can help users take advantage of price-matching policies at stores like Target and Walmart and is available for Android, Apple and Windows.

5. Shopkick automates rewards. Users can earn points (called kicks) just for entering participating stores. The kicks can be redeemed for a reward such as a free drink at Starbucks or a Coach bag. Users can link credit or debit cards to earn even more kicks. Nationwide partners include ExxonMobile, Macy’s, and Target. Open the app when walking in or by a participating retailer to claim available rewards. Shopkick is available for Android and Apple.