These vacation apps can help you save money
With the holidays approaching and inflation still rampant, people are doing everything they can to save money this holiday season. Sometimes this comes from using the right technology to find the lowest prices. Other times, it means earning direct cash back on your purchases.
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Of course, you will develop good habits so that using the app becomes part of your routine. “Quick and easy is the name of the game in today’s world. In my experience, after a short time of using these apps, you don’t even think twice about it,” said Steven Schloesser, a savvy user and owner of Just a Guy with a Tractor LLC and WideOpenApparel.co.
“If you’re going to spend money with no expectation of return and you can get a little bit back every time,” he said, “why not?”
Some of his favorite cash-back apps include Fetch and GetUpside, but there are plenty of other choices to suit any shopper’s spending habits and lifestyle.
The app you choose may depend on whether you shop mostly online or in stores, and whether you also want an app that helps you find deals or are happy to save money alone.
For example, if you choose the popular Ibotta app, you can find savings almost everywhere you look.
“When it comes to online versus in-store, the best way to shop depends on what’s on your list. If you’re shopping for gifts, online is the way to go, and you can get up to 15% back from participating retailers throughout the shopping season,” said Ibotta Marketing Manager Richard Donahue. “If you’re stocking up for visiting guests or hosting holiday gatherings, you’ll want to shop in-store for item-level grocery deals.”
Here are 10 of our favorites with some tips on how to maximize your returns this holiday season.
Formerly eBates, Rakuten is one of the original and one of the most famous cash back apps. The five-star rated app, which also has a website and browser extension, offers cash back on online and in-store purchases.
Angela M., a shopper in Long Island, New York, uses the app for online shopping and says she has received more than $1,000 in cash back over the past 10 years of using the app. “When I place an order, I use Rakuten. Sometimes I search multiple stores to see which one has the biggest cash back.” She says she often finds deals online at BJ’s and Target.
Other customers have earned as much as $200 in cash per year by using the app for travel and combining it with Expedia rewards.
Rakuten also alerts you if the site you’re visiting has the lowest price or if you can find it cheaper elsewhere. The browser extension also tests coupon codes to apply available savings. “I love the coupon codes for extra savings,” said Angela M. in a chat with GOBankingRates.
In our search for the best cash back apps, we stumbled upon BeFrugal, which promises up to 40% cashback at top online retailers, plus access to online coupons for places like Walmart and Walgreens.
It only takes seconds to open an account. Offers include up to 8% cash back at Amazon.com, 9% at Chewy and up to 19.5% at Sam’s Club. As with Rakuten, you can install an extension to your Chrome browser to find coupons and cashback offers.
Introduced in 2015, Fetch Rewards is a relative newcomer to the cash-back app scene. The user-friendly interface requires no browser extensions to install or websites to remember. There is a mobile app where you can upload your digital or paper receipts and receive cash back for each one.
“I chose Fetch out of all the options because they don’t require you to click and move to different platforms or websites,” Schloesser said. “You do everything directly through the app.”
He remembers to use the app by simply keeping an envelope in the truck where he keeps all receipts. “Making sure I have them all in one place allows me to keep my day going and just make it a habit to sit down and scan all the receipts at the end of the day,” he said.
With more than 40 million “savers” and partnerships with more than 2,700 brands and retailers, Ibotta is another leading name in cash back and savings apps. “Whether you’re shopping for groceries or gifts, Ibotta has a cash-back offer for you this holiday season,” Donahue said.
Just use the Ibotta website or app before you shop, add deals to your account, then shop to earn savings and special offers.
This year, Ibotta can even help you save on your Thanksgiving meal, with an offer to receive a free Butterball turkey and popular Thanksgiving sides when you unlock specific bonuses.
Donahue mentioned that Black Friday savings through Ibotta will start early this year, starting Tuesday, Nov. 1. “Then, through Black Friday and Cyber Monday and Week, Ibotta will offer additional cash back, up to 15%, on clothing, toys, electronics, home goods, jewelry and more from participating retailers,” he said.
He suggested that Savers put in alerts for important items. That way, the extension will notify you immediately when items are restocked or about to sell out or when prices drop. Alerts also let you see price comparisons on demand. “We recommend always keeping an eye on the app and Ibotta.com for great deals and specials,” Donahue said.
CouponFollow, one of the largest coupon destinations for online shoppers, joins the likes of Rakuten, Fetch Rewards and Ibotta with a cash-back program. But CouponFollow is first and foremost a coupon hunting app that provides verified coupon codes for shoppers. Online coupons are a great way to cut costs from your holiday budget.
“CouponFollow’s Cently browser extension helps you test and apply the best discount at checkout automatically, so you don’t have to manually paste codes. Just download the free browser extension for instant savings,” explained CouponFollow founder Marc Mezzacca.
On November 11, CouponFollow is offering users a Double Cashback Offer Day, where you can earn double cashback from CouponFollow’s more than 1,000 partner stores and websites. Funds are deposited into your CouponFollow wallet and paid out via PayPal.
“Starting your holiday shopping early is the best way to ensure you get the best deals by monitoring various sales, coupon codes and promotions,” Mezzacca told GOBankingRates. “By starting early, the impact of Christmas shopping can feel less taxing on your wallet.”
Brickseek advertises that it allows users to “live life at half the price.” The name comes from the app’s ability to hunt for items and offers that are difficult to find in physical stores. It has inventory controllers from stores like Walmart, Target, and Lowe’s. But it also shares offers from Amazon and other top online stores. Not only can this app help you save money, it can also make holiday shopping a whole lot easier.
As GOBankingRates recently reported, Honey is a free browser extension for Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Opera that automatically applies discount coupons to your shopping cart. The Honey website says users save an average of $126 per year from more than 30,000 participating merchants. With 17 million users, Honey is clearly an easy way to save this holiday.
Whether you’re traveling long-distance for the holidays or just running errands around town, you’re paying more for gas than you did a year ago. Today’s average gas price at the pump is $3.76, while last year it was just $3.40. That’s a significant drop from the $5-plus peaks this summer, but it’s just an added cost to an expensive holiday season.
The GetUpside app gives you cash back on gas purchases. Schloesser, who says it’s one of two cash-back apps he uses regularly, explains: “It’s really easy once you load your cards into the wallet on the app. You withdraw, claim the offer, choose which card to use and check in. It doesn’t get much easier than getting free money back.”
Since he earns cash back for fuel at the pump all year round, the money can make a dent in his holiday shopping or allow him to treat himself and his wife on date night.
Anyone who shops at Target—and there are few who don’t—must download the Target Circle app to their phone. When you join the Target Circle, you earn 1% cash back on every purchase. You can also access exclusive bonus offers like $5 off any $25 or more toy purchase.
When you shop Target online, you can stack Target Circle money back with apps like Rakuten and BeFrugal for even more savings.
The Kohl’s app provides access to the coveted 20%, 30% and 40% coupons, as well as additional savings. You can save Kohl’s Cash in the app to redeem when it becomes available, so you never miss out on savings. You can even link a payment method, such as Kohl’s charge, to the app and pay in-store via the app.
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The apps and browser extension you use will depend on where you prefer to shop and the items you buy. Choosing a few of these apps and using them consistently can lead to significant savings during the holidays and throughout the year.
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This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: These holiday apps can help you save money