7+ Smartphone Apps That Will Save You Serious Money

Fire up your smartphone and tell me what's on your Home screen?

The standard apps, maybe some games, probably a stock market app or perhaps Personal Capital to help manage your money? 🙂

How many of those apps cost you money? I bet a lot are free with some in-game sales. If the apps free, they can still sell you stuff inside. All good.

Today I'm going to share a few apps that will save you money when you shop, save you money when you travel, and save you money when you are just going about life.


SwagbucksSwagbucks is one of my favorite paid survey apps and they'll give you $5 just to sign up — earn more by answering surveys, watching videos, playing games, and many of the other things you're already doing online… for free.

You earn SB (Swagbucks) for all those activities and can convert them to gift cards to many retailers, including Amazon. (read our Swagbucks review)

Join Swagbucks


ibottaIbotta gives you rebates on the products you buy when you take photos of your receipts. Download the app, search the list of rebates, and select the ones you want to activate. When you buy the product, scan the bar code, the receipt, and receive the rebate into your account.

For a limited time there is a $10 bonus after your first rebate done within 7 days of signing up and I did it with a $1 rebate on Tazo teas (including a $1 off coupon from Whole Foods). Many of the rebates include specific products but there are also generic ones too like a 50 cent rebate on a dozen eggs, 50 cent rebate on any gallon of milk, and $1 at any grocery store.

See Ibotta


retailmenot-logoRetailmenot is a crowdsourced coupon site that has spawned about a million clones, all of which are just crappier versions of Retailmenot. They boast over half a million coupons for tens of thousands of stores and now you can get them on your phone through their native app.

The best part about being one of the largest crowdsourced coupon sites is that you have verified coupons and none of the BS those smaller sites play with fake coupons.

Get the RetailMeNot app


slickdeals-app-logoI've been a fan of Slickdeals for years and it's one of the first websites I open every single day. I've saved a ton of money on everything from landscaping gloves to monitors (the two Dell monitors I'm using now were found on Slickdeals) to TVs.

They've added a ton of features to their deals listing but the most valuable one is the forums. Each deal is linked to a forum discussion and you can see real time updates about the deal itself. Sometimes people run into problems and share workarounds. Sometimes they share the deal is dead — it's a great site and completely free. They've easily saved me thousands of dollars.

Get the Slickdeals app

Credit Sesame

creditsesame-app-logoCredit Sesame is a service that gives you a free credit score and free credit monitoring based on your TransUnion credit report. They also have a free smartphone app so you can always keep on top of this critical area of your finances.

Get the Credit Sesame app

GasBuddy or Waze

waze-logoI use Waze for navigation, it's owned by Google, offers great directions, and up to date information on road conditions. It's reported by other drivers and you get a chance to offer feedback. There's also a part of the app for local gas prices, which I find are updated on a daily basis. Their user base is huge but the gas search is limited to the local area.

I can't bring up cheap gas without mentioning the grandfather gas app – GasBuddy. If you have a favorite app for navigation and just need a great service for gas, you can't do worse than GasBuddy.

Hotel Tonight

hoteltonight-logoNormally, last minute hotel reservations are absurdly expensive. That's surprising because hotel rooms are perishable and an empty room is one you can't sell tomorrow – so you'd think they'd be willing to give you the room for any amount over their own cost to clean it tomorrow. The only reason that doesn't happen is because they know you need a place to stay… and so the dance begins.

Hotel Tonight is an app that helps you find same day bookings until 2 AM. If you make a last minute stop somewhere or fancy yourself a gambler, give them a look.

JetSetter is another great app that does a similar thing – though you can get good deals on mystery hotels in advance. Sometimes I just look at these and daydream about staying at some of these fancy hotels. 🙂

Best Parking

bestparking-logoParking in most major cities sucks and it feels like if you drive around you'll see prices that vary widely. Best Parking is an app that will find the cheapest and most convenient parking options in 105 cities and 115 airports – it takes all the guesswork out of parking.

It includes dedicated parking lots AND hotels, which is something other places don't always offer.

Get the Best Parking app

What's your favorite money saving app?

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About Jim Wang

Jim Wang is a forty-something father of four who is a frequent contributor to Forbes and Vanguard's Blog. He has also been fortunate to have appeared in the New York Times, Baltimore Sun, Entrepreneur, and Marketplace Money.

Jim has a B.S. in Computer Science and Economics from Carnegie Mellon University, an M.S. in Information Technology - Software Engineering from Carnegie Mellon University, as well as a Masters in Business Administration from Johns Hopkins University. His approach to personal finance is that of an engineer, breaking down complex subjects into bite-sized easily understood concepts that you can use in your daily life.

One of his favorite tools (here's my treasure chest of tools,, everything I use) is Personal Capital, which enables him to manage his finances in just 15-minutes each month. They also offer financial planning, such as a Retirement Planning Tool that can tell you if you're on track to retire when you want. It's free.

He is also diversifying his investment portfolio by adding a little bit of real estate. But not rental homes, because he doesn't want a second job, it's diversified small investments in a few commercial properties and farms in Illinois, Louisiana, and California through AcreTrader.

Recently, he's invested in a few pieces of art on Masterworks too.

>> Read more articles by Jim

Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, not those of any bank or financial institution. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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  1. Matt Warnert says

    I’m a fan of the Raise app. Makes buying discounted gift cards super easy. I buy the gift cards a few minutes before I check out and they get sent right to my phone. Some stores have ridiculous discounts on their gift cards.

  2. Lazy Man and Money says

    I visit Slickdeals a few times a day myself. I have had the app for awhile, but the notifications are too aggressive for me.

    I’ll have to look into Best Parking. I don’t drive a lot, but it sounds really helpful for those few times I do.

  3. Jonathan Dyer says

    I love RetailMeNot but have you experienced any issues with brick and mortar department stores pushing their own apps instead? I was at JCPenney once and, instead of just entering the code from RMN, they asked another cashier for the Penney’s code and told me to download their app for next time. Seemed very strange.

    • Jim Wang says

      I think they’re always looking to boost their own numbers but as long as you get the discount, it’s all good right?

  4. April Smith says

    Check out the comments on the survey sites on Google play. It all sounds like a good idea and like you could make money, but according to every commenter there are huge problems and they don’t get the money from the service that they earned or you spend 20 minutes on a survey only to get to the last question it says sorry you’re just qualified for the survey and then you don’t get any points at all. It all sounds like a waste of time.

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