Fortunately, it’s getting far easier for buyers to be aware today. Some of the most practical and best apps are those that price compare the products on your shopping list. With an up-to-the-minute price comparison in the palm of your hand, you can be a truly savvy shopper.
The next time someone asks you, “What are the best apps?” steer them to these five great money saving apps. Some you will want to have at the ready 24/7, others you’ll probably install just when you need them.
- Gas Buddy. This app uses your phone’s GPS to locate nearby gas stations and list their per gallon prices. With gas becoming so expensive, this free app is at the top of virtually every “best apps” list. Even when you only save a dime a gallon, if you do the math to work out the yearly savings, it’s likely to be $100 or more. Use their website if you don’t have a smartphone.
- Price Check By Amazon. This app allows you to compare the price of any product available on Amazon, including all the products sold by their thousands of associated merchants. You enter the price to compare either by scanning the bar code, typing it in, taking a photo of the item or speaking the name of the product. Competing merchants screamed when Amazon released this app, which lets users know if they’re getting the best prices from their local stores or other online retailers. Red Laser is another popular free app that lets shoppers compare the price of items across a wide range of vendors.
- Skype. If you’re bumping up against your monthly minutes ceiling on your cellphone, Skype might be the answer. You can make Skype-to-Skype calls for free whether you’re connected to the web via 3G or Wi-Fi. You can call phone numbers anywhere with Skype Credit; this is an especially good money-saving option for international calls.
- Repair Pal. Editors at the New York Times and Edmunds.com have called this one of the best apps. I agree and it’s one of those free apps that when you need it, you need it bad. You’ll never be caught totally ignorant and an easy mark at an auto repair shop counter again. Whether your repair is a small fix or a major overhaul this app tells you what’s the right price to pay. It will also steer you to a good shop.
- Hotel Tonight. Virtually every hotel chain has a free app today, but none of those allow you to do a price comparison to hotels outside of their brand. The goal of this free app is to give travelers huge last-minute discounts at great hotels in most major cities. Unlike online services such as Hotwire and Priceline, which give travelers a long list of unnamed hotels, Hotel Tonight offers deeply discounted rates on three hotels in a given city and lets users know exactly what hotels they are.
All of these free apps are available for both Android and iOS devices, but before I end this, I’d like give an honorable mention to another free money saving app that’s only available for the iPhone: iBooks. After installing this top app, fire up iTunes, go to the bookstore and scroll through the top free books. If you’ve been saying you want to catch up on some literary classics, here’s your chance to do it for free. No more excuses.
Here are a few books that will help you find the best apps: Best iPhone Apps (Best Apps); Best iPad Apps: The Guide for Discriminating Downloaders (Best Apps); and Five-Star Apps: The best iPhone and iPad apps for work and play.
When people ask your opinion about what are the best apps, how do you answer? I’d like to know.