The best retail coupon apps for shoppers in 2018
I can still remember the day, or maybe it was a night, that I swore off paper coupons. It was Thanksgiving a few years back, and I had the usual mound of flyers full of crazy Black Friday deals that my family was about to go chase spread all over my kitchen table. I had just wiped everything down and cleaned up following another exhausting Thanksgiving dinner marathon.
I was sitting out there with a cup of chamomile tea, clipping out coupon after coupon and stacking them up, when tragedy struck: my boys came running through and the wind from their chase blew my stack of thin paper coupons all over the floor. Right then and there I decided I’d had enough. And you know what? I’ve never looked back.
It’s not that I quit using coupons all together, it’s just that I started using the best retail coupon apps instead. These are, of course, operated entirely from my phone or other devices, which means even my boys can’t create enough chaos to disrupt them! I absolutely love using these apps, but more than that, I love the money they save me. Honestly, the best retail coupon apps these days save me even more money than my old paper coupons ever did.
Now, if you’re not familiar with the concept, let me explain how shopping apps work. Then I’ll give you a list of the best retail coupon apps and their top qualities—plus some examples you can download and use. How it works is simple, and even a little familiar for old coupon clippers like me. With the best retail coupon apps, you go to certain stores...and you earn points. You scan the barcodes of certain products...and you earn points. You buy certain products and snap a picture of your receipt...and—that’s right—you earn points! And then you trade those points in for cash or gift cards to your favorite stores.
See? Easy. There you have it, now you’re an expert. Now, without further delay, let’s look at the features of the best retail coupon apps.
Common Qualities of the Best Retail Coupon Apps
Simply put, all the best retail coupon apps are free to download. You want one of the best free smartphone apps that pay you, not an app you have to pay to use! I mean, it’s a basic truth of consumerism: you shouldn’t have to pay to save money. The point of these apps is that you get a reward. Did you have to pay for paper coupons back in the day? No! They came unsolicited or via ads in the newspaper.
Available for Android and iPhone:
Some apps only work with iPhones, and some only work with Android. In my humble opinion, you want one that works with both. Why? Well, a few months back I made the jump from a Samsung phone to an iPhone, and guess what? Some of my apps couldn’t come with me. Luckily, the best retail coupon apps I know are available on both operating systems!
Offers Opportunities to Earn Points in Many Ways:
Shopping is about more than just buying objects; it’s about going into the store, browsing the aisles, and learning about the items on your list so that you can make an educated decision at checkout. That’s why I firmly believe that the best retail coupon apps should give you points for more than just buying things. My favorite apps also give you points for scanning the barcodes of certain items, too. And, the absolute best apps even reward you just for walking into a store. It doesn’t get much better than that!
Rewards Points for Shopping Online:
Let’s face it, shopping has changed. It used to be that in order to buy the things you needed—clothes, laptops, music, food, and toiletries—you had to get up and leave your house. Well, as I think we all know, those days have ended. Now, you can buy practically anything online and have it dropped off at your door, sometimes that very same day! If you don’t find a coupon app that lets you easily earn money shopping online, you’re cheating yourself. The best retail coupon apps also reward you for online shopping, giving points for things such as visiting online stores, viewing select products, watching certain videos and, of course, making purchases. Make sure you get one of those.
Features a Vibrant Social Media Community:
Shopping isn’t the only thing that has migrated online in recent years. If you’re anything like me, you like to do a good deal of your socializing online. That time you spend on Instagram or Facebook can be put to good use thanks to my favorite retail coupon apps, because the best of the bunch offers a fun and vibrant online community where you can swap tips about how to use the app better to collect even more points. What do points add up to? Savings! Really, these feeds should feel like a party, where you’re not only sharing tips but also dishing about jokes and other details of your life. That way you’ll come back again and again!
Is Tons of Fun:
This last item might seem superfluous, but in my opinion, it’s actually the most important. Yes, the best retail coupon apps are all fun. Why is that so vital? Because when an app is fun to use, you’re actually going to want to use it, and the more you use a retail coupon app, the more points you get, and the better it ultimately is for your budget. Ideally, a coupon app will turn every trip to the store into a fun scavenger hunt for points. It’ll push you to top your previous scores and to find and choose those products that will boost your point total. You won’t have to remember to use it at the store. No, you’ll find yourself looking forward to it!
The Best Retail Coupon Apps to Download Now
Even though you’re now an expert on what qualities to look for in the best retail coupon apps, I’m not going to send you hunting for shopping apps on your own just yet—not without giving you a list of some of my personal favorites anyway. These apps all possess some, if not all, of the qualities I mentioned and are a great place to start when it comes to finally replacing your old system of cutting and clipping paper coupons.
Ebates is free and it has a user-friendly design. The way this app works is that it gives you a certain amount of money back on the purchases that you make online, like 6% cash back at Macy’s or 3% cash back for certain categories on Amazon (warning: you might have to do some math!). One of my favorite things about Ebates is how fast you get your earnings. In fact, Ebates uses PayPal to give you money back within 48 hours. I know, super fast! Or, you can get your earnings back each quarter in the form of a paper check. It’s your choice with Ebates. One other thing that helps Ebates stand out is its seasonal pages, which list the best deals for two of my favorite days of the year: Black Friday and Cyber Monday. These pages are great sources for some of the best shopping deals offered online!
SavingStar is a digital coupon app that pays users to shop at grocery and drugstores. More than 60,000 stores are part of SavingStar; they represent more than 100 retail chains. It’s generally free to use but beware: If an account is inactive for 180 straight days, they will charge a fee of $3.99. So, while it’s generally in line with our don’t-pay-for-an-app rule, the potential for it to cost you does exist. To take advantage of SavingStar, users either link their existing store loyalty cards to the app or submit receipts after they make purchases. The savings add up until users can eventually cash out through PayPal, Upromise, or in the form of Starbucks, iTunes, or AMC Theater gift codes. It is available for both Android and iPhone, but it doesn’t offer as many chances to win points as some of the other entries on our list.
This is another mobile coupon app, like SavingStar, but here users take pictures of printed coupons, which are then transformed into digital, mobile-ready coupons. That’s pretty fun. Users can also browse online directories and take advantage of coupons their friends have “snipped” as well. This one doesn’t exactly pay, although it is entirely free to use (nice!). Instead, users save money like a traditional coupon. The idea is that coupons can all be kept in one digital space, instead of some overflowing billfold. So, instead of accruing savings or earning points to trade in later, SnipSnap helps you save at the register.
Shopkick is my favorite shopping rewards app—and it’s the only one on our list that embodies all six of the qualities we’re looking for in an app. It’s free, available for both iPhone and Android, filled with opportunities to earn points, and is eligible to be used online. It also has a social media network that I am 100 percent absolutely addicted to, and it’s so much fun that even my kids and husband have downloaded it! The app gives users points, called kicks, for doing things they’d be doing anyway, like making purchases, scanning barcodes, and even just walking into their favorite stores. How it works is incredibly simple and fun, too. Basically, it turns shopping into an actual game, like a scavenger hunt. And it’s really social. They keep a great community vibe on their social media, and users get awarded kicks when friends they refer sign up. Users trade in kicks to get paid in gift cards to stores they love to shop at—or for splurges, like a Starbucks treat. Shopkick is great for any and all budget-minded shoppers, whether they are looking for ways to spice up their time cruising the aisles or replace that outdated coupon habit.
So there you have it, my definitive list of retail shopping apps for iPhone and Android to bring in the savings.
But before I go, I do have one last piece of advice: hold on to that memory of the last time you were up late clipping coupons or had to dig through your purse for a coupon at checkout, or lost one you’d been saving forever. With these new apps, you won’t be experiencing any of that anymore. The new normal, in terms of the best retail coupon apps that pay you money, is that they work through your phone, which I’m sure you have with you when you go shopping anyway. The savings are bigger, the trips to the store are a lot of fun, and, maybe most importantly, it is just so much easier to stay organized!
Get one of the best retail coupon apps that pay you money in 2018. Download Shopkick’s free app today and join a community of loyal Shopkickers who’ve already discovered the rewards of shopping with a free, smartphone app sidekick.