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Smart Buying

8 Great Coupon Apps

Saving money when you shop is easy with these mobile applications.

Coupons can be a great way to save money -- as long as you use them to buy things you actually need. But it can be time consuming to scour newspapers and flyers for them, and they won't do you any good if you forget to take them to the store. That's what makes mobile coupon apps so great. As long as you have your smart phone with you when you're shopping, you'll have access to instant savings.

 

However, there are lots of coupon apps available. So I asked money-saving experts to share their favorites. I've also included one I like to use, along with a Kiplinger favorite, in the list below.

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Cartwheel.This is Target's free app for Android and Apple devices, and it's a favorite of both consumer expert Andrea Woroch and Kelly Whalen, mom of four and founder of The Centsible Life blog. What they like best is how easy Cartwheel is to use. Start by creating an account, which just requires your name and an e-mail address. You can scan the barcodes of items as you add them to your physical shopping cart at Target and those with coupons or special offers will be added to your Cartwheel. When you check out, simply show your Cartwheel barcode to the cashier to have savings applied to your purchase. The app allows you to save on top of store and manufacturer coupons, Whalen says. You also can use the app to browse product categories to see what's on sale at Target.

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Coupons.com. Whalen recommends this free Android and Apple app from popular coupon site Coupons.com. It has grocery, retail and restaurant coupons that can be printed, saved to store loyalty cards or used for online purchases. You can link your credit or debit card to your Coupons.com profile to add offers directly to your card and get discounts when you use it to pay. If you have an iPhone, you can integrate the app with Passbook, a feature of Apple's iOS mobile operating system that helps better manage things like digital coupons. Then you can show merchants your digital coupons when you make purchases. If you click on "Top Stores" in the Coupons.com app you'll see coupons you can use at those stores without saving them to Passbook, a loyalty card, or credit or debit card. If you click on "Coupon Codes," you'll see which stores are having sales in addition to those offering coupon codes for online purchases.

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Coupon Sherpa. Woroch says that she can always find a coupon with this free app for Android and Apple devices for most stores where she shops. Coupon Sherpa offers hundreds of coupons from major retailers, restaurants and local businesses. If you're out shopping, you can click on stores in the "in-store" list to see which are offering coupons. Simply show the sales clerk the coupon code or barcode when you make a purchase. You also can bookmark coupons for future shopping trips. It also has coupon codes for online purchases and a list of hot deals.

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Favado. This free grocery-savings app for Android and Apple devices automatically matches coupons with items on your shopping list, says Erin Chase, an avid coupon user, creator of the $5 Dinners blog and author of several frugal-living cookbooks. To use the coupons, you'll need to load them to your store's loyalty card (or print them). It also lets you easily compare sales and prices across a range of supermarkets, drugstores and big-box retailers -- including Whole Foods, Sprouts and Trader Joe's -- to find the best deals on items you regularly buy, she says. You'll also be notified when items on your favorites list go on sale at stores in your area.

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RetailMeNot. I like this free app for Android and Apple devices because it has thousands of coupons from a long list of retailers that you simply show the cashier at checkout for savings. It couldn't be easier to use. You can search for coupons by store or category (such as clothing, electronics, food and travel), or just peruse the day's hot deals. You also can sign up to get alerts when there are deals at nearby malls.

SnipSnap. For those who like clipping coupons, this free app for Android and Apple devices lets you take photos of coupons and turn them into digital offers you can redeem at the store by showing the image on your phone at checkout. (Note: It doesn't support manufacturer coupons yet.) Woroch likes the app because it helps her keep coupons in one place and avoid leaving them at home when she shops. You also can use it to search a massive database of printed coupons, get notifications when your coupons are about to expire and reminders when you go to store for which you have coupons.

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Valpak Local Savings. All those coupons you get in the mail from direct marketing company Valpak can be easily accessed while you're on the go with the free Valpak app for Android and Apple devices and Windows Phone. Chase says it's the one app she likes to use when shopping locally because its location-based technology can help her find coupons for restaurants, merchants and services. You can search by store, category or name. And when you find a coupon, all you have to do is show it to the cashier. You also can save coupons to the iOS Passbook, Samsung Wallet and Windows Phone Wallet.

Yowza. Kiplinger has recommended this free app for Android and Apple devices numerous times. It uses your location to find coupons and deals near you. Just show the sales clerk the coupon code on your phone to get the discount. You also can receive notifications when your favorite stores have new coupons or deals.

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