Money saving apps for smartphones
In these times of austerity everyone is looking for money saving advice. We show you how you can put your your iPhone, Android phone or BlackBerry to work to save you a packet on non-smartphone related purchases.
It is a reflection of the maturation of the mobile phone that it is increasingly being seen as a tool to accompany our daily life, over and above the expected tasks.
We all take for granted the voice call facility and the texting. We don’t even blink at the thought of the phone being able to send emails or scan the internet. Using the phone for more lateral means, however, is a real eye-opener for many.
Utilising your phone to save you money in non-mobile areas, for example, is a concept that is still foreign to many. The great thing is, if you target a few specific apps and keep your eyes open, you could save yourself a packet.
Probably one of the most effective methods of saving money with your mobile phone is the virtual coupon. We’re all familiar with paper coupons being posted through our doors offering money off groceries at our local supermarket and maybe even the odd offer emailed to you direct but the coupon that is sent to you via an app or text can be very efficient indeed.
Targeting not only your specific tastes, wants and needs but also locating those offers to specific retailers in your area – whether that be in the vicinity of your home or where you happen to be staying on holiday, for example.
There are many apps out there that cater for this service. Some of the best are the free apps from Groupon, Vouchercode and Shop, Scan, Save. Vouchercloud recently released figures relating to how many of the coupons they issued were actually redeemed. Bear in mind that, for those offers shoved through your letterbox, less than 1% were actually redeemed last year.
Vouchercloud declared that 42% of their vouchers were redeemed. The best campaigns offered by these apps, however, were those where coupons needed to be requested or pulled by the consumer, so they knew upfront what was on offer.
“We have run ‘Pull’ campaigns with 100% redemption rates and that’s not as staggering as it sounds. Why would you make the effort to fetch a coupon if you weren’t going to use it?” said managing director of Mobilize, the Shop Scan Save app creator.
This point highlights the second strength of the mobile as a coupon delivery medium: convenience. Because it is easy to use a voucher application to fetch offers on nearby items that you are interested in, there is a high probability that you will use the vouchers it provides.
Around 3 millions mobile users utilised discount coupons last year, according to analysts Juniper Research, saving around £1.7 billion. That figure is predicated to increase to a massive £3.7 billion in another three years. Part of the reason for this is because Apple’s iPhone is the king of the coupon, at the moment but Blackberry and Android-related phones are catching up fast. Vouchercloud, for example, was launched on the iPhone but an Android version is now available.
Another useful app is the price comparison app with a twist. With either Red Laser (free) or iBarcode (69p), you can use your phone’s camera to scan a barcode and then produce a price comparison list of online and local companies. Once you find the one for you, just select the best deal and you will be taken straight to the relevant product page, ready to place it into the shop‘s basket.
But what happens if the product you want to investigate doesn’t have a barcode? Just enter the brand and model number and it will perform the same operation.
Ever been stung when you make an ATM cash withdrawal? Where the machine charges you a couple of pound to withdraw a tenner? UK ATM Locator, a free app, has a database of 66,000 ATMS in the UK so if you’re about to push your card into a charging ATM, do a quick search and you will be able to find the nearest ‘free’ machine.
The next money saving app is aimed at drivers who spend half of a day (while using half a tank of petrol) trying to find a parking space and, when they eventually find it, are charged a high fee. Nosey Parker (£2.99) aims to remove that car parking stress by not only finding the nearest car parking spaces from your own location but the cheapest too.
The app has a database of 1.8 million car parking spaces with 5000 free car parks. There are some excellent filters too including finding spaces with parent and toddler spaces, disabled spaces and those that accept debit and credit cards.
Only some of us drive but all of us make phone calls, sometimes to companies that use 0870, 0845 or 0800 numbers for customer service. For mobile users these numbers cost…a lot: around 35p/min. This app converts these 08 numbers to 01, 02 or lower cost 08 numbers to save you money. We all know how long it’s possible to wait to be successfully dealt with on these customer services, so this app could be worth its weight (wait?) in gold.
These are just a few of the apps out there that you can use to save you money and, sometimes lots of it. For example, Petrol Cost (free) is a useful app to tell you just how much your forthcoming journey will cost you. You just enter the cost of the fuel, your car’s MPG and distance and the app will do the rest.
Then there’s Skype (free), the VoIP call service to provide free phone calls. Finally, Meter Readings (£2.99) monitors your household energy and water usage, displaying the results as graphs. You can also compare usage and costs against competing energy suppers in your area to help you find the best tariff deal.
These are just a handful of the apps out there that can turn your phone into a real bargain finder. So start downloading and start saving!
Written by Paul Rigby.
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