Gas prices are rising. Inflation is squeezing us all. And yet there are still things you need to buy. The prices of items on shelves can be shocking these days, but there are ways to ensure that you’re getting the best deals.
That’s where price-comparison apps come in. You can use them whether you’re shopping in a store or online, especially during big sales such as Amazon Prime Day or Black Friday. A quick search can make sure you’ve found the best bargain on that item you really want or need, and maybe even an additional coupon code. The apps are also useful if you’re just bargain hunting, as many of them show you the latest deals and flyers from stores.
There are some things to know before you use a price comparison app:
Make sure you’re looking at the same product across stores. Find the exact name and model number of the item and enter that into the search in the app. When you get results, check that description on each one to confirm that they’re for the same thing.
Look for membership discounts and coupons. Once you’ve narrowed down your search to the biggest deals, see if you can sign up for a newsletter to get a discount (and, yes, the downside is tons of emails), join a membership or rewards program (that doesn’t have a fee), or if the stores have any active coupon codes. For the latter, you can use a site like RetailMeNot(Opens in a new window) or a browser extension like Honey(Opens in a new window).
Don’t forget shipping. Check that the costs make the deal you’ve found truly a deal. If you don’t qualify for free shipping and the store is nearby, see if you can pick the item up in person.
Now that you’re ready to shop, we’ve tracked down the best price-comparison apps and rounded them up here to help you. Each has its benefits, which we’ll get into, but one universal thing you’ll probably appreciate is that they’re all free.
(Disclosure: RetailMeNot is owned by PCMag parent company Ziff Davis.)
Amazon’s app(Opens in a new window) can be used to scan an item when you’re in a store to find it on Amazon and check its price. This lets you see if you’re better off buying it from the online retailer. Choose the camera icon next to the search bar and hold it over a barcode or even just an item and it will search Amazon’s database. You can also tap the heart next to any product you’re considering to save it to your list and get an alert when the price drops. The app also includes Alexa, which can play music or audiobooks while you shop.
BuyVia(Opens in a new window) brings the newest deals right to you on its main screen. From there, you can navigate to a barcode scanner that can be used in stores to find the best prices at nearby shops or online. BuyVia lists coupons and deals. You can also use the app to create price alerts for when an item you have your eye on drops to a price you’ve set.
Flipp(Opens in a new window) has all of those flyers that you used to find in the paper. You can select your favorite stores so that their deals appear front and center when you open the app. There’s a section to search deals by typing in the names of products. If you want something specific and are waiting for it to hit a price you’re comfortable with, you can put it on a watch list to get notified when it does, the same as with BuyVia. One nice feature that isn’t found in many other apps of its kind: You can add your loyalty cards so that you don’t have to carry them in your wallet.
Whether your cart is online or IRL, Mycartsavings(Opens in a new window) has a basketball full of bounty for you. The app will track the price of an item in stores and online and alert you when it reaches the amount you’re willing to pay. If you’re multitasking, you can search the app with your voice. You can also compare the prices of items at Amazon, Walmart, eBay, and Best Buy.
The Price.com app(Opens in a new window) is the mobile companion to the popular site and browser extension. You can compare prices at major retailers by typing in a search, using the barcode scanner, or uploading or taking a photo of an item. When you open the app, you’ll find lots of coupons to use online and in stores for dozens of retailers and services. And as with the other apps, if you’re waiting to purchase an item at a certain price, you can set a price alert.
Shop smart with ShopSavvy(Opens in a new window). Scan or search for items and see how much they are in-store and online. You can also see when there are sales at major stores. You can compare prices from tons of retailers. But one of the best features of ShopSavvy is that you can track prices on a graph to see how they fluctuate, which lets you time and plan your purchases.