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9 free apps that grab holiday discounts and deals

It can cost you several hundred dollars these days for a new smart phone, even if you sign up for a multiyear plan. But you can recoup that cost—and save even more—if you use it to comparison shop and take advantage of discounts this holiday season.

About 40 percent of the 2,180 subscribers surveyed by the Consumer Reports National Research Center said they used their phone to see whether a product was being sold elsewhere for less. Or they checked promotions and coupon codes. Fifteen percent said they used reward cards from an app to make a purchase. Men and women differed, however, in the ways they used their phones while shopping.

We think that more shoppers should take advantage of the deals just a touch-screen tap away. The free apps listed below can help. Many share similar functions, but enough features differ that you’ll want to see which apps suit your needs best. Can't find a deal on one of the gifts on your list, even with these apps? Check out the deals at outlet malls. The discounts will be deeper around the holidays, and outlet mall websites often have coupons you can use to save even more. For more holiday shopping tips, see our holiday gift guide

––Mandy Walker (@MandyWalker)



Store all your loyalty and gift-card data with this app, then use it to flash the appropriate information at checkout to get your discount or have your purchase credited. The app also searches for daily deals and coupons that can be scanned at checkout. Clutch has its own loyalty perks, too; when you use them, you build up points that you can redeem for gift cards.

Works on: Android and Apple.




Slash your bills by comparing real-time sale data from more than 65,000 supermarket and drug stores nationwide. If you don’t want to drive across five ZIP codes to get the best deal on hamburger patties, Favado lets you zero in on local stores with the best deals, so you can save money and gas. (And see our additional ways to save at the supermarket and drug store.)

Works on: Android and Apple.




Calling itself the “local shopper’s best friend,” Goodzer compares prices on products ranging from deodorant to little black dresses carried by stores in your neighborhood.

Just type in what you’re looking for and Goodzer will troll nearby stores large and small to find out who has it and how much they’re charging.

Works on: Apple.




If you're an online shopper, you can save time and cut costs with this app, which lets you flag an item you want and sends you a text when it goes on sale or when a coupon becomes available.

PoachIt also sends coupon codes for discounted items. Its “Deals” section lists lots of marked-down products.

Works on: Android and Apple.




See a must-have product advertised in a circular or catalog? Snap a photo of it with your iPhone and this tool lets you buy it directly from the retailer in two clicks. (Shipping fees are disclosed before your second click.) The app saves credit-card data, contact info, and shipping addresses, so you only need to input them once. Participating retailers include Ace Hardware, Babies “R” Us, Best Buy, Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, Staples, Target, and Toys “R” Us.

Works on: Apple.



This app lets you scan products while shopping to see whether other retailers offer lower prices.  

You can also set up a price alert, which tells you when an item you want has been marked down to your desired price at your preferred store.

Works on: Android and Apple.  




RedLaser scans an item’s bar code to compare prices at thousands of online retailers and local walk-in stores.

And you can track favorite products, receive notifications of special deals, manage loyalty cards, and make purchases.

Works on: Apple, Android, and Windows.  





This app collects coupon codes and sale information from a range of retailers and lets you bookmark your favorite stores so that you can check for discounts while you’re shopping.

Instead of printing out coupons, just show the code on your phone to a cashier to get the deal.

Works on: Android and Apple. 




This app scans bar codes to find the best deals locally and online on over 500 million products from 500,000 stores.

It also lets you know if Best Buy, Target, Toys “R” Us, and Walmart can match the lowest-priced result.

Works on: Android and Apple (where it's called Shopping Search by TheFind).

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