5 Free Handy Coupon Apps — Don’t Leave Home Without One

by Paul Michael on 1 October 2012 6 comments

Clipping coupons can be time-consuming and quite the chore. I’ve seen my wife spend a good hour at the kitchen table, checking out the different offers and clipping and organizing the ones we need. (We won’t even go into the extreme couponers who spend hours and hours every day clipping and shopping with them.)

Then, of course, you have to remember to bring them with you when you shop. And you also need to keep on top of them as they expire, sometimes quite quickly.

In this day and age, there has to be a better way. Well, of course there is. With smartphones being so accessible and more affordable than ever (often free with a two-year contract) you have access to a wide range of money-saving apps. Since you rarely leave home without your phone, you’ll always have access to coupons when you need them. Plus, digital coupons are always updated, so you don’t have to worry about carrying a bunch of expired ones.

But with so many free apps to choose from, which are worth downloading? What are the pros and cons of the best ones? Here are five handy coupon apps available on iPhone and Android phones right now, or in the case of the first one, very very soon. (See also: Wise Bread's Coupon Search)

1. Ibotta

This app is launching very soon, and I was given the chance to see it in action, ask the developers a ton of questions, and also arrange a special deal for Wise Bread readers (more on that in a moment).

Basically, Ibotta learns your brand and product preferences, becoming more and more in-touch with your shopping habits as you use it.

You earn cash by learning more about your favorite products and brands, and you choose what to click and how to earn. If you don’t want to watch a video, no worries, you can click on an interesting fact and still earn up to $1 or more per product offer. Unlike other coupon sites, you earn actual dollars, not points that equate to pennies on the dollar. 

When you’re in store, you can then redeem your offers for cash, which can be done almost instantly using the handy receipt scanner feature. And your earnings can be posted direct to your PayPal account or donated to a school. You can also use these coupons in conjunction with traditional manufacturer coupons.

Ibotta is easy to use, and there’s already a long waitlist for the app. But Wise Bread readers have been given the chance to skip the line and be one of the first to use the Ibotta app. Just click this exclusive Wise Bread link and enter your email address. Of all the coupon apps I’ve seen, and used, this one has the greatest potential for big savings, and the learning feature makes it a time-saver and the most personal of all the apps available.

2. The Coupons App

The Coupons App gets amazing reviews, with a 4.57 (out of 5) average from over 82,000 ratings. And that speaks volumes about its ease of use and coupon availability.

With The Coupons App, the deals come to you constantly throughout the day. It also has some nice features including the barcode scanner (much like ShopSavvy) to do instant, on-the-spot price comparisons. You can also share coupons with family and friends over email and text message, as well as social media channels like Facebook and Twitter. And you are equipped with a voice search feature, for those times when you’re roaming around a store and just want a quick coupon for toothpaste or kitchen towels.

I did experience some crashes when using certain features (the barcode and voices search features being the biggest culprits), as well as ads within the app causing lock ups. But a quick look at their recent changes list shows some major bug fixes have been applied.

One great feature is that most of the coupons have barcodes that the cashier can just scan. Many coupons you get via mobile give you a code that the cashier must type in, and they really don’t like doing that. Or some places won’t accept barcodeless coupons. And some of the coupons have to be printed out, which goes against the idea of a mobile app.

Of course, like anything that’s free, you do have the usual ads to contend with, but they’re not too invasive. Overall, it's a really solid app and well worth a download.

3. Coupon Sherpa

Nowhere near as popular as The Coupons App, but still worth a look, Coupon Sherpa has some big positives and a few drawbacks.

On the plus side, Coupon Sherpa is a great resource for savings on toys and clothing items. You’ll get exclusive coupons that are only available via the Coupon Sherpa app, as well a great selection of current Internet coupons and special offers. And scrolling through the alphabetical stores list is very handy, especially when you’re in a store and want a coupon right there and then.

The app compiles the latest and greatest offers and coupons for you, so you don't have to go out there hunting for coupons when you’re looking for a bargain. And the GPS feature means you can actually get directions to the stores close to you that have the deals. That’s a nice touch, although it could use a filter to exclude stores that are nowhere near your current location.

That’s the good. The bad, well...it’s not terrible, but it does impact the overall experience. First, it’s very limited with its selection of grocery coupons. If you’re expecting Coupon Sherpa to serve up the same coupons you get in the Sunday circulars, you’ll be disappointed. The deals are more like “get $10 off when you spend $50” and so on. But you will find bargains at places like Barnes & Noble, Toys ‘R’ Us, JC Penney, Joanns, Bath & Body Works, PetCo and The Children’s Place. And the stores it serves up “near” you aren’t always so near.

Overall, I like Coupon Sherpa. It’s still got a place on my phone, and I use it often. But it certainly has room for improvement.

4. Best Coupons and Deals

One of the best-reviewed coupon apps currently on the market, Best Coupons and Deals is updated daily by a mix of coupon clippers and deal hounds. And that’s evident when you open it up and see how many deals it really has.

Like most coupon apps, the features on Best Coupons and Deals are what you’d expect. You get handpicked and featured deals, hot deal alerts, and a searchable, alphabetized store database. You can also share coupons with friends and family, which is maybe why it was formerly called Coupon Cloud.

There are many top brands within the app, including: Kohl's, Victoria's Secret, Whole Foods, Aeropostale, Redbox, Abercrombie & Fitch, T.G.I. Friday's, Old Navy, Bath & Body Works, Chili's, Hollister, Ulta, Olive Garden, JCPenney, Denny's, Express, CiCi's Pizza, CVS, Yankee Candle, Papa John's, The Children's Place, Boston Market, Babies R Us, Long John Silver's, Baskin Robbins, Forever 21, McDonald's, Pizza Hut, Toys R Us, Walgreens, and Macy’s.

And the coupons are delivered in two formats — online codes or mobile digital coupons that you redeem via your smartphone. You can also print out the coupons, which is handy for those stores that haven’t caught up with technology yet.

On the down side, a lot of the stores listed in the index were not near me. There were issues with the phone freezing, the app closing, or the whole phone shutting down. Those were rare, but annoying. And the grocery coupons were very scarce. 

Overall, I saved money with it and liked the interface.

5. Yowza!!

First, I love the name, it’s way more interesting and memorable than most coupon apps. Other apps, take note. And this one has star power, with TV star Greg Grunberg ("Heroes") championing this one.

Yowza!! is a strong app because it serves up location-based savings for shoppers. Choose how far out from your location you want coupons, and it will find them. Plus, it serves up special offers and deals specifically for Yowza!! users, deals that have been specially negotiated on your behalf.

Another nice little feature is the results tracker. It basically keeps track of all the coupons you use, giving you a running total of how much the app has saved you since downloading it.

Like other coupon apps, you get instant notifications when a favorite store puts a new coupon out there. That was particularly handy for me, as I got a notification about five minutes before I was ready to check out. It saved me $5 on the spot.

Like other apps of this nature, the selection of stores is limited, but growing. And unfortunately, when you click on some of the stores, you get served with an advertisement. But overall, this is another solid app worthy of a download. Try it out.

Now, those are the five (well, four until Ibotta is launched) that I recommend. Do you have a coupon app that’s saved you a ton of money and is not on this list? Let us know.

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Guest's picture
Anthony

Really great article. Totally true, what you say of traditional coupons.

Thanks, Paul!
Anthony, from Ibotta.

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Guest

Instead of getting these apps, get rid of your smart phone; that will save you plenty of money.

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Anthony

Might be a valid point if you don't value the added benefit of having one. Smartphones aren't for everybody.

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Richard

Great article.
On the other side of the coin, being a small business owner, we use an app called QuikCoupon to create our own coupons for customers. It's great for attracting more business to us locally. It allows us to create custom coupons with our business name, details of the coupon discount, expiration, disclaimer, etc.. Then right from the app we Email the coupons to people in our networking group and post them on our facebook wall. Works great for us.

Guest's picture

Coupons on mobile phones are good and many stores can scan them directly from your phone. This saves you time and also dont need to print the coupon

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Betty

Snipsnap is a great one. Anytime I walk in a place, I check snipsnap for a coupon. I just saved $10 at the Christmas Tree Shop yesterday.