2017 is going to be a BIG shopping season. According to the National Retail Foundation, US consumers spent $658 billion for the holidays in 2016 and spending is expected to increase 3-4% to $682 billion for the 2017 holiday season.
As much as our team at Birch loves earning credit card rewards, we also like finding the best deals and saving money on our purchases. I asked everyone in our office, friends, and colleagues to share their favorite apps that they use to save money while shopping.
These are our top 7 apps that you can use alongside Birch to help you save money this holiday season while you earn the most credit card rewards with every purchase!
Paribus is a free app that scans your inbox to look for receipts and then automatically files price adjustment claims on your behalf when the items you've purchased drops in price. The service is 100% free and is pretty magical. Paribus will monitor purchases from 25 major stores, including Amazon, Target, and Walmart.
Here's how it works:
The app claims to have over 2 million members and lets you keep all of the refund from the price adjustment - differentiation themselves from competitive apps.
2. Cartwheel by Target
If you shop at Target, then you need the Cartwheel app on your phone. It's one of the easiest couponing apps to use and can help you save tons of $$$ on the items you already planned to purchase. There are thousands of things that have deals which change weekly, so make sure to check and see if your shopping list has any items with deals.
By far, the best part of the Cartwheel app is the scan feature - allowing you to scan the items in your cart and see deals before you buy. If there aren't any deals for the thing you're scanning, the app will also show you similar items that do have discounts - if you're feeling adventurous, of course.
Tip: Use the Cartwheel app alongside your Target debit or credit card to get 5% off everything + the additional discounts!
I was introduced to Flipp by our friend Lauren Greutman, a frugal living expert who runs blogs about saving money on her site, laurengreutman.com. She told us that "the Flipp App combines all the retail circulars, coupons/rebates, and your shopping list into one free app. I love it because I can search for an item and it pulls where that item is in the local circulars as well as online. It saves me so much time and money!" so I knew that I had to give it a try.
I downloaded the app, selected my favorite stores nearby and begun browsing different weekly flyers. I found it extremely easy to see all the deals that were going on and I love the ability to select specific items and add them to my shopping list.
Flipp has other features, including being able to connect all your different loyalty cards to link coupons as well as upload receipts to get cash back (similar to Ibotta).
How could we write a list of the best ways to save money this holiday season without suggesting the Birch app?! Once you sync your credit and debit cards, Birch analyzes your spending to show you how to earn the most rewards with every purchase. It can even show you which card to use as well when you're shopping in real time - making it super useful when you're bouncing between stores buying presents on Black Friday.
It also tracks the rewards you're earning and recommends the best cards for your spending. Give it a go!
The above apps are great for in-store shopping, but Ebates will help you save money for online shopping as well. Ebates is a free app that allows you to earn cash back when you're shopping online. At the end of the month, Ebates sends you a "Big Fat Check" in the mail with your cash back savings.
Here's how it works:
To take advantage of Ebates's cash back programs, you'll need to use the links they provide on their site and apps. Ebates also has Chrome and Safari Extensions that show you when a cashback deal is available when you're shopping online and then it's only 1-click to enable the deal!
Mint is a free personal finance app that helps you budget and keep track of your spending. Although the app won't help you save money on the gifts you're buying, it can be a great tool to make sure that you don't overspend on holiday purchases. Here's how I set my account up:
I created a custom category called "Holiday Shopping" and created a budget with this category for $500.
Next, I went through my holiday purchases that I've made thus far and re-categorized them as "Holiday Shopping".
Mint tracks how much I've spent out of that total budget. The only limitation, from what I can tell, is that I can only make a budget for 1 month and not a range of dates. My Amazon purchase from the end of October isn't being included in this budget because it's only looking for November purchases.
Unlike the other shopping apps, ShopKick doesn't offer discounts when you shop. Instead, you earn "Kicks" for doing things like physically walking into a store, uploading receipts for items that have bonuses or scanning items. That means you can use an app like Cartwheel or another couponing app alongside ShopKick to double down on rewards.
"Kicks" are worth $.004 each, meaning you need to earn 1,250 for a $5 gift card. This is pretty steep, but you can earn a decent bit of rewards if you take advantage of specific item bonuses. One of the offers I had was 200 Kicks for uploading my receipt with the purchase of 100-count Aleve. That's ~8% back in rewards which is great if I needed to buy Aleve.
Before you buy your holiday gifts new, consider buying something used in OfferUp's marketplace! OfferUp is a free, local marketplace where people can post their items for sale, similar to Craiglist's "free and for sale" section. Unlike Craigslist, OfferUp has user reviews, in-app chat and works closely with law enforcement to make sure things go smoothly.
It's free to sign up and start browsing items, making offers or even listing your own for sale. Maybe it's time to unload some of those things you have sitting around the house and pay for new holiday gifts!
Did we miss any apps that you use for holiday shopping? Let us know and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org!