5 Best Free Coupon Apps for Your Smartphone

Here’s the thing with coupon apps: They’re not for the lazy. And shouldn’t they be? If you’re going to bother developing a smartphone app, shouldn’t it make coupon collecting not just easy, but ridiculously easy—a true next-generation answer to the kitchen drawer filled with deals you forget to take with you that are probably expired? The reality, unfortunately, is something short of that. None of the coupon apps available today are the magic bullet to the coupon question. However, there are a number of apps that help you find, save, and use deals on local and online items that are certainly a vast improvement over paper and scissors. Willing to put in a little time and effort? Here’s a guide to the top coupon apps available on iPhone and Android devices, based on the combined weighted ratings of the apps.

5 Coupons and Shopping (GeoQpons)

Image credit Google Play

Average Rating: 4.3 stars / 5

Good for: Finding online and in-store deals by brand

Like a poor man’s RetailMeNot, GeoQpons does a good job of collecting online and in-store deals, but not a particularly good job of displaying them—its home screen is a list of hundreds of folders, one for each brand. The bargains also aren’t particularly unique, for example featuring a one-month free trial of Netflix, a deal that has been available approximately since the beginning of time. GeoQpons allows you to browse by brand or by nearby deals, but doesn’t make it easy to hone in on the good deals, the ones at the stores you frequent or the items you need. When I searched for deals on specific products, the results showed a bunch of online retailers, making it the equivalent of a Google search, except with not as good matching and on a device that’s more difficult to navigate. The app also features a “Savings Calculator” where you can enter the amount discounted and track total savings, all of which you have to enter manually even though they have the coupon information in their database. All in all, this app feels like more work than it should be.

Then again, they all do in my world, because My Ideal Coupon App is doing everything short of cooking me dinner. The bottom line is, get in the habit of saving a few bucks now—to do otherwise is just throwing away money—because one day soon, these apps will be more advanced than even an inveterately lazy bargain hunter such as I can dream.

4 RetailMeNot

Image credit Google Play

Average Rating: 4.4 stars / 5

Good for: Quickly finding the deals that online- and brick-and-mortar retailers are running

If looks were all that counted, RetailMeNot would be at the top of this list. Far from the disorganized, lackluster merchandizing of the apps above, it’s a pleasure to stroll through the well-organized, beautifully merchandized virtual aisles of RetailMeNot. The only problem is, it’s not that great for coupons and deals. What it does well is help you easily navigate to deals at popular retailers (Old Navy, Sephora, Petco, etc.). The app’s home features “Today’s Hot Deals” from these brands, although they aren’t always especially compelling—for example, 10-percent off when you spend $20 or more at Forever 21. Want to dig in more? Browse Top Coupons, Popular Stores, or search by category (regrettably, groceries is not one of them). Usefully, given the pervasive challenge of redeeming digital coupons in person, each coupon shows its success rate and comments from users (which, on several of the Hot Deals, said the coupon didn’t work).

What RetailMeNot isn’t so good at is helping you find good deals nearby, since browsing is by brand, not location. Additionally, you’d get many of the deals just by walking in the store, so you’re not finding any extra savings here. Finally, and most crucially, there simply aren’t a lot of in-store deals. Let’s hope this app’s function catches up to its form.

3 Weekly Sales, Deals & Coupons

Image credit Google Play

Average Rating: 4.5 stars / 5

Good for: Finding deals at the places you already shop

The beauty of this app is its simplicity: Enter your zip code, select the stores where you shop, view circulars, and create a shopping list out of the deals that interest you. On the other hand, it’s not that different from opening up your Sunday paper, looking at the circulars and cutting out the deals that interest you. But, it does make a little less mess and is mildly thrilling to see your deals digitally detach themselves from the circular and alight on your shopping list. You won’t score any unbelievable deals here (that takes Grocery Smarts), but you may save a few bucks and a few headaches.

2 Grocery Smarts

Image credit Google Play

Average Rating: 4.5 stars / 5

Good for: Extreme couponers

Be forewarned: If you are not an extreme couponer, you will not be able to make heads or tails of this app. Just want to score cheaper mac ’n’ cheese and free breadsticks? Look elsewhere. Already own a hanging file box and dedicated shopping sleeve where you collect and save coupons over a five-month period? Keep reading. Grocery Smarts basically takes all possible discounts you could get on an item, including store circulars and manufacturer’s coupons, and lets you know the least you could pay for an item if you apply all the right coupons and buy the right amount. Hard-core couponers know how much easier that makes your life. The rest of us are left wondering how a glorified Excel spreadsheet—which is what the app looks like—ever got past Steve Jobs’ minions.

1 The Coupons App

Image credit Google Play

Average Rating: 4.6 stars / 5

Good for: Finding nearby deals at a variety of businesses

If an app is a place you go to get deals, The Coupons App is the off-price department store of coupon apps: Scores abound—carelessly merchandized, disorganized, and possibly damaged though they may be. The app makes it easy to find nearby deals, unlike the others on this list. For example, I can find the cheapest gas near me, see deals at chain stores (like 50-percent off appetizers after 10 p.m. at Applebees), and browse Groupon-like “local deals.” However, the app’s partnership with national retailers means the discounts don’t always apply. The first offer the app showed was for a free drink at my nearest White Castle – approximately 1,800 miles away. And the gas prices, it said, were as of five days ago. The design of the app, with its inelegant lists and in-line dropdowns, also makes it hard to navigate, although not impossible. Then again, as in any good discount store, you’re not paying for the ambiance.

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