Cheap Shopping Tools That Save You Money
Of all the benefits of shopping in the Internet era, the growing number of online price comparison tools arguably ranks near the top for helping to give consumers an immense amount of bargaining power.
By the time many shoppers walk into a store they likely know what they want, whether the store has it and how much they should have to pay for it, all thanks to a handful of websites and smartphone apps. This poses a unique challenge for stores trying to get customers to shop longer and buy more, but offers a great opportunity for shoppers to save money and hone in on the best deals.
If you haven’t already started using these tools, now is the time to start. MainStreet cherry-picked our favorite price comparison websites and smartphone apps to help you save big bucks when shopping for everything from electronics to school supplies.
Photo Credit: Walmart Stores
PriceGrabber, one of the leading price comparison websites, lets users search for a product by brand or category to find which website or store offers the lowest listing price. One Consumer Reports study last year found that PriceGrabber had the lowest prices on a wide range of items including computers, DVDs and footwear. But it’s not just the cheap listings that make the service useful. PriceGrabber also includes a product scorecard based on customer reviews so that shoppers can determine whether it’s worth the money. The service is also available as an app on the iPhone and Android phones.
Photo Credit: Pricegrabber.com
RedLaser is one of the best smartphone apps out there for doing quick price comparisons. Shoppers can use their phone’s camera to scan the barcodes of products in stores and RedLaser will compare this information with other products in its database from sites like eBay, TheFind and Google Product Search to see if it’s priced better elsewhere. What’s more, the app takes your GPS location into account and recommends nearby stores where you can find the same product for less. If nothing else, this app will likely save you from making a few impulse buys.
RedLaser is available on the iPhone and Android phones.
Photo Credit: Redlaser.com
Much like RedLaser, the Google Shopper app, available for the iPhone and Android phones, lets users scan product barcodes and compares the price with other listings in Google’s database. Since this is a Google product, each listing features detailed descriptions and reviews, and it has directions and contact information for nearby stores built into it. Google also recently added its local deals service, Google Offers, into the app so people in select cities can find promotions going on near them.
Photo Credit: Apple.com
With PricePinx, a shopping website, you can search for anything on your wish list and be notified whenever a retailer lowers the listing price on that item significantly. This might not help you search for the best deals in the short term, but if you can hold off on buying that new iPhone for a few months, PricePinx may just be able to help you save big.
Photo Credit: Pricepinx.com
As difficult as it is to comparison shop in traditional retail stores, it can be even harder when shopping for secondhand goods, since each individual seller can charge however much they feel like. That’s why WorthMonkey is such a useful tool. This website offers a chart displaying the listed prices for a wide range of used products based on data aggregated from major e-commerce sites like eBay, Craigslist and Amazon. The service is intended to help sellers pinpoint the best asking price, but it proves to be a useful guide for buyers worried about getting ripped off online.
Photo Credit: Worthmonkey.com
Most of the tools on our list are intended to compare products among different stores and manufacturers, but CompareMe functions a bit differently. This iPhone app helps users compare the prices of multiple food items based on the size of the package to determine the most cost-efficient quantity to buy. The app costs $1.99 but it will likely save you much more on your weekly grocery bill.
Photo Credit: Apple.com
Zillow Rent Zestimates
Price comparison tools aren’t just for everyday retail products. Earlier this year, Zillow, a popular real estate listing site, launched a new searchable database showing monthly rental estimates for more than 90 million homes nationwide. The tool even shows how much the rent price has changed during the previous 30 days, so renters can get a better sense of whether a particular property is getting more or less expensive, and how it compares to other rentals nearby.
Photo Credit: Zillow.com
Nerdwallet Gas Discounts
Few things are more frustrating than driving past multiple gas stations with prices within one-tenth of a cent of each other trying to find the best deal, all while the little flashing light on the dashboard shows you’re two miles away from running out of fuel. So last month, Nerdwallet, a credit card comparison site, decided to launch a special online tool to help drivers make a more informed decision about which station to buy gas from. Nerdwallet’s service doesn’t just show the price of gas at each station in your ZIP code, it also lets users know if that station accepts cash only and whether there is a premium for paying with a credit card.
Photo Credit: Nerdwallet.com