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The 6 Best Coupon Apps for Saving Money at the Grocery Store

Getty Images/Kathy Hagedorn

Say "so long" to  waiting for the Sunday sales circulars to start clipping coupons. In an age of mobile-first technology, there are far easier solutions to saving money when stocking your kitchen. Here's the scoop on the top (free) coupon-ing apps so you can be confident you're getting the best deal every time you step into the supermarket.

If you're an extreme couponer and still doing things the old-school way, it's time to step up your game. Seriously. But if you've never "couponed" a day in your life and have been bombarded with suggestions for trying out the best new shopping apps to save a little cash, you need to do a little research before you dive in. Mobile coupon apps make it easier than ever to save (even if it is just a few dollars) on your grocery bill each week. We've reviewed the top-rated, best-of grocery rebate apps so you can save more while you shop. Because everyone shops a little differently based on their needs, the reviews listed below for the 6 most popular apps on the market right now aren't ranked in any particular order. So take a look, download the one(s) that sound like what you're looking for, and experiment to see which works best for your lifestyle.

Ibotta

Ibotta partners with dozens of major retailers to offer you rebates on items you buy every day. To add up rebates, all you have to do is scan the barcode of the items you purchased and then the receipt itself with your camera. Once you hit $20, you can easily cash out via PayPal, Venmo, or a gift card. There are over 750 retailers available with discounts on grocery items, as well as household goods, clothes, beauty items, restaurant meals, and more. Hundreds of rebates are available each week. Ibotta recommends unlocking savings on the app before you shop, then purchasing the items and submitting the receipts. 

  • Rating: Rated 4 1/2 stars out of 170 reviews on the App Store
  • Available for: iOS and Android
  • Benefits: It provides an easy way to get cash back on necessities and items you already purchase. Linking to PayPal and Venmo makes it super easy to get cash back. You can also link your loyalty cards.
  • Negatives: Some users complain that offers can disappear too quickly. Many request a wider selection of stores and rebates.

Cartwheel (for Target)

If you're an avid Target shopper, this app should definitely be on your phone. Tons of my friends and coworkers swear by Cartwheel. With Cartwheel, you can search, browse, or scan items in the store to find offers, and then add the offers to your custom Cartwheel barcode all from your phone. If you don't have time to browse offers before you head to the grocery store, use the scaning feature to scan the barcode of selected items to see if there is a Cartwheel offer for that item. Present your Cartwheel barcode to the cashier at checkout like you would a coupon and all of the offers you have saved will be applied to your total immediately. 

  • Rating: 4 stars out of 1,769 reviews on the App Store
  • Available for: iOS and Android
  • Benefits: Cartwheel saves you money prior to purchasing items, rather than trying to build up enough rebates to "cash out" after using an app for up to 6 months. Many users rave that they've been able to save hundreds of dollars in a year.
  • Negatives: Some users complain of connectivity issues while in the store, the app being too slow, crashing randomly, or continually asking the user to sign in.

Receipt Hog

Simply snap a picture of your receipts to earn rewards with Receipt Hog. This is a great app to use for simply storing digital copies of your receipts, and you can make a little extra cash to boot. In addition to scanning receipts, you can also take surveys and play games to win prizes and rack up points. 

  • Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 244 reviews on the App Store
  • Available for: iOS and Android
  • Benefits: The app is incredibly user friendly and intuitive to get started with. You can also access digital copies of your receipts in one secure place so you can throw away paper copies away and still track your spending. It's a useful tool even as a receipt tracker only.
  • Negatives: Some users complaining that the app is slow, takes a long time to validate receipts and give rewards, and that there are currently other apps out there that pay at a better value. The app was recently changed to where you can only earn 100 points a week (versus the old version allowing up to 600 in a week).

Grocery iQ

Grocery IQ wants to make the entire grocery shopping process quick, easy, and efficient. This grocery list building tool doubles as a coupon app--so not only can you create lists for future shopping trips and easily keep track of what you've bought, you can also search for free coupons and sync your loyalty cards to the app. I can see this app being extremely beneficial if you have a spouse that regularly shops for you, but dreads the process because of how long it takes them. With Grocery iQ, you can add images of the items to your list and even include location information (like the aisle number) to help someone else more easily find and purchase your items. You can share lists between devices , so your partner or children can access all the information seamlessly and also add their items to the list--so brace yourself for a lot of ice cream, macaroni and cheese, and chips to mysteriously appear on your shopping list from time to time.

  • Rating: 3 stars out of 330 reviews on the App Store
  • Available for: iOS and Android
  • Benefits: This is a great app if you're looking to make the whole grocery shopping process easier and aren't solely focused on couponing.
  • Negatives: The coupon section isn't as advanced as other coupon-only apps out there. Not only do they not have as many, but they're also not as organized or user-friendly.

Walmart Savings Catcher 

The saving's portion of the Walmart app allows you to scan your receipts for any purchase within the last 7 day, and if a competitor in the area in your area is advertising a lower price, Walmart will automatically give you the difference with an eGift card. The app also offers the ability to pay within the app, digital receipts for easy returns, in-store inventory, aisle locations, and more.

  • Rating: 3 stars out of 409 reviews on the App Store
  • Available for: iOS and Android
  • Benefits: Walmart is making it easier to find the best prices without driving to different stores. Some people have earned up to $20 a month with the app.
  • Negatives: The app can freeze, be slow to load, or crash often.

Checkout 51

Checkout 51 also offers a seemingly simple business model: browse deals, take photos of receipts, and scan barcodes to build up rebates. Once your account reaches $20 in savings, they'll mail you a check. Offers are updated on Thursdays, so you can check back for new offers weekly.

  • Rating: 4 1/2 stars out of 108 reviews on the App Store
  • Available for: iOS and Android
  • Benefits: The app is not store specific, so you can get cash back on items at many stores you regularly shop at. The app alerts users of when offers are updated so that an offer doesn't mysteriously disappear.
  • Negatives: Users complain that it's not the most user-friendly. Many users want more options of healthy foods, and say that many of the coupons are for items they don't normally buy.

Whatever apps you decide to try out, be sure to remember that couponing isn't always a fast track to saving thousands of dollars a year--some people save $50 a month off of their total shopping expenses, while it takes others a year to save even $30--but it is a simple way to contribute to an overall plan to cut your living costs and put dollars back in your pocket, as long as you don't let it consume too much of your time and negate its usefulness. The key to using these apps is to weigh the time spent with their usefulness to you. If you can do one extra task after a shopping trip (or right before) that only requires minutes and can save you some money while also helping you track your spending, the results will be well worth the minimal effort spent. But if you find yourself constantly digging through the trash can to find that receipt you threw away, purchasing items you wouldn't otherwise ever have in your pantry just because you have a coupon, or spending hours browsing through digital deals and offers... you might want to reconsider if the coupon game is really for you.