What The Tech: Money Saving Apps

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With the price of gas and everything else soaring to new highs, many people are looking for ways to save money on things they buy every week. From groceries to gas to household items, three apps have a reputation for either saving money or getting money back on things you need.

GasBuddy is one of the oldest apps in the app stores and has been saving users money for over a decade. You’ll need to give it permission to see and track your location. When you open the app and tap the red bar that says “Find Gas”, the app displays all (or almost all) of the gas stations near you along with the current price of a gallon of gas. You can narrow the search results by selecting the grade of gas you’re looking for. Prices and locations are displayed in a list with the best prices at the top. You can also have the stations and prices displayed on a map. Since it can see your location, you don’t need to enter a zip code. You also don’t need to register a new account. The app earns money with display ads within the search results.

GasBuddy saves money when prices are fluctuating like they are now because some stations raise prices before others. For example, when I searched nearby stations I saw a difference of 36-cents per gallon. Prices are reported by other users so pay attention to the last reported price or you may drive farther for a bargain and find prices have already gone up.

Upside (formerly GetUpside) is a gas savings app that works differently than GasBuddy. Upside has partnered with gas companies to offer discounts through cash-back rewards. You will need to register with Upside and give it permission to track your location. When you open the app you’ll see participating stations near you and their offers. When I opened the app I found one station near me offering 12-cents back per gallon of gas. You’ll pay the price at the pump but after you gas up, the app wants proof that you claimed the offer and that you purchased it within a time window. After getting gas, you’ll be asked to snap a photo of the receipt and upload it to Upside. The cash-back difference is added to your Upside account and when it reaches $15 you can claim your cash that will be sent to your bank or on a gift card.

Upside also has deals with many restaurants so you can earn cash back by eating out.

If you miss those sales circulars from local grocery stores in the newspaper the app Flipp delivers the sales papers to your phone. Once again, you’ll give it permission to share your location so Flipp can find and display circulars at stores near you. You can circle items you want to purchase the next time you are in the store. Flipp will also clip available coupons and load them onto rewards cards. If you make a shopping list in Flipp you can tap on any item, such as bacon, to see prices at nearby stores.

GasBuddy and Flipp can also be accessed on their websites if you want to shop and plan from a computer.