Comparison shopping is a crucial habit to develop if you want to save money on your purchases. And who doesn’t? Being able to quickly compare prices, whether from your couch or at the store, could help you save quite a bit of cash by making sure you always know where to find the best prices for the items you want.
Using browser extensions or websites for this task is great, but if you’re on the go, you’re going to want a good app to get the same kind of information. I set out to find the best price comparison app out there, and here’s what I found.
Comparing items with ShopSavvy is easy: tab the Scan Barcode button at the bottom of the screen, put the barcode in the on-screen box, and you’ll see both online and local retailers who are selling the item. You can also use the search tool to search for specific things that you’re looking for if you don’t have the barcode.
But ShopSavvy doesn’t stop there. It also lets you set up notifications for specific categories, items, or searchers so that you’ll get notified when a sale comes up, whether it’s online or in a local shop.
When I scanned Blood Rage, as you can see above, it recommended a number of stores, but didn’t go to specialty online game stores (I also found Blood Rage available at Miniature Market, a great site to buy board games, for $60.79) so be aware that you might be able to find good prices elsewhere, too.
Another app that offers more than just price comparisons, BuyVia also lets you know when there are sales on categories of products that you choose when you set up the app. It also asks you where you like to shop, so it won’t show you sales at stores you’d rather not visit.
You can create price drop alerts for specific items to get the best deal possible on the things you’re looking for, too.
The results page of BuyVia isn’t quite as nice as the one on ShopSavvy, but it does seem to pull prices for a wide variety of different stores in an effort to find you the best deal (note that in the search above, it included used books on Amazon, which is nice).
Other apps might focus on getting you the largest number of prices that they can, but Now Discount looks to find you the cheapest price it can in three different categories:
the lowest online price
the lowest online price from a major retailer
the lowest price you can get from local stores (including price match)
Just scan an item and you’ll get a list of all three.
The app doesn’t offer a whole lot of features, but what it does, it seems to do well, giving you the information you need quickly and without a lot of hassle. When you tap on the local store price matching option, there’s even a Show online price to store salesperson button so you don’t have to go out and find it again.
ScanLife’s main screen is a barcode scanner, which saves you a tap or two when you want to get to the details on your item quickly (though you can still use a text search, which is nice). Just get the barcode in the square and you’re off!
Although it doesn’t provide prices from local retailers, it does quickly and cleanly show you the best prices that you can get online, and it shows you a quick description of the item that you scanned or searched for (though, at least in this example, the image is incorrect).
You’ll have to upgrade to the pro version to get results from local stores, but the free version of Quick Scan does a great job of searching online retailers quickly and showing you the results in a way that’s easy to read and use.
If you decide to upgrade, you’ll also get a bunch of features related to reading and creating QR codes, but that probably won’t help you with comparing prices.
The best reason to choose Quick Scan is to take advantage of the nice results screen, which isn’t as cluttered and distracting as some of the other options.
Despite having one of the bigger names in the price comparison app scene, ShopAdvisor has a number of annoying habits that move it to the bottom of this list.
For example, searching for The Force Awakens brought up a huge number of movies, most of them not even related to Star Wars, with a few relevant results toward the middle and bottom of the page.
And most of the results that I tapped on in many different searches only listed a single retailer; I had to go back to the results page and choose another result to see prices from any other stores.
ShopAdvisor does seem to gather a lot of deals that it thinks will be relevant for you, but if you’re looking for a price comparison app, it’s probably better to skip this one.
A Lot of Apps, None Too Spectacular
Despite these being the best of the best apps that I found (yes, even ShopAdvisor, which didn’t impress me much), they were unfulfilling. Some of them were just frames for price comparison websites, some had abysmal search capabilities, and others just felt beyond outdated.
With the number of great online shopping tools that are available, it’s surprising that there aren’t more apps that offer a wider variety of different functionality. Most of them feel like vehicles for getting affiliate and referral dollars, instead of actually useful tools.
If I continue using any of these apps, my picks would likely be Now Discount or ScanLife.
Do you use any of these apps, or any other price comparison apps on your phone? Which have you found to be the best? What do you like (or dislike) about them? Share your thoughts in the comments below!