Best Money-Saving Apps

Money-saving apps are great for making every dollar in your budget count. Whether you’re using a savings app to divert extra change to a savings account or using it to help save money at the grocery store, you’re contributing to your long-term financial security with every swipe and click. The best savings apps make it easy to save, provide easy access to earnings and carry no cost for use. With these saving apps, you can carefully budget, boost your emergency fund, and save for a big purchase down the road, such as a new car or a home.

The 7 best savings apps of 2019

  • Ibotta: Best traditional coupon alternative
  • FetchRewards: Best easy grocery savings
  • Acorns: Best way to grow your savings
  • Chime: Best access to traditional savings
  • EveryDollar: Best app for budgeting savings
  • TrueBill: Best for eliminating unnecessary expense
App How You Save How You Get Paid Cash-out Minimum
Ibotta Cash back on select purchases Paypal $20
FetchRewards Cash back on select purchases Gift cards $3
Acorns Round-up purchases from your bank Investment returns $0.01
Chime Round-up savings 0.01% APY on savings $0.01
Every Dollar Budget to manage expenses N/A N/A
True Bill Eliminate unnecessary spending N/A N/A

The 7 best savings apps of 2019

Ibotta: Best traditional coupon alternative

If the idea of clipping or printing out traditional coupons seems a bit too extreme, Ibotta provides an easy way to save the same way. Through partnerships with brands, the app lets you review offers and select cash-back opportunities for brands you purchase, such as a specific type of cream cheese or cereal bar. The cash back could be $1 back per purchase or $2 back after buying three or five of an item. Other promos are for any item purchases, like $0.25 back after buying a gallon of milk from any brand.

Simply scan the bar code or QR code on your grocery receipt from Walmart, Target, Walgreens or other major retailers after shopping and your qualified purchases are credited to your account. Ibotta also provides cash back when you shop through certain retailers online by clicking through the app. When your savings reach $20, you can cash out with PayPal or opt for a gift card.

FetchRewards: Best easy grocery savings

FetchRewards is another way to save on essential purchases and can be used to obtain cash back on the same purchases you redeem through Ibotta. The FetchRewards app takes a picture of your receipt and scans it for certain name brands. Products rotate and in out of the app over a period of months. When you scan your receipt, points are deposited into your account based on each qualifying purchase. For example, 3,000 points may earn you a $3 gift card for Amazon or other major retailers. Another example of a promotion is 1,000 points for each purchase of a brand name hair care product up to two purchases or 1,000 points for buying instant coffee cups. Using FetchRewards and Ibotta together is a win-win.

Acorns: Best way to grow your savings

For savers putting aside cash who want to invest, the Acorns app provides a micro-investing option that lets you easily start a portfolio for now and for the future. It works for both starting savers and individuals with a financial cushion.

“As the nation’s fastest-growing financial wellness system with 6.5 million accounts, Acorns is for everyone. Our customers range from 18-98 years old”, explains Allen Ortega, associate at Bevel PR.

Ortega further noted that customers can set up an Acorns Core account to start investing in under five minutes. Acorns Core allows you to invest spare change by rounding up daily, weekly and monthly purchases. You can also make recurring contributions of a fixed amount or one-time deposits into your portfolio. Based on your stock investment strategy, you choose from five different exchange-traded funds ranging from aggressive options to conservative. As you boost your investments, you can also augment any work-based retirement savings with an IRA through Acorns Later.

Acorns also offers an FDIC-insured checking option known as Acorns Spend that will help you maximize your round-ups through Found Money both online and at local stores.

“Acorns Found Money empowers users to earn rewards without having to use a credit card or incur debt,” Ortega says. “With over 350 brand partners, Acorns Found Money allows brands to invest in the future of their customers as a reward for shopping. It’s ‘cash forward’ rather than ‘cash back.’”

Chime: Best access to traditional savings

Chime is an app-based bank that provides easy access to an automatic savings option. At a 0.01% annual percentage yield — or annual earnings — for savings accounts, Chime is primarily useful for stashing cash outside of your core checking. Like Acorns, it features an easy save-as-you-spend feature that rounds up transactions to the next dollar and diverts the additional money to your savings account. When you buy a coffee, you add to savings; the same thing happens when you pay the electric bill or rent with your debit card. You can also set up automatic saving deposits on payday using a percentage calculation. While Chime’s APY on savings is low, your money does remain easily accessible with an instant connection to your checking account. For starting savers without a huge financial cushion, this makes it easy to save without stress.

EveryDollar: Best app for budgeting savings

Careful budgeting should be part of any savings strategy, and the EveryDollar app makes it easy to budget with both free and paid app versions. EveryDollar uses a zero-based budget to track your income and expenditures to help you avoid overspending in key categories and redirect leftover money to specific accounts, such as savings. At the beginning of the month, you can program in your income and assign spending to each section, such as groceries, electricity, car maintenance or personal care. It also helps you plan for savings for both long-term goals and smaller recurring costs, such as more serious auto repairs, investments in your home or doctor’s appointments. Through strict budgeting, you see how much money you should have left over each month after meeting planned expenses and then budget it to savings.

Truebill: Best for eliminating unnecessary expenses

Does your bank account suffer from mysterious withdrawal syndrome? You get paid. You have money in the account. As the days go by, little expenses start to deplete your balance one after the other — streaming services, subscription boxes and even app fees can add up to hundreds of lost dollars each month. To avoid paying for services you aren’t using, connect TrueBill to your bank account and identify drains. If you are no longer using a service, you can cancel it and save that money every month instead. Truebill also provides you with the ability to keep tabs on these recurring costs, making it easier to seriously contemplate if you need five paid video services operating month-after-month or three regular subscription boxes.

What is a money-saving app?

A money-saving app is any smartphone-based application you can use to benefit your overall financial benefit. Saving money takes many forms. You can save money through cash back rewards or discounts. Direct depositing money into a savings account or investment portfolio is also saving. Budgeting to spend less in key areas of your life is also a way to save. By utilizing various approaches, you can maximize your results.

How should I choose the right money-saving app?

The right money-saving app for you may actually be several. A shopping app can help you save before buying. A cash-back app provides money back after you buy. A savings app from a bank or other financial institution helps you save as you earn. Budgeting apps will help you develop an overall debt reduction plan and savings strategy.

The right app for you is also the one you’re likely to use the most. Setting up a shopping-based app like Ibotta or FetchRewards is of little use if you know you’re never going to scan receipts or bar codes. But if you love the idea of investing, a savings app like Acorns could keep your interest and help you maximize your money. For the cash-flow-conscious, a simple option like Chime helps keep money accessible while EveryDollar helps you budget to save more and TrueBill eliminates unnecessary expenditures.

The bottom line

To meet your savings goal more quickly, a three-prong approach helps. Work hard to save money before you buy, plan to save money after with cash-back options and invest those savings in your savings account. Think about it: the money you receive as cash back is money already budgeted and spent. Getting a portion back is a bonus. By putting it in a savings account, you earn the additional interest on top of that bonus. As you develop a regular savings habit, research savings accounts with a solid annual percentage yield to accrue interest faster. For the long-term, an investment strategy and other financial instruments, such as money market accounts and certificates of deposit, can further boost your interest income as you build a nest egg.

Ashley Mott
Ashley Mott
Contributor for The Simple Dollar

Ashley Mott is a full-time journalist with over 10 years of experience in small business management. Her work has been featured in USA Today and at Chron.com, The Knot, Yahoo! Finance and the San Francisco Chronicle.