16 best money saving apps
Load your smartphone up with these ultimate money saving apps and you'll have more money in your pocket in no time!
Without sounding too much like your granny, smartphones have changed how we do pretty much everything in life, and saving money is no exception.
There are literally hundreds of apps out there with the sole purpose of helping you save – it's just a matter of digging them out and working out which are best.
Luckily for you, we've rolled up our sleeves and done the hard work for you by trying and testing some of the most popular savings apps available. We've checked out everything from personal finance apps, to cashback apps, to apps that tell you what to cook with your leftover scraps.
Here are our favourites! And if you're after some apps to improve your student life, check out our list of essential apps that every student needs.
Personal finance apps
Cost: FREE | Phones: iPhone, Android
Starling Bank is a purely app-based bank, and leading the way of the digital banking revolution. Despite having no high street branches they hold a full banking licence, allowing you to open a current account from your phone in minutes.
You even earn interest on money held in the account!
As you'd expect, as an app Starling go way beyond traditional banking with a whole raft of useful budgeting and security features built in to the experience.
For example, if you want to limit yourself to £200 of spending money each month, simply transfer £200 from your main student bank account (worth keeping for the 0% interest overdraft) to your Starling account. Then only use your Starling card for the month and track your spending via the app.
This is where Starling really comes into its own. The app alerts you immediately when you spend money, and does a great job of organising all your purchases into categories like food, shopping and bills.
You can also keep a lid on your spending by setting yourself some budgets, which Starling helpfully displays in clear (and colourful) graphs, and the app will send you notifications if you're overspending.
There are no penalties or rules against having multiple current accounts, so if you like the idea of limiting yourself to a set amount of money to spend, and tracking what you do buy, open a free Starling account and treat it as a prepaid account.
What we like most about Starling: It puts the fun back into budgeting by gamifying things a bit. Weirdly, it's kinda fun when you get a notification that you just hit your monthly grocery budget… until you realise that means beans on toast for a week.
Whether you're splitting a restaurant bill, chipping in for a friend's birthday gift or doing a communal food shop, it's easy to lose track of who owes who and how much.
What's worse is that the whole process of collecting what you're owed can be a major hassle, and a bit awkward between friends.
Payfriendz is a great solution to this problem, as you can use the app to send someone cash or request (politely now!) someone to pay you with a click of a button.
The only annoying thing is that you need to transfer money into your PayFriendz account in order to pay out, but that's pretty easy once you hook your bank card up with your account.
They also occasionally have a temporary friend(z) referral scheme running where you'll receive £10 credit for every three people you sign up to the service. Follow them on Twitter to find out when the next referral scheme is running.
What we like most about PayFriendz: There's a messaging function so you can keep money discussions separate from WhatsApp.
This is a great little app, especially for those days and nights out in a city you don't know so well. We've all been in that annoying situation where you're running about like a headless chicken looking for a cash machine 'cause you're in a bar that only takes cash, or their card machine is broken.
What's even worse is if you finally end your headless chicken pilgrimage only to find that the ATM you've managed to hunt down charges an arm and a leg to use. Seriously?
The ATM Locator app uses geolocation to find all of the nearest cashpoints in your area and displays them on a map. It even tells you which ones charge and which ones don't – it's like a gift from above!
What we like most about ATM Locator: It works worldwide – perfect for when you're abroad and even less likely to know where the nearest cash machine is!
Cost: FREE | Phones: iPhone, Android
Saving money can be hard – especially as a student, when you're reluctant to put any money away in case you need it later (which, let's face it, you probably will).
Fortunately, automatic savings bots like Chip can do it all for you, without you ever having to worry about a thing!
Once you've given it access to your bank account, Chip will start monitoring your spending. It'll look at your incomings and outgoings and from there it calculates how much you can afford to save each week.
The best part is that once it's decided how much you can afford to save, it puts that much of your money away in a savings account without you even having to lift a finger!
What we like most about Chip: It's currently the only automatic savings bot to offer interest on your savings – it starts at 1%, but you can an extra 1% (up to 5%) for every friend that you refer to the app!
This app is great. Whether you do your food shopping online or in store, you can use mySupermarket to make sure you're always paying the lowest price available for every item on your shopping list.
Create your shopping list on your phone via mySupermarket and the app will tell you which of the major supermarkets are selling those items at the lowest price, or if a particular supermarket has the item on special offer.
If you're not sure what you need until you reach the supermarket, you can even use your phone to scan the product barcode and the app will tell you if you can pick it up cheaper elsewhere.
What we like most about mySupermarket: The barcode feature is great for those of us who don't like sticking to shopping lists but still want to stay within a budget.
If ever there's a smart way to save money on your shopping it's by claiming cashback on what you buy. CheckoutSmart works by providing shoppers with a daily list of items they're offering cashback on, with different symbols indicating which major supermarkets the deal will be available at.
All you have to then do is chase up those items, pay for them at checkout, take a photo of your receipt with your phone and then submit on the app (although do try to be sensible here and only buy what you actually need – being lead astray by offers doesn't really count as money saving!).
You'll then get cashback credit added straight to your account which is transferable to your bank account or paypal.
One small catch, however, is that if you withdraw less than £20 from your account, you'll be charged a 5% fee. Therefore, it's worth letting your earnings build up a bit before you withdraw anything.
What we like most about CheckoutSmart: That you can earn cash back for future shopping trips whilst you spend your money.
There's nothing worse than buying an item online or in a shop only to find later that you could've bought it cheaper elsewhere. Idealo is a life saver for anyone who is caught out by making impulse purchases – the minute you come across something you'd like to buy, get the Idealo app out before you part with your cash.
All you need to do is either search for the product in the search bar or scan the product's barcode to find how much you could get it for from other retailers. It could literally be a case of walking two minutes down the road to another store and getting it for half the price.
What we like most about Idealo: It makes you feel really smug knowing you're always paying the lowest price going… unless it goes on sale the next day, of course!
There are loads of voucher code apps out there to choose from, but it's easy to see why Vouchercloud is one of the most popular ones – the simplicity of the app and easy-to-use interface is a real plus point.
You can either browse through the top featured deals to find the best around, or use the ‘near me' function to find out what the best deals are around your current location. Get your discount by clicking the ‘Use voucher' button when it's time to pay, and a code will appear that you show to staff to redeem your discount.
What we like most about Vouchercloud: Its ‘track your savings' function lets you add up all the money you've saved using the app, which makes you feel good about being saving savvy!
O2 Priority Moments
Cost: FREE | Phones: iPhone, Android, Windows
O2 Priority Moments app is an absolute goldmine for bagging freebies and major discounts at high street stores. For example, every Monday you can get lunch for £1 using the app. You won't know exactly where you'll be getting your bargain baguette until the day, but as long as you're near a high street, you'll be able to hunt the deal down pretty easily.
O2 also offer heaps of tickets to gigs, restaurant vouchers and other freebies, so just keep an eye on what's available and the time frame you have to redeem it.
Not an O2 customer? Don't let this put you off! Check out our sneaky little trick to getting the benefits of O2's app without having to change networks. You will need to unlock your phone first though!
What we like most about O2 Priority Moments: The deals are brilliant and really imaginative – there's such a wide variety of offers that you never know what's round the corner.
You might think this is more of a money making app than a savings app, but when you think about it – what better way to save money than recycling and selling on games you've already completed and DVDs you've only watched once?
musicMagpie is a platform for selling on old CDs, DVDs and games online. They've now got a free app which makes the process a lot easier and more fun, as you can keep an eye on your sales on the go.
The inbuilt barcode scanner allows you to easily scan your items wherever you are and the app will tell you how much they're worth. You then send the items to musicMagpie (if you're happy with the money they're offering) and the cash will be in your account the next day.
What we like most about musicMagpie: It's free! Any postal costs to send your items to them are also covered by musicMagpie, so you've zero expenses to fork out.
Extra tip: Before you sell anything on to musicMagpie, be sure to check out how much your item is going for on sites like eBay – you might find you'll make more selling on there despite musicMagpie's free postage policy.
We're all guilty of being a bit wasteful from time to time when it comes to energy consumption – whether it's being a bit too free and easy with switching the heating on, taking gloriously long showers or leaving our laptops charging for days on end. It’s easy to just put off thinking about what you're spending until that dreaded utility bill drops through the letter box.
Meter Readings is a brilliant app, and although it's not free, it'll certainly save you a few bob in the long run.
The app allows you to keep an eye on how much you're spending every day, which might just prompt you to think of some cheaper (and more environmentally friendly!) ways of keeping warm during winter months.
Not only this, but it also let's you compare what you're spending on your energy bills with your neighbours, to see if it'd be worth your while switching providers.
Check out our extra info on how to save money on energy bills.
What we like most about Meter Readings: The price comparison option is obviously a real winner, but we particularly fell for the inbuilt torch function to help you read meters kept in dark cupboards!
Onavo Extend is a data compression app that works by squeezing files into smaller versions of themselves so as not to eat up all your data when using 3G/4G on your phone. Essentially, it extends the value of your data plan so you don't need to constantly search for WiFi networks.
This is a great app for anyone who finds they're constantly exceeding their data plan, or if you're particularly partial to watching videos on your phone when on the go.
The developers of this app claim that it will save you 80% on your data plan. Don't mind if we do!
What we like most about Onavo Extend: It features a handy visual summary of which apps or services require the most compressing, which will help you see where all your data is being spent (and if you should consider deleting any data-gobbling apps you might have).
If you find yourself making a lot of trips home by train to visit the folks, or travelling between cities to visit mates at other unis, you've probably used Trainline before – and if not, you should!
Trainline is one of the cheapest ways to find train tickets and save money when travelling, especially if you book in advance. The app is easy to use on the go and has just recently had a major redesign so it's super nice to use, and even nicer when you save a few bob!
Warning: We wouldn't recommend using Trainline to actually book your journey! Their booking fees mean that, although the ticket price might be low, it can sometimes work out more expensive than other services. Discover the best booking sites in our guide to saving money on train travel, and read more about changes to train delay compensation laws here.
What we like most about Trainline: All the cool tools! Whether it's checking how busy the train is, tracking the price changes, this app helps you get the most from train travel.
If you're lucky enough to own and drive a car as a student then this smart little money saving gem is for you. This app is extremely useful if you live in the city, and are sick and tired of paying through the nose for expensive parking.
Parkopedia is an app designed to help you locate all of the free parking areas in your current location, so you never need to fork out for parking again (or for any pesky parking tickets either!). It's also a great money saving app if you travel a lot to other cities and aren't familiar with free parking areas there.
What we like most about Parkopedia: We love the idea that traffic wardens will be absolutely hating that this app exists!
Food and dining
Cost: FREE | Phones: iPhone, Android, Blackberry
This app might not immediately strike you as one you'd use to save money, but if you eat out frequently then it can save you a lot of dough.
Foursquare gamifies visiting bars, restaurants and other venues by turning it into a kind of check-in game where users compete against friends to earn points for their check-ins.
Save money with this app by keeping an eye out for special offer icons next to certain venues, and if you check into a particular place more than any other user on Foursquare, you'll be awarded the title of ‘Mayor' of that location which invariably leads to freebies and discounts!
What we liked most about Foursquare: The fact that the biggest money saving hack here is avoiding wasting money on disappointing meals, as the sheer volume of reviews on here is enormous – you can't go wrong!
Learning which foods compliment each other and what combos should be avoided at all costs is something that takes a lot of trial and error to get right.
Big Oven is a great app for saving money on meals, as it has a ‘leftovers' function that lets you input any ingredients you have around the house and it will give you an idea of what you can make with them. This of course helps avoid the situation of having to bin inedible dinners by guiding you to make the best out of what ingredients you’ve got – experimenting with food can be a risky and expensive game!
Oh, and the app also has over 350,000 recipes for you to check out, but we're more fussed about the leftovers function.
Don't forget we've got heaps of great student recipes for you to gather some more inspo from too.
What we like most about Big Oven: It can make cooking a bit more fun for less confident chefs, and cuts down on food wastage.
Got any great money saving apps you think we've missed? Give us a shout in the comments below!