Save Cash With These 9 Essential Black Friday Apps

A better Black Friday begins on your phone.

By David Isaac

Black Friday is rapidly approaching. One of the busiest shopping days of the year, you need to be ready with tools to help you save. Enter Black Friday apps—designed to help you find the best deals, ease your shopping chores, and make gift-giving a breeze. Here are 9 Black Friday apps that will poise you for success.

1. Malltip

If you’ve ever felt lost at the mall, you’ll love Malltip. This app provides you with your own interactive mall map to get you oriented to your surroundings. It also helps you get to the mall by providing driving directions using Apple or Google maps. You can personalize Malltip by selecting your favorite retailers; the app will then push coupons to you for those stores.

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Malltip is well organized, and seeing the savings couldn’t be easier. The app also has a ‘filter’ feature so you can search by type of product, whether electronics or Home and Furniture. Malltip offers ways to earn points, which can go toward gift cards. Another nice surprise is that the app includes strip malls. Malltip also alerts you as you pass a mall, offering up all the deals from the stores found inside. You have to experience it to realize how cool that feature is.

2. ShopSavvy

Make comparison shopping a cinch with the barcode scanner and QR code reader that ShopSavvy provides. The scanner is amazingly fast, even in low light. If you see something you like in a store, simply scan the barcode—and ShopSavvy will return an accurate list of online and local price comparisons.

And what a list! In a search for a Shark Navigator Lift-Away Deluxe vacuum conducted at a big-box store, ShopSavvy returned 36 results for online sellers and 4 results for local stores, as well as 112 product reviews. Admittedly, the savings after all that input was only $10, but the breadth of the search was very impressive.

3. Giftster

Never get a gift you don’t want again. Get Giftster. This free, well-designed gift management system lets you create a list of items you want and then share that list with family and friends. They in turn create their own lists so everyone’s happy. Just click ‘add item’ and drop in the Web link to what you want. Giftster automatically populates fields for such criteria as quantity available, price, and where to buy.

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With Giftster, you never have to worry about getting the same gift twice. The app lets everyone using it know when an item has been purchased. Family and friends can even reserve an item on your list that they plan to buy later, so no one else will snag it in the meantime. One caveat: You need a tablet or laptop to add items to your list, but afterward you can view on the smartphone app.

4. UPS My Choice

You’re in control of your purchases; now be in control of your deliveries. With UPS My Choice, you receive alerts by text, email, or phone the day before delivery. You also get a delivery window, so you can arrange to be home when the delivery is due, without being trapped there all day. Alternatively, you can opt for online authorization to let UPS drop things off without a signature. You can even give instructions to UPS to leave the package with your neighbors (if they’re within walking distance).

Yet another possibility, in case there are no neighbors around and you can’t be at home, is to tell UPS exactly where at your house to leave the package—on the back patio, for instance. For a small fee ($5 to $8), you can have UPS deliver to another address or on another day, or you can choose a 2-hour delivery window that’s most convenient to you. It really is your choice.

5. Grsp

Odds are you’ve made an impulse purchase, since stats say that 90 percent of shoppers have. Here’s an app to prevent buyer’s remorse. Grsp is a mobile app that allows you to double-check whether that cool, shiny gizmo is as good as it looks and carries the right price. Simply type, speak, photograph, or scan its barcode, and Grsp will analyze thousands of data points and provide you with instant analysis and advice. If the item can be had for a better price, Grsp will tell you that it’s ‘cheaper nearby’—whether that alternative location is an online outpost or the Staples across the street.

Grsp also provides product reviews. A simple ‘caution’ from Grsp could save you from finding out the hard way that a set of LED-emitting wireless headphones that have caught your eye are a deal or a dud. You can also create a wishlist on Grsp by saving the products you encounter. With an in-store-friendly design, Grsp keeps things fast and simple, enabling you to shop with confidence.

6. Saviry

This app is a deal Mecca that helps you find anything on sale. With Saviry, you create an account—a 10-second process—and then start to search for products. Once it’s on the case, the app swiftly offers recommendations.

This reviewer’s "personal recommendations" quickly filled with laptops, Bluetooth speakers, and men’s outerwear (the result of clicking on a deal for Columbia Sportswear). You can search by keyword, category, or Deal Feeds—a list of deals from popular sites like Best Buy, eBay, Groupon, and LivingSocial.

7. BeFrugal

Earn money while shopping for Black Friday deals. BeFrugal, a coupon and cash-back site, gives you easy access to 4,000-plus participating merchants that offer cash back on purchases. Money is added to your account as you buy. When you cash out, you can receive your dough via check, or PayPal and Amazon gift cards.

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The percentage of cash you get back varies depending on the retailer. BeFrugal says that you can earn up to 30 percent cash back. The number typically hovers between 4 and 10 percent. BeFrugal recently redesigned its site and mobile app, and shopping is fast and easy. Some merchants require that coupons be printed out before they will honor them.

8. Coupon Sherpa

Coupon Sherpa posts countless coupon codes and printable coupons from hundreds of popular merchants. This app deserves kudos for its ease of use--there isn’t even a sign up. Just download it, then show up at Best Buy and flash your smartphone’s on-screen coupon at the checkout for 20 percent off that Ninja Pro Blender.

You can search with Coupon Sherpa by store or category—everything from ‘baby and children’ to ‘auto and tire’. The app also makes it easy to share your great coupon finds with friends via text or email. Coupon Sherpa conveniently divides coupons by type, too—either in-store or online.

9. Chameleon

This app offers several cool features that will be particularly helpful on Black Friday. Not only does Chameleon provide in-store coupons and deals, plus a built-in price scanner, but it will tell you the aisle location of the item you’re looking for and specify real-time inventory levels.

The app’s features work once you enter a participating store, but Chameleon has partnered with over 30 big retailers, including Best Buy, Kohl’s, Office Depot, and Petco. You earn points toward gift cards just by visiting these stores. Chameleon will also let you know which retailers support Apple Pay. There are some limitations, however: The scanner reads only barcodes, not QR codes; and the app is currently available exclusively for iOS devices.