Top ten free New York City discount-shopping apps

Download these free shopping apps to discover discounts and deals around the city and save money with the help of your smartphone.

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  • Coupon Sherpa

  • Eyeona

  • Gilt City

  • HipSwap

  • NYC Sample Sales

  • RedLaser

  • ShopKick

  • Shopping by the Find

  • Snapette

  • StuffEx

Coupon Sherpa

NYC’s best free shopping apps offer discounts on clothing, accessories and home goods. Score deals at indie shops and big retailers without clipping coupons.


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Coupon Sherpa

Available for iOS and Android.
What it does: Rather than spend your Sundays clipping coupons, allow this app to digitally do the dirty work for you. Created in March 2009 by entrepreneur Luke Knowles, Coupon Sherpa aggregates vouchers and discount codes from around the Web for about 80 mostly mass-market retailers. New coupons are added daily, and you can sort them by store and category (health and beauty, shoes, jewelry and watches, etc.) or create a favorites list of your most frequented spots. Once you find a deal you want to use, show the cashier your phone screen to either scan the barcode or enter a discount code and get the savings.
Test-drive: The layout is a bit cumbersome, since you have to either scroll through an alphabetical list of brands or randomly ordered categories before clicking through to see the deals. But if you’re willing to do the legwork, there are some coupons that are worth cashing in on, such as 40 percent off any full-priced item at Ann Taylor and 15 percent off at American Eagle Outfitters. Those in the market for grocery coupons might want to look elsewhere for savings—out of 30 food chains listed on the app, only two have locations in the city

Eyeona

Available for iOS and Android.
What it does: This price-watching app, launched in November 2011 by software entrepreneur Rob Levy under the name Savvy, rebranded itself in February with a cheeky new name and some extra money-saving features. Savvy made a name for itself by offering a price-adjustment tool, which is still the bread and butter of this revamped version. Snap a picture of a receipt or manually enter the info, and the app will let you know if your purchased item goes on sale, so you can return to the store and get the difference in cost back. You can also create a watch list of items that Eyeona will monitor and alert you when they go on sale. With the Deal Maker feature, you scan a barcode and enter a desired price, and the app notifies you when the item’s cost dips below your target number.
Test-drive: We loaded up our watch list with printed dresses from Anthropologie, cotton tanks from Gap and Coach purses, and were psyched when we received an alert a few days later letting us know that the price on a pair of leather sandals from Urban Outfitters had dropped. We’re not as thrilled about the price-adjustment feature, however. After trying to snap a picture of a recent receipt from Aldo, we were bummed to discover that Eyeona doesn’t support paper-receipt scanning for the majority of the stores that we frequent, such as Bloomingdale’s and Target. Plus, returning to the store and haggling may not be worth the minimal savings you’ll receive.

Gilt City

Available for iOS.
What it does: Frugal fashionistas are likely familiar with members-only online daily sample sale Gilt (gilt.com) and by extension its popular location-based deal site, Gilt City (giltcity.com), which offers exclusive discounts (40 to 80 percent off!) at high-end spas, stores and restaurants in 13 metropolitan areas. Its streamlined app debuted in October 2011, allowing you to scan—and purchase—all of the offers available in your city on the go. Register for an account and set your default to New York for access to packages in Manhattan and the Hamptons and online. You can filter deals by category such as beauty, shopping, health and fitness, or by using the Near Me tab to view those closest to your current location on a map. Bonus: Once you’ve bought something through the app, there’s no need to print a voucher—you can redeem purchases by flashing the barcode on your smartphone.
Test-drive: Unlike the sometimes spammy offers from other coupon sites that crowd our inboxes, Gilt City’s luxury deals—such as a $100 merchandise credit at East Village retailer Reason Clothing ($50) or a massage and purifying facial at ultra-luxe Townhouse Spa ($165, originally $290)—are things we’re actually interested in ponying up for. While we wish there were more than the roughly 30 offers available at one time (new ones are released every Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and remain on the app for five days), the curated listings look incredibly polished and feature glossy photos, a comprehensive write-up of the venue and a map to help you locate it.

HipSwap

Available for iOS and Android.
What it does: The Los Angeles website and app was released this January by entrepreneur Rob Kramer and functions like a well-edited, fashion-forward Craigslist. Members can post photos, descriptions and a set price for clothing, furniture, electronics and antiques that they want to unload. If you find something you’re interested in purchasing, you can either schedule a time to pick up the goods, have the pink HipSwap van deliver local items to you for $5 or pay for shipping ($5–$25). A drop-down menu allows you to search items by category, or you can browse through the virtual closets of tastemakers such as TONY assistant fashion editor Elizabeth Denton and Kyle Richards from The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.
Test-drive: Since HipSwap is such a new app, we were expecting to find bare-bones listings, but were pleasantly surprised to encounter pages of designer garb, vintage treasures and colorful accessories to peruse. A scan of goods listed in our ’hood turned up an antique secretary case ($250), Dolce & Gabbana perfume ($48) and an Ella Moss silk romper ($75). We also loved that you can type designer names or key phrases into the search function to easily track down specific items that may be listed.

NYC Sample Sales

Available for iOS.
What it does: In 2004, Shereen Koshnoodi started fashion e-tailer NYC Chic (nycchic.com), which she ran for four years before taking time off to have kids. Although the site has since evolved into a style blog, Koshnoodi parlayed her love for seeking out designer deals into this mobile app, which launched in January. Pull up the handy five-borough map that pinpoints sample and retail sales throughout the city, then filter results by neighborhood, brand or date (events are listed up to a month and a half in advance). Serious deal hounds can allow the location-awareness function to send you push notifications when you’re within one mile of a sale. If you stumble upon something worth sharing, you can alert friends by tweeting or e-mailing them a listing straight through the app.
Test-drive: Although we were disappointed to find that the alert function worked inconsistently, the app’s simple and clean design makes finding sales near you a cinch. New listings—which include the event’s address, dates, hours and a brief description—are added daily, giving you a comprehensive overview of the city’s top discounts from a mix of fashionable brands (Jen Kao, Collina Strada), big-name stores (Intermix, Henri Bendel) and indie shops (Diane T, Dear Fieldbinder).

RedLaser

Available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone.
What it does: If you’ve ever been curious whether you’re getting the best prices on your beauty products, clothes and accessories, RedLaser will ease your mind. Introduced in June 2010, the app allows you to scan product barcodes using your phone’s camera to bring up reviews and price comparisons with online retailers and nearby stores. You can also bookmark favorite scans to easily access the product info and locate the best prices on regularly purchased items.
Test-drive: We were shocked at how foolproof it is to use the scanner’s image-recognition technology. Simply hover over a barcode until your camera focuses and the app will automatically snap the photo. While not every item captured had reviews, the app’s database quickly identified barcodes from a Marc Jacobs laptop case we spotted at Bloomingdale’s, as well as our most-used beauty products at home. The problem we encountered, however, is that the best prices are usually found online instead of at the nearest shop or beauty counter, making this a better tool for the Web rather than in-person deal hunting.

ShopKick

Available for iOS and Android.
What it does: Launched in August 2010 by tech industry vets Cyriac Roeding, Jeff Sellinger and Aaron Emigh, ShopKick allows you to rack up rewards points at mass retailers without actually having to buy anything. Open the app when you walk through the doors of chains such as Target, West Elm and Best Buy to earn so-called kicks. Once you’re inside a participating store, you can turn your shopping experience into a scavenger hunt, earning more kicks by snapping the barcodes of select items using your phone’s camera. After you’ve collected at least 500 kicks, you can start trading them for gift cards for Starbucks and iTunes or Fandango movie-ticket credits, which are available instantly on your phone. You can also save up to 25 stores in the Favorites section for easy accessibility and to unlock exclusive sales and discounts, such as a 50 percent off coupon at Arden B. we spotted.
Test-drive: The best part of this app is that you don’t have to drop any dough to score rewards points—we earned kicks just by walking into American Eagle and Old Navy on a stroll through Soho. Just don’t expect to rake in gift cards overnight, since it takes a while to accumulate enough kicks (each store visit merits between 25 and 60 points), and there are currently only 12 participating stores.

Shopping by the Find

Available for iOS and Android.
What it does: This comparison-shopping app uses scanning technology to search for the best prices on a product by snapping a photo of its barcode using your phone’s camera. You can also manually type in the UPC code or search for something specific that’s on your radar to conjure a breakdown of local and online prices. Once you’ve registered with the Find, you can set up the price-watch function, which notifies you when an item’s cost dips below your desired level.
Test-drive: A search for a leather backpack yielded results at Saks Fifth Avenue, Urban Outfitters and Rag & Bone, among others. After finding one on sale at Barneys and making a quick call to the store, our purchase was secured. Our only complaint is that the alluring Deals tab—which will highlight sales and exclusive offers—is still under construction.

Snapette

Available for iOS and Android.
What it does: Harvard grads Jinhee Kim and Sarah Paiji founded Snapette in July 2011 with the aim of bringing the window-shopping experience to your smartphone. Sign up using your e-mail address or Facebook account to follow users all over the world, including fashion writer Kimmy Erin (kimmyerin.com) and E! Entertainment wardrobe stylist Denise Shaw, who upload snapshots of recent fashion finds. You’ll also discover profiles for stores such as Atrium and Steven Alan that add photos of new arrivals and cool products. Best of all, the girly, pink-and-white-themed app features an offers section where you can find exclusive deals at local designer boutiques and online to redeem from your phone.
Test-drive: The constant feed of photos provides plenty of eye candy, although not all of the droolworthy goods were within a five-block radius as promised. We soon discovered that this wasn’t because Snapette’s technology is flawed, but rather stems from relying on user-generated content (last time we checked, Kate Spade doesn’t have a store in the Garment District, as a tagged image of a colorful statement necklace purported). While the app’s offers, such as 40 percent off purchases at Sigerson Morrison, prove more useful, the section wasn’t without its faults: Some deals had long expired, while others were valid exclusively online, making them moot for when you’re out on the shopping prowl.

StuffEx

Available for iOS.
What it does: Created by the New York City Department of Sanitation in an effort to reduce waste and encourage recycling, StuffEx helps you find places in all five boroughs to donate or sell your clothing, furniture and housewares, as well as where to score gently used goods on the cheap. Simply click either the buy, sell or donate tag on the home screen, choose up to three categories of merchandise and hit search to bring up a list of stores organized in increasing distance from your current location. Each venue page boasts a description of the store, icons depicting the types of items you’ll find there, donation drop-off directions and store hours.
Test-drive: Despite the app’s frequent crashes, the thrift hound in us was happy to be pointed toward some under-the-radar vintage digging spots, including Astoria’s Second Best Thrift Shop and This ’n’ That Collectables in Chelsea, which were listed alongside old standbys such as Beacon’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange.


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