Could a free app really help you save £550 on your bills – automatically?
Tracking: Little Birdie is an online manager for all your subscriptions
Saving money shopping online can be tedious and tedious.
You should scour the internet for valid discount codes, compare prices at different retailers, and remember to cancel subscriptions that are no longer value for money.
However, an increasing number of tools are being launched that claim to do all this work for you automatically.
The idea is that you can get all the best deals, prices, and discounts without having to search for them yourself.
All are free to use on your desktop or tablet, and some work on smartphones.
We tested six of them to see how easy they were to use and if they really saved us money.
Little bird is an online manager for all your subscriptions.
It keeps track of your subscriptions to services such as insurance, broadband and TV streaming and sends you an alert when a free trial is about to end or if prices increase.
It also searches around to see if it can find you a better deal.
To use Little Birdie, you need to download the mobile application on your smartphone. Launching this month, it will add new features in October, such as the ability to cancel unwanted subscriptions. He claims he can save households £550 a year.
Verdict: The app is simple to download and set up. You must enter your subscriptions or download the information from your current account provider’s website, using open banking.
When I download the app I notice my O2 phone bill has gone up by 46p. It also suggests a cheaper broadband deal I could upgrade to.
If you’ve ever searched for a discount code while shopping online, you’ll know how frustrating it is when the code you find has expired or isn’t valid. PayPal Honey aims to eliminate the hassle by automatically applying the best value codes at checkout.
It also offers special customer discounts and online store rewards.
The technology it uses is known as a browser extension, which is software that you download to your computer. Once downloaded, you have nothing more to do.
If you then visit a shopping website on your computer, a notification will appear on your screen indicating whether PayPal Honey has identified a discount code that could save you money.
Verdict: Installing the extension is quick and easy. However, when I visit the websites of five major retailers, PayPal Honey does not once notify me that it has discovered a working discount code that I can use. However, the browser extension works on over 30,000 websites and has received a five-star rating from its users, so maybe I was just unlucky.
Cashback sites such as TopCashback and Quidco can be a great way to save money when shopping online. They pay you money when you pass through them to spend with retailers, including high street stores such as Marks & Spencer, as well as major utility, broadband and insurance companies.
To earn cashback, you need to go to a cashback website and click on the retailer of your choice to make a purchase. TopCashback says its members get back an average of £300 a year.
However, it is easy to forget to click on a cashback website and miss earning money.
TopCashback has a browser extension, which automatically alerts you whenever there is an opportunity to earn cashback.
Verdict: I install the browser extension, then visit the Argos website to purchase a new washing machine. A window pops up on my computer telling me I could earn up to £10 cashback. I click on the window and the cashback offer applies automatically. I don’t even have to visit the TopCashback website. It may take several weeks for the cashback to be paid.
The website CamelCamelCamel is handy for checking whether an Amazon deal is really as good as it looks. It shows the price history of millions of products and notifies you if the price drops on a product you want to buy.
The website has a browser extension called Camelizer, which automates the process.
Once you’ve downloaded Camelizer, whenever you search for something on Amazon, a box will appear on your computer telling you the price history of the item.
Verdict: I download Camelizer, then visit Amazon to purchase a pair of Bluetooth headphones. The headphones are on sale for £27.99 (off-sale price is £42.99).
Sounds like a bargain, until a popup pops up from Camelizer letting me know the headphones have been at this price since last November. I find the tool clunky and slow to use, but it saves me the hassle of rushing to take advantage of a sale price that’s been available for several months.
Savoo is a website that offers discount codes for over 4,000 stores including Tesco, Boots and Asos. He supports good causes by donating up to half of the commission he receives to charities such as Marie Curie, Heart Research UK and Mental Health UK.
Savoo also has its own search engine, and for every search you perform, Savoo will automatically donate a penny to the charity of your choice at no cost to you.
The search engine is powered by Microsoft Bing.
Verdict: Using discount codes on purchases, while Savoo donates to charity, is a great way to save money and support good causes effortlessly.
I love the idea of making money for charity just by looking for things online – something I do anyway. However, I would have to do 100 searches to generate a £1 donation.
I think I’d rather just donate and stick to my regular search engine.
Beagle button might be a good option if you’re trying to buy more sustainably. It works like a browser extension that you download to your computer.
Then, when shopping online, a pop-up will appear on your computer if Beagle Button identifies more sustainable alternatives to the products you are considering.
Launched this summer, it works with more than 200 sustainable businesses, including Beauty Kitchen and Nudie Jeans.
Verdict: Beagle Button is unlikely to save you money, but it can give you a useful boost if you’re trying to rethink your shopping habits.
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