Track: Little Birdie is an online manager of all your subscriptions
Saving money when shopping online can be time-consuming and laborious.
You’ll have to scour the internet for valid discount codes, compare prices at different retailers — and remember to cancel subscriptions that are no longer valuable.
However, more and more tools are coming out that claim to do all of this for you automatically.
The idea is that you can benefit from all the best deals, prices and discounts without having to keep track of them yourself.
All are available for free on your desktop or tablet, and some are available on smartphones.
We road-tested six to see how easy they were to use and whether they actually saved us money.
bird is the online manager of all your subscriptions.
It tracks your subscriptions to services like insurance, broadband, and TV streaming, and sends you alerts when free trials are about to end or prices go up.
It will also search around to see if it can find a better deal for you.
To use Little Birdie, you need to download the mobile app to your smartphone. Launched this month, it will add new features in October, such as the ability to cancel unwanted subscriptions. It claims it can save families £550 a year.
Conclusion: The app is easy to download and set up. You must use Open Banking to enter your subscription or upload information from your current account provider’s website.
When I downloaded the app, I noticed that my O2 phone bill went up by 46p. It also suggested I could switch to a cheaper broadband deal.
If you’ve ever searched for a discount code while shopping online, you know how frustrating it can be to find a code that’s expired or doesn’t work. paypal honey Designed to eliminate hassle by automatically applying the best value code at checkout.
It also offers special customer discounts and online store rewards.
The technology it uses is called a browser extension, which is a piece of software that you download to your computer. After downloading, you don’t need to do anything else.
If you then visit a shopping site on your computer, a notification pops up on your screen showing whether PayPal Honey has recognized a discount code that could save you money.
judgment: Installing extensions is quick and easy. However, when I visited the websites of five major retailers, PayPal Honey didn’t alert me that it had found a valid discount code that I could use. However, the browser extension works on over 30,000 websites and has been rated in the top 5 stars by users, so maybe I’m just out of luck.
Cashback sites such as TopCashback Quidco is a great way to save money when shopping online. They pay you when you shop through them with retailers, including high street stores like Marks & Spencer, as well as major utilities, broadband companies and insurance companies.
To get the cash back, you need to go to the current website and click on the retailer of your choice to make a purchase. TopCashback says its members earn an average of £300 a year in return.
However, it’s easy to forget to hit the cashback site and miss out on the opportunity to make money.
TopCashback has a browser extension that automatically alerts you whenever there is an opportunity to earn cashback.
judgment: I install the browser extension and go to the Argos website to buy a new washing machine. A window will pop up on my computer telling me I can earn up to £10 cashback. I click on the window and the cashback offer is automatically applied. I don’t even have to visit the TopCashback website. Paying cash back can take weeks.
website CamelCamelCamel It’s handy to check if an Amazon deal is really as good as it looks. It displays price history for millions of products and notifies you when prices drop on products you’re interested in buying.
The site has a browser extension called Camelizer that automates the process.
After downloading Camelizer, every time you search for an item on Amazon, a box will pop up on your computer showing the price history for that item.
judgment: I downloaded Camelizer and went to Amazon to buy a pair of bluetooth headphones. Headphones are £27.99 (£42.99 off sale).
This looked like a good deal until Camelizer popped up a window letting me know that the headphones have been at this price since last November. I found the tool clunky and slow to use, but it did save me from rushing to take advantage of the sale price for months.
Savo is a site that offers coupon codes for over 4,000 stores, including Tesco, Boots and Asos. It supports good causes by donating half of the commissions it 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 make, Savoo will automatically donate a penny on your behalf to a charity of your choice at no cost to you.
The search engine is powered by Microsoft Bing.
judgment: Use discount codes when shopping while Savoo donates to charity, a great way to save money and support good causes effortlessly.
I love the idea of making money for charity by scouring the web for stuff – I’ll do it anyway. However, I have to do 100 searches to generate a £1 donation.
I guess I’d prefer to donate and stick with my usual search engine.
Beagle button This might be a good option if you want to shop in a more sustainable way. It works as a browser extension that you can download to your computer.
Then, when you’re shopping online, a pop-up window will appear on your computer if the Beagle Button identifies a more sustainable alternative to the product you’re considering.
Launched this summer, it has partnered with more than 200 sustainable companies, including Beauty Kitchen and Nudie Jeans.
judgment: The Beagle Button is unlikely to save you money, but it might provide a useful nudge if you’re trying to rethink your shopping habits.
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