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6 popular and free money-saving apps

By Paula Pant · Bankrate.com
Tuesday, April 22, 2014
Posted: 4 pm ET

Looking for more smartphone or mobile apps that can help you save money? Here are six popular and free apps:

1. BillGuard

One in four Americans fell victim to a deceptive or unwanted charge last year, according to BillGuard, a company that monitors your credit cards and debit cards for unwanted charges.

Among this group, the average person lost $356.

Monitor your cards with the free BillGuard app. The app scans online statements, and flags errors and suspicious activity.

Most unwanted charges are small -- sometimes only $12 to $18 -- so it's easy to overlook such a charge if you're skimming through a credit card statement. But an unwanted $12 charge each month adds up to $144 per year.

2. Cartwheel

Shop at Target? Then you'll enjoy Target's Cartwheel app, where you can access sales and other discounts on your smartphone.

You won't have to worry about clipping paper coupons from the Sunday insert. Instead, simply show the cashier your app at the register.

3. Favado

Do you shop at multiple grocery stores? The Favado app helps you compare prices among your favorite grocery stores and drugstores, such as CVS, Costco, Kroger, Whole Foods and many more.

One drawback to Favado is that you can't present the app at the register. You need to email yourself the coupon through the app, print it at home and then carry the physical piece of paper into the store.

In other words, it's not ideal for people who are ultra-busy or who shop on the run.

4. RepairPal

Not sure where to find a solid car mechanic? Type your car's make and model into RepairPal.

The app then will give you a list of recommendations for high-quality, affordable mechanics in your area who are experienced with the brand of car you drive.

5. HotelTonight

If you travel frequently and often need to check into a hotel at the last minute, check out HotelTonight. This app consolidates steep discounts from a wide variety of hotels.

The app is not for advance booking. As the name implies, it's purely for last-minute reservations that are discounted because the hotelier has decided that a discounted occupancy is better than a vacancy.

Caution: This app mostly collects data from higher-end hotels. If you are frugal and want true bargain options, stick with Priceline, or try Motel6.com.

6. Skype

A list of great free apps isn't complete without mentioning Skype. This app provides a great way to make Internet-based phone calls through your phone at no charge.

Skype-to-Skype calls are free, anywhere in the world. Long-distance charges, even internationally, are a thing of the past.

Need to dial an actual phone number rather than a Skype ID? Buy Skype credits at a remarkably cheap rate.

Paula Pant helps people ditch the cubicle and live on their own terms. She's traveled to 30 countries, owns six rental property units and hasn't had an employer since 2008. Her blog, "Afford Anything," is the gathering point for a tribe that refuses to say "I can't afford it." Follow Paula on Twitter: @AffordAnything.

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