Six apps that make holiday shopping a snap

These apps find deals quickly so you don't lose your sanity. CNET's Bridget Carey highlights six of the best shopping tools for your smartphone.

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Don't get bogged down by the dozens of junk coupon apps that are hard to navigate with ads too small to read. As a deal huntress, I can vouch for a few that actually help manage the mall madness:

A barcode-scanning app is essential to making sure you're getting the best deal. I like RedLaser (owned by Ebay), and ShopSavvy. Once you scan a product's barcode, both apps show what it costs at other stores and online. Many big-box retailers offer a price-match guarantee at the register when you show that a competitor is selling it for less. (And it helped me save a few bucks at Best Buy.)

You don't need to collect the weekly circulars or print out promotions in your e-mail with Shopular. Use it to quickly search for coupons and promotions from more than 130 retailers. The home screen can be set to only display deals from the stores you care about.

Before getting an oil change or grabbing dinner at a chain restaurant, search for nearby discounts on Key Ring. Along with coupons for the big-box retailers, it also lists promotions for several other types of local businesses. As an added bonus, you can cut back on your Costanza wallet by digitally storing your loyalty card barcodes.

Keep track of receipts and return policies with ReturnGuru. Use the app to take a photo of your receipt, and the app will keep a record of the return policy and alert you a few days before the return deadline hits -- just in case you changed your mind.

If you have a shopping buddy along for the ride, put them in charge of collecting points on Shopkick. The app rewards users for walking into some big-name stores, including Target, Best Buy, Sports Authority and Old Navy. Users also get points for scanning the barcodes of some items, which can be redeemed for gift cards. But if you're in a hurry, chances are you won't have the patience to deal with Shopkick's finicky location sensors.

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About the author

Bridget Carey is writer and host of CNET Update, a daily tech news show. She's now in New York, but she started in Miami, covering tech trends, reviewing gadgets and authoring the nation's first social media etiquette column. Why journalism? She was born 150 years too early to join Starfleet.

 

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