10 free apps to help you become better off

10 free apps to help you become better off

A recent YouGov survey found that almost half of all mobile phone users use a smartphone, and further research revealed close to five million tablet computers have been sold in Britain since 2010.

This resulted in the download of the 10 billionth app during 2012, while the top 50 apps are downloaded around 10,000 times a day. And a staggering 18 per cent of people spend about four hours a day on apps.

Around 95 per cent of free apps – short for applications or ‘programmes’ used on smart devices such as TVs, phones, computers, radios and even toasters – are never used after being downloaded. But some free apps are worth a second look.

Here’s a selection of free to download money-related apps that will help you save both time and cash.

Skype

skype logo

Arguably among the most versatile of apps is Skype, which allows users to video and voice call anyone else on Skype. Including group calls, text, instant message and file share it’s completely free and can be downloaded onto a compatible device anywhere in the world.

Simple to use, it is available through any device that has a microphone, speakers and an internet connection, including TVs, phones, computers and even gaming devices. A broadband or WiFi connection is recommended for the best quality video and voice calls.

Sign up by inputting a few basic details, choose an available Skype username and secure password and you’re ready to make your first call. You can search for and save contacts by name or address using the Skype Directory, import contacts through your phone or connect to people on your Facebook friends list.

The app will save you money on your phone bill, particularly if you have friends or relatives abroad. But you can’t make emergency calls through Skype. If you want more from the service, you can buy pay-as-you-go credit from 1.4p a minute, subscribe for 12 months from 0.7p a minute or get the premium service for up to £5.99 a month.

Available on

  • Smartphone – Windows Phone, iPhone and Android
  • Desktop computer – Windows, Mac and Linux
  • Tablet computer – iPad
  • Home phone – through a Skype-ready cordless handset or an adaptor
  • TV – through a Skype-ready set or via a TV Cam or Blu-Ray player
  • Other – Playstation Vita and iPod Touch

Groupon

groupon logo

Daily discount deals provider Groupon is now available in app form for mobile phones and tablets. It offers daily vouchers for discounts of between 50 and 90 per cent for all sorts of goods and services, because they are bought as a group rather than an individual.

This means the business providing the offer can set a minimum number of purchases or the deal is off. Customers are therefore reliant on others buying the same deal to qualify for the offer or it is withdrawn. Deals are more likely to go ahead if customers broadcast the offer to their own contacts via email and social media. This is one of the main incentives for businesses to offer products through Groupon as it effectively gives them a ready market for their goods and services at little cost.

The daily discount feed is location specific, providing offers close to your area if you activate the location service when prompted. You can also personalise it further to your age and gender. The app means you don’t have to print a voucher off to redeem. Just present it on your mobile to claim your deal.

Available on

  • Smartphone – Blackberry, Windows Phone, iPhone and Android, also through mobile web
  • Tablet computer – iPad

CashPointer

cashpointer logo

For those who hate to be charged when using ATMs, CashPointer for mobile or Tablet uses your location to tell you where your nearest cash machines are, letting you know which ones charge fees. It also tells you if the ATM offers mobile top-up.

You can easily change the location to search for cashpoints around the UK and there is a filter option to find ATMs for specific financial brands.

Available on

  • Smartphone – iPhone, Blackberry, Android and Windows Phone
  • Tablet computer – iPad

0800 Wizard

0800 wizard logo

Freephone numbers that start with 0800, 0808 and 0500 are charged at up to 41p per minute from mobile phones, even though they’re free from a landline. This can cost an average of £1.70 per call according to research by the app’s creator.

To avoid paying at this rate, dial the freephone number using the 0800 Wizard keypad, which mimics the phone’s own. The app will link the number you dialled to a local or national rate 01 or 02 number, so you’ll only be charged at the standard geographic rate. Better still, if your mobile phone plan includes bundled minutes and you still have some left, the call will be included among them.

Plus there’s a web wizard to convert numbers to local codes.

Available on

  • Smartphone – iPhone

My Gas

my gas logo

Similar to CashPointer, My Gas – The Petrol Station Finder uses your location to point out your nearest forecourts, listing fuel prices so you know where to get the best deal.

Its database relies upon consumers uploading prices in their area, so it’s not 100 per cent accurate but should improve the more users contribute.

Available on

  • Smartphone – iPhone
  • Tablet computer – iPad

Kayak

kayak logo

Whether travelling for business or pleasure, Kayak’s comprehensive travel app lets you compare prices. Search for hotels, flights, car hire, city breaks and package holidays from hundreds of sources. Once you’re booked, you can check the status of your flight and you’ll also have airport and airline contact details and other useful information.

You’ll be able to look up baggage fees, see a map of your airport terminal (at more than 100 worldwide airports and depending on your device), and find out about pricing changes. To make it even easier the app provides a currency converter, listing more than 40 currencies. There’s also a packing list which you can tailor depending on whether you’re going on a family trip, a romantic getaway or making a business journey.

To help manage your itinerary the app also lets you save booking confirmation emails so you can access documents directly on your device.

Available on

  • Smartphone – Windows Phone, iPhone and Android
  • Desktop computer – Windows
  • Tablet computer – iPad
  • Other – Kindle Fire

Red Laser

red laser logo

Three apps in one, Red Laser is a shopping assistant, a barcode scanner and a Quick Response (QR) code reader and creator.

You can search for the specific item you are looking for by keyword, product code, by taking a picture of it directly through the app on your phone, or by voice. The app will provide you with a list of suitable products. Once you select one it lists product information, customer reviews, local stockists and prices both online and in stores near you.

The homepage prompts you by listing items recently scanned by other users and it saves your searches to offer further product suggestions. The barcode scanner has a multi-scan option, and through the scan function you can also switch on the torch on your device to get a better image. In case you’d prefer, it also gives you the option to access your photos. So you can store images of your most frequently bought items on your device camera.

Once a barcode is scanned, not only will you instantly receive prices, stockists and other useful information but you can make purchases or add the item to a shopping list to buy at a later date.

Red Laser can even take the headache out of food shopping by telling you which ingredients could cause allergies.

Available on

  • Smartphone – Windows Phone, iPhone and Android
  • Other – iPod Touch

TuneIn

tunein radio logo

Whether you prefer to listen to music, sports or talk shows, TuneIn Radio gives you access to more than 50,000 free local, international and internet radio stations on the move.

Find your favourites, discover new ones or search for a specific song or artist to tune in to whoever is playing it at the time – whether AM or FM. Add favourite tunes and radio stations to your presets so you can always find them quickly.

It provides a sleep timer to switch off automatically for those who like to fall asleep while listening, and an alarm will wake you back up again. It will also play in the background as you use other apps. Signing up to a free TuneIn account lets you personalise your preferences further.

Available on

  • Smartphone – Samsung Bada, Blackberry, Android, iPhone, Windows Phone and Palm
  • Tablet computer – iPad

Budget Free

budget free logo

This simple app allows you to set yourself a weekly budget, and log your purchases to make sure you stick to it.

Sister apps by the same manufacturer include Save Free, which helps you save for a particular goal over time; and Home Budget Calculator, which allows you to track your net pay and other income against regular outgoings such as mortgage or rent, groceries, fuel utilities and transport costs.

It then calculates your total income and expenditure to give an overall percentage of the income you spend, and what you have left over each month. At a glance it also shows what proportion of your money goes on what.

Available on

  • Smartphone – iPhone
  • Tablet computer – iPad
  • Other – iPod Touch

Hotel Tonight

hotel tonight logo

For last minute accommodation or a spur-of-the-moment romantic getaway, Hotel Tonight gives you same day discounts of up to 70 per cent for luxury and boutique inns in several major cities throughout Canada, the UK and the USA. Destinations are limited currently, in the UK to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Liverpool and London. But makers of the app say they are expanding it all the time.

Rates are posted after midday on the day of check-in and the app shows the usual price so you can see the deal you’re getting at a glance. As well as allowing you to book a room for anything up to five nights, the app shows you where the hotel is on a map, gives you useful details such as facilities, check out times and whether pets are allowed. It even lists reasons why you might want to choose it over another accommodation, such as styling observations and opinions on any extras provided.

Available on

  • Smartphone – iPhone and Android
  • Tablet computer – iPad
  • Other – iPod Touch
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