Let's say you've been lured into a store by a can't-miss sale to find that perfect gift, but you have a suspicion that a better deal might be waiting across town or online. With a legion of free and cheap smartphone applications that compare prices, you don't have to rely on curiosity.
Apps like Red Laser, ShopSavvy and others use the built-in camera on many smartphones as a barcode scanner. You simply take a picture of the barcode stamped on the product, and the app instantly calls up prices for the same item at nearby retailers as well as online vendors. Some apps only require speaking the product's name into the smartphone to pull up a list of competitors' prices. Other applications, like Coupon Sherpa, trawl the Internet for coupons to your favorite stores. You can even save some money traveling to the store using apps like GasBuddy, which finds the best current gas prices based on your location.
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