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Everyone wants to save money, and these days your smartphone and certain apps can make it easy. Bar code scanner apps let you use your phone to see if there's a better deal available on line. If there is, you buy it online and save. But which one is best? Some apps are slow or pull up the wrong price.

So Consumer Reports Shop Smart Magazine tested four of the most popular scanning apps. They scanned six items on four apps: Price Check by Amazon, RedLaser, ScanLife and ShopSavvy. All four work on apple and android.

ScanLife didn't find all the items, and kept showing the prices for the wrong coffeemaker.

Price Check by Amazon automatically shows shipping prices with each result, which helps you calculate your total. Shop Smart also liked that scanning wasn't the only option. You can also get prices by taking a picture, or saying or typing the product's name. The only drawback was that it didn't always find the lowest price. But Consumer Reports said if you're a big Amazon shopper, this app may be the one for you.

Consumer Reports liked that ShopSavvy sends pop up alerts if you're in a store that matches a competitor's lower price. They also listed user reviews, price alerts, and shopping list sharing tools as nice extras. They say they didn't like that there's a forced sign in to track and access the scan history, but they say it found the lowest price for half the items they scanned.

Consumer Reports named RedLaser the winner. They said itfound the lowest prices fastest and was most consistent. They also say it separated local and online listings, and sometimes even found coupon codes!

But here were the main takeaways from all the apps:

  • The best deals usually weren't in stores.
  • Most of the apps didn't show shipping fees, so you have to factor those costs into the prices that pop up.
  • Don't try using these scanner apps on groceries. The apps didn't do a good job of finding local prices.
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