Essential Apps for Saving Money

With groceries and everyday items becoming more expensive, we talk you through the best apps you can use to save money.

a woman on her phone looking at food deals
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Nowadays, savvy shoppers have many tools to secure the best deals on big-name brands. Discount and money-saving apps have carved a significant portion of the market. These applications aim to help consumers save money on everyday purchases, from groceries and clothing to travel and entertainment. This article walks you through the best ones. 

UNiDAYS

  • Students only
  • Discounts on big-name brands
  • Free
  • Advice blog
  • Giveaways

UNiDAYS is an app that provides students with exclusive discounts across various sectors, such as technology, fashion, food and more. Downloading and using the app is entirely free, with top brands such as Dell, Acer, Lookfantastic and Domino’s it’s no wonder why it's a staple of many students’ home screens. Students must sign up and verify their student status by providing valid credentials from their institution then you’re good to go. They also have a hints and tips section called The Edit, which advices on day-to-day student money saving. You can also try our very own student discount page for more offers.

Did you love UNiDAYS but have finished your time as a student? That’s where Gradlife steps in. Gradlife is designed to help graduates save money when they enter the wide world. Although it doesn’t have the same discounts, there are still many big-name brands and helpful tricks and tips to help you save money post-university and help write things like your CV. However, Gradlife is specifically for those with a UNiDAYS account and cannot be used if you never used UNiDAYS during your time as a student. Don’t worry about the setup; your app will automatically switch to Gradlife when you graduate.

Student Beans

  • Students only
  • Discounts on big-name brands
  • Free
  • Advice blog
  • Giveaways

Student Beans is a popular student discount app that provides a variety of discounts and deals just for students. There are plenty of options to save from categories such as fashion, technology, food and online lessons. Student Beans is free to use after verifying your student status and is best used simultaneously with other apps such as UNiDAYS because one app may have brand discounts the other doesn’t, so to maximise your chances of getting a significant discount for a brand you love!

Student Beans also has Grad Beans, which provides exclusive discounts for recent graduates and is free to sign up for students who have graduated within the last five years. If you already have a Student Beans account, simply log in and gain access for free.

Jam Doughnut

  • Refer a Friend
  • Cashback on big-name brands
  • Free
  • Occasional Freebies
  • Refer a friend 400 points bonus

Although the name may be confusing, Jam Doughnut is a free app that offers instant cashback of up to 20% from hundreds of retailers. Unlike other cashback schemes, you don’t have to wait months for an email or cheque through the door; with Jam Doughnut, it is guaranteed the same day. Money is paid into your virtual wallet when you confirm your purchase. With big-name everyday brands such as Costa, Just Eat, Morrisons, and ASDA, Jam Doughnut is well worth downloading. 

Unlike regular cashback sites, Jam Doughnut saves you money when you purchase gift cards; when bought, you gain points that can eventually be redeemed straight into your bank account. The app also has occasional freebies, such as coupons for a free drink. 

Totum

  • Discounts on big name-brands
  • The physical card can be used as ID
  • Free Tastecard
  • ISIC digital card

The Totum app, formerly NUS Extra, is a discount service provided by the national union for students, aimed at providing students with exclusive deals and discounts. The Totum app and access to discounts are free, but most of the benefits require a Totum card which starts at £14.99 per year. The advantage of this physical card is it can also be used as a physical ID within the UK. Totum works with over 350 big named brands and can also be used to get 10% off your grocery shop at Co-op. 

In addition to discounts at stores, you get a free Tastecard which allows you to receive up to 50% off food at over 1000 restaurants nationwide and access to an ISIC digital card which works in over 130 countries giving you access to more than 150,000 discounts. If you’re a student or apprentice, then Totum is a must-have.

Blue Light Card

  • Discounts on big name-brands
  • Holiday discounts
  • For service workers

The blue light card is a discount service for the UK service industries, from NHS and social workers to the police and military. For just £4.99 for two years, service workers can access more than 15,000 discounts online and through the app, ranging from cars to days out, food and tech. You can also get amazing deals on holidays, cruises and hotels from easyJet and Expedia.

In 2022 Blue Light saved its users over £250m. With big high-street brands such as Apple, Boohoo and New Look, the Blue Light app is a must-have for the UK's fantastic service workers. If you’re a health worker and love a deal check out our NHS discounts page for more offers. 

Honey

  • Automatically looks for coupon codes
  • Works with thousands of retailers
  • Free
  • Reward point system

The Honey app is an excellent tool in an era where online shopping has become the norm. Launched in 2012 and now owned by PayPal, Honey makes saving money easy. When you shop online, the app comes into play during checkout; Honey automatically scans the internet and voucher sites such as [ours (link)] for the best available coupon codes that apply to your cart. If a valid code is found, it is instantly applied to your order, yielding excellent savings at no effort. Honey is supported by thousands of online retailers from fashion to tech, which ensures discounts across various products. 

Honey also has a rewards program called Honey Gold. Each time you shop at participating retailers, you accrue points which can be redeemed for gift cards at popular brands. Honey also has a price tracker which notifies you when items you are interested in go on sale. Despite its benefits, it should be noted that Honey does not always find valid codes, and its effectiveness varies depending on the retailer.

Nectar App

  • Easy everyday use
  • Over 300 brands
  • Personalised rewards
  • Free

The Nectar app is an excellent tool for customer rewards; it is the largest loyalty card scheme in the UK, launched in 2002 with millions of users. The Nectar app serves as a platform to accumulate and spend Nectar points. You collect these points by shopping at partner retailers such as eBay, Sainsbury's, Argos, Esso petrol stations, etc. These points can then be redeemed for goods and services from these retailers. 

The Nectar app tracks your spending habits and provides tailored deals ensuring the rewards you receive are relevant to your wants and needs. Although Nectar generally doesn’t directly lower the price of goods, gathering points during everyday spending pays off with little effort on your part. We discuss other rewards apps and cards similar to Nectar in our [reward schemes (SJ link)] article, but as reward point apps go, Nectar is one of the best. 

OLIO

  • Free
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Community driven

Olio differs slightly from the other apps on this list but deserves an honourable mention. It doesn’t save you money in a conventional way, such as reward points or discounts. Instead, Olio saves you and others money by acting as a platform to give away, borrow and lend household goods and food in order to prevent waste. Individuals donate food or household items such as books and clothes to people in their local communities, minimising the need to buy new and making food shopping lists a little shorter. 

Big supermarkets such as Tesco and Morrisons also use Olio to minimise food wastage and support communities. Best of all, Olio is entirely free and easy to use, so if you enjoy helping the environment, picking up a free book or tin of food or even need to clean up and get rid of some things you don’t use, then Olio is the app for you. 

TooGoodToGo

  • Big savings on groceries
  • Works with local supermarkets and small businesses
  • Environmentally friendly

TooGoodToGo is an excellent app for those who love to save money and help the environment at the same time. You enter a postcode and a radius you’re willing to travel, and the app shows you local stores and supermarkets selling delicious food that would usually go to waste for a considerable discount. 

You pay a fixed price set by the store for a bag of mixed groceries or take-out food and then collect your order within the time slot. Recently I ordered a £3 surprise bag of groceries from my local Morrisons which had a value of £10, a 70% discount. All you have to do is bring a reusable bag to the store, and you’ve saved a bunch of money and cut food wastage. For more amazing tips check out this our article on reducing food waste and saving money. 

Hopefully, this article has helped you to decide which money-saving apps to add to your routine. For more help on which budgeting apps to download, check out our article on essential apps for budgeting

Nathan Walters
Editor

I joined MyVoucherCodes as a Deal Expert, searching the web and sourcing the best deals, discount codes and sales to benefit our readers. I decided to combine these money-saving skills with my love of writing and become an Editor, sharing what I have learned to help you get the most out of your money. As a student for four years, I understand the need to budget and get more for less.  As well as providing budget-friendly advice here at MVC, I have written money-saving works for well-known publications such as The Sun and Pick Me Up!


I love playing video games and later writing reviews at GameReport in my spare time. I also enjoy anything to do with technology and cool gadgets, and I'm constantly adding extras and components to my home gaming computer. Additionally, I love DIY. Having worked in a tool store as a student, I enjoy fixing things, whether my car or home.