Thursday, December 12, 2013

Favorite Retail and Restaurant Apps

Since it's the biggest shopping season of the year, I thought I'd list some of my favorite retail and restaurant apps.

For starters, I love the Starbucks Coffee app! You can load multiple cards into the app, so as you aquire gift cards, you can just add them to your account. They have an option to just scan the app if you want to pay with your card, which is one of the things I love. I can reload my card quickly with my PayPal account or add a gift card, then "Touch to Pay" and I'm on my way. The app gives me my new balance before the barista can ask if I want a receipt. Their rewards system is really nice, plus there are free music and app downloads offered several times each week. I wish all stores could incorporate some of these conveniences and perks.

I also love the Walgreens app. I always get frustrated with the various choices given and time it takes when calling in to refill a prescription or check the status. With the Walgreens app, you can scan your bottle for a refill, use a list of current prescriptions, and see your Rx status and history. The app also gives an alert when a prescription is ready for pickup. I live by the world's slowest Walgreens, but they are open 24 hours, so I find myself there in spite of their slowness. When using the app, I can scan or choose a prescription from my list to refill, wait for the alert to tell me it is ready, and save myself some anxiety and frustration sitting and waiting. It's also easy to check the Rewards points and add receipts if they weren't added at the store, and you can send photos directly from your phone through the app to the store for printing...another very nice feature. I don't use a lot of the coupons, weekly ads, or other services, but the easiness of the refill process and tracking Rewards is enough for me.

Along that same line, I also really like the CVS Pharmacy app. I haven't used it for prescriptions, but they have great discounts often. Add your CVS Extra Care card to the app and you can print coupons in the store each week, sometimes with bonus discounts. It is also easy to add offers directly to your card/app from CVS emails. When you check out, scan the card and there are sometimes even more discounts available.

I like the Amazon app because it's quick and easy to double check prices and compare when out shopping. It's easy to scan the bar code on an item and see what the price is on Amazon for the very same thing. With a Prime membership, I can order the item while I'm standing in the store, save money, and get free 2-day shipping.

I also really like the discount offer apps - Groupon, Deal Chicken, Living Social, and Amazon Local. There are great local offers, they're easy to purchase, and you can just can the offer from your phone when you use them. Easy peasy. Plus, the offers are often repeated across those apps, so if there is a limit of 1 per purchase, and you have an account on all four apps, then you can actually purchase up to 4.

The commercial for Domino's where they advertise their mobile app and the employee can't hear the caller seems kind of silly...until you use the app. I would much rather use the Pizza Hut, Papa John's, or Domino's app to place an order instead of calling. The app doesn't put you on hold, ask you to repeat everything because of noise in the store, or ask you to spell every word in your name and address. You create an account, save it, and then just order and wait. Jimmy Johns and Noodles and Company both have really nice apps as well.

The Home Depot app is also very helpful. You can see a store layout for the store you're headed to or are standing in, so you don't have to find a sales person to direct you to the correct aisle. You can also place an order for pickup through the app and not have to wander around the store in the first place.

This isn't a retail app, but one of my new favorites is the State Farm app. I moved my car and homeowner's insurance there a few months ago, and then I saw they also had online banking services. I was thinking of changing banks anyway, so I gave it a try. I started with a checking account and it has worked great, super convenient. I can use most any ATM and the fees are credited back to my account each month. I can deposit cash through most any ATM and can deposit checks by taking a photo and uploading (or do both at any State Farm office). It has been so easy and convenient that I am also in the process of moving another account. The bill pay service is just like any other as well, so I am still able to receive e-bills to my account and still pay directly from my checking account. I love the mobile app, though I know some are a little too nervous to bank from their phone.

Well, that's a much longer post than I had planned, so I'll stop there. Please post in comments below and let me know if you've found a retail or restaurant app that is too cool for school or just makes your life so much easier.

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