As a former TV news reporter turned travel guru, I’m always jetting off somewhere. Remember those old American Express commercials with Karl Malden? The thing I can’t leave home without is my smartphone. The travel apps on my phone have saved me money and time and have helped me get out of more than a few traffic – and other – jams.
But with so many apps and tools out there, how do you know which ones are worth a download? Here are five of my favorites:
Hopper analyzes flight prices, giving you a heads-up on the best time to fly and buy tickets. To learn as soon as prices drop on preferred flights, enable push notifications. Travelers can save up to 40 percent on airline tickets.
Why I like Hopper: Hopper is an easy way to snag a last-minute airfare at a super low price. Just fill out some information about where you like to travel, and you could maybe save hundreds of dollars on your next round trip for a Florida beach getaway.
While Waze is designed to help drivers find the best routes, it can also be a money saver. The app can help you find the cheapest gas station and avoid tolls and gas-guzzling traffic jams along the way. The community-based traffic app also has real-time info on accidents, road hazards and police activity ahead.
That last point is worth noting. Waze probably has helped me avoid getting a few speeding tickets. And every time I go to a busy city like New York City or Boston, Waze can cut an hour or two hours from my travel time. A lot of people equate saving time to saving money, especially if you’re on a business trip.
For travelers bouncing around to different destinations while abroad, this handy tool can help keep budget limits in check and prevent overspending. This simple currency converter provides up-to-date exchange rates.
Simple is a big selling point for me. Math is not my forte, so anything that can help track my finances is a benefit. For instance, when I’m dining, I use a tip calculator when I get the bill. And when I’m abroad, XE Currency is my right-hand guide because sometimes it’s harder to figure out in your head the difference between the dollar and the euro. I don’t like surprises, and for me this app can mean the difference between paying $400 or $200 for that hotel room.
Wi-Fi can be a costly service when traveling. With a hotel, a pricey Wi-Fi fee can cause sticker shock when you get the bill. This app finds free (and paid) Wi-Fi hot spots around the world using your location and GPS technology. For those who plan ahead, you can use it to research Wi-Fi connections at your destination.
By finding and using Wi-Fi services when you’re traveling, this app can save you $50 to $100 – and it can help you find the nearest Starbucks, too. So for caffeine addicts seeking free Wi-Fi, this app does double duty.
For bargain hunters looking to score a deal on luggage or find the cheapest price on travel attire, this price-comparison app can be a fun way to save time and money. It shows the best online prices and where to find products locally. You also can scan a product’s bar code to find if the produce is on sale at other stores.
For me, ShopSavvy is just plain handy. I like saving money and time, and this app has all of my favorite shops on one screen.
So there you have it, five of my favorite money-saving travel apps. Other apps I use a lot are Uber for rides (sorry, Austinites, this one can’t help you now), TPG To Go to maximize my credit card rewards, OpenTable for dinner reservations, HotelTonight for a last-minute crash pad and TripIt to plan my trips and keep me within my travel budget.
And since this is CreditCards.com, don’t overlook the ways your cards can save you time, money and hassle while you’re traveling. Before you hit the road or head to the airport, check to see if your credit cards waive foreign transaction fees, cover rental car insurance, offer roadside assistance or help with concierge services in a strange city.
For many of us, our plastic is as much a part of our lives as our smartphones – your cards and your phone’s travel apps can add up to big savings.
Safe travels, and save while you’re traveling!