The #1 Tip for Saving Money on Apps for Your Phone

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People around the world have gotten increasingly comfortable buying things on their phones. When it comes to paying for apps and in-app purchases, you might be overpaying for some of them.

In this article, I’ll look at why you might be paying more for some apps than you need to, and I’ll show you some ways you may be able to reduce how much you’re spending.

Are You Overpaying for Your Phone’s Apps?

Before we get into it, let’s go back in time a bit to gain some perspective. 

Over the past several years, iPhone users who downloaded paid apps routinely were charged more compared to Android users who downloaded the same apps. 

But in 2020, Apple cut its commission rates by 15% for some small app developers. This allowed many companies to pass those savings along to their customers.

In March 2021, the Google Play Store, which serves Android users, followed Apple’s lead and reduced app commissions from 30% to 15%.

While the pricing disparities for apps and in-app purchases don’t seem to be as bad as they used to be, depending on the app, they still exist.

For example, the popular photo-editing app TouchRetouch costs $3.99 in Apple’s App Store. On Google Play, the same app costs $2.00. That’s 50% cheaper!

The #1 Tip To Save on Apps

Although your device dictates which of the two big app stores you have to use, you may be able to sidestep both those platforms by downloading apps directly from the websites of their developers. And if you have an Android, you could also choose another app store.

Money expert Clark Howard has spoken about this topic before, and he wants you to know you have choices when it comes to paying for in-app content and services.

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“I want you to be aware enough that you go outside of doing purchases inside the Apple device or the Google device — the Android or the iPhone — and pay for the services you’re doing on the website. Remember, that’s the difference,” he says.

The good news is that there are many app stores out there besides Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store. Although iPhones won’t be able to use alternative app stores, if you have an Android, you’re in business.

As with any app, even those found through the App Store or Google Play, you should do your due diligence to ensure the app is safe before you download it.

Here Are Some Alternative App Stores

Amazon App Store

Amazon Appstore

The world’s largest online retailer has one of the biggest app stores. In 2021, the Amazon App Store was the fourth largest in terms of the number of apps available.

How to access: Go to Amazon.com/mobile-apps.

Aptoide

Aptoide apps

Aptoide is an app platform that has many of the popular apps you’ll find in the major app stores including Instagram, Netflix and WhatsApp.

Although it has fought with Google to be seen as an app store equal, a hack in 2020 didn’t necessarily help Aptoide’s cause.

Although the app store is legitimate, it’s a good idea to use good judgment when anything from the internet, including from Aptoide. Here’s a Reddit thread about Aptoide safety.

How to access: Go to en.aptoide.com.

Samsung Galaxy Apps

Samsung Galaxy Apps

If you have a Samsung Galaxy phone, your device comes with its own app store, where you can search for any number of apps to use.

How to access: Go to Samsung.com.

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GetJar

GetJar app store

GetJar is another app platform with a lot of popular apps. When I searched through the platform, I noticed a lot of gaming apps including Sonic The Hedgehog, Call of Duty and Angry Birds.

GetJar gets only average ratings compared to the big app stores, but it’s been in existence for more than a decade. For a deep dive, here’s a Reddit discussion about GetJar.

How to access: Go to GetJar.com. Tap on “Apps.”

Mobile9

Mobile9 app store

Mobile9 has an app store that has everything from movie streaming apps to games and more.

How to access: Go to Mobile9.com. Tap on “Browse now,” then “Apps.”

While it may be very convenient to go to your respective app store and tap on the “download” button to put a popular app on your phone, you may be doing your wallet any favors.

How To Save Money on Apps

Opt for the Free Version

Many apps subscribe to a “freemium” model, which means that it has a free version with less functionality compared to a paid version with more robust features. Depending on what you want to use the app for, the free version may be all you need.

Use Similar Apps (for Free)

Another great way to save money on apps is to look for free ones that do the same or very similar things.

In both the Google Play Store and Apple App Store, if you scroll to the bottom of an app page, it will display “related” or “similar” apps. Of course, this is based on an algorithm that may use your location or search history, so it’s hard to know what will be displayed.

Here are some online tools that identify app alternatives.

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  • AlternativeTo.net: Alternative To works like a search engine that finds alternatives to whatever you search for.
  • Similar Apps: This Android-only app lets you type in the app you want and see a list of alternatives.
  • Google.com: Search for similar apps by tying in the app and the world “alternatives” next to it. You could stumble upon a gem!

Final Thoughts

Before you purchase an app, always check the app developer’s website to see if it’s cheaper. In many cases, you’ll be able to download the app without the app store markup.

If you go this route, double-check to make sure you go to the app developer’s site and not some third-party site.

Want more money tips? Check out these free budgeting apps.

More Resources From Clark.com:

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