best money-saving apps for college students

Living on a shoestring budget is a common challenge for college students. But you can help your financial situation by choosing one of the best money-saving apps for college students. Each offers an opportunity to save money or earn rewards on purchases, lower recurring bills, set up a workable budget, or even invest money for the future. You can choose one or more to help you better manage your money, and all on automatic pilot.

Below is our list of the seven best money-saving apps for college students and what each is best for. A detailed description of each will follow.

Best Money-Saving Apps for College Students

AppBest for
Rocket MoneyBill negotiating
IbottaCash rewards
FiverrEarning extra money
Coupons.comCoupons savings on purchases
UpsideSave on gasoline and other purchases

1. Acorns


Acorns is a micro-savings and micro-investing app. Both are big advantages to college students who want to begin saving and investing money for the future while still in school. You can use the Round-Up feature by connecting your debit and credit cards to the Acorns app.

Each time you make a purchase, the charge to your bank account or credit card will be rounded up to the nearest dollar, with the spare change held until it reaches $5. Once it does, the funds will be transferred into an Acorns robo-advisor account, where you’ll be provided with a fully managed investment portfolio. Money will continue flowing into the account as you spend, building up your portfolio over time.

Acorns also has Acorns Earn. It comes with the Mighty Oak Debit Card, which enables you to earn bonus investments from purchasing at hundreds of top merchants, like Apple, Walmart, and Expedia. Acorns Earn can also help you find part-time and remote jobs to earn extra money. By referring friends to the Acorns app, you can earn a $5 investment for each person who signs up for an account.

  • Main features: Micro-savings and micro-investing app, plus the ability to earn extra money
  • Mobile app ratings: Google Play: 4.7/5 stars; The App Store: 4.7/5 stars
  • Fee: $3 per month for Acorns Personal

Read our Acorns Review

2. Rocket Money

rocket money

Rocket Money offers bill negotiations, which can lower your pay on recurring bills. The free plan comes with this service and budgeting, spending insights, and credit score monitoring. Rocket Money charges between 30% and 60% of the savings on bill negotiations, which means you’ll pay nothing if they don’t save you any money.

You can choose the Premium version, which has a negotiable monthly fee between $4 and $12. This includes canceling unused subscriptions, creating a smart savings account, and accessing financial experts to help you better manage your money.

  • Main features: Bill negotiations, subscription management, budgeting, spending, insights, and credit scores.
  • Mobile app ratings: Google Play: 4.3/5 stars; The App Store: 4.3/5 stars
  • Fee: 30%– 60% of savings on bill negotiations; $4 to $12 per month (negotiable) for the Premium plan

Read our Rocket Money Review

3. PocketSmith


PocketSmith has free and premium versions, but since we focus on money-saving apps for college students, we will focus on the free plan. PocketSmith helps you create a customized dashboard that includes all your financial accounts. This will help you better track what’s going on with all accounts in one place. You can enter and categorize transactions from more than 14,000 bags worldwide.

Not only can you track all your transactions, but you can also create up to 12 budgets to help you better manage your finances. PocketSmith also provides budget projections for up to six months. It comes with bill alerts, so you don’t miss a payment deadline and incur a late fee.

  • Main features: Budgeting
  • Mobile app ratings: Google Play: 3.4/5 stars; The App Store: 3.4/5 stars
  • Fee: Free version available

Read our PocketSmith Review

4. Ibotta


Ibotta is free to download and advertises that you can earn up to 30% cash back on purchases at major retailers, including Home Depot, Best Buy, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Old Navy, and many more big-name merchants. Best of all, you can access the app in any store to take advantage of available offers. Alternatively, you can shop online with the free browser extension for the best deals.

  • Main features: Earn cash rewards up to 30% at select retailers
  • Mobile app ratings: Google Play: 4.5/5 stars; The App Store: 4.8/5 stars
  • Fee: Free to download

5. Fiverr


Finding ways to save money as a college student is important, but finding ways to earn more can be equally valuable. Fiverr bills itself as the Freelance Services Marketplace, allowing you to earn money by performing gigs on the platform. Downloading the app to find gigs is free, though Fiverr will receive a small percentage of your earnings from the individual or business hiring you to perform the work.

One of the big advantages of this app is the diversity of services you can provide. Examples include graphics and design, programming and tech, digital marketing, video and animation, writing and translation, music and audio, and more. You can make money with this app if you already have social media and video creation skills. Fiverr even offers participants an opportunity to begin building a business.

  • Main features: Earn money using your skills at various gigs
  • Mobile app ratings: Google Play: 4.6/5 stars; The App Store: 4.9/5 stars
  • Fee: Free to download the app


As the name implies, is an app that gives you access to coupons that can be used to purchase various products at various merchants. That may not be earning cash back, but you will get direct savings on purchases you would make anyway that can save you plenty of money.

What’s impressive about this app is that it provides coupons to hundreds of well-known merchants nationwide. That includes all types of merchants, like Staples, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Macy’s, American Eagle, Neiman Marcus, and CVS. They also offer coupons for purchases made through Priceline and other travel services.

  • Main features: Coupons savings on purchases
  • Mobile app ratings: Google Play: 4.4/5 stars; The App Store: 4.3/5 stars
  • Fee: Free to download

7. Upside


We ranked Upside at #7 because not all college students have a car, especially if they’re living on campus. If you do, Upside is an app that can help you find gas stations in your area where you can save several cents per gallon through the app. The service claims it can save you up to $0.25 per gallon on gas, up to 45% on restaurants, and up to 30% cash back at grocery stores.

Once you download the app, you can claim a cashback offer at a participating merchant, purchase with a credit or debit card, and have your savings deposited into your bank account or PayPal or sent to you as a gift card.

  • Main features: Save on gasoline and other purchases
  • Mobile app ratings: Google Play: 4.7/5 stars; The App Store: 4.8/5 stars
  • Fee: Free to download

How We Chose the Best Money-Savings Apps for College Students

In compiling this list of the seven best money-saving apps for college students, we looked most closely at three criteria: Main features, mobile app ratings, and fees.

Though we focused on each app’s main feature and delivered to a greater degree than the rest, we also looked at the overall features offered. The more opportunities an app provides students to save, earn, or accumulate funds for savings or investing, the higher the rank we assign it.

Mobile app ratings are highly valued because they indicate users’ satisfaction with the product. We looked at each app’s specific ratings and the number of users who provided an evaluation.

Finally, the app’s fee is important, especially for college students. The cost of the app cannot exceed the value of the money you will save, earn, or have available for savings and investment.

What a College Student can Expect a Money-Saving App to Do

A wide variety of money-saving apps are available for college students. As you can see from this list, each has its specializations and combinations of features.

Before choosing a money-saving app, you must decide what you want it to do. Do you want to provide discounts? Negotiate and reduce bills? Earn extra money? Or save and invest for the future?

It’s unrealistic to expect a single app to provide all those functions. That’s when you need to decide which ones are most important to you and where you expect to achieve the greatest financial benefit.

You should also consider using more than one app if no single app seems to accomplish all you want it to. For example, you can choose an app specializing in cash rewards for spending and another enabling you to accumulate money for savings and investing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What saves you the most college money?

There is no single way to save money in college; the best course is to combine several money-saving strategies simultaneously. That can include buying used textbooks, cooking as much as possible, and minimizing entertainment activities.

But if there is a single expense you can eliminate that will save the most money, it’s probably not having a car. Living in a community or on campus where public transportation is readily available can be a much less costly substitute for car ownership.

How can students save money in college?

One advantage you do have as a college student is your college ID. It can often be used as a built-in discount tool in various situations. For example, local restaurants, movie theaters, and coffee shops may offer student discounts. Those discounts may also be available at various merchants and other vendors.

Which is the best app to save money?

The answer to this question depends on what you expect the app to do. But our overall choice as the best app for saving money is Acorns. While it doesn’t offer discounts and rewards, it does allow you to earn some money through gigs and accumulate savings and investments while doing your normal spending.

Final Thought on Money-Savings Apps for College Students

Though we’ve ranked each of the seven best money-saving apps for college students, it’s up to you to determine which will likely save the most money based on your lifestyle and spending patterns. If you like to shop, you should favor a cash rewards app. If you’re looking to save money for investing, an app like Acorns will be the best at getting the job done. Carefully evaluate the seven apps above and choose the one closest to helping you accomplish your financial goals.


  • Kevin Mercadante

    Since 2009, Kevin Mercadante has been sharing his journey from a mortgage loan officer emerging from the Financial Meltdown as a contract/self-employed slash worker accountant/blogger/freelance blog writer. He offers career strategies, from dealing with under-employment to transitioning into self-employment, and provides Alt-retirement strategies for the vast majority who won't retire to the beach as millionaires. Kevin holds a Bachelor’s degree in Finance, and worked in accounting and the mortgage industry before becoming a writer.

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