Apps to save summer cash

But what are you giving up to save a little money?
We took a look at some free apps that may help save a little money on your travel but found out that they’re not all exactly “free.”
Updated: Jun. 19, 2022 at 10:00 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - More people are traveling this summer now that Covid restrictions have relaxed, but those travels will be a little pricier this year. We took a look at some free apps that may help save a little money on your travel...but found out that they’re not all exactly “free.”

Cheap flights, cheap hotels, cheap gas. All things that have become oxymorons at this point. There are deals out there that can make them cheaper though, and there are some smartphone apps that can help with that. In fact, there are a lot. The questions is whether they are legit. There are too many to look at them all, but we did research some for deals on fuel and another for flights. There is always concern that an unknown app may have hidden language in its user agreement that may put your personal information at risk. Specifically, that’s what we looked at.

There’s no question that many apps will ask for personal data. Your name, location, email address. Sometimes even your bank account info, but what does the company do with that information? Unfortunately, users need to review an app’s lengthy user agreement, according to Denise Groene with the Better Business Bureau.

“Ideally, you should read the entire privacy policy that you’re agreeing to,” Groene said.

Groene says user agreements will contain a section that explicitly lists what information the app will record and what it will do with that information.

Let’s take the popular Upside app that claims to give you “Real cash back on gas, groceries and at restaurants.” Its privacy policy states exactly what it collects from you and what it does with that info. Email, location info and credit card info is just some of the data the app will ask for, but a user doesn’t necessarily have to share all of that. The agreement informs the user, though, that what they do share can then be shared with “certain parties without further notice to you.”

We also looked at the popular GasBuddy app. It helps drivers find cheaper gas while racking up rewards. It also offers a feature called “Drive With.” Without going too much into what that is, the information collected through that feature, according to its privacy policy, may be shared with a company called Arity. Arity is owned by insurance company Allstate. Why would they want your “Drive” info? In the terms set out in the company’s privacy policy, “to perform various profiling activities in order to produce a score which may predict the level of driver riskiness.” You also don’t have to opt into that feature either, but you may miss out on some of the offered rewards.

Groene also says, you may not have to opt in for much of anything if you so choose.

“Log in as a guest, so therefore you’re not sharing any of your information,” she said.

Most apps will let you pick when or if they can track you. What data you share can often be chosen in the app’s settings. Just remember, it’s a give and take between you and the app maker. You give them data, which they may sell or share and they help you locate or utilize deals. It’s a relationship that exists with pretty much any app, especially if it’s free to use.

We did try out the Upside app and did receive cash back, but businesses that participate in the Upside offers may be fewer and farther between depending on where you live. It’s worth checking out how many offers are in your area before entering any personal information. For cheap flights, we researched the Hopper app. We didn’t try it out, but did see that its privacy policy didn’t differ much from many others. Your information may be shared with third party companies, but you can choose what information to share and you can see with whom the company may share it.

One final note: Denise Groene suggests using a different email when signing up for things like cost saving apps. It’ll cut down on spam in your actual email folder.

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