Reconsidering The Check In: Location Apps Can Save You Money & Help You Explore

by  Darren Murph | Dec 26, 2012
iPhone / Farknot_Architect/iStock

I know, you’re a busy person. You’re constantly on the go, attempting to juggle several hundred inbound requests, and it’s all you can do to just keep your smartphone charged. In the past few months, I’ve discussed a few of my favorite travel applications for Windows Phone, Android, and iOS, but I’d like to take a deeper dive into the world of location apps. For many, the term “check in” is one that’s familiar, but perhaps not personal enough just yet. Turns out, these location apps can not only help you to discover the best activities and eateries in a new city, but they can also save you money.

In a nutshell, programs like Foursquare, Yelp, Facebook, Shopkick, Living Social, and Groupon serve to not only share your current location information with friends, but offer plenty of incentives to use their apps if all you’re after is savings. My recommendation, at least for iPhone and Android users, is to download these six applications and stuff them away in a folder entitled “Location.” This way, you’ll know precisely where to look when you’re itching for a little discovery. All of these are free to download and free to join, and while there’s some overlap in terms of what discounts are offered where, you’ll generally expand your chances for savings by peeking into all of them.

Here’s how it works: when you’re in a new place, simply open any of these programs and let the app determine your current location. From there, you can search for nearby restaurants, bars, or even shops and venues that have business listings. A growing amount of these businesses are beginning to embed discounts into their digital presence, showing you what you can save should you choose to visit their locations and “check in.” By doing so, you’re showing the outside world where you’re at, but in exchange, many businesses will offer first-time discounts as well as repeat customer perks. For example, one of my favorite burger joints in Boone, North Carolina, Come Back Shack, offers a free order of fries for your first Foursquare check-in, and a free milkshake for every fourth check-in after that. Not a bad reason to, well, come back!

You might argue that there’s too much effort involved, but I’d argue the opposite. The old fashioned way of finding an eatery that’s looked upon fondly by locals took lots of asking amongst strangers, and perhaps a fair amount of luck. With these programs in your digital toolkit, you’re able to sift through what’s immediately nearby, check out ratings, and make snap judgements on where to visit based on popularity and discounts. It’s tough to argue with savings just for walking in the door and tapping a screen.

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