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(Alex Wong/2008 Getty Images)
(Alex Wong/2008 Getty Images)

smart cookies

An app instead of your loyalty cards Add to ...

I'll be happy when my smart phone replaces my wallet - and I'm one step closer after installing the free app CardStar.

If you lose cards, like me, or forget them at home, then you'll like having this phone convenience. You search the app for stores whose membership or loyalty cards you carry, enter the membership numbers in the app and voila, it's as if you've created one portable card.

How does it work? Barcodes pop up for most of the cards. If not, the membership number appears on the screen so the cashier can enter it by hand. Before tossing your physical cards, though, double-check that the barcode for any individual card scans at the store or that manual input is accepted at check-out.

Even if you can't scan, there are other benefits to CardStar. Beside each store you enter into the app, you'll see the customer-service number and a link to the home page and store locations. A deals tab also pops up beside each store, showing you what's currently on sale.

A tap on my Shoppers Drug Mart tab tells me that if I buy a Crest Pro Health product I earn 3,000 bonus points. Good to know. Within this app you also get a list of the Groupon deals in your area or the area you're visiting. It's easier to stay organized and save money when you have fewer cards to carry and daily deals with the tap of a finger.

Angela Self is one of the founders of the Smart Cookies money group.

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