Here's how UAE-based Indian national Tsaeling Kwok saves at least Dh400 every month by using discount apps Image Credit: Supplied


A UAE resident saves a minimum of Dh400 every month by using discount apps, vouchers and offers on activities ranging from eating out, clothes and grocery shopping, salon visits to hiring home cleaning service as well as international calling, among others.

Dubai: Would it not be nice to stick to a set budget yet be able to live the best life in the UAE? It would be undeniably great to find hacks to spend affordably on things like clothes shopping, salon visits and dining out. It would also be nice to save on regular expenses such as grocery shopping, home and car cleaning as well as mobile subscription plans.

The monthly outlay on the above activities is subjective to an individual or a household’s spending patterns. But some people have found smart ways to spend less while doing more by using discount apps, loyalty cards, offers on social media and even cashback and other benefits offered by banks.

Almost all banks in the UAE offer a variety of digital savings solutions Image Credit: Shutterstock

How to save on dining out?

A UAE-based Indian national Tsaeling Kwok likes to dine out at least once every weekend and would easily have to foot a bill of Dh250 to 300 for two people each time. But she saves at least Dh100 every time on dining out by availing offers on the HSBC Entertainer app, which is downloadable for free by account holders. This helps Kwok to easily save Dh400 every month only on dining out.

In addition, she uses the free to download food app called Repeat that rewards recurring customers. “We avail a 15 per cent flat discount on our food bills by using the Repeat app. Through the combined use of the HSBC Entertainer and the Repeat app we avail offers and discounts on a wider number of restaurants.”

Smart tips: A self-professed deal hunter, Kwok says, “My husband and I spend 15 minutes every time before we dine out to browse through deals available on restaurants and read reviews to select the best ones to dine at.”

Take advantage of deals

Kwok frequently uses discount website Groupon to avail various offers on services ranging from salon visits and entertainment activities to home cleaning. On an average, she visits the salon once in two months and manages to reduce her bills by at least 50 per cent by availing deals on Groupon.

“Recently I bought a deal on gelish (gel form of nail polish) manicure and pedicure, for Dh70 that originally costs Dh200 at three salons that I checked. Similarly, I spent Dh60 for haircut and blow dry that would otherwise cost Dh140. I have paid Dh160 for a 60-minute Balinese massage, slashed from the full price of Dh350. And I got my eyelash extensions done for Dh120, whereas most salons would charge anywhere between Dh150 and 300.”

She has also availed Groupon deals on a three-hour home cleaning service for only Dh70, which would otherwise cost Dh100 if booked on apps such as Urban Company and Justmop. When her family was in town before the pandemic, Kwok booked a Marina Canal dhow (Arab sailing vessel) cruise experience for Dh60 per person, down from Dh100.

Smart tips: As a frequent user of Groupon, Kwok shares some tips to find the best deals. “Once in two weeks, I make it a point to browse through the Groupon app to check out deals, offers and sometimes even flash sales. Since Groupon offers three months to avail the service from the time of purchase, it is easy to plan. Importantly, always read reviews before booking a service at a salon to find the best place offering the most attractive deals. Sometimes even stylists from salons are recommended, making the selection process easier.”

Smart savings through loyalty programmes and referrals

Smart savings through loyalty programmes and referrals

There are many ways to save on more regular and non-negotiables expenses too. Kwok avails a loyalty app to collect points and get cashback while shopping groceries at a supermarket chain. “With every 500 points collected, we get a Dh50 voucher. That’s why we always make it a point to shop from a particular supermarket. Of course, there are times when we buy certain specific items from other stores too.”

A teacher by profession, Kwok also has access to a specific company-promoted rewards app through which she can avail multiple deals and offers at restaurants, hotels, salons and entertainment venues, among others. “This year alone, I have saved around Dh1,200 by using this rewards app. I often avail a 10 per cent discount through the app while shopping for clothes. Another free to download app called Blue Rewards also comes in handy while shopping at more premium brands, as it offers a 10-15 per cent discount on non-sale items. As a practice, my husband and I always enquire about new apps and loyalty programmes to get the best value while shopping.”

Smart tips: Along with the discount apps, Kwok shares tips to win big from referrals. “While shopping online, each referral can earn both parties discount coupons worth Dh30-50. It is a win-win formula to shop smartly while also promoting brands of our choice. For example, I pay Dh555 for an annual mobile subscription plan that offers 50 free minutes, each, of local and international calls and 2 GB data every month. By making a couple of referrals, I got 12 GB of free data and 500 minutes free local calls for the full year.”

Browse social media for offers

From $100 (Dh367) voucher from a well-known watch brand to free ice-creams and coffees, Kwok has won several freebies and discount vouchers by participating in brand campaigns on Instagram and Facebook.

“Usually the process is quite simple, you like and share a post, tag a friend and follow the brand’s social media handle to win freebies and even raffle draws. Social media is a great place to find offers and promotions and search for the newest attractions in town. For example, a Facebook group called Dirham Stretcher offers crowd sourced but well-vetted information on on-going offers and promotions. We have bought many coupon codes from Dirham Stretcher applicable on online shopping.”

Smart tips: Kwok encourages fellow deal hunters to not shy away from participating in contests on social media and radio shows. “From free movie tickets to premium seating at the Dubai Opera and a Dh600 salon voucher for two, I have won so many freebies by partaking in contests on the radio. Here too I do not spend money on sending a text message but avail the free in-app messaging platforms. In fact, through one such contests I got to know of a new app called That Dubai Girl which I use now.”