When I shop online, I always use a money-saving browser extension. There are tons of different extensions you can add to your browser to help you compare prices, track prices over time, find coupon codes, or earn cash back.
Karma promises to do several of these things in one service. It’s kind of the Swiss army knife of shopping tools, offering you multiple features in one little piece of software. But can it replace your go-to shopping extensions and apps?
What Is Karma?
Karma (formerly known as Shoptagr, short for “shop tagger”) is a free shopping assistant available as both a browser extension and mobile app. It can save your favorite merchandise to a shopping list and track its prices and inventory levels over time. When you’re ready to buy, it can help you find a coupon code to get the best deal. And you can earn cash back with every purchase at a partnered online store.
I recently gave Karma a try to see how well it does at each of these jobs. I focused primarily on the browser since that’s how I shop, but I gave the app a spin too. Since I happened to need a new pair of shoes for fall, I decided on shoe shopping as a way to put Karma’s various features to the test.
How Karma Stacks Up
When it comes to saving money with browser extensions, this wasn’t exactly my first rodeo. I’ve tried several others, and I’m currently a regular user of PayPal’s Honey. However, Karma differs from Honey in several distinct ways.
|Number of retailers||50,000+||30,000+|
|Compares Amazon sellers||No||Yes|
|Rewards options||PayPal||PayPal shopping credit or cash, gift card|
What Sets Karma Apart?
Karma is just one of many online shopping tools that can help you track prices and find coupons. But it offers some perks most others don’t have.
- Multiple Wish Lists. Many apps can create a watch list and track prices on merchandise. But Karma is the only one that lets you create and organize multiple shopping lists for different types of goods.
- Charitable Giving. The Karma app and extension don’t just save you money. They can also help you share with others through the Karma Gives program — at no cost to you.
- Security. Unlike many shopping apps, Karma promises not to sell your personal data. Plus, it uses 256-bit encryption to keep your user information private.
Key Features of Karma
The Karma browser extension is available for all major browsers, including Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari. Karma also offers a shopping app for iOS on Apple’s App Store and an Android app through Google Play. Both the extension and the mobile app are free.
Karma works with over 50,000 retailers across the web. When you see anything you like at one of these retailers, you can click the Karma Button to save it to a wish list for later. Karma stores all your saved items on your Karma Dashboard (under My Items) so they’re easy to find later.
From the Karma Dashboard, you can organize your saved items into multiple lists for different categories. You can sort each list based on price and what’s in stock. Clicking on any saved item will show you how the price has changed over time. And you can share your wish lists with family and friends.
Karma also helps you find new stuff you might like. When you view one of your saved items, it shows you similar merchandise from other online stores. For instance, when I clicked on a loafer, Karma suggested other loafers and a similarly styled mule.
However, it’s not immediately obvious how to use some of these features. When I created a list called Shoes for my shoe shopping, I couldn’t figure out how to add shoes to it. All the pairs I saved went to my main My Items list, and I couldn’t figure out how to move them.
According to Karma help, there’s supposed to be a drop-down list on the left-hand side of the Karma Dashboard for organizing your lists. However, that’s out-of-date information. I eventually had to ask another Karma user to explain the correct process: Click on a merchandise listing, then click the little check box marked “wishlists” to move it to a new list.
Price & Inventory Notifications
Karma provides real-time alerts on all your saved items. The app notifies you when a listed product’s price drops, when it’s back in stock, or when it’s about to sell out. This feature helps you make your purchase at the best time.
You can choose from three ways to receive notifications: email or push notifications via web or mobile. You can customize your preferences to receive each type of alert by whichever methods you prefer, including none at all.
Karma also sends notifications about your online activity (such as purchases) and sales and coupons for your favorite retailers. As with other notifications, you can choose how to receive these alerts or turn them off entirely.
When you’re ready to buy any of your saved items, Karma automatically looks for coupon codes. It compares all the codes and applies the best one. You can also find coupon codes on products you haven’t saved yet by clicking on the Karma button and selecting “Coupons.”
However, I noticed some glitches with this feature. The first time I tried to place an order, Karma tried 10 different coupon codes and told me, “No regrets: You already snagged the best deal.” That didn’t bother me since I was already getting a 25% discount by shopping on sale.
But before placing the order, I went back to double-check that I had selected the right sizes. The second time I processed the same order, Karma searched again and claimed to have found me a coupon code for 40% off.
That was confusing enough by itself, but things got worse when I checked to see what the code was. It was the same coupon code as one I’d seen earlier that required you to sign up for text notifications from the retailer, except Karma’s version didn’t warn me about the text alerts.
That’s a deal I would never have taken on my own since I hate mobile push alerts and never sign up for them. If I hadn’t been on the ball, I might have entered my mobile number when asked and signed up for mobile alerts without realizing.
Fortunately, I noticed the problem and manually removed the coupon code. But I was annoyed with Karma for signing me up for this offer without telling me about the requirements. And I still have no idea what caused Karma to offer me different coupons the first and second time I processed the same order.
Like many shopping apps, Karma offers you the opportunity to earn cash back on purchases. However, unlike many apps, you’re not stuck with a limited selection of gift cards as rewards. It fills your Karma Wallet with real cash you can cash in via PayPal.
Your Karma Dashboard shows which products have Karma Cash offers associated with them. The amount you can earn depends on the retailer. For instance, my dashboard showed me offers of up to 1% cash back from FreePeople and up to 2% from OtterBox.
The Karma Cash feature worked well for me. I got my $5 sign-up bonus right away, and when I used Karma to make a $100 purchase, I earned another $5 in Karma Cash. However, I’ll need to earn another $20 in rewards before I can transfer the money to my PayPal account.
Karma also has one extra feature most rewards apps lack: Karma Gives. Each time you purchase over $50, Karma gives $1 to a charity of your choice. So while you’re helping yourself with savings, you can help others at the same time.
You choose a cause, and Karma tells you which charities it might give the money to. However, you don’t get to choose which specific charity receives your Karma Gives donations. You only know it will be one of the ones on the list.
If your priorities change, you can switch the cause you support with your Karma Gives donations. However, Karma’s terms of service specify you can only give to one cause per year. So if you switch causes before a year passes, you will be unable to give until the year is up.
The Karma Gives feature is still in beta, but it worked for me. When I made a $100 purchase, Karma noted that it had made a $1 donation toward my selected cause, fighting climate change.
Advantages of Karma
Although Karma isn’t as well known as other shopping apps, it offers many distinct advantages.
- Desktop and Mobile Versions. Karma is available as both a browser extension and mobile app. That allows you to access your Karma lists and earn cash back across multiple platforms.
- Multiple Ways to Save. Karma is an all-in-one tool for saving money online. It helps you track prices, find coupon codes, and earn cash back, all at the same time.
- Real Cash Rewards. Many shopping rewards apps give you points you can cash in for gift cards. With Karma, you earn real cash you can redeem through PayPal.
- Sign-Up Bonus. As a new user, you get $5 in your Karma Wallet right away. That sets you well on your way to earning your first reward. However, you only get to keep it if you purchase at least $30 worth of merchandise using Karma within 90 days.
Disadvantages of Karma
Nothing’s perfect, and that includes Karma. When I tried it, I discovered a few significant drawbacks.
- Some Glitches. I had trouble organizing and viewing my wish lists in the Karma Dashboard. I also noticed that if I tried processing the same order multiple times, I got different coupon code offers each time.
- Can’t Add Products in App. The Karma app doesn’t give you access to the Karma button. You can view all your existing lists, but you can’t add new products.
- Limits on Rewards. You can’t cash in your rewards via PayPal until you have $30 in your Karma Wallet. However, your Karma Wallet can’t ever hold more than $75. Moreover, rewards don’t become available until at least 90 days after a purchase. That means if you use Karma regularly, you could find yourself stuck — unable to cash in rewards until the 90-day deadline and unable to earn more in the meantime.
- Spam. Karma doesn’t sell your info, but it does send you direct marketing messages about its products and services and products from its partners. Fortunately, you can opt out to stop these messages.
Is Karma Legit?
Yes, Karma is a legitimate shopping rewards tool. The Karma app earns an overall rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 from Apple App Store users and 4.3 stars out of 5 on Google Play. While some users on both sites complain about glitches, no one calls the app a scam.
Reviews for Shoptagr on Trustpilot are more mixed, with only 2.9 stars out of 5 overall. However, most of the complaints are from users who say they were unable to turn off the app’s marketing messages.
The only reviewer who called it a scam said the app had failed to give them cash back on a costly purchase. However, that sounds more like another glitch than a scam.
Alternatives to Consider
Karma is a good, all-purpose shopping app that helps you save in multiple ways. However, there are many other rewards apps with their own unique perks. Depending on what you’re shopping for and where, you might prefer one of these alternatives.
|Product Service||Best For|
|Capital One Shopping||Quickest rewards redemption (as little as $5)|
|Honey||Amazon price comparison|
|Rakuten||Biggest sign-up bonus (currently $30)|
On the whole, I’m satisfied with my Karma shopping experience. Using this tool made it easier to compare offers from different stores on a single page and find a good deal. I earned a little cash back on my purchase and was even able to help a good cause.
However, I’m not sure I’m ready to give up Honey in favor of Karma. The various glitches I ran into with Karma’s dashboard and its application of coupon codes were a bit off-putting. And the rewards Karma offered weren’t any better than what I usually get with Honey.
For now, I think I’ll keep Honey as my primary savings tool for shopping online. But I’ll leave my Karma extension active in Chrome and check in with it every now and then. If I ever find the glitches have improved, maybe I’ll make the switch.