Perhaps you haven't come across the receipt scanning app concept? Let's look at what a receipt scanning app actually is, why you should do it and which app to use..
So what's a receipt-scanning app?
Receipt scanning apps are a smartphone or mobile app made by companies that will pay via PayPal, or in other ways such as Amazon gift cards, in return for you to upload your paper receipts or digital receipts to their systems. They will analyse your receipts, figure out what you buy and sell that information to retailers and market research companies.
Now that might have just turned you off; after all, do you want your buying habits being analysed by companies? Well, here's the thing, your data is already being used to track your buying... use a supermarket or store loyalty card? If yes, you are already being tracked; the supermarkets look at your purchasing history to make recommendations to you for special offers and discounts for products you buy frequently.
Your internet browser tracks what you look at and what you buy, sells that data and then you get offer after offer come up for items you are interested in via online adverts and social media ads, so the technique is nothing new!
I look at it this way, if someone wants to give me money to show them my grocery receipt, so they can see if I like to buy wholemeal bread or sourdough or if I'm addicted to buying gallons of Diet Coke (I am!), or do I only purchase the finest branded mineral water, well that's fine by me! Frankly, sharing my spending habits with companies doesn't lose me sleep at night; worrying about money is far more likely to have me tossing and turning in bed!
So how does it work?
The receipt apps differ slightly, but the principle is the same; using the receipt scanning app, you take a picture of your receipt, upload it via the app on your mobile device, and once the app has reviewed the pictures of your receipts, and extracted all the necessary information, you will be rewarded with either points or cash. Once you reach a payment minimum for withdrawing your money or converting the points to cash/vouchers, you can cash out.
The minimum withdrawal amount is generally between £5 and £10, depending on the app, and how long this will take to be in a position to cash out will vary from app to app. Some you can earn £5 in a few days, others in a few weeks, and some in a few months; it really varies.
As I stated earlier, you won't get rich from receipt scanning apps, but the extra few pounds do add up, and many people will save their balance until Christmas, then cash out and have a decent amount to put towards the Christmas costs, and saving money for Christmas is a great thing!
The nice part of the apps is that you can use the same receipt on each app, meaning each receipt you upload is earning you cash on each app simultaneously, so you are monetising that receipt several times over, which is super handy!
Some apps now also allow you to email them copies of online purchases as well, so that Amazon purchases, food delivery or online supermarket purchase, order confirmation emails can be forwarded to a dedicated email address unique to your account. That receipt/email confirmation will also be included in your account and will count towards getting closer to your next withdrawal.
Withdrawals are normally paid out via a gift card being sent to you. Each app is different, and sometimes you can choose what gift card you get; other times, you will be sent a particular retailer's gift card, with Amazon being a very popular one.
The occasional app will also give you the option to be paid via PayPal, meaning you can receive 'actual cash' rather than a slightly more limiting gift card.
What sorts of receipts can you use?
Each app may have different rules on what sort of receipt they will accept. Some will take only food/supermarket receipts, and some will take pretty much any type of receipt!
As a generalisation, the apps aren't interested in receipts such as ones obtained from car parking, lottery tickets, prescription costs; it's the coffee shop, restaurant, supermarket, and clothing shop-type receipts that are interested in for them to sell on; most marketing companies aren't interested in where you parked or what medication you may be on!
Most apps will only accept a photo of a receipt from the last 7 days, so you need to keep on top of getting those receipts scanned regularly; otherwise, the app won't accept them.
It's monotonous scanning the receipts; I won't pretend otherwise, so it's better to scan them regularly and not let them build up; otherwise, you have to spend ages scanning them all in at once, made even more annoying if you are using several of the apps at once, as you have to scan each receipt into each app, so it takes even longer!
It's one of those little jobs that are perfect for doing when relaxing on the sofa while sitting watching the telly, as it's easy to do, doesn't take long, and means you are earning money while sitting watching Eastenders!
Most of these apps want your personal receipts, not business receipts, so you may not get credited for these, but I know some small businesses that regularly earn money sending a receipt photo to the apps, as these apps cant determine if they've bought a ream of paper in WH Smiths for personal or business use, so it's worth a try, but if you submit every expense it may ring alarm bells!
Some of the apps store the picture of the receipts within the app, in a digital format, which you can see, and that can be handy if you lose a receipt and need to return something to a shop, as you have easy access to the receipt and show this when returning the goods; it saved me a couple of times from not getting refunds!
Most of these apps are available for use on android devices or IOS devices.
Here are my recommendations for what I think are the best apps that I think you should have on your phone, and yes, you should use them all!
Amazon Shopper Panel
This scheme is the newest receipt app service to launch in the UK, although it's been in the USA for some time, and it's also the best!
You only need to upload 10 physical receipts per month to earn a £5 Amazon voucher. Hence, it's super-fast, and I would be shocked if anyone didn't accumulate 10 receipts per month to upload. However, receipts from Amazon.co.uk and other Amazon stores, including Whole Foods Market and Amazon Fresh, are not eligible.
You can also email receipts from online retailers, which are added to your account, making it even easier to earn rewards.
You can top up your balance by answering questions in the apps surveys section, where you can be paid for answering some quick and easy questions.
In February 2023, selected users were offered the opportunity to earn an extra £2 per month for allowing advertisements on their phones. I haven't been offered this yet, so I can't comment on how good/bad it is, but feedback from a few people I know who do have the adverts turned on have said it's a big drain on their phone battery, so I'll wait and see if I get offered the chance to use it this, and report back on my findings. Initially, £2 a month seems a low amount to be paid to you, to be subjected to adverts!
You need to have an Amazon account to take part, as the scheme pays you once your account reaches the minimum redemption amount of £5, and this is paid via a £5 Amazon gift card, direct to your Amazon account. The payments tend to be sent to you within the first few days of a new month, so as an example, your payment for February's receipt scans is sent to you in the first few days of March.
The scheme is by invitation only for Amazon customers, and in theory, Amazon will send you an email asking you if you want to take join up; however, I just downloaded the app, which was on the Apple app page, and signed up, and it registered me immediately, and off I went, so I think at the moment anyone can join up, but if it is full, it will allow you to join a waiting list.
Using the app, you take a photo of your receipt and rate the shopping trip (it takes 1 second to rate), and then once the receipt has been validated, you are awarded points which are then added to your Shoppix account.
Once you reach 3200 points, you can then cash out £5.00 (or keep the points in there and cash out later and cash out a more significant amount). You can choose to have the cash via PayPal with iTunes, Amazon, or Love to shop gift cards. Receipts are typically awarded between 25 and 30 points each.
They also used to allocate you with a dedicated email address for you to forward your online shopping receipts and your were then given points for your email receipt. Unfortunately this option ended at the end of November 2023.
Not every online retailer is included in the service, but most of the more prominent name retailers are. If not, the app will tell you the receipt is not recognised, and they will then double-check the receipt, and if ok, they will accept it; if not, you won't receive any points. I've noticed a decrease in the time between cashing out on this app; I forward all my online receipts, so it is worthwhile doing.
You can also earn extra points by conducting special surveys on the app, often asking more in-depth questions about a recent /shopping trip and what you think about the brand, and you will be awarded additional points for doing these, plus you also then get a scratch card, which you may be awarded extra points as well. Still, sometimes you are unlucky, and it's a no-win card!
It is a very easy-to-use app that accepts receipts from a wide range of retailers, although it doesn't yet have the functionality to forward online receipts to the service.
The app awards points for each scanned and accepted receipt. You usually receive 600 points per receipt you upload, with point redemptions starting at 20,000 points for a £2 PayPal voucher and 50,000 points for a £5 Amazon or a payment to your PayPal account.
Receipt scanning apps aren't known for their speed in being able to cash out, with the Amazon Shopper Panel system being the exception, but this app replaced the Receipt Hog app in 2020, which was notorious for being a slow burner, but Storewards is a step in the right direction, with faster payouts possible than some of its rivals.
It's well worth downloading as part of your receipt-scanning app collection!
Snap My Eats
Snap My Eats is a receipt scanning app based around scanning your food receipts.
The idea is that every time you buy something to eat, you keep a hold of the receipt and scan it into the Snap My Eats app. The app will ask you where you purchased the food from, how many people were involved in the purchase and where the food was going to be consumed (e.g. at home, at work, in the car etc.), and if you purchased the food in the store, through a drive-thru, or by another means such as a food delivery service.
The receipts can be from any retailer you purchased food from, perhaps a supermarket, convenience store, restaurant, or even a packet of crisps from a petrol station, basically anywhere you have purchased something to be eaten.
The app will pay you for each valid receipt you upload; the rate is £1 per 5 receipts, up to 25 receipts a month, which will earn you £5.
Once you get to £10 (Every 2 months if you scan the full 25 receipts every month), you can then cash out from the app. The service offers a range of withdrawal options from its reward centre, and you can choose what you would like; I always get a £10 Amazon voucher, which I try and save up for when I want to get something I really want.
It's a pretty easy way to earn £60 every year and one of the apps I tend to use the most.
You can download the app HERE.
I'm including this app in this post, in addition to the top apps, because I do like the idea of Zip Zero. I've given this app some stick over the last couple of years as it's been really hit-and-miss.
The app ran into financial issues during the first wave of the pandemic and spent around 18 months looking for additional financial backers. It looked pretty grim for the service; however, in late 2021, Zip Zero announced that they were launching an updated version of the app and re-launching their services... but with only a limited service.
So basically, the old premise was that you scanned a copy of any shopping receipt into the app, and you would be rewarded with 1% cashback on the receipt value, which in return could be redeemed as part payment towards one of your utility bills, once you hit £10 cashback. The 1% was reduced to 0.5% when things got tough, and then Zip Zero said they could not finance any withdrawals but to keep scanning, and once a new financial backer was found, they would then be in a position to make payments again.
Fast forward to 2023, and the app seems to have new backers. After several bouts of the chopping and changing of cashback amounts and ways for users who had a balance on their account but were unable to withdraw it, to get some of that credit back, the service is now allowing ongoing users of the app with a balance to receive £10 per month of previous credit to be able to be withdrawn and put towards the user's utility bills, and so far I've had £27 of credit paid to my mobile phone, which is great, and another £60 pending.
You earn units for your receipt scanning and more for any online shopping you might make via the Zip Zero app (Cashback),
ZIPZERO offers two types of Units:
1. Base Units (for sharing both in-store and online receipts):
– You will get 0.5% for sharing receipts and online confirmations connected to – shopping with Premium Partners (both online and in-store).
– You will get 0.1% (£0.01 in value as a minimum) for sharing receipts or online confirmations which have not come from shopping with Premium Partners.
2. Premium Units are earned by shopping with ZipZeroretail partners – the value of this reward will vary depending on the particular offer selected within the app.
I tend to use ZipZero for my Amazon purchases. If I need to make a purchase with Amazon, I go through the app and then earn 1% cash back on the purchase, and being I use Amazon for a large amount of my online shopping, it starts to add up!
For other online purchases I need to make, I tend to scan through what other cashback sites are offering, and if ZipZero is offering a better deal, I'll use them; if not, I'll use the other service, but in reality, this app is all about being to able cash from your till receipts!
I make sure every receipt I get, and my family get, is scanned into this app, and of course, all the other apps as well, as it's simply an easy way to earn a little extra cash.
You can grab the ZipZero app HERE.
To sum up, if you want to earn a few extra quid without having to do a great deal, then receipt scanning is, I think, the easiest way! The trick is to use multiple apps to make sure you are fully monetising your receipts and to get the family involved, have a place that all the family members know is the place to put any receipts they obtain, and make use of them all, as they all add up!
If you come across any other receipt-scanning apps you think I should be using, just pop them in the comments below, and I will investigate!
Image courtesy of Shutterstock, for which The Penny Pincher has paid a fee for use on this blog.