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My smartphone is my favorite piece of technology. When I purchased my iPhone, my couponing organization improved dramatically. I could use the note app for my grocery list and download apps for my favorite stores to have their sales readily available to me. Organization is great, but making money on items I purchase routinely is even better!

Apps like Ibotta and Receipt Hog that give you cash back for scanning receipts are a great new way to save even more on groceries, but getting those receipts uploaded can be a chore—stacks of receipts to scan and rejected receipts that require starting all over again can be discouraging. Here are some tips to make scanning those receipts as quick and painless as possible:

Techniques for scanning receipts

1. Include all necessary info: The most common pieces of information which must be included in your receipt scan are the name of the store, the receipt date, the purchased items, and the bar code.

2. Correct lighting: I have found that my receipts are captured easier in a less brightly-lit picture, such as on the dining room table without the overhead light. Receipt Hog has three different options for the flash: Off, On and Auto. I find that Auto works best on most pics.

3. Steady your hands: If the phone is not held steady, the receipt will be blurry. Place the receipt on a level lower than your waist. For example, use the table instead of your kitchen island or bar. You will be able to stand over the receipt as you hold the phone.

4. Let your camera focus: Count to five to give your camera time to focus on the receipt. This allows time for you to steady your hand and focus your camera for a clear picture.

5. Stay in line: Line up the receipt within the parameters provided. The app must check for the scanned item before you can receive credit.

6. Split your receipt: Since most apps let you add additional pages for scans, don’t hesitate to split your receipt. Attempting to scan a very lengthy receipt with one photo will usually result in a rejection.

Time Management for receipt scanning

1. Try to limit lengthy receipts: If you are purchasing large amounts of one item (15 sodas, 10 yogurts, etc.), your receipt will be long. Purchase items you plan to submit to Ibotta separately. This will save you time and reduce the chance that your receipt is rejected.

2. Scan as quickly after purchase as possible: It can be easy to put off scanning your receipts, but the object is to make money. Scan the receipt before it is misplaced, shredded, outdated or you forget what item you need to be reimbursed for.

3. Avoid duplication of receipts: Mark each receipt with the name of the app you’re scanning it to. For example, you can scan the same receipt to Ibotta and Receipt Hog, so write down which app you’ve already scanned to, avoiding confusion.

4. Keep the receipt handy until accepted by your app: Your receipt can be rejected for several reasons (my most frequent reason for rejection is that the picture is too blurry), so keep it handy in case you need to rescan.

5. Rescan immediately: Don’t delay rescanning if your receipt is rejected, and delete the rejected receipt in the app so you have less to keep track of.

Know the specifications for the particular app you are using

  • Ibotta: Use the scanner bar in the top right corner of the screen to make sure you have the correct item prior to your purchase. It’s not fun to get home, scan the receipt, and find your item doesn’t match!
  • Receipt Hog: This app is the easiest to use because you can scan any receipt with a grocery item; however, I have found it to be the most difficult to get a clear picture. But the app has some great features—it provides useful details such as the date the receipt is loaded, the subtotal, tax amount, total submitted, and amount of coins received for that receipt.

This is a guest post by Tammy from St. Pauls, NC
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