Apps like Ibotta and Receipt Hog that give you cash back for scanning receipts are a great 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 Scan the receipt before it is misplaced, shredded, outdated or you forget what item you need to be reimbursed for.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.

6 More must-have rebate apps

  1. Jingit often has rebates for everyday items like bread, milk and butter, as well as seasonal items like football snacks. To score Jingit rebates you have to select the rebate before you buy the item and save it in your virtual shopping wallet, then you have 24 hours to redeem the rebate.
  2. Checkout51 offers rebates on specific and generic products but doesn't care what store you shopped at as long as you have your receipt. The rebates reset each Wednesday at midnight, so make sure to get your receipt submitted in time!
  3. Shopmium gives you cash back when you buy their featured products. Again, you can buy the product at any major store chain as long as you have the receipt. They transfer your rebate directly into your PayPal account, so there's no need to wait to cash out at a certain threshold. Read more about Shopmium here.
  4. BerryCart saves you cash on healthy and organic products just by snapping a picture of your receipt. It works at Walmart along with other large store chains like Target and Whole Foods. Read more about BerryCart here.
  5. SavingStar allows you to clip virtual coupons and get cash back for purchasing those items in stores. SavingStar tracks your purchases through your customer loyalty card, but you can also snap photos of your receipt to claim your virtual coupons and get cash back using their app.
  6. Snap is a new app by Groupon which gives you rebates on promotional items purchased at any store. Just snap a pic of your receipt to get your cash back. This app has a lot of generic cash-back items like candy, milk and apples as well as savings on specific items.

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