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How Do I Choose the Best Receipt Scanner?

A.E. Freeman
A.E. Freeman

The ideal receipt scanner will clearly scan receipts onto a computer and will come with software that allows you to organize the receipts or transfer the scanned receipts to the software program of your choice, whether it's spreadsheet or financial software. When looking for a receipt scanner, consider the price of the scanner and whether it is compatible with the type of computer you use. Other important considerations are the quality of the scanned image and ease of use of both the scanner and its software.

A receipt scanner allows you to cut down on the amount of paperwork you hold onto, as it makes a copy of a receipt and stores it as an image on a computer. When you scan receipts, you can sort them by type, month, or trip so that you can quickly find the receipts when you are preparing a tax return or preparing an expense report for reimbursement. Some receipt scanners are designed for use with a computer, while others are apps that you can install on a smartphone.

Receipt scanner apps can be downloaded to smart phones.
Receipt scanner apps can be downloaded to smart phones.

Image quality is important when choosing a receipt scanner. If you cannot read the scanned receipt, it is of little value. Some scanners have trouble reading receipts that are written by hand or that have been crumpled. Others may have difficultly scanning receipts that are not printed in black on a white background. Although no scanner will produce perfect images all of the time, look for one that can handle faded or colored receipts.

Most tablet have receipt scanner apps.
Most tablet have receipt scanner apps.

In some cases, the receipt scanner is only as good as its software. Look for receipt software that straightens receipts that scan crookedly and that allows you to search through scanned receipts. Some software programs that come with receipt scanners will automatically input data from the receipt, such as the amount, tax, and item purchased, provided the scanner is able to get a clear image from the receipt and read the data correctly.

If you use a smartphone, you may wish to get a scanner app. Scanner apps use the camera on your phone to take pictures of receipts. You can then email the image to yourself and upload it onto a spreadsheet or other software of your choice. An app on your phone eliminates the need for an extra piece of equipment and allows you to scan receipts when you are on the go. Phone-based scanners are also far less expensive than separate scanners and may even be available for free.

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Discussion Comments


@Charred - I think the best device in this regard is the portable scanner. These units are shaped like pens that you can stick in your pocket, but they have a scanning slot for your receipts and other paperwork.

I don’t have a smartphone so this would be the solution for me, rather than buying a phone that would let me download the receipt software. Even if I had a smartphone, it's not without its disadvantages, the main one being that it takes pictures of the receipt.

Therefore I think that for all practical purposes, there would be no optical character recognition where it converts the numbers to text; unless the software knows how to read the images, I don’t know.

In any case, a mobile scanner is the better solution for me.


@NathanG - I don’t know if a receipt scanner would deliver 100% accuracy, but I am willing to bet that it would get very close. Receipts are printed out and the numbers would be easy to read, I would think.

Also the scanning technology has drastically improved from where it was at years ago. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy the scanner. I am sure that the receipt scanner software would give you options on cleaning up or reviewing the imported data to make sure that it’s accurate.


Although I have never used a receipt scanner myself, I have considered it but held off for one reason alone – the quality of the scanned image.

In particular I am concerned with how well these scanners will read the text and the numbers that are on the printed receipt. Scanners come with something called OCR or optical character recognition technology.

This will read the text as best as it can and convert it into computer text that can be managed by data entry software and be easily manipulated. Years ago I owned a flatbed scanner and while it was great for images, the OCR technology leaved something to be desired. I was getting 80 – 90% accuracy rate on the written text, which might seem good but it still left me with a lot of cleanup.

With a receipt scanner, I think that nothing short of 100% would suffice; otherwise you have inaccurate data for your receipts.


The other advantage of having one on your phone and doing it right away is that you don't end up doing a pile of them, which can seem like more of a chore than a single one at a time.

But, I like having the option of both. In some cases I've had to scan in a pile of reciepts and having a neat receipt scanner that will process them quickly is invaluable.

I guess it might be because I don't have the latest phone, but the apps seem to take longer than the scanner to load, so I only really like using them for one off scans.


I would really recommend using a scanner ap on your phone alone with a bit of software on your computer for storage, rather than going out and getting a dedicated document scanner.

It's so much easier and more convenient, and I find it better to take a picture of the receipt right away, so it doesn't have time to get crumpled in my purse.

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    • Receipt scanner apps can be downloaded to smart phones.
      By: slasnyi
      Receipt scanner apps can be downloaded to smart phones.
    • Most tablet have receipt scanner apps.
      By: katie_martynova
      Most tablet have receipt scanner apps.