A spate of new services recently came on the scene which involve using smart phone apps to select offers and upload pictures of grocery store receipts in order to receive cash back on certain items. Options in this category include Checkout 51 and Ibotta.
It seems like a simple concept - except that in Ibotta's case, it's not. After signing up for Ibotta, you need to go through the digital coupon options for each store you may want to visit, even though some coupons are available for multiple stores. Then, after purchasing some of the items, you have to use your phone to scan each item's bar code. Finally, you take a photo of the receipt and upload it to Ibotta.
Given how hard it is to get a good photo of a long receipt with a cell phone, it was no surprise when Ibotta didn't accept my receipt. In order to make another attempt at processing my discounts, I would have had to rescan the bar codes for each item, then try taking another photo of the receipt to upload. No, thanks.
While Ibotta's implementation of receipt-based digital couponing leaves a lot to be desired, Checkout 51 does a great job with their service. Each week, you get an email from Checkout 51 with a list of their current offers. You don't have to choose any offers ahead of time. If you buy something Checkout 51 has a current offer for, you simply go to the Checkout 51 app, select which products you purchased on a particular receipt and upload the receipt.
The app lets you photograph your grocery receipt in sections, making it easy to send a clear copy of even the longest grocery receipt. You can upload multiple receipts each week if you happen to buy items at different stores or in different shopping trips to the same store.
You should get an email in less than 24 hours letting you know that Checkout 51 accepted your receipt and added money to your account. Checkout 51 sends you a check when your account balance reaches $20.
Digital coupons probably won't replace paper ones anytime soon, but they can augment regular grocery and drug store sales and coupons to reap additional savings.