Do Stores Accept Scanned Receipts

With the wide variety of methods available to access data, pay for items, and use reward memberships, many consumers may wonder if stores will accept digital copies of traditionally physical items. For example, will a store accept a scanned receipt to return an item?

Whether or not a store accepts a scanned receipt image as a method of confirming a purchase depends upon the retailer and the type of scanned image. Some retailers will accept scanned receipts captured using a company-specific app that links back to a customer’s store account and ID. Few, if any, retailers will accept a mere photograph of a receipt as proof of purchase. 

Keep reading to learn more about scanned receipts, the different ways to capture receipt info digitally, and why retailers may or may not allow scanned receipts. 

Are Scanned Receipts Valid?

Some retailers will allow you to display a digital copy of your receipt on your phone to initiate a return. But few very, if any, retailers will allow you to submit a print-out or hard copy of a receipt on paper as proof of purchase. 

If you take a photo of the receipt, a retailer may choose to reject this as well. Retailers are keenly aware of opportunities for fraud, misuse of strangers’ receipts, and scams and will, therefore, generally prohibit scanned receipts at the return kiosk.

An exception to this rule is receipts that have been scanned and uploaded via an official company app. Many retailers make these apps available and load them with features that make shopping, saving and returns easier and more centralized. 

Can An App Capture a Receipt?

Apps are a much more secure and official way to store purchase information, and this stored digital information can be used to help initiate returns. Many large retailers, such as Walmart, have their own apps that allow customers to keep records of their purchases and access copies of their receipts, which stay legible and scannable forever. 

These apps link up with a unique customer log-in ID and the customer’s payment info, which helps everything to work in a streamlined and secure manner. These apps are easy to use, often sync with other in-store features and offers, and help keep track of receipts simply and formally. 

They’re an easy way to help you stay organized and have all data on hand (and in your hand) at a moment’s notice. Official store apps are also often easy to link up to other digital services such as scan-and-go, online ordering, and rewards points. 

Is a Photo of a Receipt Valid? 

For the most part, stores will not allow you to use a photograph or a photocopy of a receipt as proof of purchase. It is simply too easy to commit fraud this way, and there is no way to link the image to an original receipt. Even if the photo is on your phone and the image is legible and sharp, most retailers will tell you that you need a physical or an official digital receipt via an app. 

A customer service employee may ask to see your phone to verify that you are displaying a digital image via an official app as opposed to showing a mere photograph of a receipt. Other retailers may have you scan a QR code at the return desk to initiate your return via the official app. This helps reduce fraud and makes the process easier, minus having to hand over your phone for verification.

Fraud is a Concern

You may wonder why all of this is necessary anyway. Can’t the retail worker or manager take your word for it? The main reason why scanned copies, photocopies, and photographs of receipts are generally not allowed is that it is very easy to commit fraud this way. 

It is too easy to fake a return or uses illegitimate images to return items that scammers have no right to be returning.

As this lost revenue costs retailers millions of dollars annually, companies have the incentive to reduce loss and prohibit those return practices that are likely to cost them the most money via fraud. Keeping return rules strict and prohibiting scanned receipts is one of the simplest ways to accomplish this. 

What Can You Do?

So, what can you do if the store you frequent won’t accept scanned receipts? Some stores will allow receipts without a return in exchange for a store gift card. Others may have a mobile app that you can use to store digital apps so that you have handy access to all store receipts in the future. Just download the app and follow the in-app instructions to store purchase information. 

A simpler way to help keep things organized if you’re a digital minimalist is to save your store receipts in a separate folder, envelope, or box and have them on hand for later use. Categorize them by date and store, and you’ll be ready for a return if necessary. 

Don’t become combative or rude if your return is refused based on a scanned receipt. Ask questions, find solutions, and understand that the restrictions that retailers put in place help protect the bottom line and employee wages and help keep prices lower for customers. 


Most stores will not accept a scanned copy of a receipt as valid proof of purchase. Nor will they accept photographs of receipts. However, some stores have apps that allow you to scan and store paper receipts or store receipts digitally as you scan items in-store. The digital copies of these receipts can then be used to initiate a return. 

These measures are taken to help retailers combat fraud, which is reduced if retailers rely on authorized digital or original physical copies of receipts. 

Another way to store receipts without a smartphone is to keep copies on file in a box or a file, categorized by date and by store. Then you’ll have them on hand when needed. Whether you choose an app or a physical receipt, you’ll be helping stores combat fraud and ensure you can complete your return safely and quickly. 

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