Every small business must track their expenses effectively. Regardless of what sector you operate in, purchasing is a necessity. From equipment to stock, access to paid online platforms or travel costs, professional licences and, of course, training, expenses are unavoidable.

Now, one of the ongoing challenges that many small businesses must solve is budgeting: identifying which purchases are an absolute necessity and which are only a possibility. Once, this has been decided, every small business must make sure that their expenses do not exceed their budget – that they’re accurately tracked.

There are a few ways to do this, however, in today’s evolving digital landscape, more and more businesses are leveraging digital technologies to optimize their purchasing. 

As we continue to navigate a world affected by COVID-19, more and more small businesses have been forced to embrace new, cutting-edge technology to manage day-to-day operations. Now, there breadth of technologies that deliver solutions across all areas of the commercial landscape but, in terms of expense management, none are more vital than implementing receipt OCR software

So, if your business is looking to get a grip on your expenses this year, here’s a list of the best free and paid best free receipt scanner app ins 2021. 


One of the more recognized receipt scanning and expense management software solutions, Expensify is a sound investment for small businesses. Offering both a paid and free receipt scanning software solution, Expensify has a plan to suit freelancers and small businesses alike. 

Users can get end-to-end expense management for individuals and teams alike. Bundling expense management and receipt scanning into different plans, you can tailor a plan to your intended use. For a nominal fee of between $4.99 and $9 per user, per month. 

For this cost, you will get:

  • Unlimited receipt scans and uploads through the Expensify mobile app
  • Automatically generated expense reports with each upload
  • Next-day employee reimbursement 
  • Automatic mileage tracking for travel expenses

Now, this all sounds great, however there is an issue with their android receipt OCR – specifically that the app is notorious for having functionality issues. 


Any small business owners who often finds themselves overwhelmed by piles of receipts, statements or documents will find that Shoeboxed offers them with a solution to any organizational nightmare. 

An outsourced receipt scanning company, Shoeboxed converts paper receipts into organized digital files. There is a range of pricing plans to choose from. You’ll receive either single or unlimited prepaid envelopes at the end of the month. Small business owners can send them directly to Shoeboxed who’ll then scan and upload your paper receipts, sorting them into a range of tax categories.

The only problem with this is that you’re entirely reliant on the postal service to make sure that your expenses are managed appropriately. However, Shoeboxed has an answer to this: their own mobile app that allows users to scan and categorize receipts according to the expenditure of your business. 

Now, apart from the choice of options which some small businesses might find disconcerting – offering a straightforward solution is often more efficient than a range of options – there’s also the issue that Shoeboxed isn’t a free receipt scanning software.

Although better for businesses who have a high volume of receipts to process each month, some businesses may find the expense not entirely worth it, especially if they have a lower quantity of receipts to process each month.

Shoeboxed charges $71 dollars a month for its service. Whereas this doesn’t sound like much, this adds up to $852 a year. Small businesses only processing, let’s say 10 receipts a month may decide that they cannot justify spending $852 a year on a service that they seldom use. 

Receipts by Wave

Favoured by some small businesses and freelancers, Receipts by Wave is a receipt tracking app that promotes expense management. Automatically syncing with the cloud, Receipts by Wave is one Apple and android receipt OCR that can be accessed both on your phone and on a desk or laptop.

One of Receipts by Wave’s primary selling points is that it has a free-to-use option that offers accounting services in addition to invoicing and receipt management solutions. Of course, Receipts by Wave does offer scalable payment plans, including credit card processing. 

Another clear benefit to using Receipts by Wave is that data can be exported to a range of accountancy tools, including QuickBooks and Excel. 

However, in terms of features, Receipts by Wave is lacking. There isn’t a credit note feature. We also couldn’t find any information about the accuracy of their OCR and, as well all know, OCR accuracy is paramount to managing expense receipts. 


Now we come to what we believe to be best free receipt scanner app in 2021 – Tabscanner. Featuring the world’s most accurate receipt OCR API, Tabscanner’s a cloud API to extract and parse receipt data accurately and instantly. 

Having successfully extracted more than 100,000,000 receipts worldwide, achieving 98% accuracy on core line data – line amounts, totals, establishments, and dates, Tabscanner offers superior consumer confidence. 

Not only that, Tabscanner is the only receipt OCR API that can return accurate line items from any POS receipt in the world – including global character sets and currencies. Wherever you are in the world, you can trust Tabscanner to deliver superior OCR results

There’s also a range of pricing plans to suit freelancers and small businesses – all with a set cost, meaning that you can scale usability as your business grows. 

The Basic package offers:

  • AI expense data extraction
  • API support
  • Accurate individual line-item extraction 
  • Scaled credit options

The Pro package offers:

  • AI expense data extraction 
  • Scaled credit options 
  • Format configurations
  • Account manager and API support

The Enterprise package offers:

  • AI expense data extraction 
  • Unlimited formats and data fields
  • Fixed and flexible credit options
  • Custom T’s and C’s and training models 

And much, much more. 

The Best Paid and Free Receipt Scanning Software of 2021 

As you can see, there are several receipt OCR API options for businesses to manage their expenses in 2021. These are just the four that we thought offered the most attractive and diverse options for small businesses. 

However, after having reviewed each in depth, there is a clear winner – Tabscanner. So, if you’re determined to get a grip on your expenses this year, Tabscanner is the only app you need.