Integrating shopping receipts with my bank statement

With most transaction now taking place by card, the days of the paper-based receipts in shops are surely numbered.

Some shops now ask me whether or not I want a receipt – I suppose to avoid the environmental impact of printing something that will immediately be thrown away. And some shops offer email receipts, but that has data protection concerns because I’m handing over me email address that is then invariably used for email marketing.

The obvious solution to me is for the payment card processors to capture itemised receipt information, and pass it back to the bank for integration with my online bank statement.

When I check my transactions on my mobile app it would be great to be able to drill down into the transaction to see exactly what I bought – and perhaps remind me how I managed to spend €92 in Ikea when I popped in for just one thing.

Warning: Does not represent realistic spending habits!

Of course, this does mean entrusting my purchase information to banks, but they can be regulated to treat the data carefully and safely. And I’m sure that the banks would love to analyse the (hopefully anonymised) data to have more insight into our spending habits.

Use in the shop

Several fin-tech companies already provide the ability to notify you of transactions in near real-time. Both my N26 and Revolut cards display alerts on my phone as soon as I’ve paid for something. So it shouldn’t be too hard to expand that to included detailed receipt information as part of the alert.

I’d receive my receipt on my phone before I’d even stepped away from the till, and I would be able to check it over for accuracy.

Then, if I ever needed to return anything, I could maybe just pull up a bar-code representing the receipt on my phone, and let the retailer scan it to retrieve the purchase transaction details on their system.

Usage at home

I could also use the detailed information in the receipts to analyse my own spending habits, and see just exactly how much money a year I’m spending on takeaway coffees and shampoo.

I could also set up detailed budgets for certain products – for instance, to limit myself to spending €30 a month on beer – and check my spending against those budgets.

VAT rates on Amazon

I live in Ireland but often buy things from Amazon in the UK.

I sometimes use services like Parcel Motel or AddressPal to buy items that won't deliver to Ireland. But it's also worth considering using these services to make a saving on VAT as well.

Amazon applies the VAT rate at checkout on goods according to the delivery address you select:

  • If you use a UK delivery address, the price displayed in the checkout is the advertised price on the site, based on a VAT rate of 20%
  • If you use an Irish delivery address, the price displayed in the checkout will be recalculated based on a VAT rate of 23%

This is because Amazon are required by the EU to collect VAT based on the country the customer lives in.

So, for instance, if you want to buy a set of headphones for £299.99, and get them delivered to the UK, then you will pay £299.99. But if you get them delivered to an Irish address, then you will pay £306.48. That's nothing to do with shipping costs – both addresses can get free shipping – that's because of the extra 3% VAT charged to Irish consumers.

When you think that Parcel Motel charges €3.95 at the moment to redirect a parcel from the UK to Ireland, you can still save a couple of quid.

And if you're buying something really expensive, such as a top of the line Microsoft Surface Pro 4 for £1,799.99 it could cost you an additional £45 if it gets delivered to Ireland. But it's worth noting that if you do consider taking delivery through Parcel Motel, their standard insurance only covers parcels up to a value of €100. To increase the insurance cover you need to pay an additional €10.50 to get extended liability cover for €1,500.

House of Fraser savings in Ireland

The UK department store House of Fraser only has one branch in Ireland, in the Dundrum shopping centre in Dublin.

It’s a nice enough store, but the prices charged to Irish customers are not always the most competitive, particularly when compared to the same products in the store’s UK branches.

This is a problem that a lot of Irish consumers face when shopping in foreign-owned stores, as the price conversions from pounds to euros (or dollars to euros) often don’t reflect the current exchange rate.

A case in point is that we were recently shopping for a big-ticket electrical item, and the price in-store in Dundum was listed as €480. As it happens, the only one of this item they had in stock was faulty, and so the store gave us a refund on a gift card and advised us to order direct from the House of Fraser website.

And so we looked and found the item available on the website for £395 (at current exchange rates, €468) – with free delivery available either to the Dundum store or to anywhere in Ireland. That’s a saving of €12.

However, when we used the gift card to pay their website gave a very generous conversion rate of euros to pounds – 91p for a euro, rather than the prevailing exchange rate of 84p for a euro – and that means we paid even less, just €435!  A total saving of €45.

And so the message is clear. If you want to save money when shopping in the Dublin House of Fraser, go into the store and buy a gift card, then use that gift card to order on their website. You’ll end up saving around 10% off the physical store prices.

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