E-mail store receipts: Love 'em or hate 'em?

Sandra weighs in on retailers that want to reduce their paper output and pump up customer convenience.

A few of the retailers I frequent — notably Gap and Old Navy — are offering the option to forgo a paper receipt as proof of purchase. Instead, with your consent, they will email a receipt to the address you choose.

From an environmental-preservation point of view, I love this idea. But from a financial-planning point of view, e-receipts don’t work for me — not yet, anyway.

Here’s the thing: To maximize my free loyalty points (which translate into cash back at the end of every calendar year), I make as many purchases as possible on my one and only credit card — kids’ clothes, of course, but also drugstore purchases of cold meds, tissues, shampoo and all the rest. Then I pay the entire balance in full every month, so I never rack up interest charges. It’s convenient, but because I have so many purchases, it’s impossible to tell at a glance if I’ve been mischarged or whether my card has been copied and used at a dépanneur in Quebec (this has happened to me before). So I check each and every receipt against my bill before I pay it.

And I have a LOT of receipts to check off. (See the photo below.) Currently, I keep them in one place by “filing” them in my wallet. When I’m ready to check my credit card bill, I dump out all the receipts, check them against the bill, and then file all the paper together. Voila – empty wallet once again.

I know what you’re going to say: In that case, aren’t e-receipts a GREAT thing for you? Well, they WILL be great, when I can get all of my reciepts via email and store them in an electronic folder on my home computer. But for now, the mix is just… confusing. This past month I did opt for a few electronic receipts, and I just know that by the time I’m ready to do my check-off ritual, I’ll forget (sleep deprivation, too much to do at work, worried about one of the kids) about those few e-receipts, and freak out. (“What’s THIS charge!!! Oh, wait a minute….”)

Maybe I just need to get used to the idea of hybridizing my monthly accounting. Maybe.

In the meantime, I’d love to know: Do you check your credit card receipts against your bill? And do you prefer paper or e-mailed receipts?

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