Sunday, November 2, 2014

Android app review: Scantopia

There are many mobile apps that enable you to earn money by using your phone or tablet. Scantopia is one of those apps and while the money-making opportunity isn't great, it is there.

Scantopia is an Android app that you can download on your phone or tablet for free. The idea behind the app is to get you to scan in bar codes. If you're lucky, you can get paid for scanning bar codes.  In addition to cash, you can also win tokens, which can be traded in for entries to various sweepstakes.

One nice thing about this app is that it allows for a lot of freedom. You can pretty much scan anything that has a bar code -- a box of cookies, a granola bar, a printer, a spark plug, etc. It doesn't even have to be an item that you own. You can walk into a grocery store and just start scanning items on an aisle. You can even scan the same item again the next day in many cases.

What you get for each scanned bar code varies, but typical rewards include $0.05, $0.10, one token, or two tokens. You'll also get $1.00 for your first scanned item. You can cash out once you've earned $3.00, in whole dollar amounts only. Payments are made through PayPal, so if you don't have a PayPal account, you'll need to set one up in order to claim your money. Tokens can be redeemed any time you wish for entries into the Progressive Jackpot sweepstakes (with prizes up to $1,000) or various "Weird Sweeps," which offer different prizes including coffee makers and wine fridges.

There are also special products every day that you can earn bigger rewards for scanning, called Daily Super Scans. The rewards for scanning these items often are in the range of $0.10 to $0.50. However, these items often must be scanned from your Home location.

You have to enable GPS to set a Home location, and not everyone will want GPS turned on so that the app can track you. However, if you don't mind allowing the app access to your location, you will get $1.00 for setting your Home location, and you can earn double tokens for items that are scanned from your Home location.

In addition to the pennies or tokens you can earn, you will occasionally be offered a coupon as an additional prize. These coupons (often for $0.75 to $2.00 off) may or may not be for products that you actually use, and they are not really exclusive coupons. They are coupons offered by, which you could download anyway even if you weren't "offered" them by Scantopia.

If it sounds complicated, it's really not. You are allowed 12 scans per day, but you can get more by waiting a half hour or by requesting other people that you know to send you more "energy," which allows you to scan more items. The app uses your phone or tablet's built-in camera to scan bar codes, so other than the app itself you don't need to download or install anything.

You should take your device's data plan into account before using Scantopia. Unless you can hop on a Wi-Fi network, this app can eat up your data allowance. Scantopia can easily use over 5MB of data for one day's scans.

The idea behind the app is neat, but the earning potential is very slight. Even if you get $1.00 for your first scan and $1.00 for setting your Home location, it will still take you a while to earn the $3.00 required to cash out. The time needed to scan all those items could be better spent on other money-making opportunities which could pay far better.

(Originally published on, February 2014)

UPDATE: Scantopia is no longer offered for download from the Google Play Store.

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