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The world is full of rituals.

Exchanging business cards is one of the more time honored one. But we often forget one thing – the humble card is not about the paper it is printed on. It is about the person behind it. It is about the door to opportunity that could open up.

Unfortunately, the same paper enters the blackhole of a ragged card holder or the hidden recesses of a drawer never to be seen again. Though hanks to the movement towards a paperless culture The Future Is Here - Your Guide to Having a Paperless Life Today The Future Is Here - Your Guide to Having a Paperless Life Today Paperless – a term that is used quite often now days. But what does it mean? And to what extent does it apply? Certainly we all still use paper to some degree despite the advancements... Read More , we can now have the best of both worlds. The etiquette of exchanging business cards can be complemented with modern business card management apps that help us take the printer’s ink and convert it into bytes.

Yes, it’s time to rethink the humble business cards Rethinking The Business Card Rethinking The Business Card The business card is a ubiquitous sight in any business meeting. The first documented use of them can be tracked to Japan in the 15th Century. These formal royal announcements, known as 'meishi', were distributed... Read More , while keeping the old customs alive.

There are many scanner apps on the market, but the best business card scanner tools offer one more specialized ingredient. They OCR to extract the printed information and convert it into bytes, but they also help you form relationships. It could come from simple LinkedIn integration or an instant way to connect to them via Skype or WhatsApp. Or it can be some advanced CRM pyrotechnics to help manage a legion of contacts.

We look at what the best business card scanner apps bring to the table.

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1. Microsoft’s Office Lens

Every worthy note-taking app has found a way to introduce it. Including Microsoft OneNote.

Last year, Microsoft gave us the Office Lens application to read business cards and convert them into digital contacts. Thanks to the camera, you can snap pictures of whiteboards, or printed documents and convert them into digital documents. For our particular need, use the Office Lens Business Card Mode feature to save a scanned business cards to a OneNote notebook.

Office Lens

Office Lens uses OCR to format the card information in OneNote, so you can access contact information from the card. For example: You can email a client or click-to-call with Skype.

That’s another notch you can add to OneNote’s productivity benefits 10 Unique Ways to Use Microsoft OneNote 10 Unique Ways to Use Microsoft OneNote OneNote is one of Microsoft's most underrated apps. It's available on almost every platform and can do many tricks you wouldn't expect from a note keeping app. Read More – using it as a Rolodex.

Key Features:

  • Cropping, straightening, and enhancing photos
  • The OCR feature formats the card and makes it searchable.
  • Use OneNote to export the business card as a VCF file and import it into Outlook or your phone’s contact list.
  • The scanner mode works with English, German, and Spanish business cards, with more languages coming soon.
  • Scan business cards in Simplified Chinese and extract contact information.

Download: Office Lens for Windows 10 Mobile | iOS | Android

2. Evernote

Business card scanning on Evernote is a Premium feature.

Use the Evernote camera on your smartphone to frame the card and take a quick snap. The camera automatically finds the edges and you don’t have to manually make any adjustments in most cases. Evernote digitizes it.

The benefit comes after that – Evernote offers business users an integration with their LinkedIn accounts. Evernote sources LinkedIn and creates a searchable note with relevant information about your new contact. The scanning, optical recognition, and LinkedIn searching happens automatically.

This Evernote support page goes into the details. Evernote offers a trial with 5 business cards.

Key Features:

  • Each scanned business card becomes a contact note in Evernote.
  • Evernote taps any LinkedIn profiles and imports additional contact information from that profile.
  • All information is editable and you can add additional notes, call, text (SMS), or email the person.
  • Automatically set up Evernote to save the information to your phone’s contacts (Tap your account name and select General > Camera > Business Cards and toggle Save to Contacts.)

Download: Evernote for iOS | Android

3. Scannable — For Evernote Free Users

The best Evernote workaround for users who are on the free plan.

Scannable is a free app available for iPhone users looking for the paperless workflow. Scannable recognizes business cards, receipts, whiteboards, and any other paper you point the camera at. Scans are automatically cropped and enhanced and converted into clear digital documents.

Scannnable works almost identical to the business card scanning mode of Evernote Premium. You can connect it to your LinkedIn account and add in details from your contact’s LinkedIn profile, including a photo. You can automatically add these to your iPhone contacts.

Scannable

Key Features:

  • Automatically recognizes and scans when pointed at a business card.
  • Pull information from business cards and LinkedIn (including profile photos), and save it all to your contacts list.
  • Information can also be saved to any pre-defined Evernote notebook.
  • Send your own info to your business contacts.

Download: Scannable for iOS (Free)

4. FullContact Card Reader

Use human powered transcription to convert your business cards into contacts integrated with more than 250 apps like Salesforce, Mailchimp, and more.

The FullContact Card Reader is a full-fledged business card scanner, suitable for maintaining large databases of leads. It uses human transcription services to ensure accuracy of the conversions. Expectedly, the basic app is free, but the backend service is not. The card reader comes with 10 cards free. After that, you can purchase card packs for as low as $9.99 USD or pay $99 USD per year for 1000 cards (via an in-app subscription).

FullContact Card Reader

This can be the ideal app for managing contacts sourced from large networking events like sales conferences or trade shows. You can maintain the FullContact Address Book across all your devices. Small businesses can take advantage of its simpler integration features with tools like Excel, Evernote, OneNote, Microsoft Exchange, and Office 365, or the humble but true Google Contacts 10 Easy Tips to Rescue Google Contacts from Neglect 10 Easy Tips to Rescue Google Contacts from Neglect Google Contacts is perhaps the least organized of all Google services we use. Most of us neglect it. Here's a complete guide to spring clean and organize Google Contacts. Read More .

You can also add FullContact to your Gmail inbox and add, edit, or pull in extra information (like email signatures) to enrich your contact database.

Key Features:

  • Real people transcribe the card before it is added to the CRM app of your choice.
  • The app natively supports Salesforce, but also offers integration with more than 250+ apps.
  • You can also automate your FullContact tasks with other Zapier integrations across more than 500 apps.
  • Scan one-sided and two-sided business cards.

Download: Full Contact Card Reader for iOS | Android

5. CamCard

A professional card reader app for consumers and enterprise users.

CamCard is a popular business card reader app that is available across devices, supporting Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, BlackBerry, and the web app. It was among the top paid apps on iOS in 2014. The app is designed for quick entry of card information and also exchanging electronic cards securely. CamCard also notifies your contacts when you change your personal info mentioned in your electronic card. For example, when you join a new company. Likewise, you are informed when your contacts change their information.

CamCard

CamCard can optically recognize card information and makes it easy to look-up the information when you want to call, email, or browse LinkedIn from the app. The card reader supports 17 languages including traditional Chinese, simplified Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. As a Chinese startup, the company recognizes the everyday culture of exchanging physical cards and the clutter problems that come with it.

The basic app is free and allows you 200 card scans in the trial. The paid app without restrictions costs $0.99. CamCard apps for enterprise users are also available at different price points.

Key Features:

  • Add images, notes, and reminders to contacts.
  • All card information is synced to the cloud account.
  • Use the Outlook plug-in to import contacts into the mail client.
  • Manage all your business cards with quick search and tags.
  • Batch scan of business cards is available.

Download: CamCard for iOS (Free) | Android (Free)

6. Haystack

Completely free! Unlimited scans, full featured, and no ads.

That’s what the plug says on the download page. Haystack is a business card scanner app, but it’s also a digital card creator. When you open the app for the first time, create your own personalized card 30+ Free Business Card Templates for Every Profession 30+ Free Business Card Templates for Every Profession Even with smartphones and social media, using business cards has its own benefits. A well-designed business card is a fantastic way to connect. Use these free business card templates and deliver important information effortlessly. Read More . This digital card can be exchanged with any new contact, whether they use Haystack or not. If they do not have the Haystack app, they see the mobile version of the digital card, which they can then save directly to their device.

Haystack

Like all scanner apps, the app quickly scans and pulls in the details from a physical card into your phone. But the most useful feature? Haystack cards keep all data up-to-date. The details on your contacts gets updated with every promotion, job changes, or address moves.

Key Features:

  • Backup an unlimited number of contacts to the cloud.
  • Share your Haystack card with absolutely anyone, anywhere.
  • The app also supports NFC technology for card exchange with other Haystack users.
  • Cards can be shared to any platform — Android, iOS, Windows Mobile, web, and vCard.

Download: Haystack for iOS (Free) | Android (Free)

7. ScanBizCards

Choose between scanning your own cards with OCR or submitting it to the company for manual transcription.

ScanBizCards is a heavy lifter with its support for multiple CRM platforms like Salesforce and SugarCRM. The app comes in three flavors – Lite, Premium, and Enterprise. The free version offers unlimited card scanning, but limits a few of the card management features. All contacts are backed-up to the cloud and can be synced across devices. In the Lite version, you are limited to 5 cloud syncs per week.

ScanBizCards

Manual card transcription costs $0.18 per card in the Lite version. You can just as easily export it to a CSV file too. CRM and CSV export are not available in the free version of the app.

Key Features:

  • ScanBizCards supports unlimited scanning of business cards.
  • Access all your contacts via your cloud account.
  • Sync across devices and with your address book.
  • Search your cards and organize your cards with custom folder names (limited to 1 folder in the Lite version).
  • Supports double-sided business cards.

Download: ScanBizCards for iOS (Free, Upgrade is $1.99) | Android (Free, Upgrade is $1.99) 

Other Business Card Scanners You Can Try Out

One day, smartphones will integrate business card scanning as a default part of contact management. Some in the Samsung S series have it. Till then, you have your handy camera app and a river of scanners to choose from. Here are a few more you can snap with:

Pick the Business Card Scanner That’s Right for You

Picking the right business card scanner is going to be a very subjective exercise. Pick something simple, like Scannable or Office Lens, if you are someone who comes across the rectangular scrap of embossed paper once in a while. These apps are more than enough to handle small networking events also.

But if you are a business magnate or someone who wants to turn a lead into gold, then bring out a big gun. The FullContact Card Reader or the versatile CamCard could be favorites. Because for someone with legions of people to follow, scanning is just the tip of the spear. What matters more is how the scanner OCR brings in and organizes the information for followups.

Remember this golden rule: Our memory sucks.

Trust a good contact management system instead. Today’s contact could be tomorrow’s friend. That’s why it is important to turn scanning business cards into a routine.

What’s yours? Do you scan business cards? Which is your favorite app or workflow? Tell us everything in the comments.

  1. Anastasiia
    September 12, 2016 at 2:38 pm

    Really inforamtive article, thank you for that. I don't use any of this apps,because I have found one that suits me better than any from this list. It's Business Card Reader CRM Pro. You can check it on Google Play. Really useful thing nowadays.

    • Saikat Basu
      September 15, 2016 at 2:47 pm

      Thanks Anastasiia. Will definitely check it out.

  2. John Muir
    August 5, 2016 at 12:08 am

    Thank you for the list...

  3. graeme
    June 8, 2016 at 1:39 pm

    Great article - needs proof-reading

    • Saikat Basu
      June 12, 2016 at 6:05 am

      Thanks Graeme.

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