Full Rakuten Review
Rakuten, pronounced RAK-uh-ten, is one of the best cash back websites on the entire internet.
Rakuten was founded in 1997 as a Japanese e-commerce site.
In 2014, Rakuten acquired popular cash back and rebates website Ebates for $1 billion cash. This allowed Rakuten to expand its cash back services and provide better deals at more stores.
Ebates kept their name under the Rakuten brand until 2019 when the Ebates name finally changed to Rakuten.
So although Ebates is now officially Rakuten, not much has changed. The core service is still there.
You earn money on Rakuten by getting cash back for shopping online and in-store. Whenever you make a purchase at a qualified store, Rakuten will pay you a set cash back bonus.
For example, you might receive 8% cash back for shopping at Sephora.
You may be wondering to yourself, how does Rakuten make money? Rakuten is actually just an affiliate marketing company.
Whenever you shop at a website using Rakuten, Rakuten gets paid by that site for referring you. Rakuten then passes some of its affiliate earnings over to you in the form of cash back.
It’s almost like you and Rakuten have a partnership.
Rakuten has partnered with over 2,500 retailers and brands to bring you the best cash back deals.
Overall, Rakuten is a great service with a lot of value. And most importantly, it’s completely free.
Rakuten is best for you if
- You enjoy saving and getting cash back while shopping — This might sound crazy, but some people don’t like saving money. Taking the time to find coupons and deals isn’t worth the amount of money they can save. However, with Rakuten, you don’t have to spend hours searching for the best deals. All the deals and cash back offers are organized on the Rakuten website. Alternatively, if you’re using the Rakuten Cash Back Button, cash back offers are automatically applied to your purchase at checkout.
- You want to start saving money, but don’t want to spend time finding coupons and deals manually — Finding coupons and deals manually can be very time-consuming. Rakuten automates the process and allows you to easily search for cash back deals at your favorite stores.
- You shop a lot — If you do a lot of shopping, either online or in-store, it’s crucial that you begin taking advantage of cash back deals using Rakuten. You could be saving hundreds, possibly thousands of dollars each year on your purchases by simply creating a free Rakuten account and installing the Rakuten browser extension.
Ways to earn with Rakuten
Aside from the primary way to earn with Rakuten, which is cash back at stores, here are other ways that you can earn with Rakuten.
- Double Cash Back Stores — Double Cash Back Stores is a feature on Rakuten where you can find stores that have double, triple, and sometimes quadruple the cash back. For example, normally, you could get 2% cash back when shopping at Adidas through Rakuten. However, for a limited time, you can earn 8% cash back. If you go to the Rakuten website or app, then go to Double Cash Back Stores, you’ll see a list of a few dozen featured stores.
- Hot Deals — Hot Deals is a way for you to discover the best deals and coupons of the day. There are several categories that you can search to find coupons, such as BOGO (buy one get one) and free gifts (free gifts when you make a purchase). When you search any of these categories, you’ll find a list of hundreds of stores offering hot deals.
- In-Store Cash Back — In-store cash back specifically displays the stores offering cash back for in-store purchases. You have to connect your credit or debit card to Rakuten to use this feature. Whenever you make a purchase from a store that’s offering cash back, Rakuten will know because they will see that transaction on your credit or debit card.
- Travel & Vacation — You wouldn’t usually think to use Rakuten when booking a flight or hotel room. However, that’s exactly what their Travel & Vacation feature is for. When you book a flight or hotel room using a service like Expedia, you don’t earn cash back. However, by using Rakuten, you can earn cash back on your flights, hotels, car rentals, and more.
There are several alternatives to Rakuten. Many of these services can be used in addition to Rakuten, instead of replacing it completely.
For example, Ibotta doesn’t have to replace Rakuten, it can be used to find more cash back deals than what Rakuten has to offer. Here are all of the Rakuten alternatives:
- Ibotta (See full review here) — Best for cash back on groceries and other common items
- Swagbucks (See full review here) — Best for earning money using the internet
- Earny — Best Rakuten alternative
- Dosh — Best cash back app for everyday purchases
Rakuten top features
Besides the regular ways to earn cash back, Rakuten offers some other unique features that help it stand out from the crowd. Let’s discuss each one.
Rakuten Cash Back Button
The Rakuten Cash Back Button is a browser extension that automatically finds you the best cash back deals and coupons while shopping online.
When you activate the browser extension, Rakuten will begin working behind the scenes while you shop. If you visit a website with cash back offers, Rakuten will notify you so that you don’t miss out on any savings.
Like the cash back offers, the Rakuten Cash Back Button will also automatically find coupons for you while you shop.
This browser extension is used by over 3 million people and can be installed on Google Chrome only.
Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card
The Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card is a very unique addition to the Rakuten service.
The credit card offers a variety of benefits and can be used online and in-store. Here are some of the benefits that you get if you apply and are approved for the credit card:
- 3% cash back on qualifying in-store cash back offers
- 3% cash back on hotels, flights, rental cars and more
- $10 first purchase bonus
- 1% cash back on every purchase
- Unlimited cash back on all purchases
- No annual fee
- Price Protection and Return Protection offered by Visa
What’s especially great about the Rakuten Cash Back card is that you can stack your cash back earnings. This allows you to earn double the cash back on your purchases.
For example, say you are shopping at Macy’s using your Rakuten credit card. Rakuten is offering 8% cash back at Macy’s. This means you get 8% cash back on your purchase.
If you are using your Rakuten Cash Back card, you can earn an additional 3% cash back on top of the 8%. This means you’ll earn a total of 11% cash back
8% cash back + 3% cash back = 11% total cash back.
The Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card is also compatible with Apple Pay™, Google Pay™, and Samsung Pay.
To get the credit card, you have to apply with an application and be approved.
It’s recommended that you have a good to excellent credit score of 650 or higher to apply for the card. The higher your credit score, the higher your chances of getting approved.
Refer & Earn
The Refer & Earn program is a way for you to make additional money on top of your cash back.
Here’s how it works. For every friend that you invite to Rakuten, you’ll get $25, and your friend will get $10. Of course, there are conditions.
When your friend joins, they have to spend at least $25 through Rakuten before you can earn your bonus.
You can invite friends by sending them invitation emails, or by sharing your invite link on your social media or blog. Whenever someone clicks on your invite link, opens a Rakuten account, and spends $25, you’ll get a $25 bonus.
How you get paid
Getting paid on Rakuten is simple. The more you shop online and in-store using Rakuten, the more cash back you earn. Cash back is added to your Cash Back Balance, which can be viewed in your account dashboard.
Once your Cash Back Balance reaches over $5.01, you can redeem it either by a PayPal deposit or a mailed check.
Keep in mind that Rakuten only makes payouts once every three months. This means if you reach the $5.01 minimum threshold, you still have to wait for the next payout period to get paid.
Here’s a chart of the exact payout schedule:
|Purchased posted between||Big Fat Check sent|
|Jan 1 – Mar 31||May 1|
|Apr 1 – June 30||Aug 15|
|July 1 – Sept 30||Nov 15|
|Oct 1 – Dec 31||Feb 15|
Rakuten calls your cash back payouts “Big Fat Checks”. You can also view your Big Fat Check history in your account dashboard.
If you want to receive your cash back payout via a mailed check, you will need to provide your mailing address. Otherwise, you can just use PayPal and get access to your money instantly.
How to get started using Rakuten
Ready to start using Rakuten? Here’s how to get started quickly so that you can begin earning cash back on your purchases.
Even if you plan on using the Rakuten mobile app instead of the desktop site, you’ll still need to sign up, which you can do on the website.
When you go to Rakuten.com, you’ll see a button at the top right that says “Join Now”. Click on this button to begin.
A window will pop up, giving you a few different sign up options. You can sign up with your Google, Facebook, or Apple account. Alternatively, you can just sign up with your email address and create a new password.
When you sign up using any of the links on this review, you’ll get a $10 sign up bonus after you spend $25 through Rakuten. It’s really a sweet deal since you’ll be using Rakuten to shop online and in-store anyway.
After you sign up
After you complete the registration, you’ll land back on the Rakuten homepage. You’ll see a variety of options to start earning cash back.
At this point, you should begin familiarizing yourself with the Rakuten website. Learning where everything is will help you navigate through the website easier. This, in turn, will help you find cash back deals faster.
At the top of the Rakuten website is where you will find all the different cash back opportunities. For example, you can click on Double Cash Back Stores, Hot Deals, In-Store Cash Back, Travel & Vacations, and more.
Each of these menu options will bring you to pages where you can find deals relevant to that option.
For example, the Double Cash Back Stores page will display all the double cash back deals currently available on Rakuten. These are deals that have doubled, tripled, and sometimes quadrupled in size.
For example, Nike offered 1.5% cash back on Rakuten but is now offering 10% cash back. That’s almost 7x the cash back! These deals exist everywhere on Rakuten, you just have to be on the lookout.
Start getting cash back with Rakuten
Now that you’re familiar with Rakuten, it’s time to start saving money and earning cash back on your purchases.
The best way to use Rakuten and get the most out of the service is to use the Rakuten Cash Back Button. The Rakuten Cash Back Button is a browser extension that finds you cash back, deals, and coupons at over 2,500 stores.
The great thing about this browser extension is that you can continue shopping online like you normally do.
When you are shopping on a site with cash back offers, deals, or coupons, the Rakuten Cash Back Button will notify you at the top right corner of your browser. All you have to do is hit the “Activate Cash Back” button.
You can also check the Rakuten website or app for Featured Daily Deals, Hot Deals, and Featured Double Cash Back Stores.
These are deals that you wouldn’t otherwise know about unless you went to the Rakuten website. Sometimes these deals are worth taking advantage of, especially if you already plan on shopping at a store.
Is Rakuten worth it?
Yes, Rakuten is absolutely worth it.
You quite literally have nothing to lose by using Rakuten. It doesn’t cost a single penny and can work in the background to find you awesome cash back deals and coupons.
Look at it this way—you have to shop regardless. Whether it’s buying groceries or purchasing some new clothes for the season.
Why not use Rakuten and start getting cash back on all your purchases?
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