Rakuten Review

Rakuten

Overall Rating

9

Bottom Line

As far as earning cash back goes, Rakuten is as good as it gets. The platform is easy to navigate, and with its browser extension, you won't even know it's there.

Pros

  • Free to use
  • Cash back offers with more than 2,500 merchants
  • Online or in-store shopping discounts
  • Cash payouts

Cons

  • No Amazon rewards
  • You can only cash out every three months

Rakuten, formerly known as eBates, is a well-established e-commerce rewards platform.

Through its website and mobile app, Rakuten offers cash back deals for online and in-store shopping.

How does Rakuten work? The site partners with more than 2,500 retailers that pay Rakuten a commission for referrals (you).

When members make a qualifying purchase, Rakuten sends them a cut of its earnings.

In this post, you’ll learn everything you need to know about Rakuten, from how to sign up, to how much you can earn, and more.

In This Article

Rakuten Features

Let’s start with an overview of Rakuten’s flagship features.

Cash Back Rewards

Cash back is the name of the game. With Rakuten, you can earn up to 40% cash back on both in-store and online purchases.

Online Shopping

Rakuten members have access to thousands of cash back offers. From the app or website, you can browse through product categories or search for particular retailers. Each one has a certain cash back percentage attached to it.

All you have to do is click the merchant link in your account, and you’ll automatically get a rebate when you make a purchase.

In-Store Shopping

Those who plan to shop in person can still get in on the savings. And, fortunately, you don’t have to print out coupons to do it.

Once you find an online product that you like, attach it to a linked debit or credit card in your Rakuten account. Do this before you head out on your shopping trip.

Then, when you make an in-store purchase (with the same card), the retailer will notify Rakuten, and you’ll get your payout.

Pro Tip: If you’re using a debit card, make sure to run the transaction as “credit” at checkout. If you choose “debit” and enter your pin, Rakuten won’t be able to track the purchase, and you won’t get the deal.

Coupon Codes

On top of its cash back rewards, Rakuten also offers coupons, promo codes, and daily deals. This means that you’ll get some additional savings on the purchase itself while you rack up cash back.

Coupons can apply to both in-store and online purchases. You can even order online and pick up at the store with select merchants.

Expect to find coupons for everything from consumer electronics to travel and vacation packages.

2,500 Retailers

With so many merchants included, chances are at least some of your favorite stores are on Rakuten. Here’s a look at some of the most popular options:

  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Expedia
  • Macy’s
  • Kohl’s
  • Best Buy
  • Nike
  • Zappos

If you’re looking for the best possible deals, you can sift through Rakuten’s Double Cash Back offers.

These select retailers change over time and offer twice the store’s normal cash back rate when featured.

Rakuten Browser Extension

To make online savings easier to find, Rakuten offers a Chrome-compatible browser extension called the Cash Back Button.

The Cash Back Button works in the background while you shop online and will periodically pop up with coupons or cash back offers for qualifying purchases.

Also, it might find you a better deal if one’s available — its Price Magic feature will let you know if the same item is available elsewhere at a lower price point.

Mobile App

The Rakuten app makes it easy to access your Rakuten account and find deals on the go. The app works similarly to the website but makes in-store shopping a little simpler.

Since cash back offers can be instantly linked, you can apply a deal directly from your phone in a store. This way, you won’t miss out if you forgot to head to the website ahead of time.

The app is available on both iOS and Android. It currently has an excellent rating of 4.8 stars (out of 5) in the App Store and a still-impressive 4.1-stars (out of 5) in the Google Play Store.

Rakuten Payout Options

Unlike some other rewards sites that only pay out in gift cards or other perks, Rakuten offers real cash. You’ll have two options for how to get paid — via PayPal or a physical check.

Whichever option you choose, Rakuten pays out whatever is in your cash back balance quarterly (every three months). To get a payment, you’ll need a balance of at least $5 — if your balance is lower, it’ll roll over to the next pay period.

Both payment methods are free and come with the option to donate your excess change each quarter through Rakuten’s Cash Back for Change program.

PayPal

PayPal is the quicker of the two options since you won’t have to wait for a check to show up in the mail. Just link your PayPal account to Rakuten, and once it’s confirmed, you’re all set.

PayPal is a great option if you plan to use your earnings to shop online. The downside is that if you want to transfer the money over to your bank account, PayPal will charge a small transaction fee.

Big Fat Check

If you want to get your cash back into your bank account, your best bet is to request a check payment, which Rakuten calls your Big Fat Check.

While it’s doubtful that you’ll actually get a big fat check, at least you have the option to cash out this way. It’s also pretty cool that Rakuten automatically sends check payments quarterly if that’s the route you want to take.

Rakuten Cash Back Visa Credit Card

Are you a frequent Rakuten shopper? Boost your rewards by applying for the Rakuten Cash Back Visa credit card.

Here are some of the main perks that stand out:

  • No annual fee
  • $10 bonus on first purchase
  • Extra 3% cash back on Rakuten purchases
  • 1% cash back on everything else
  • Compatible with Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay

All cash back that you earn with the credit card is included in your quarterly Rakuten payout. Think of it this way — if you shop online at Macy’s, you might be in line for a 10% cash back reward. If you use your credit card for the purchase, you’ll bump it up to 13%.

Fees

Rakuten makes money by connecting shoppers with merchants. As such, it’s free to sign up for and there are no membership fees of any kind.

The real cost to consider is how much you’re spending in pursuit of cash back.

Sites like Rakuten are great if you’re scoring savings on purchases you would still make otherwise.

However, if you’re racking up credit card debt to get Double Cash Back deals, you’ll wind up pay way more in interest fees over the long run than you’re saving.

Getting Started

To sign up, head to the Rakuten website, Rakuten.com or download the app. All you need to get started is an email address and a new password.

Make sure the email address is the same one you use on PayPal.

From there, you’re good to go. You can link any credit or debit card for in-store shopping, and to cash out with either PayPal or check, you’ll need to enter your residential address.

The browser extension and mobile app are both optional, and you can find a link to download either one from the website.

To sign up for the Rakuten Cash Back Visa credit card, you’ll first need to open and sign in to your account and then you can apply right from there.

Promotions

Rakuten offers a few signup bonuses for new members. Woohoo!

There’s a welcome bonus, a referral bonus, and an additional sign-up bonus for Rakuten credit cardholders.

All bonuses will apply directly to your Rakuten cash back balance.

Welcome Bonus

New members are in line for a $10 welcome bonus, although it isn’t as simple as opening a new account.

To qualify, you’ll need to make your first eligible purchase of $25 or more. The purchase can be from any participating merchant on the website or app or in-store.

You have 90 days after you sign up to get the bonus, and it’ll show up in your regular quarterly payout.

Referral Program

Use your unique referral link to get a referral bonus. You can find it under the Refer-A-Friend tab.

You can send the link to friends through email, text, or social media. If someone signs up and makes a purchase through your link, you’ll both get a $30 bonus — it’s a win-win.

To qualify, your referral needs to make a qualifying purchase within 90 days after they sign up. Once they do, it could take up to 60 days for the bonus to show up in your balance.

Credit Card Bonus

If you choose to apply for Rakuten’s credit card, there’s an additional $10 bonus up for grabs. There’s no minimum spend amount tied to the bonus, so all you have to do is swipe the card and you’ll get it.

Security

Rakuten takes privacy and security seriously, so you can use the platform with the peace of mind that your data is protected. Here are some of the ways that Rakuten keeps its platform safe.

Credit Card Security

Credit card transactions occur in compliance with all industry and federal standards.   Rest assured, the processing, storage, and transmission of your credit card information is always secure.

Transaction Security

Rakuten utilizes Secure Socket Layer encryption for all transactions, so your sensitive data is protected, no matter where it’s going.

Data Privacy

Rakuten does not sell your data. To complete a transaction, it may need to share some of your information with third parties. But, the business is built on connecting consumers with brands — not trading consumer trends for profit.

Learn more about Rakuten’s privacy policy at its help center.

Cookies

Rakuten uses cookies to recognize you when you return to the site, but just like any website, you can choose to opt-out when you visit. This will not affect your ability to use Rakuten or any of its services.

Customer Service

Head to Rakuten’s online help center if you have questions or need help with your account.

Unfortunately, there’s no number to call. But, you can send Rakuten a message regarding your specific issue. For the most part, the FAQs and messaging options should get you the help you need.

Overall, the company has an excellent reputation when it comes to service and maintains an excellent rating of 4.3 stars (out of 5) on Trustpilot.

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Free to use
  • Cash back offers with more than 2,500 merchants
  • Online or in-store shopping discounts
  • Cash payouts

Cons:

  • No Amazon rewards
  • You can only cash out every three months
  • The only way to earn is by spending money

Alternatives to Rakuten

There’s no shortage of free cash back sites and apps. Why limit yourself to just one?

Here are some of the most popular alternatives to Rakuten.

Swagbucks

Swagbucks is a rewards site that offers similar cash back opportunities. When you shop through the Swagbucks portal, you’ll earn points (SB), which you can redeem for free gift cards or PayPal Cash. You can also earn SB by taking online surveys, watching ads, and playing games.

Ibotta

The Ibotta platform is similar to Rakuten’s, but it offers a couple of different options to earn cash back.

Just like Rakuten, you can shop online with its browser extension and mobile app, and you’ll earn when you buy things from its partners. The biggest difference between the two is their approach to in-store shopping.

Rather than linking deals to your card (as with Rakuten), you’ll scan your receipts and get cash back for qualifying purchases.

You can also opt to purchase gift cards from Ibotta ahead of time and get 10% cash back when you use them.

Drop

Drop is a mobile-only app that serves up rewards for spending with popular brands like Uber, Sephora, and Lululemon.

The app doesn’t pay cash back, but instead awards points for qualifying purchases. Once you build up enough points, you can redeem them for gift cards to retailers like Amazon and Walmart.

The nice thing about Drop is that you don’t have to hunt down deals or track purchases. Simply link your card, and you’ll automatically earn points for shopping with its partners.

Dosh

Dosh is a mobile-only cash back app that offers rewards on linked credit and debit card purchases.

While most cash back apps focus on retail shopping, Dosh also gets deals on dining and travel expenses. Plus, Dosh tends to partner with local brands rather than massive national ones.

You can cash out with Dosh once you hit $25 in cash back, and you can get paid easily through apps like Venmo or Jelli.

FAQs

What is the catch with Rakuten?

There’s really no catch. Rakuten is a free rewards program that pays members a percentage of the commission that they get for connecting customers to products — it’s really as simple as that.

Is Rakuten worth it?

As with any online rewards site, it depends on how you use it. If you find yourself buying things you don’t need while chasing cash back, then no, Rakuten is not worth it.

On the other hand, if you’re able to save money on a purchase that you needed to make anyway, then yes, Rakuten could definitely be worth it.

Is Rakuten legit and safe?

Yes, Rakuten is a legitimate cash back site that’s paid out more than $1 billion to its members.

Rakuten is not a scam and has a B rating and a 4.25-star customer review rating with the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

What is the downside to Rakuten?

Unfortunately, Amazon is no longer part of Rakuten’s cash back program, though it may still have some featured coupons.

There hasn’t been any real explanation from with company as to why, but you’ll have to look elsewhere for cash back offers from Amazon.

Is Rakuten Right For You?

As far as earning cash back goes, Rakuten is as good as it gets. The platform is easy to navigate, and with its browser extension, you won’t even know it’s there.

Best of all, when you use Rakuten for purchases you’re already making, it’s is a quick way to earn a little bit of free money.

The downside, of course, is that you can’t earn with Rakuten without buying stuff. The amount you spend dictates how much you’ll earn, so if you’re trying to save money, your payouts will likely be pretty low.

At the end of the day, Rakuten won’t serve up a big paycheck, but it can put some extra cash in your pocket. Just make sure that you don’t overspend on stuff you don’t need and you’ll be all set.

As the saying goes, every cent counts!

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