Rakuten Rewards is a must have if you do any sort of online shopping. You can earn cashback, plus a nice signup bonus, for simply shopping online at no extra cost to you. It is easy to use and it works to help you make money.
What Is Rakuten
Rakuten, formerly Ebates, is an online and app-based cashback service that earns you money for your online purchases at no extra cost to you.
Ebates was founded in 1998 in Menlo Park, CA offering up to 25% cashback to around 40 stores. Today it has over 2,500 online stores including some of the biggest brands.
In 2014, Ebates was purchased by the Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten. In 2019, the name was changed from Ebates to Rakuten Rewards. You might have heard of and used Ebates previously, but as you can see, the 2019 name change did not mean a change in ownership. That occurred in 2014 and it has only been growing since then.
How Does Rakuten Work
Basically, you online shop just like you typically would, but by activating the Rakuten extension or by clicking over to a store from the Rakuten website you become eligible to earn cashback.
To activate the extension, click the “Activate 6% Cash Back” button (or whatever percentage it might be). Your screen will then briefly go to another screen and then right back to where you were shopping.
You can earn anywhere from 1% to 50% back from what I have seen. Typically, you earn less than 5% but around the holidays there are really great deals in the 1% to 10% range but up to 50% back depending on the store!
Personally, I don’t like shopping through online portals. It just is kind of a pain and a bad experience. Fortunately, that isn’t what Rakuten is. You don’t purchase products through Rakuten, you do all your shopping and purchases through the retailer’s site just like you normally would.
With that said, you do have to be sure to activate the extension or click over from the Rakuten site during that specific online shopping event to earn cashback. It is not enough to just be a member of Rakuten to get cashback or to have activated it in the past.
I personally prefer to use the extension and as I naturally visit sites, I am updated on the cashback offers which do change especially around the holiday season where you tend to find the biggest bonuses.
Referral Sign-Up Bonuses
When you sign up you usually get a cash bonus using this link.
Currently, when you join you get a $20 bonus if you spend $20 through Rakuten within 90-days. If you refer a friend and they follow the steps you both get a $20 bonus each.
Typically, the bonuses change from month to month. Sometimes they are more, I’ve seen as high as $40, and I have also seen less. Either way, you don’t want to miss it but if you can wait for a better one it is worth it. Unfortunately, until it is announced, you don’t know what it will be in the future.
Also, don’t be afraid to recommend it to friends either as it can benefit both of you.
How To Install The Rakuten Extension
The easiest way to use Rakuten is to install the Rakuten extension, also called the Rakuten button, to your preferred browser from the list below.
- Internet Explorer
- Microsoft Edge
Click here to install the extension for the browser you are using. Rakuten will detect which browser you are using and direct you to where to install it.
Here is more information about setting up your browser to work with the extension if you are having any issues receiving pop-ups.
Yes, you will get pop-ups, but they don’t really interrupt your normal browsing as they occur off to the side. They only appear if you are on a site that offers cashback through Rakuten which I find to be useful. I’m not going to say it is never annoying, but it isn’t a big deal.
Also, if you ever need to access your account you can easily click the button at the top and get into your account. Just look for the Rakuten logo.
How Does Rakuten Make Money?
As there is no extra cost to you, how can Rakuten make money?
Well, Rakuten basically acts as an affiliate between you and the online stores. They get paid for being an affiliate and they split their profit with you which is a pretty sweet deal.
Online retailers need to make money so Rakuten works to draw buyers into their stores. By them featuring the best cashback deals and driving traffic it benefits the stores.
They also make it easier for us to know what deals are out there which can be really helpful to us too.
How Do You Get Paid The Cashback You Earn
The cashback is paid quarterly by a check that they mail you. Here is the schedule below.
|Purchases Posted Between||Cashback Sent By Check|
|Jan 1 - Mar 31||May 15|
|Apr 1 - Jun 30||Aug 15|
|Jul 1 - Sep 30||Nov 15|
|Oct 1 - Dec 31||Feb 15|
As you can see, even though it is paid out quarterly, if you make a purchase early on in the posting period, it could take up to 4.5 months to get the check.
So, don’t expect instant gratification, but you will get your money. You definitely will get it so long as you give them accurate contact information.
There is a minimum $5.01 payout though. If you haven’t accumulated at least $5.01 in cashback your balance carries over to the next quarter, so you never lose it.
What Stores Can You Earn Cashback From
There are over 2,500 stores that have a relationship with Rakuten. These stores can, and will change to be honest, but there are stores in pretty much all shopping categories. Here is a small sample.
- Mint Mobile
- Ulta Beauty
- Old Navy
- NordVPN (they usually have a big cashback offer)
Unfortunately, Amazon is not currently working with Rakuten, but many others are. Recently, Rakuten saved me money by notifying me of a better deal than what I was getting on Amazon so I went that route.
The amount of cashback will also vary and usually increases around the major shopping holidays. Obviously, the end of the year is big but even on Veteran’s Day many stores were offering 11% back.
It is so fun to get extra cashback when the sales are going during the holidays too because you can save even more money!
The One Thing To Avoid
There are a lot of positive aspects to using Rakuten, but I would just be aware of one thing and watch impulsive buying.
Just because something is 10% off, it is still 90% on. It can be easy to be tempted to impulse buy and the extra cashback can be the thing that takes you over the top. My advice is to not factor the cashback in and make your decision on whether you really need the item and whether the price you pay upfront is something you are comfortable with.
As you don’t get the cashback immediately, you must be OK paying the price charged the day of the purchase. The cashback might take up to 4.5 months to receive so by the time you get it the purchase might be long forgotten.
Using Rakuten is a simple and easy process and a great way to find a little extra money.
Your money definitely adds up so take both the big and the small amounts as they come. It also might take some time to accrue cashback but just look at it as extra fun money.
Also, sharing Rakuten with your friends is a great way to make more money and can be a pretty sweet bonus so be sure to do that as well.
Overall, I really like it and recommend to use the Rakuten extension and let that cashback build up over time.
What is your experience with Rakuten? Any big wins?
Scott @ Costa Rica FIRE
Agree that Rakuten is fantastic. I use the Chrome extension and it pops up a notification if I’m shopping on a site where they have a deal.
Just used it on Lenovo’s site when buying a $1000+ laptop, and Rakuten had 7% back. Looking forward to that ‘big fat check’!