If you've found yourself asking “what is Rakuten?” or “how does Rakuten work, even?”, you're in luck. I'm diving deep into all of it in this Rakuten review — is it even worth your time?
Whether you're here because you've seen all the Rakuten commercials lately, or you're an Ebates user wondering what the heck is going on, you're in the right place.
Getting paid to do your normal shopping sounds great… but is it too good to be true?
I'm going to answer all your burning questions today, including:
- What is Rakuten?
- How Does Rakuten Work?
- What Happened to Ebates?
- Is Rakuten Legit?
- How do I use Rakuten?
…and more – like how you can make money by referring your friends and family.
Is Ebates now Rakuten?
Yes. If you’re a former Ebates user who recently logged into the Ebates cash back app, you’ll definitely notice some changes! Ebates has been a Rakuten company since 2014, and they have recently decided to change the name and logo of the Ebates app to Rakuten. Other than the name and logo change, it’s still the same cash back and savings app as always!
While the changes may feel alarming, rest assured that your Ebates account and shopping experience will be the same, if not better! Rakuten is striving to make their cash back service better than ever before – if you’ve seen their commercials lately, you know what I mean.
If you’ve referred people to Ebates, you’ll still get referral bonuses. The only thing that will change with that is your referral link.
What is Rakuten?
Rakuten is a cash back app and website that allows you to shop at your favorite stores and get cash back on your purchases. It works for both online and offline shopping.
Rakuten has been around since 1997, but since their acquisition of Ebates in 2014 they have grown to over 12 million members!
This app is the largest, free member-based savings and cash back program in the US… and to date, they have paid out over $1 BILLION in cash back to their members.
There is currently no limit to the amount of cash back you can earn.
What does Rakuten mean?
Rakuten is Japanese for “optimism” – which was a smart name to use for a company that would balloon in size to what they currently are.
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How does Rakuten work?
Brands and stores partner with Rakuten to send them shoppers.
When you make a purchase at a participating company as a Rakuten member, the company pays Rakuten a referral fee. Rakuten gives you a part of their payout and keeps the rest – this is called affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketing is one of the most common business models around. Many brands rely on affiliates to help bring them customers. In turn, they pay them a commission or referral fee.
In this case, Rakuten is the affiliate for a huge network of brands and stores.
Everyone wins. The stores make money, Rakuten makes money, and YOU make money – without having to fill out rebate forms or mail in points. You just do your normal shopping through Rakuten and you’ll start earning cash back automatically.
Is Rakuten Legit?
In short – yes, absolutely. It is 100% legit. I’ve seen many people asking if Rakuten is a scam and I’m here to assure you, it’s not.
When you shop at participating stores through Rakuten, Rakuten earns a referral fee. The cash back you earn is a part of Rakuten’s referral fee that they share with you as a “thank you” for helping them make money.
Rakuten is partnered with some of the biggest name brands in the world – and these brands wouldn’t partner with a company that wasn’t legit.
Here’s a little more about the company:
- Rakuten was founded in Japan in 1997 as an internet shopping mall.
- In 2014, Rakuten bought Ebates. As they say on their blog: “It’s like we got the rose at the end of a long, whirlwind-of-emotions season of The Bachelor.”
- Since 2014, Ebates / Rakuten has grown to over 12 million members!
- Rakuten has paid members over 1 BILLION DOLLARS in cash back. Just wow.
- Over 2,500 stores are partnered with Rakuten – meaning they pay Rakuten a referral fee when you shop at their store as a Rakuten member.
Is Rakuten Safe?
Rakuten is completely safe to use. They're a trusted cash back app that has been around for years. It's similar to Ibotta and I'd 100% recommend it!
Rakuten Reviews: How to Use Rakuten From a Real Customer
In this review, I’m going to walk you through how to use Rakuten as a customer just like I do. We will go through signing up for a free account, receiving your $10 Rakuten sign-up bonus, shopping with Rakuten online, in-store, and more.
$10 Rakuten Sign Up Bonus
The real benefit of going through this Rakuten review is getting the $10 bonus! Click here to create a free account with this link and you’ll receive a $10 Rakuten sign up bonus to spend anywhere you want through the network of stores. Or you can go directly to the Rakuten website and skip the bonus – totally up to you.
After clicking the link, you’ll get to a page that looks like this (it will be similar on a mobile device):
As you can see, the page says “Your Friend (that’s me!) sent you $10” – you can spend this $10 however you want through Rakuten’s network of partnered stores. Free money just for signing up!
I'm being totally transparent in this Rakuten review. So, you'll notice in the fine print that in order to qualify for the free $10, you have to make a $25 purchase within the first 90 days… But that's honestly not hard to do at all once you see all the cash back deals.
In the menu on the page in the top right, you can also see “Refer and Earn $25+” – you can refer friends to Rakuten, too. Rakuten will pay you a $25 referral fee for every new member you refer that makes a $25+ purchase in the first 90 days, like I’m doing here.
Because this website is all about making money remotely, later on in this article I will walk you through how to make money with the Rakuten referral program – besides just talking your family, friends, and people you haven’t seen since high school into signing up. So… keep reading!
Rakuten Review: How To Shop On Rakuten and Earn Cash Back
With your free account and $10 sign up bonus in hand… er, in app, you’re ready to start browsing, shopping, saving, and earning cash back.
When you’re ready to shop, login to your Rakuten account to check out the deals and cash back opportunities.
You can search for specific items or stores, or just browse and see what you find.
In order to qualify for and actually earn cash back, you have to make sure you’re going through Rakuten when you make your purchases.
I’ll try to spare you the technical mumbo-jumbo, but store websites use “cookies” that tell them where their shoppers came from. The only way they’ll pay Rakuten a referral fee (and the only way Rakuten can pay you) is if they see that you came from Rakuten’s website or app.
That being said… Let’s go shopping!
On the front page of Rakuten I scrolled down a little and saw the “Featured Double Cash Back Stores” – and immediately Backcountry caught my eye.
I seriously love outdoor wear and it’s always so expensive!
When you click on a store, you’ll see more details and the terms of their cash back – like Backcountry has a limit of 3 transactions per customer per day.
Cash Back Rewards
Scrolling down, you’ll see the deals in the right column and some cool stats and details on the left side of the page.
If you keep scrolling, on the left side of the page there is a column called “Shopping Secrets”. It gives you awesome shopping hacks for whatever store you’re looking at. With this, you can maximize your money saving and cash back earning potential!
Rakuten really wants you to save as much money as possible while you’re earning your cash back rewards… and I, for one, really appreciate that (and so does my wallet)!
When you find a deal you want to use or browse, just click “Shop Now” and it will take you directly to the store’s website.
On the loading page, you should see a message like this. At the bottom of this message, it tells you how long it will take for your cash back rewards to appear in your account after purchasing.
When you access a website through Rakuten, the message below lets you know your purchases will be earning you cash back.
This message might not appear if you aren’t using the Rakuten Cash Back Button – but don’t worry, if you access a store through the Rakuten website or app, your cash back will be added.
The Rakuten Cash Back Button Extension
The Rakuten Cash Back Button is a browser extension that will automatically notify you of cash back or savings opportunities when you visit your favorite stores.
Honestly, the hardest part of earning cash back with Rakuten is remembering to use it! If I think of something I need, I typically just go buy it right away. So, for someone like me, this button is a lifesaver.
If you navigate to a website that is partnered with Rakuten, the “R” browser extension will pulsate red a few times before this button pops up asking you if you want to activate your cash back opportunities.
Just go to https://www.rakuten.com/button.htm to get the button for your browser and you’ll be well on your way to earning more cash back, even when you forget to use the Rakuten website.
Save Money While Earning Money
Rakuten scours the web and it’s list of stores to bring you the best discounts along with it’s epic cash back deals. You can save money on travel, dining, and more.
Double Cash Back Stores and Deals
Double cash back is the best kind of cash back. You can access double cash back deals on the website and on the app and earn more money for doing your regular shopping. Be sure to check this section daily, because it updates often!
On the Rakuten website, hover your mouse over the “Hot Deals” dropdown. Here you’ll see options like:
- Buy Online, Pick Up In Store
- Free Gifts
- Free Shipping
- Gift Cards
- Buy One, Get One
Each of these are clickable and have their own page – and are all awesome deals! You can also just click Hot Deals to be taken to a page of featured daily deals, coupons, and promo codes.
Travel and Vacations
As a frequent traveler myself, I think this is one of the absolute coolest features. Rakuten has partnered with more than 450 online travel merchants like Booking.com, Expedia, Hilton, Hotels.com, Priceline, and Travelocity.
You can book flights, hotels, rental cars, vacation packages, activities, and even cruises… all with cash back.
You already know these brands are top names at saving you money on travel bookings… and now you can also earn money back for using them. It’s a no-brainer.
If you want to book travel or even look at prices and cash back, just navigate to the Travel and Vacations tab on the Rakuten website. Here you can input the locations and dates of travel and shop to your hearts content!
Warning: may cause wanderlust.
Rakuten Review: How To Use The Rakuten App
Once you’ve made your free account and downloaded the Rakuten mobile app, you can use it for shopping just like you would your web browser.
App Exclusive Cash Back Deals
There are certain deals you will find only in the Rakuten app, so even if you’re not a big mobile shopper, it’s definitely worth looking around!
When you click a link in the app, you have started a “Rakuten Shopping Trip”. When you’ve started a shopping trip, a window will pop up letting you know your cash back has been activated while you’re on your way to the store’s website.
In Store and Dining Cash Back
You can use the app to shop online, but you can also use the app to shop in-store and get discounts and cash back on dining, too! Enable your location in your phone’s settings or just use the map feature in the app to browse by city.
I spend more money than I’d like to admit on eating out, and being able to earn cash back while dining helps me feel a little better about my life choices.
And with Rakuten, you’re not limited to just earning cash back on online purchases, you can use it in store, too. More on that later.
Refer-A-Friend in the App
Just like on the website, you have the ability to refer a friend in the app and get a chance to earn $25 when they sign up and make a purchase of $25 or more.
This is a cool feature to have when you’re on the go if you want to quickly access your referral link. If you want to learn how to make money online referring people to Rakuten, keep reading!
Is Rakuten Only For Online Shopping?
You can use Rakuten discounts and earn cash back when shopping in store as well as when you’re eating at restaurants. Here’s how:
1. Open The Mobile App
Open the app and select “In Store and Dining”.
Here, you can search either by map or list view. Let’s say you were out shopping and wanted to know what deals were nearby. Just select “Map” and input your location to see all stores around you that have offers.
2. Get Deal
Once you’ve found a store with an offer you want to use, click “Get Deal”.
3. Link a Card
A screen will pop up asking you to add a card to get started. In order to use Rakuten for in store purchases, you have to link a credit or debit card for that purchase. It’s the only way they can track it and give you your cash back. This is completely secure and used for tracking purposes only.
4. Make a Purchase and Earn Cash Back
Once you’ve linked a card and made a purchase at the store of your choice with that card, you’ll have to re-link your card to use it again in the future. Linked cards are only good for one purchase.
Important: If you are paying with a debit card, select “credit” on the card reader. This is the only way they can track purchases with your linked card.
5. Getting Your In Store Cash Back
Once the store confirms and verifies your purchase, your cash back will be applied to your account. Just like using the app or shopping online, this could take a few hours or a few days.
How Do I Get My Cash Back?
Rakuten pays out cash back to their members every 3 months. This gives you plenty of time to rack up some great cash back rewards so that when it comes time for your big fat check to come, it really is a big fat check!
You can choose to be paid with a Big Fat Check or via PayPal.
There are a few things you need to make sure of when setting up your account so that your money will be sent out on time.
- Add an address to your account. A mailing address is required for payments of all types, even if you choose to be paid by PayPal.
- Make sure you’ve earned cash back rewards of more than $5 – which, if you redeem your free $10, you’re already in the clear!
Rakuten Payment Schedule
How To Make Money With Rakuten Referral Bonuses
Remember how I said earlier how I would teach you how you can make money referring Rakuten to people without blowing up your high school acquaintances Facebook inbox?
Exactly like Rakuten is an affiliate of the 2500+ stores in it’s network, everyone who refers a friend, family member, or stranger to Rakuten is an affiliate of Rakuten.
It’s kind of mind-blowing.
All the stores Rakuten is an affiliate for pays a referral fee to Rakuten for sending them business, and Rakuten pays all of their affiliates (me and you) a referral fee (aka bonus) for sending THEM business.
And as of right now, there is no limit to the amount of referrals you can send them! That’s like… unlimited earning potential if you know what you’re doing.
How To Get People To Sign Up With Your Referral Link
There are many ways you can get people to sign up with your referral link. Even if you know nothing about affiliate marketing or aren’t computer savvy!
Share With Friends And Family
This is the most obvious and easiest place to start. If they’re hesitant about it being legit, tell them about the history of the company. Remind them that there’s no harm in getting a free $10, and if they don’t like it or feel good about it after signing up, they don’t have to use it.
Share on Social Media
You can share your referral link with all your friends and family on social media, but there are tactics you can use to make it more effective.
For example, never just post your link with no text or description. Also, don’t start messaging people your link. That’s unwelcome by like 99.9% of people and will not get you any referrals.
Instead, if you want to entice your friends and family on Facebook to sign up with your link, write a post about how awesome Rakuten is. At the end of your post (or better yet, in the comments) you can post your referral link.
Be sure to include in your post that everyone who uses your link will get a free $10 when they sign up. Also, make sure you’re focusing on the money saving and cash-back potential. Everyone likes to save money and to make money! This will intrigue your friends list and at the very least, make people want to learn more.
The whole purpose of your posts on social media should be to intrigue and entice your friends and family to learn more, to ensure them that Rakuten is legit, and show the earning potential.
If you’ve already started earning cash back, it’s a great idea to include a screenshot of your earnings.
Don’t post about Rakuten every day because you don’t want people to get sick of you and unfollow you. You can post it every week or two, though. And even when you’re not directly promoting your link, make posts about how much money you’re saving or earning in cash back rewards. The more familiar your friends and family become with the idea, the more likely they will be to sign up.
Start a Website or Blog
This strategy is the most time consuming – but it can be really worth it if you take the time to learn how to do it all. Blogs and websites take time to create and to get traffic, but if your long-term goal is to earn an income online, a blog is essential.
With a blog, you have an unlimited traffic potential and can include your referral link in as many posts as you want.
That means an unlimited earning potential! As of this post in March 2020, Rakuten says there are no limits to how many referral bonuses you can earn. If you want to go this route of referring more people, you'll need to fill out their influencer application here. Otherwise, your referrals from your website may not be counted.
2023 Rakuten Review Wrap Up
Rakuten is a great way to earn cash back on everyday purchases and it's also a great way to save money, while you're at it.
This company really goes the extra mile to find great deals for their members, and it shows.
Plus – you get $25 every time you share and help your family and friends save and earn cash back. Earning money for helping your loved ones is awesome!
Rakuten is pretty great and I've found some amazing deals using this platform. I'm excited to see the future growth of this company. They are:
- A totally legit and reputable company
- Super easy to use. That browser extension helps me out so much!
- Doesn't require mail-in rebates or coupons.
- Can be used online, in store, AND at restuarants. (hallelujah)
Now that you know about the cash back potential, what are you waiting for?
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