Rakuten is one of my favorite ways to shop and is my number one recommendation for those who are trying to save a little money or set some new budgeting goals, so I simply had to do a Rakuten review! This service gives you cash back from purchases you were already going to make – it’s like getting paid to shop.
If you want a quick overview of what Rakuten is and how to use it, check out my Rakuten review video below or keep on reading as I answer the 5 Ws about Rakuten!
Rakuten Review: What is it and how does it work?
Rakuten (pronounced rack-oo-tin) is a service that gives cash back at over 2,500 retailers, both online and in-store, and is completely free to use. Sounds like a dream, right?! I’ve been using Rakuten for 8 years now and I’m here to tell you that dreams do come true!
You may have originally heard of Rakuten as Ebates. They changed their name, but their goal is the same – to save you money! Log in, follow their retail links, and shop – it really is that easy. You’ll get cash back, depending on the retailer, anywhere from 1% to 40%. The most common rates are between 2%-5% cash back, but any bit can help. Plus they often run promotions where they increase the rate for a short time. And who doesn’t love an extra buck or two in the bank account?
Rakuten offers $10 for joining which makes now the perfect time to join because Rakuten’s join bonus is currently $25. And here’s a secret: you can follow this link and earn $30 when you make a $30 purchase!
Rakuten is available for both online and in-store purchases. I’ll be focusing primarily on the online process for my Rakuten review,, but if you’re interested in the in-store process, you’ll find more information in the “where” section.
Rakuten Review: Who benefits?
But let me explain how that works. When you follow the Rakuten links to do your shopping (of things that you were going to buy anyway), Rakuten gets a commission from the retailers. It works like an affiliate link, except they go one step further and share part of that commission with their customers (aka you)! It’s a win-win!
Rakuten Review: When do I get money back?
This is the question you’ve been waiting for. You know what it is but when do you get paid?! Payment happens every quarter on the 15th of February, May, August, and November. Your payment comes in the form of either a check mailed to you or a deposit to your PayPal account.
To get this payment, you must have accumulated at least $5.00. If you have less than $5.00, don’t worry, it rolls over to the next pay cycle. You can see how much you’ve accumulated on Rakuten’s home page in the upper right hand corner. As you can see in the picture below, I’ve accumulated $1,000+ over the last several years! And that’s on purchases I was going to make anyway – talk about icing on the cake! (Now you see why I’ve got a whole blog post dedicated to a Rakuten review ?)
Rakuten Review: Where are the deals?
There are several ways to use the Rakuten links and start earning your cash back. One of my favorite things about Rakuten is how easy they make it to start earning money from your purchases.
Visit the Website or Download the App: My personal favorite way is to simply visit their website or browse deals on the Rakuten app. Here, they have all their offers listed so you can see which retailers currently have the best cash back rate. And they do the hard work for you – Rakuten highlights some of the best cash back deals right on their front page!
There is also a tab with “double cash back” offers that change regularly and that extra percent or two can really go a long way! You can even search by store or browse by category to find your favorite retailers. You may be surprised by how many of your favorites show up! Some of my favorites are Ulta for makeup and Carters for my kiddos.
Use the Chrome Extension: Let’s be honest, we don’t always have time to go to the website and search for what we need. There’s nothing more frustrating than making a purchase only to find out later that you missed out on a great deal. I use the free Chrome extension to make sure I’m never out of the loop.
Go to the Chrome extensions store, search Rakuten, and start saving! Once the extension is downloaded, you will get a notification whenever you’re on a site that has an available Rakuten cash back offer. A notification will pop up in the top right corner of the browser with the offer. Simply click to activate and voilà! Cash back without any hassle.
If Chrome isn’t your preferred browser, get the Rakuten button here.
Shop In Store: Rakuten allows cash back offers on in-store purchases, as well. To get these offers, you’ll need to link a credit card or debit card to your account. The process is simple – link your card to your account, activate the in-store offer you want to use via the app or a web browser, and then use that card to purchase in-store (if you enter a debit card, you’ll need to run it as credit at checkout). You’ll see the cash back in your account once your purchase is confirmed by the retailer.
Rakuten Credit Card: If you’re really loving the Rakuten experience, the Rakuten credit card offers even more cash back opportunities with an additional 3% cash back on Rakuten purchases and 1% cash back on all other purchases. I haven’t done this myself, but I think it’s a great option if you don’t already use a credit card with a good reward program.
Once you’ve found the Rakuten shopping method that works best for you, explore the 2,000+ retailers that can earn you cash back! Here’s a list of some of my personal favorites:
- Draper James
- Lane Bryant
- Old Navy
- Kate Spade
- J. Crew
- Zenni Optical
- Jo Ann's
- Hobby Lobby
Rakuten Review: Why should I use this service?
Get cash back on things you were going to buy anyway: Sometimes it’s hard to justify a purchase, especially when trying to save money or when sticking to a tight budget. However, a good way to use Rakuten is by using the links only for purchases you were going to buy anyway. Who knows, maybe your go-to clothing store or grocery store is an affiliate! While browsing all the deals may not be a good strategy for you and your home, a good fix may just be to search for a store you’re about to go to or install the extension to your browser. No temptation, only cash back!
More than Just Retail: Rakuten has a whole section on their website for travel. That’s right! Traveling is expensive and a percent or two in cash back can make a big difference when making those lofty purchases.
Coupons Stack: Since Rakuten isn’t a coupon, the deals can keep on stacking. The service doesn’t interfere with your own credit card cashback, it’s completely free, and there’s no limit to how much you can save! The Rakuten extension will even automatically apply coupons to save you even more – how great is that? It’s applied many coupons for me, and I didn’t even have to go search my email for the coupon code and copy and paste it.
Versatility: The beauty of Rakuten is that it’s easy for anyone to use, no matter how they shop. Browse the website, let the offers come to you with the extension, or shop in store. Whatever works best for you. Earning money has never been easier!
As I mentioned before, I’ve been using Rakuten for 8 years and I love it! If you want to give it a try yourself, follow this link to get a bonus $30 in your account when you sign up and make a $30 purchase! Who doesn’t want a free $30?
Rakuten Review Frequently Asked Questions
How do you get paid from Rakuten?
Payment from Rakuten is quarterly on the 15th of February, May, August, and November. When online shopping, Rakuten pays you via a check mailed to you or deposited into your PayPal account. When shopping in-store, the cash back will show up on the credit card linked to the account that you used to make the purchase. You have to have accumulated $5.00 or more in order to receive payment. If the amount is less than $5.00, it will roll over to the next pay cycle.
Can you apply Rakuten after purchase?
Unfortunately, no. You need to activate the offer before the purchase by following the Rakuten website links, activating the offer using the browser extension or button, or activate the offer on the app before your in-store purchase.
How long does Rakuten take to process?
Online purchases will show up in your account almost immediately. However, payment only comes every quarter and you have to have accumulated $5.00 or more in order to receive payment. If the amount is less than $5.00, it will roll over to the next pay cycle.
In-store purchase cash back offers can be seen back on the linked card anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days after the purchase. As soon as the purchase is confirmed by the retailer, your cash back will show up in your account.
Is Rakuten for online shopping only?
No! Rakuten also offers cash back for in-store purchases. To do this, you’ll need to link a credit or debit card to your account, activate the in-store offer you want on the app or website, and then use the linked card to make the purchase. When using a debit card, make sure to run it as credit at checkout to get the cash back.
What is the downside to Rakuten?
A downside to Rakuten could be that browsing their deals leads to poor spending choices (ie: spending too much, getting things you don’t need because they’re on sale, etc). If using the website is a temptation for you, I suggest installing the extension which doesn’t require you to visit the website. Instead, you can activate offers when you visit an affiliated retailer with a click of a button. No browsing needed.
Is Rakuten a ripoff?
No! Rakuten is safe, free, and easy to use. I have used it for many years and earned extra money on things I was going to buy anyway. Shop responsibly!
Rakuten is a service that has changed the way I shop and earned me a couple extra dollars in the process. If you’re ready to try it for yourself, don’t forget to use this link to get an extra bonus! Once you’ve given it a try, leave a comment and let me know how much you’ve earned!