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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Earn Cashback Shopping Online and In-Store


You’ve probably seen the Rakuten commercials, but what exactly is it? And can you really make money while you’re shopping?! In today’s Rakuten review, we’re discussing everything you need to know about this popular cashback platform! 

Some say the best way to save money is to take a dollar, fold it, and put it back in your pocket. This is pretty outdated advice. Sometimes, you have to spend money on essential things and day-to-day expenses, which is why earning cashback can be so helpful.

Rakuten is one of the top reward sites that helps you earn cashback on your regular in-store and online shopping. It’s free and easy to use, and the company partners with many popular retailers and websites you may already use. This Rakuten review will go over how the platform can help you earn money and save money by applying coupon codes when you’re shopping online

Rakuten Overview

Rakuten officially launched in 1997 as an online deal and cashback platform. It was previously named Ebates and became more popular in recent years as more people began shopping online and wanted to stretch their dollars. Now, the website partners with more than 3,500 different stores and brands to offer deals. 

Rakuten has 20 million members in the US and has awarded more than $3.2 billion in cashback benefits to date. Rakuten tends to offer higher cashback rates than most rewards credit cards. 

Depending on the store and current offer, you might earn anywhere from 1.5% to 90% cashback. Rakuten also now offers cashback on travel and vacation packages along with in-store shopping. Some popular stores included in the Rakuten reward program are Macy’s, Old Navy, Nike, Instacart, Target, eBay, Amazon Music, Walmart, Kohl’s, and more! 

How Does Rakuten Work? 

To earn money with the Rakuten website, you’ll need to sign up for a free account. You can do this by entering your email address and a password or by logging in with Facebook, Google, or Apple. 

The site has a desktop version and the Rakuten app, which is available for iOS and Android devices. On the site, you can find coupons, promo codes, daily deals, and cashback offers. 

On Rakuten’s homepage, you’ll find sections for the following categories:

  • Double Cash Back Stores
  • Hot Deals
  • In-Store Cash Back
  • Travels and Vacations
  • Food and Drink
  • Mattress Deals
  • Refer and Earn $30
  • Help Topics

When you’re ready to shop online, start browsing cashback offers from different stores. You can search for stores by name or category. 

Some popular categories include:

  • Clothing and Shoes
  • Digital Services and Streaming
  • Electronics
  • Events and Entertainment
  • Health and Beauty
  • Home and Garden 
  • Pets
  • Office Supplies
  • Subscription Boxes
  • And More!

There are two main ways to claim these offers.

Option 1: Connect Directly Through the Website or App

Let’s say you want to make a purchase at Walmart.com. Knowing that you have Rakuten, you go to the app or website and search for Walmart to see what type of cashback offer currently exists.

From there, you can click on Walmart from your Rakuten page (while you’re logged in) and be redirected to the website. Then, you can shop as you normally would, and Rakuten will send you an email confirming your purchase, and the cashback amount will be reflected in your Rakuten account.

Option 2: Download the Rakuten Browser Extension

The second option is a bit easier because you can make the experience more passive. Download the free Rakuten Google Chrome browser extension. Then, whenever you visit a website that Rakuten has an offer for, a notification will pop up. 

Just click the purple Rakuten cashback button to activate the deal and complete your shopping as you normally would. 

With the browser extension, you won’t have to disrupt your browsing or shopping, and you can be reminded that Rakuten has a cashback offer you can use so you don’t forget.

To use Rakuten for in-person shopping trips, just click the ‘In-Store Cash Back’ tab. This will take you to a page where you can select your store and link a card for payment. 

Just add the details of your card to Rakuten safely and securely. This allows the app to see when you’ve made a qualifying purchase from that specific store so you can be awarded cashback.

If you’re using the app, you can link your card to a Rakuten offer in real-time right in the store.

Redeeming Your Earnings

Cashback amounts that you earn usually arrive in your account within 24 to 48 hours of your qualifying purchase. You can check the ‘Shopping Trips’ tab under your account settings to ensure your recent purchases have been tracked properly.

Rakuten allows you to redeem your earnings quarterly (May 15th, August 15th, November 15th, and February 15th) either by paper check (sent to your home address) or PayPal transfer. You’ll receive your payment, also referred to as the ‘Big Fat Check,’ so long as you have a minimum balance of $5.01 or higher. If you have a PayPal account, you can then transfer the amount Rakuten sends right to your checking account. 

How Much Can You Make With Rakuten?

How much you can earn with Rakuten varies depending on which stores you use and how often you shop. Some users make hundreds per quarter, while others may earn a very small amount. 

Holly, the owner of The Work at Home Woman, has earned $3,117 with Rakuten since signing up in 2013. You won’t make enough money to quit your day job, but it could be some nice extra money to add back to your budget or help cover a small expense.

Remember, you’re earning cashback that will be a small fraction of the total purchase. So this means if you spend $100 on something and earn 5% back, that’s $5. Don’t feel pressured to spend tons of money in the hopes of earning more from Rakuten. This will just cause you to overspend and lose money, which defeats the purpose of the site. Instead, do a few of these things to maximize your earnings.

How to Earn More Money with Rakuten

  • Plan ahead. Use Rakuten for planned spending and use the browser extension. We all spend money each week at various stores and retailers. Odds are, you don’t have to go out of your way to earn cashback with Rakuten. Just work it into your regular schedule whenever you need to buy something and be sure to use the browser extension. The browser extension can help you save money when you’re not even thinking about it.
  • Use it on all of your devices. You can use Rakuten on your computer or laptop or on your tablet or smartphone with the iPhone and Android app. You can save on everything from groceries and products to gift cards, services, and travel. 
  • Take advantage of promos. Check Rakuten regularly for promos like 2X cashback and 15% cashback offers. This will help you earn more than just 1% or 2% on your purchases.
  • Refer others. If you like using Rakuten, refer others to sign up. Rakuten has a refer-a-friend program where you can earn around $30 per sign-up, and your friend can earn a cash bonus when they start using the app. Sometimes, Rakuten offers prompts that double or triple these bonuses for a month. You can track your referrals from your profile, and anything you earn gets added to your account and paid out to you each quarter.
A woman holding shopping bags and looking at her phone while she shops.

Pros and Cons

This Rakuten review would not be complete without going over the key pros and cons of using this app. Here are some benefits and potential drawbacks you’ll want to consider. 

Pros

  • First-time users can earn a $30 welcome bonus with a qualified purchase.
  • Earn cashback on your online and in-store purchases.
  • Free and easy to use (no hidden or annual fees).
  • Lots of promos and bonus opportunities to earn cashback.
  • Several categories include travel, pets, and home.
  • Low payment threshold ($5).

Cons

  • Quarterly rebates instead of monthly payments.
  • Not available in most countries outside the US.
  • Your cashback will be deducted if you return the item or the purchase doesn’t clear.

Is Rakuten a Scam? 

I know, earning cashback for shopping online sounds too good to be true. Having used Rakuten firsthand, I can tell you that it is 100% legit. Not only has Rakuten been in business since 2016, but they are also accredited by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and maintain a solid B rating. 

Rakuten Review Summary

Overall, Rakuten is an easy site to use for cashback rewards, whether you’re an in-person or online shopper. While the platform isn’t perfect, there’s very little not to like. Rakuten partners with thousands of stores, so there’s an opportunity for everyone to earn cash back no matter what you’re buying. Be sure to give Rakuten’s mobile app and website a try and download the browser extension so you can earn money back when you shop! 

Originally published June 20, 2022. Content updated June 2024.



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