These days many people are feeling the pinch that rising inflation is causing to their bank accounts. It’s no wonder that cash back rebate sites are becoming a popular place for more people to shop and save money.
When looking for the best deal site to earn the most amount of cash back rewards, reading actual customer reviews can be helpful.
In this Rakuten review, I’ll share with you my experience using the site, and whether Rakuten is worth your time or not.
- What is Rakuten and How Does It Work
- Rakuten Welcome Bonus
- Rakuten Promo Bonus: Spend $40, Get $40
- Rakuten Review – Is It Worth Your Time
- Is Rakuten Safe and Legit?
- Online Shopping with Rakuten
- In-Store Shopping with Rakuten
- Earn More with Rakuten Refer-A-Friend
- Rakuten Review: How to Get Paid
- Rakuten Review: Pros and Cons
- Rakuten Review Conclusion: Is It Worth It?
- Rakuten Review FAQs
What is Rakuten and How Does It Work
I first heard of Rakuten through friends who had used the site and had a great experience with it. So I decided to try it out myself.
Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates, is a popular cash back rebate site that offers you incentives to shop at over 3,500 well-known retailers and brands. You’ll find high profile names such as Macy’s, Nordstrom Rack, Walmart, Nike, Levi’s, and Disney just to name a few.
What I found most interesting is that Rakuten is not just about shopping retail stores or popular name brand deals. As a business owner, I was surprised to find business sites such as Canva and Tony Robbins, also partnered with Rakuten to offer you cash back rewards.
Here are other shopping categories featured on Rakuten:
|Accessories||Auto and Tires|
|Baby and Kids Gear||Clothing|
|Electronics||Events and Activities|
|Food and Restaurants||Gift Cards|
|Gifts and Occassions||Health and Beauty|
|Home Decor and Furniture||Home Improvement and Appliances|
|Office Supplies||Shoes and Handbags|
|Sports and Outdoors||Toys and Games|
|Subscription Boxes and Services||Travel and Vacations|
Coupon, Promo Codes & Daily Deals
Additionally, if you’re looking to nab extra savings, then the Rakuten daily deals and coupon codes section is a great place to start. Rakuten updates this section with the best daily deals of the day, and shows active promo codes and exclusive offers for Rakuten members.
How It Works
If you are familiar with affiliate marketing, then affiliate income is the underlying premise for how Rakuten earns money. Partnered stores pay Rakuten a commission for sending customers to them, and Rakuten shares that money with you as cash back rewards.
From time to time, Rakuten will work out increased cash back offers with retailers, which they also pass along to you. Ultimately, it’s a win-win situation for Rakuten, the retailer, and you as a Rakuten member.
Here are the simple steps to how Rakuten works:
Find Your Store on Rakuten
With over 3,500 partnered retailers on Rakuten, you’re bound to find your favorite stores to shop! Simply click over to your store from the Rakuten website or mobile app to get started.
Review Available Cash Back Offers
Each retailer may offer different cash back deals within each shopping category. For example, the Toys and Games category may offer 5% cash back, while Hardware and Tools may only offer 2% cash back. Review your offers.
Shop as usual
Once you’re on a retailer’s site, shop as usual. Rakuten will create a new ‘shopping trip’ ID to track your order. After you’ve made your purchase, Rakuten will reward you with cash back on eligible items within a few hours to a few days.
Rakuten members get paid every 3 months on cash back earned, either in a Big Fat check or via PayPal. The minimum balance requirement needed is $5.01. If your account is below this amount, the money will roll over to the next pay period.
Rakuten Welcome Bonus
Rakuten rewards all new members with a standard $10 ‘Welcome Bonus’ when you make a qualifying purchase of at least $25 within 90 days of becoming a member.
Rakuten Promo Bonus: Spend $40, Get $40
Many people may not realize that signing up with a referral promo code will earn you an even bigger sign up bonus. Generally, during the months of October thru December, if you sign up with this promo link here, you’ll earn a $40 bonus when you spend $40 through Rakuten.
During the remainder of the year, the promo code bonus will earn you between $25 – $30 in free money. Thankfully, I learned about the referral code bonus prior to registering, and was able to earn my $40 bonus within a few days of signing up.
How to Join Rakuten
To register as a new user, first go to the Rakuten website or download the app from your mobile phone. Use a promo code link to get the highest cash back sign up bonus offer. Enter your name and email address when prompted, and make your first purchase within 90 days to earn your free sign up bonus money.
Download Rakuten Browser Extension
For hassle free shopping, download the Rakuten Cash Back Button Browser extension. The browser extension will automatically find you the best deals on cash back offers when activated. It works similar to the Swagbucks site, SwagButton extension.
For example, I was shopping for a Ninja blender on Amazon for my mom’s birthday this year. The Rakuten Price Magic® extension feature alerted me to a better deal on Macy’s website, after applying a special 12% Black Friday cash back offer.
Rakuten Review – Is It Worth Your Time
I became a Rakuten member on November 17th 2021, and have used the deals site on multiple occasions to shop for gifts. I’ve earned cash back rewards and have even already received my first PayPal payout from Rakuten in this short period of time.
Since joining, I’ve racked up $81.01 in cash back rewards and I can tell you my honest thoughts on what I think of Rakuten so far.
Is Rakuten Safe and Legit?
Rakuten is an international company that has been around for over 20 years. Since inception, they’ve paid out over $2 Billion dollars to roughly 120 million Rakuten members worldwide. I’m happy to say that I’m one of those members that Rakuten has paid out cash back rewards.
On November 24th, 2021 Rakuten sent me my first $40 cash back reward to my PayPal account on record. This is real money that I received, and in no way is Rakuten a scam website. They are a legit company that pays it’s members incentives for shopping their favorite stores through their deals website. I'll share later on in this Rakuten review how I was able to receive my first payout faster than most people.
Online Shopping with Rakuten
Each time you shop through Rakuten, a new ‘shopping trip’ ticket is created for that retailer, whether you make a purchase or not. If a purchase is made during that trip, cash back will be assigned to that ticket on eligible items.
So far, I’ve made two purchases through the Rakuten site, and they were both at Nordstrom Rack. It’s a store I shop frequently and I just so happened to have a free $50 gift card that I had earned with Fetch Reward points. Unfortunately, Rakuten only offers 1% cash back at this retailer. While it’s a bummer for me, it still didn’t deter me from earning free money by shopping online through Rakuten.
In total, I earned $1.01 in cash back rewards for both shopping trips, but it was the $40 sign up bonus that made it worth it. Since I had spent more than $40 on Rakuten within my first 90 days of signing up, I was able to immediately earn my $40 sign up bonus. That brought my total cash back rewards to $41.01 on my first week of using the website.
Rakuten added the cash back to my account within 24 hours of making each purchase.
In-Store Shopping with Rakuten
While I have not yet used the Rakuten app to earn cash back for in-store purchases, you can earn money at physical retail stores. Though you will have a limited amount of stores to earn cash back, as well as have smaller cash back offers available.
For instance, as I write this, Rakuten has up to 10% cash back for online purchases at Macy’s, while in-store purchases are limited to 2% cash back.
How In-Store Cash Back Works
The process of earning cash back on your in-store purchases is simple.
- First, within the Rakuten mobile app go to the bottom of the screen to the ‘in-store’ tab.
- Next, select the in-store offer you plan to use on your shopping trip.
- Thirdly, add a credit card number when prompted to do so. Rakuten in-store cash back supports American Express, Visa or Mastercard.
- Lastly, use your linked card to make the in-store purchase and earn cash back rewards.
There are a couple of important things to note when making in-store purchases.
If you select an offer and use your linked card to make an in-store purchase, your cash back rewards will be given to you. But say you see another item you wish to purchase and you want the same cash back offer, you’ll have to re-select that offer again in the app. Linked offers are valid for one purchase only, so you will have to re-select it if you wish to use it again.
Additionally, if your linked card is a debit card, then you must select ‘credit’ when paying. That means you’ll sign a receipt instead of entering a pin number. This is the only way Rakuten can track your cash back offers.
Suggested Read: Ibotta vs Rakuten: Which cashback app is better?
Earn More with Rakuten Refer-A-Friend
The referral program is another way you can earn free money with the deals website. Rakuten offers a generous refer-a-friend bonus between $25 – $40 per person, depending on the promotion at that time. To earn the bonus, simply use the unique referral link assigned to you within your account, and share it with family and friends.
Once your referral creates a new Rakuten account and makes a qualifying purchase, you both will earn your reward.
You can see your referrals under the ‘Referral Activity’ section in your account.
For anyone that signs up with your referral link and makes a qualifying purchase, you’ll see that under the ‘qualified’ tab. For others that have signed up but have not yet made a qualifying purchase, their names will appear under the ‘signed up’ tab.
Within the first couple of days of signing up to Rakuten, I was able to earn my first referral bonus of $40. Additionally, 3 other people have signed up using my referral link, but have not yet made a qualifying purchase.
Rakuten Review: How to Get Paid
So now let’s go over how Rakuten pays you. There are three ways in which you can receive your Rakuten rewards.
- PayPal – You can connect your PayPal account to Rakuten and receive your cash back rewards there.
- Big Fat Check – Just like it sounds, you can have a big fat cash back check mailed to you.
- American Express – You can enroll in the American Express program that allows you to shop Rakuten to earn Membership Rewards points on eligible purchases. 1% cash back is equal to 1 additional point for every $1 spent through Rakuten.
Rakuten Payment Schedule
Cash Back payments are sent every three months, based on the schedule below.
|Purchases Posted Between||Big Fat Check Sent|
|Jan 1 – Mar 31||May 15|
|Apr 1 – June 30||Aug 15|
|July 1 – Sept 30||Nov 15|
|Oct 1 – Dec 31||Feb 15|
If your cash back reward is more than $5.01, then you'll receive your payout. If it is below the minimum cash out amount, then it will rollover to the next pay period.
Now, I did mention that Rakuten paid me out a lot earlier than expected. That’s because referral bonus income is paid out differently than cash back rewards. Generally, you can expect to receive your referral bonus money within 60 days of your referral’s qualifying purchase.
In my case, my referral made a qualifying purchase on November 18th, 2021. To my surprise, I received my referral bonus money 6 days later via PayPal on November 24th.
Rakuten Review: Pros and Cons
Just as with everything, there are positives and negatives when it comes to using the Rakuten website. Albeit, I do believe the upside ultimately outweighs the downsides to using the popular cash back website.
Rakuten offers a seamless experience to shop your favorite stores and earn cash back rewards on the items you would have purchased anyway. The savings can really add up if you’re an avid shopper.
Additionally, Rakuten’s sign-up bonus is one of the most generous in the industry.
There are really two main cons I can think of here. The first one is that you have to wait to get paid your cash back rewards. For some people, waiting 3 months to get paid is a drawback to using Rakuten.
Secondly, if you’re not careful, you could end up spending a lot more money due to the constant email marketing of daily deals and cash back offers.
Rakuten Review Conclusion: Is It Worth It?
After using Rakuten to make a few purchases, and having received my first cash back payout, I can say that Rakuten is a legitimate website to use.
For myself, Rakuten offers very little reward since I prefer to do most of my shopping in-store…especially when it comes to clothes and shoe shopping. The rewards for in-store shopping pale in comparison to the cash back offers applied to online purchases. So for me, while the idea of using the site is exciting, it’s not really something I would use too often, even for my non-clothing purchases.
What can I say? I really enjoy the experience of shopping in-person with people around me! But I will say that for Christmas gift shopping, such as I’m doing at the time of this writing, I have found really good Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals worth buying! So it’s been worth it for that reason.
The other drawback for me is that my favorite store, Nordstrom Rack, only has a 1% cash back offer. While I don’t like to downplay earning free money, it’s also not the biggest incentive for me to constantly shop through the site for a couple of free bucks.
On the other hand, if you’re someone who frequently does your shopping online and you purchase brand name items, then this site can prove to be a game changer! Stores like Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Coach, American Eagle, and many others offer higher incentives on purchases. You can earn anywhere from 1% to 20%+ cash back on all your purchases through Rakuten. Not to mention, the Black Friday deals only available to Rakuten members have really been outstanding finds.
Rakuten Review – The Verdict
So is shopping Rakuten REALLY Worth It?
The way I see it, even as someone who does very little shopping online, it was worth it to me for the sign up bonus alone. Basically, the $100 combined purchases I made at Nordstrom Rack comes out to $60 when factoring in the free money. That’s more than the $5 minimum to receive my cash back money in the next pay period.
Is Shopping on Rakuten Worth It to YOU?
Well, I hope my Rakuten review helps you answer that for yourself. For the right person, Rakuten is a great website to save money on planned purchases. For another person, Rakuten may entice you to make impulse purchases and spend more money than what you would have originally.
Interested in trying out Rakuten for yourself? Register using this promo link here to earn a higher cash back sign up bonus reward.
Rakuten Review FAQs
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