These days, it seems like there’s no point in shopping at retail stores anymore. Between Ecommerce giants like Amazon and the sheer amount of selection that’s online, it’s often hard to justify putting miles on your car and spending time in-store.
According to Statista, global Ecommerce sales are anticipated to reach $6.54 trillion US dollars worldwide by 2022. Online shopping is simply too convenient and, often times, cheaper to ever slow down.
I’ve covered ways to save money when shopping online before, such as by using money saving browser extensions. However, today I’m going to dive into one of the most popular rewards program there is: Rakuten.
This Rakuten review will break down everything you need to know about this platform, how to use Rakuten, and if this website is even worth your time. Let’s get to it!
Description: Rakuten is a free cashback rewards website that pays you for shopping at your favorite stores. To date, I've earned over $400 from using this platform, and it's one of the most popular reward websites around.
Operating System: Windows, Android, IOS
Application Category: Shopping
Author: Tom Blake
What Is Rakuten?
Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates, is a Japanese Ecommerce and retail company that was founded in 1997. While Rakuten is probably best known for their rewards platform in North America, the company behind Rakuten is far more than just a loyalty program.
In fact, Rakuten is far more global. The company has a significant presence in Japan’s internet and credit card market. Rakuten also sponsors the Barcelona Football Club, and has stakes in massive organizations such as Kobo, Pinterest, Lyft, Acorns, and dozens of other companies. The company is also publicly traded under TYO 4755.
So, it’s clear that Rakuten’s online rewards platform is just one piece of the puzzle. Rakuten is legit, but the real question is: how does it all work, and is it worth your time?
How Does Rakuten Work?
Rakuten functions on a very simple concept, but the scale is what makes the platform work. Essentially, Rakuten acts as a massive affiliate network for thousands of retailers.
When you shop online at a Rakuten-partnered retailer through their website, Rakuten earns commission. Once your purchase is confirmed, Rakuten then splits a portion of that commission with you for shopping through their website. It’s a win-win scenario for everyone, and this is basically a cash back rewards platform.
Rakuten has thousands of partners and new offers every single day, so there is plenty of opportunity to save money.
Cash back balance is credited to your account balance as you shop, and Rakuten pays their Big Fat Check every 3 months via PayPal. However, users may also be eligible for ‘Payment Boosts’ and earn 15% more money for selecting electronic gift cards instead of cash.
Creating An Account
To get started with Rakuten, all you need to do is to create a free account on their website. Profiles require either a valid email address or a Facebook account to get started.
Note: Rakuten is currently available in Canada, the UK, and the United States.
Make sure you create a profile on the correct platform to ensure offers match your currency. You can create multiple Rakuten profiles if you shop in multiple countries. I use Amazon in Canada and the U.S. so I have 2 accounts.
Currently, Rakuten offers a $10 signup bonus for newly referred users who open an account and spend at least $25 online. If you want to support This Online World and earn an easy $10, I would love if you signed up for Rakuten with my link!
Once you have an account, it’s time to optimize your earnings!
How To Use Rakuten – Different Ways To Make Money
Getting started with Rakuten is incredibly easy and free. However, there are several ways to make money that I will break down in my Rakuten review to help you maximize your savings.
1. Install The Rakuten Browser Extension
You can save money with Rakuten by shopping directly through their website. However, if you’re anything like me, remembering to visit Rakuten before shopping is unlikely.
I have probably forgotten to use Rakuten at least a dozen times. In order to ensure you are eligible for cash back when checking out online, be sure to install the Rakuten browser extension on the computer you do your shopping from.
The Rakuten button highlights red to indicate an online retailer is eligible for cash back. With just one click, the extension redirects you to the same page but flows through Rakuten’s system to ensure you are credited.
The Rakuten button is available on:
The button also automatically applies coupons at checkout, similar to the Honey App. Plus, the button has a ‘Price Magic’ feature which ensures you get the lowest price available across partnered online retailers.
2. Use The Rakuten Mobile App
If you prefer shopping on your mobile phone, you’re in luck: Rakuten has a free app for IOS and Android devices!
The Rakuten app offers several nifty features to help you save more money, including:
- In-store coupon offers.
- App-exclusive cash back deals.
- Cash back on Lyft rides (app exclusive).
- 5% cash back on thousands of restaurants.
Even if you do all your shopping from a laptop, the app is worth trying out for the exclusive deals and cash back on Lyft and restaurants.
3. Shop In-Store
When it comes to cash back rewards, Rakuten is probably one of the most versatile platforms out there. You don’t just have to shop online to save money with Rakuten. In fact, you can even earn cash back for completing in-store offers.
So, how do you use Rakuten in store?
Well, just follow these easy steps!
- Select an offer – Pick the store you will shop at in the app.
- Link offer and card – Link a debit or credit card to the Rakuten app.
- Pay with a linked card – Make your in-store purchase with the same card. If you’re using debit, select ‘credit’ when paying.
As you can see from the offers above, there’s some pretty decent cash back offers. If you’re going on a shopping trip, be sure to check in on Rakuten before leaving!
4. Rakuten Travel
If you have upcoming travel plans, you can use the Rakuten travel and vacations portal to score even more cash back.
Rakuten partners with Booking.com for their vacation and hotel deal search engine. Additionally, you can also search for plenty of deals on airlines, hotels, rental cars, cruises, and general vacation packages.
Double-dipping on travel rewards and cash back from Rakuten is definitely the way to go, so don’t miss out on the potential for extra savings for your travel plans!
Extra Reading – How To Make Money While Traveling.
5. Rakuten Cash Back Credit Card
If you’re a serious cash back fanatic or love Rakuten, you can also earn more rewards by signing up for the Rakuten cash back visa credit card.
Here are the perks of the Rakuten cash back visa at a glance:
- Extra 3% cash back on qualifying purchases made through Rakuten.
- 1% cash back everywhere else (unlimited).
- $10 first purchase bonus.
- No annual fee.
This card truly shines if you use Rakuten frequently. Otherwise, you can find better signup offers and cash back bonuses.
Other Ways To Earn – The Rakuten Referral Program
Alright, time to discuss the elephant in the room…the Rakuten referral program.
Rakuten undoubtedly has one of the best referral programs in the online rewards industry. Here’s how the program breaks down:
- United States – Users earn $25 for referring new members to Rakuten after they make a purchase of $25 or more. The new user earns $10.
- Canada – Users earn $25 for referring new members to Rakuten after they make a purchase of $25 or more. The new user earns $5.
The program offers unlimited bonuses, and this is how you get blog posts that go something like “how I made $15,000+ with Rakuten!” This is a pretty unrealistic picture for most people, but it’s still a powerful referral program.
I’ve earned most of my money from Rakuten’s referral program. If you and your friends or family are planning to make online purchases, you might as well stack up on the free money and refer each other to the platform.
Rakuten partners with more than 2,500 merchants, which nearly makes this section of this Rakuten review a tad redundant. The bottom line is that if you shop online, you’re almost guaranteed to find savings with this platform.
You can checkout the complete store directory to find a particular store. Some of the most notable partners include:
You get the idea. Rakuten has the best selection of any online rewards platform, hands down. Rakuten also has Double Cash Back deals or special offers for stores on a rotating basis, so checking the website regularly is a good idea.
Is Rakuten Legit? – How I’ve Earned almost $400 With Rakuten
Between the Canadian and U.S. version of Rakuten, I’ve earned nearly $400 in Rakuten rewards.
Most of my rewards have come from referring family members or readers of This Online World. I don’t shop online (or at all) that often. Plus, I didn’t have the Rakuten button extension installed for a while, so I definitely missed out on some savings.
Truthfully, all I’ve earned from actually using Rakuten is $10, and this was from shopping on Amazon back when the platform was still called Ebates.
So, is Rakuten legit?
Definitely, but it depends how much you shop.
The cash back offers listed on Rakuten are real. If you shop frequently at any Rakuten partner, you might as well signup for the platform. Realistically, you can probably earn at least $50 to $100 per year if you are diligent with this platform and don’t miss out on savings. Obviously, if you buy most things online, you’ll earn more.
This is a fairly simple cash back platform, especially once you get used to shopping through Rakuten or using the button extension to guarantee rewards. However, there are still some frequently asked questions I want to address in this Rakuten review.
Is Rakuten Safe?
In terms of security, Rakuten is safe. You don’t have to link your card to receive payment unless you plan on shopping in-store. Otherwise, a PayPal email address is all you need to provide.
How Does Rakuten Make Money?
Rakuten is a massive affiliate network.
How Fast Do I Earn Cash Back?
Most payments are credited within 48 hours. However, it can take up to 30 days for some merchants to verify transactions. If you have a question about a purchase made more than 30 days ago you can reach out to Rakuten support.
Rakuten’s minimum cash out amount is $5.01. Additionally, bonus or signup rewards do not count towards this cash out threshold. Therefore, money will sit in your account until you earn enough cash back to qualify for a Big Fat Check.
Money is sent quarterly using the following schedule:
Other Apps Like Rakuten?
If you’e on the hunt for even more cash back rewards, you can try the following websites that are similar to Rakuten:
- Drop – Earn rewards from your 5 favorite stores.
- Dosh – Another way to earn passive cash back.
- TopCashBack – A U.S. copy of Rakuten.
You can also checkout my post on the 17 best passive income apps for even more ways to save!
Extra Reading – Rakuten vs Ibotta.
Ultimately, every finance blogger under the sun ends up writing a review of Rakuten because of the referral program. Honestly, this is why I am writing this post.
However, I still think the platform is worth signing up for if you do most of your shopping online.
If you buy most of your gifts, household goods, clothing, and other items on websites like Amazon for example, this website is a no-brainer. Furthermore, by signing up for both Rakuten and the cash back visa, you’re looking at some serious savings.
If you’re like me and don’t shop much, this platform won’t break the bank. However, if you and some friends refer one another, you’re still looking at some free and easy money.
That’s all for now! Hopefully, my Rakuten review has shed some light onto the benefits of this platform, as well as why everyone is taking advantage of the crazy referral program.
Tom is a full-time blogger and freelance writer with a passion for side hustling, passive income, and the gig economy. His work has appeared on dozens of personal finance websites like Money Crashers, The College Investor, Investor Junkie, and more. This Online World is all about providing people with honest ways to make and save more money by using technology. To learn more about Tom, read his About Page!
If you’re interested in freelance writing services or want to partner with This Online World, please use our contact page to get in touch!