If you’re like most of us moms who prefer to shop online, then you are using Rakuten, right?

Or did I completely lose you and now you’re wondering what the heck Rakuten even is? It’s perfectly okay lady, stay with me because I’m gonna dive deep.

But I know we have one thing in common: we like to save money and make our dollars stretch whenever we can. Let’s be honest here, nothing’s getting cheaper these days.

Which is why I wanna give you all the details in this Rakuten cash back review and show you how you can use this app to pay you real money.

Some links in this post may be affiliate links, you can read my full disclaimer here.

Rakuten Cash Back Review

What is Rakuten anyway?

Free Money!

Rakuten pays you actual money when you shop your usual stores by going through their website or app first. There’s no funny business here. These are the same stores that you’ve been shopping at, but because you go through Rakuten first, they reward you with cash.

But on a technical note, maybe you’ve heard of Ebates before. Well, Rakuten used to be called Ebates, but in 2019, they decided to rebrand. They changed their name and logo, but the way you make money with them has remained the same.

They have a large variety of stores that they partner with, something like over 2500 stores. As you browse, you’ll notice that each store offers a certain percentage of cash back. The percentages are based on your purchase total.

For example, let’s say you’re inching to use your $10 off $25 JCPenney coupon, so you start adding all the things to your cart. Once you get to check out, your total is $245.

Let’s also say that right now, Rakuten is offering 5% cash back on all JCPenney purchases. Doing some math here, 3% of $245 is $12.25. That’s the amount of cash back you earn simply by doing what you was already gonna do anyway, which is make a purchase at JCPenney.

Can you see how you can turn this into a cash flowing machine simply by using Rakuten when you get to buying things?

Do I have to say more? Try it now – Sign up with Rakuten and get a free $10 bonus when you make your first purchase.

Rakuten Cash Back Review

Top 20 popular stores Rakuten partners with

  • Amazon
  • Walmart
  • eBay
  • Macy’s
  • Kohl’s
  • Target
  • Groupon
  • JCPenney
  • QVC
  • Old Navy
  • Sephora
  • Lowe’s
  • Expedia
  • Etsy
  • Bed Bath and Beyond
  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • Zulily
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • Ulta Beauty
  • Best Buy

Highest Paying App

How to sign up with Rakuten 

  1. Click the link to be directed to the Rakuten website.
  2. Enter your email address and create a password. Then hit ‘Join Now.’
  3. Get the app or keep on to the mobile site.

 

Rakuten Cash Back Review

 

How Rakuten’s cash back works

Here are 3 different ways you can use Rakuten.

Rakuten App

Using the app is by far the easiest way to earn cash back. If you’re like me, you do mostly everything from your phone, so using the app is convenient.

Once you open up the app, you’ll search for the store you want to shop at.

Then click ‘Shop Now’ which starts a shopping trip. You’ll get a notification that’s kind of like a confirmation that the Rakuten app picked up that shopping trip.

Complete your purchase as you normally would.

In the next few days, you’ll get another notification pop up and an email telling you how much money you earned with that trip.

Rakuten Cash Back Review

Rakuten Website

The browser version of Rakuten works similar to the app.

Once you go to the website, make sure you’re logged in.

Then, search for the store you want to shop at.

Click ‘Shop Now’ to start your shopping trip.

And with both the app and browser feature, don’t forget to check for coupon codes once you click on the store. Often times, Rakuten will tell you if there’s a coupon code available or not…helping you stretch those dollars even more.

Rakuten Browser Extension

Just in case you forget about going through Rakuten first, they make it virtually impossible for you to miss out on that free money (when you’re shopping from your computer).

You can download the chrome extension for Google Chrome which is also free, by the way.

Basically, what this does is alerts you of any cash back opportunities when you visit your favorite retailer websites.

You’ll get a pop up button that tells you to activate the cash back. Clicking that button will activate a shopping trip through Rakuten which will make that purchase eligible to earn money back.

Doing it this way eliminates the need to go to the Rakuten website first. But, it only works on Chrome browsers.

Rakuten Cash Back Review

More ways to earn money with the highest paying app

Besides the general cash back you earn, there are even more ways to make money online with Rakuten.

Rakuten Cash Back Visa Credit Card

Now I’m not a proponent of opening credit cards specifically for the rewards, BUT if you already use credit cards responsibly…

Then you could consider the Rakuten Visa Credit Card.

For starters, they give you a $10 welcome bonus on your first purchase with the card. So if you’re doing the math here, you get $10 just for signing up with Rakuten and making your first purchase, then you get another $10 the first time you use your Rakuten card.

Using the credit card allows you to earn an additional 3% cash back on qualifying orders placed through Rakuten (in-store, online and travel).

Plus, if your order doesn’t qualify for the 3%, they still give you an extra 1% cash back on all purchases regardless.

Rakuten Travel & Vacations

This is by far one of the best ways to get the most bang for your buck using Rakuten… because we all know how costly travel can be. So when you’re on the Rakuten browser, head on over to the “Travel and Vacations” tab. It turns into your typical travel booking site.

It gives you a good variety of booking sites that you can book through… all your usuals – Booking.com, Expedia, Travelocity, etc. And all those booking sites come with their own designated cash back percentages so make sure you weigh the cost differences between the highest percentage of cash back against the others.

You can book your airfare, hotels, rental car and cruise through them. They even have full on vacation packages that you can book through them.

Events and Double Cash Back

Nearly everyday, Rakuten has a selection of stores that they’re offering Double Cash back on. If you just click “Double Cash Back Stores,” they’ll let you know exactly which stores you can earn even more at.

Rakuten Referral Program

When you refer someone to Rakuten, you both get a bonus. Typically, you get $25 and they get $10.

That alone can be a money maker for you, so make sure you sign up today to get your bonus. Then share your link with your family and friends so that you can start racking in the cash.

The rules are pretty simple

  • Be new to Rakuten and an actual person (not be a child)
  • Use your custom referral link
  • Make at least a $25 purchase from one of the partnered stores using the app, chrome extension or website (within 1 year of sign up)

You’ll be surprised at how much your cash back balance will grow over time by earning a little cash back here and there.

Your next payout could be paying for your gas, a date night or adding to your emergency fund etc.

How does Rakuten pay work?

Rakuten pays out 4 times a year. In order to receive a payout, you do have to have at least a $5.01 balance at the time. If your balance is not at $5.01 at the time of that payout, the money just sits in your account until the next payout date.

  • May 15
  • Aug 15
  • Nov 15
  • Feb 15

The pay out dates are based on the shopping periods below.

  • Jan 1 – March 31
  • Apr 1 – Jun 30
  • Jul 1 – Sept 30
  • Oct 1 – Dec 31

For example, all cash back earned between January 1st and March 31st of a year will be paid out May 15th. And your first payout of the year is based on cash back earned during the last 3 months of the previous year

Rakuten offers 2 ways for you to get your money. You can either get paid via PayPal (the method I always choose) or you can be mailed a check.

Rakuten Cash Back Review

Benefits of Using Rakuten

I absolutely love Rakuten, and for these reasons specifically.

Easy to use

It is not a complicated process at all. It’s literally a 4 step process.

  1. Go to Rakuten
  2. Searching for the store
  3. Start shopping and complete your purchase
  4. Earn cash back

Convenience – app and cash back button

A lot of us are mobile users, so having the app brings much needed convenience. The app also integrates well with other apps like your Amazon and Walmart app.

Then when you install the browser extension, when you visit shopping sites, the ‘Activate Cash Back’ button pops up and stays there until you take action. It’s a very easy reminder to not leave free money on the table.

In store option

You have the ability to link your card to stores who offer the in store cash back option. The process becomes automated too.

Make your purchase at that store using that linked card and get your cash back automatically credited to your balance.

Stack your savings

I saved the best for last. Not only do you stretch your funds simply by using the Rakuten app, BUT you can take your dollars even further by stacking your savings.

The stacking process looks something like this…

  1. Use Rakuten to find coupon codes
  2. Use Rakuten to earn cash back
  3. Pay with a discounted gift card from Gift Card Granny

Rakuten Drawbacks

Like every app out there, I have found that there are some drawbacks to using Rakuten.

Limited in store cash back opportunities

With over 2500 stores in their catalogue of retailers, there are several missing the in store option.

So if you take an unplanned shopping trip, you may find that you’re not able to use the Rakuten in store feature due to it’s limited options for in store.

BUT, several stores now offer buy online, pick up in store… You could still use the Rakuten app to complete your purchase online and in a lot of cases, pick up your order from the store that same day.

Paid only 4 times a year

For those people expecting quick access to their cash back balance, you won’t get that with Rakuten. They do only pay out four times a year.

However, this gives you more time between payouts to really beef up your cash back balance. It really makes for a great bonus check that you often aren’t even expecting.

Easy to forget to go to Rakuten site first

I’ve done this countless times: forget to go through Rakuten before completing my purchase.

You really have to get yourself into a good habit of using the app/website for every purchase. Even if you find that the store you want to shop at doesn’t offer cash back, just that repetition of going to Rakuten first will help you remember the next time.

And, Rakuten makes it easy for you with their browser extension so they do help you out there. But, you have to be doing your shopping on the computer for that one to work.

For big department stores, different departments will give you different cash back amounts

For some stores, you’ll see it being advertised as up to 5% cash back, but when you actually open it up. However, when you actually open that store up on Rakuten, you’ll realize that it’s department specific.

So you’ll definitely see a pattern of electronics offering only 1% cash back, possibly 0% too while other departments, such as the ‘baby’ department offering 5% cash back.

I mean, it kinda makes sense when you think about it. It’s typically your high cost departments that offer the least amount of cash back. You won’t be able to purchase a $2,000 smart TV thinking you’re going to get back $100. They have to maintain a certain level of profit too.

Commonly asked questions about Rakuten 

How does Rakuten work in store?

Yes you’ve heard it right. Not only do you earn cash back on your online purchases, but you can now earn cash back in store.

You’ll have to add the cards you use to your Rakuten account under ‘My Wallet.’

If you’re on the desktop, you can link the in store offers to your cards. Just click on the ‘In-Store Cash Back’ tab to pull up all the stores offering in store cash back. Find your desired store and click ‘Link Offer.’

If you’re on the app, pull up the entire list of categories. Then click ‘In-Store.’ Search for the store you want to shop at and click ‘Link Offer.’

Now you’re ready to go shopping. Make your purchase as you normally would. Remember to use any one of the cards attached to your Rakuten account and your cash back will automatically be added to your account.

How long does Rakuten take to process cash back?

Before Rakuten is able to credit your cash back amount, the store has to confirm your purchase. This usually takes anywhere from a few hours to 48 hours.

However, travel and vacations take much longer. In my experience, the cash back has been credited after the trip was completed.

Is Rakuten safe and legit? Or is it a scam?

It’s most definitely safe AND legit. Ebates had been around since 1999 before Rakuten acquired them in 2014. Since 1999, they have paid out over $1 billion in cash back. Personally, I have received several payouts from them.

How does Rakuten make money?

Rakuten partners with many retailers and serves as an affiliate for them, so they get compensated for referring buyers to these stores. In return Rakuten gives its members a portion of their commission.

Rakuten Cash Back Review

 

Other high paying apps that allow you to earn money

Fetch Rewards

This app lets you scan all your grocery receipts to receive points. Your points are redeemed for gifts cards at places like Amazon, Starbucks, Walmart etc.

You can get a bonus 2000 points which is the equivalent of $2 for signing up and using the code FETCH2K.

Here’s the link to download Fetch Rewards.

Related:  Fetch Rewards – {Make Extra Money}

iBotta

iBotta is give you cash back on purchases as well. Typically, you have to search for the store you’re going to, browse the offers and claim the offers prior to going to the store.

Once you’ve completed your purchase, you will then upload your receipt by taking a picture of it in the app.

They’ve recently made some changes. Now, you can link your store discount/loyalty card to the store in the app for automatic redemption. But, you still have to claim the offers prior to going shopping if you want the cash back.

You can receive a $10 bonus for signing up.

Here’s the link to download the iBotta app.

Dosh

Dosh is another simple and easy to use app that is almost completely automated. They partner with a bunch of stores and give you cash back automatically after you make your purchases.

The only caveat is… after you download the app, you have to link your card and use that card for your purchases.

You can get a $5 bonus just for signing up and linking your card.

Here’s the link to download the Dosh app.

Final Thoughts – Rakuten Cash Back Review

I think Rakuten is one of the best high paying apps on the market today.  It’s so easy to use and definitely feels like a no brainer app to have if you do any online shopping or if you shop in store at any of the big retailers.

It’s literally paying you for shopping the stores you were gonna shop at anyway.

If this Rakuten review motivated you to sign up, here’s the link one last time.

 

rakuten cash back review

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Ozella

Ozella is a millennial wife and mom on a journey to financial freedom. Having grown up financially dumb, she learned the hard way and is now working her way out of debt. She uses The Intentional Dollar to share all that she is learning with others through her own journey.
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