Booking Travel With Rakuten
Cash back portals allow you to earn additional cash back on top of the rewards you already earn using rewards cards and loyalty programs. This is done by starting your shopping session with the cash back portal of your choice and clicking through to the site in which you're going to make a purchase. This can be used for hotels, car rentals, airlines, and general shopping to maximize your return and put a great deal of cash back into your pocket.
Earning On Travel With Rakuten (Ebates)
Follow along as I explain how you can earn additional cash back booking your travel through the Rakuten website.
List of Popular Cash Back Portals
There's a great deal of cash back portals to choose from. Cash back amounts offered by these portals change on a daily to weekly basis so there isn't one that is consistently better than another. Some of the more popular cash back portals consist of:
This article will focus on earning cash back using Rakuten (previously known as Ebates) which has over 2,500 stores to choose from. I do highly recommend signing up for all of the programs listed above just because there will be times in which one site offers more cash back than another. Some cash back portals also have special promos earning 10%+ cash back with certain sites, so it's best to have your account ready so that when you see a deal you're not worrying about creating an account. When you sign up using the links above, you can start off earning $10 cash back. The Point Calculator will also earn cash back when you use the above links too!
Using Rakuten To Save On Travel
Now that you have an idea of how cash back portals work, lets dive into how it can save you money on travel. Again, I will be using Rakuten as the example, but all portals work the same way so you can apply this to any of the cash back portal I listed up top.
Booking Hotels With Rakuten
Rakuten has a great deal of hotels that you can book through them to save money. This includes the majority of big chain hotels as well as third party travel agencies. Rakuten cover several hotel booking sites including but not limited to:
- IHG (InterContinental Hotels)
- Best Western
- Red Roof Inn
- Motel 6
First you will want to find the hotel or travel agency you're booking travel through on the cash back portal. For Rakuten, you can type in the name at the top of the page and you should see it pop up in the suggestions. It will also tell you how much cash back you will earn booking through that hotel.
You will then be taken to the cash back portal page for that hotel. This page will list the terms of earning cash back (be sure to read these!), information about the hotel itself, coupons and promotions the hotel has going on, and various other tidbits of information including statistics on how much cash back has been earned from other Rakuten users shopping with that specific hotel.
To get started in earning cash back, you can click any of the 'Shop Now' buttons located on the page. This will begin a new 'shopping session' and send you to the hotels website. From there, you can book your hotel as normal. Just be sure to finish your booking in the same internet window. Be sure not to open up new tabs and windows as you may miss out on cash back by booking your hotel outside of the designated 'session' window.
Luckily, most of the cash back portals offer toolbars for those using Google Chrome. I wouldn't recommend installing multiple toolbars, so if you have a favorite cash back portal, that's the toolbar I'd install. For me, of course, it's the Rakuten Toolbar. This let's me know if the hotel site I'm on earns cash back on Rakuten and it lets me launch a new session directly from that hotels website without needing to go to Ebates.com first.
From there you can book your travel as normal through the hotel website. Once you finalize and confirm your booking, you will be able to check your account to see the status of your cash back. For Rakuten, you will see 'pending' next to your hotel reservations. Once you complete your reservation, your cash back will usually post to your account within a few days. Do note that Rakuten says it can take up six weeks, so don't be alarmed if it takes a little while for it to post.
Looking at the picture above, I reserved a Marriott hotel on 2/11 for a stay happening Valentine's day weekend. Rakuten had a promotion of 10% cash back with Marriott the day that I booked my reservation. After I completed that reservation, the $16.60 cash back I earned on my $166.00 hotel stay was updated in my Rakuten account balance a few days later. On top of earning my cash back with Rakuten, I also earned 1,660 Marriott Bonvoy Points as a Marriott member, a bonus 830 points (50%) for having Marriott Platinum Elite Status, and 996 points for using my Marriott credit card. That's a total of 3,486 Marriott Points which is worth about $24.40 since Marriott Points have a value of about 0.7 cents each. So altogether, I earned about $41 in rewards between both Rakuten and Marriott which is a 24% return on the $166 I paid for the hotel.
The picture also reflects two future bookings that I have coming up for future hotel stays. Once I complete the booking I made on 1/24/19, I'll earn 10% cash back with Rakuten and 3,104 Marriott Bonvoy Points for a total of $36.50 in rewards which is a 24% return.
I also have an IHG booking for $1,272 that will be completed towards the end of the year. First off, I'll earn 4% cash back on that booking through Rakuten for a total of $50.90. Second, I'll earn 31,800 IHG Points since I have the IHG Premier Credit Card which gives me IHG Platinum Status for a total of 25 points per $1 spent. IHG Points are worth about 0.7 cents each so I'm looking at a total of $223 worth of points. So for this entire booking, I'm looking at $273.90 back in rewards and cash back which is a 21% return.
Want to know the perks and benefits of joining hotel programs? Check out our list of Hotel Loyalty Programs that we cover in detail on this site. It covers all the ways you can earn points with each program and all the ways you can redeem them. Learn about the cash value of different hotel points based on how you redeem them and the benefits of earning elite status with each program. You can also check out our list of Best Hotel Credit Cards for Each Brand.
Booking Airfare With Rakuten
While Rakuten does have a slew of hotel programs at your disposal, the amount of airline programs is a little lower and you'll earn a lot less cash back. Still, cash back is cash back and 1% is better than 0% so I still recommend booking airline travel using Rakuten or another portal if given the chance! You can book airfare through the following channels on Rakuten:
- Air France
- British Airways
- Etihad Airways
- Hawaiian Airlines
- Korean Air
- Qatar Airways
- Swiss International Airlines
Booking airline travel through the airline sites works the same as booking hotels. Head to the cash back portal of your choosing and see if the airline you're flying will earn you some cash back. If you see your airline available, start a new shopping session and book your travel as normal! Airline not available through a cash back portal? You can try booking it through one of the OTA's such as Expedia, Orbitz, or Priceline if it's worthwhile.
When booking airfare, be sure to join their frequent flyer program. Taking the time to sign up can save you a great deal of money and can be worthwhile. Sure, it's possible that you may never fly that airline again, but that doesn't mean you can't use the miles you've earned. One flight may not earn you enough miles to get your next flight free, but miles can still be redeemed for gift cards, magazines, and even transferred to other rewards programs. Check out our list of Airline Frequent Flyer Programs and get the list of what you can do with miles and points earned with various programs. We cover all U.S.-based airlines as well as a few international airlines.
Booking Car Rentals With Rakuten
Another spot in which you can earn a great deal of cash back is through car rentals and other forms of transportation. Car rental programs aren't usually as strong as airline and hotel loyalty programs, but that doesn't mean they aren't worth signing up for. Car rentals like Hertz and Enterprise allows you to build your points and redeem them for free days when renting cars. Rewards earned with Hertz even transfers to other programs such as United Airlines. When it comes to renting cars with Rakuten, you have a solid list to choose from and you can earn a decent amount of cash back ranging from 1% to 4%+. Rakuten includes car rental and transportation agencies such as, but not limited to:
Booking car rentals with cash back portals are no different. Find the car rental agency or transportation of your choosing with your preferred cash back portal and launch a shopping session. Finish off your booking and earn your cash back a few days or more after you have completed the rental/booking.
I tend to use Enterprise or Hertz when booking rentals. This earns me between 2% and 4% cash back on average when I use Rakuten. I also make sure I'm signed into my Enterprise or Hertz Gold Rewards account. Be sure to not miss out on points earned in car rental programs. I have booked free rentals with Enterprise for as much as 1.6 cents per point.
Booking Everything Else With Rakuten
Rakuten as well as other cash portals isn't just good for travel, it's good for everything else too! Earn big on clothing, jewelry, electronics and much more using cash back portals. You're already shopping online, so you might as well earn some additional cash back. Just be sure to use a great rewards card and watch your points, miles, and cash back add up. Sign up for reward programs whenever you can and maximize your earnings!
If you're looking for a great rewards program you can check out the Best Credit Card Search Tool. This will let you search over 150 different credit cards based on keyword, bonus categories, and by spend. Looking for the perfect card for Hulu, Delta Flights, and Starbucks? This tool can help you find it.
I also recommend considering the Rakuten Cash Back Visa. This card earns 3% cash back on top of the cash back you would normally earn running spend through the portal. This comes in extremely handy when you're shopping through a retailer that either doesn't fit in with your rewards card(s) or doesn't offer any time of rewards program. This will guarantee that you earn at least 3% cash back when shopping with Rakuten.
Combining cash portals with loyalty programs can earn you a great deal of rewards. When paying for travel with non-rewards cards, not joining hotel loyalty or OTA programs, and/or not using cash back portals, you leave a lot of cash back to be earned on the table. Sign up for programs, use great rewards cards, and utilize your favorite cash back portals!
Sign up using the links below to start off with $10 cash back and earn The Point Calculator a little bit of cash back as well!