Rakuten Rewards Review: How To Use, Payouts, & Breakdown

Program Review
Get the rundown of the Rakuten Rewards portal including details on how to sign up for free, how to use the portal, and the payout options Rakuten provides. Plus, learn how you can earn Membership Rewards Points instead of cash back!
Last Updated 2021-10-15 By R.Flowers III

Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates, is a cash back portal and shopping rewards website. Rakuten offers thousands of affiliate links and when you make a purchase through these links, you'll receive a small percentage of the money that Rakuten earns off of that affiliate purchase.

How To Sign Up For Rakuten Rewards

In order to earn cash back or rewards points with Rakuten, you'll need to sign up. It's free, easy to do, and doesn't require any type of credit/debit card info. All you need is an email address and your name.

You can also choose to sign up for an account through your Google or Facebook account.

Steps To Sign Up For Rakuten Rewards:

  1. Head to Rakuten.com
  2. Click Join Now.
  3. Enter the Email/Password you'd like to use or choose to log in with Google/Facebook.
rakuten stores
Rakuten features over 2,500 different stores for you to earn cash back.

That's all there is to it. You'll want to make sure you're signed into Rakuten when making purchases online so that the cash back can be credited to your account.

If you don't have an account, you can sign up for a Rakuten Rewards account through The Point Calculator and earn bonus cash back or Membership Rewards Points on your first purchase.

How To Earn With Rakuten

Once you have created your Rakuten account, you're ready to start earning cash back. You'll want to start your shopping session at Rakuten.com.

At the top of their homepage you'll find a search bar that you can use to search the thousands of stores available. If you know what store you're looking for, you can type it in the search bar to see if it's eligible to earn cash back.

rakuten home page
The homepage will alert you of any deals going on.

Selecting the store will give you all the details about earning cash back with that specific retailer. It will lay out:

  • How much cash back you will earn
  • The cash back terms for that specific store
  • Sales and promos going on with that particular store
  • Details about the store
  • How much cash back other users earn on average

To start earning cash back, you can click on the main 'Shop Now' button at the top of the page or any of the 'Shop Now' buttons that are listed by the coupons/promo codes. This will open up a new tab/window in your browser and Rakuten will show you that the shopping session is starting.

This page will show you the store you'll be earning rewards with and how much you'll earn.

rakuten ebags open
Rakuten will open up a new tab and set up a new shopping session.

Once that tab is done loading the shopping session, you'll land on that homepage of the store website. You can then shop as normal!

Sign in to your account with that store, browse the store's website, and do everything else you would normally do. Just remember that you will need to keep that browser session open in order to earn cash back with Rakuten.

You can open up new tabs and you'll still earn cash back, but if you close out the entire browser window, you'll have start a new session through Rakuten's website again.

Having the Rakuten Toolbar helps with this since it lets you know when the session is active.

Rakuten Toolbar

I'm not one for installing toolbars on my browsers, but the Rakuten toolbar for Google Chrome has helped me earn lots of cash back. This toolbar alerts you when you're on a site that can earn you cash back with Rakuten.

Rakuten Hilton Status
The toolbar allows you to activate your cash back session on the spot.

The toolbar will pop up a message on the screen letting you know how much cash back you can earn making a purchase through the website you're on. Once you hit 'Activate Cash Back', it will start the session in the same window/tab.

You'll then be able to shop as normal. If you use Rakuten, I recommend considering this toolbar as it can really help you build your cash back by reminding you to use Rakuten.

Rakuten In-Store Cash Back

Rakuten allows members to earn cash back when shopping in-store by linking a credit/debit card to your Rakuten account. This works the same way as many of the dining programs that offer bonus points/miles when eating out at restaurants.

  1. Link credit/debit cards to your account
  2. Link the store cash back offer to a card
  3. Use the linked card when shopping at that store
  4. Earn cash back automatically
rakuten instore shopping
You can still earn some solid deals shopping in-store as well!

You can link offers through the desktop or through their mobile app. If you have location services turned on, you can opt in to receive notifications whenever you're around a store (or restaurant) that has an in-store cash back deal.

Rakuten Cash Back Mobile
Use the mobile app to shop online or to active in-store offers!

If you do decide that you want to earn cash back shopping in-store with Rakuten, make sure that you add a rewards credit card that earns great rewards. If you shop with a specific retailer, you can use a store credit card to maximize your savings or a cash back card that earns either 1.5% cash back or 2%+ cash back on all purchases.

Do note that you can only add VISA, Mastercard, and American Express credit cards to your Rakuten account.

Rakuten Cash Back Mobile
Add your card and start earning cash back in-store!

Another thing to note is that you must re-link the offers after you use them. So don't get in the habit of thinking that the offer is there to stay. If you're about to go out shopping, check through your offers and make sure everything is good to go!

Rakuten Link Offer
Always re-link your offers after you use them!

Rakuten Rewards Payout Options

You have four payout options to choose from which with Rakuten. Those options are:

Rakuten automatically pays out rewards every three months. You must have earned at least $5 or 500 Membership Rewards Points in order to receive your payout, otherwise your rewards will rollover into the next 3-month period.

Rakuten Rewards Pay Schedule
Earning Period Estimate Date Paid Out
January 1 - March 31 May 15
April 1 - June 30 August 15
July 1 - September 30 November 15
October 1 - December 31 February 15
rakuten how to get paid

Big Fat Check

Choosing to receive Rakuten's Big Fat Check is pretty straightforward. Your earnings will be mailed out to you in the form of a check and you'll be able to cash the check like you would any normal check.

This is the option I choose when receiving cash back with Rakuten. If you have a bank that offers mobile deposit, it's an easy route to take.

PayPal

When you select to receive your money through PayPal, your earnings will go directly to your PayPal account. There's no charge for this and it's pretty seamless.

Once the paycheck hits your PayPal account, you'll be able to use your PayPal account to make purchases or you can transfer the funds to your bank account.

Gift Card

The option to redeem your earned cash back for a gift card is presented to you a few weeks before Rakuten prepares to send you your rewards. The plus to grabbing up gift cards is that Rakuten will offer you bonus cash back if you choose this route.

rakuten gift card options
Get a little extra when you choose the option of gift card.

For example, if you've earned $25 in cash back you could opt in to receive a $30 gift card to Chipotle or the Nike Store. The amount of bonus cash back will vary depending on the retailer.

It's a solid option for anyone that shops with a particular retailer and would like to earn a little more for the cash back they've earned.

You are not presented with this option if you opt to receive Membership Rewards Points.

Membership Rewards Points

Rakuten members who are also part of the American Express Membership Rewards program can choose to earn Membership Rewards Points on every purchase instead of cash back.

For those who choose this option, 1% of cash back will be equal to 1 Membership Rewards Point. So if Rakuten is offering 5% cash back on store A, you would receive 5x Membership Rewards Points on store A if you opted to receive points.

You'll want to take note this since Rakuten will still show everything as cash back, regardless of your choose to be paid in Membership Rewards Points.

Earning Membership Rewards Points will fall under the same Rakuten Pay Schedule. You'll earn points over the three month period and your Membership Rewards account will be credited the following month.

Do note that your American Express account will need to be in good standing otherwise you will risk losing your rewards.

About Membership Rewards Points

Membership Rewards Points can be worth as much as 2 cent or more when transferred to airline and hotel partners. Being able to earn Membership Rewards from shopping online provides an unbeatable return on your online spend.

If you're not familiar with the Membership Rewards program, I recommend that you check out The Dollar Value of Membership Rewards Points which covers all the redemption options for the rewards program.

Summary

That's pretty much the quick rundown of how Rakuten Rewards works. It's my favorite of the cash back portals as it has earned me about $1,900 in cash back and 25,000 Membership Rewards Points as of 2021.

I recommend signing up for Rakuten Rewards along with the many other cash back portals when making online purchases.

FAQ

Is Rakuten Rewards legit?

Yes, Rakuten Rewards is a legit online shopping portal that you can use to earn cash back and other rewards.

How does Rakuten Rewards work?

When you start your online shopping session at rakuten.com, Rakuten will reward you when you complete purchases made with your favorite retailers.

What payout options does Rakuten offer?

You can get paid by paper check, PayPal, eGift Card, or American Express Membership Rewards Points.

How often does Rakuten Rewards payout?

Rakuten pays out every three months automatically once you have earned $5 in cash back or 500 Membership Rewards Points.

Which is better between cash and Membership Rewards Points?

If you're big on travel, Membership Rewards Points will be the better option as you can redeem AMEX Points for high value when transferred to partners. For everything else, cash back will be the best option.

Do you need a Membership Rewards credit card to earn points with Rakuten Rewards?

Yes. You'll need to own at least one Membership Rewards-earning credit card in order to paid in AMEX points.