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. As you make more and more purchases through Rakuten, they will earn more money and you will earn your fair share as well.
Signing Up For Rakuten
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.
Sign Up For Rakuten
- Head to Rakuten.com
- Click Join Now.
- Enter the Email/Password you'd like to use or choose to log in with Google/Facebook.
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.
You can Sign up for Rakuten through The Point Calculator to help us out as well as earn an additional $10 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Link credit/debit cards to your account
- Link the store cash back offer to a card
- Use the linked card when shopping at that store
- Earn cash back automatically
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.
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.
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!
How You Get Paid With Rakuten
Rakuten pays out earned cash back every three months in the form of either a Big Fat Check, PayPal, or Gift Card. The cash back you earn during each three month period is paid out a little more than a month afterwards.
|Rakuten Pay Schedule|
|Earning Period||Month 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|
One of the great things about earning rewards with Rakuten is that you don't have to enter any kind of credit/debit card info to receive rewards for shopping online. You have four options when it comes to earning rewards with Rakuten and that's a paper check, PayPal, gift card, or American Express Membership Rewards Points.
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 cash the check like you would any normal check. This is the option I used for the first year of having my account. I would normal do a mobile deposit through my bank's mobile app and be good to go.
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. This is currently the option I use and I have found this to be the easiest option. 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.
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 a check or deposit it into your PayPal account. The plus to grabbing up gift cards is that Rakuten will offer you bonus cash back if you choose this route.
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.
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 note this since Rakuten will still show everything as 'cash back' and not 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.
That's pretty much the quick rundown of how Rakuten works. It's my personal favorite of the cash back portals. It's earned me almost $2,000 over the course of the past three years using it for booking travel and shopping my favorite retailers online. I recommend signing up for Rakuten or any of the other cash back portals when making online purchases.