Inside: Find out if using Rakuten is worthwhile or not.
If you haven’t signed up for Rakuten yet because it seems like it sounds too good to be true, you aren’t alone. Initially, I was wary of the service and it took a while before I actually tried it out.
I can’t believe it took me so long!
Both my husband and I now use Rakuten regularly when we are shopping.
Note: You may know Rakuten as Ebates. It’s the same program, but with a new name!
What is Rakuten?
Basically, Rakuten is a company that gets a commission from sending members to retailers. In return, they then pass on some of that money on to you, the customer.
This means you can shop many of your favorite online stores and get cash back from your purchases. These stores may include Target, Kohl’s, Macy’s, Shoes.com, Groupon, Sephora, and more!
I’ve even saved money with Expedia through Rakuten. Saving money on larger purchases like a vacation is a great feeling.
How does Rakuten work?
The TL;DR version is: you sign up, activate shopping rebates before checkout, and you get cash back later.
Need more details than that? I’ve got you covered.
How to sign up
When you first visit the site, you will be greeted with a sign-up form. Note that this is all FREE and easy to do. There are no membership or subscription fees, and no lengthy questionnaires.
You can register using your Facebook account, Google account, or another email address.
The neat thing is, if you sign up through this link, they are currently offering a $10 bonus. And I mean $10. Not points, not gift cards, not credit towards purchase, and not prize equivalents.
Of course, the catch to collect that $10 is you have to make a qualifying purchase within 90 days. How hard is that to do?
Not hard at all. Rakuten partners with over 2000 merchants, so it is likely you already shop with several of them and have been missing out on these savings this whole time!
How to use Rakuten
Once you are signed up, you are ready to use Rakuten. There are a few different ways you can do this. You can go through the Rakuten site to activate rebates, use a browser extension, or register your credit card for in-store purchases.
Shopping through the Rakuten site
Once you are signed in on the Rakuten site, you will notice various retailer discounts displayed. These are just a few of the 2000+ retailers available through the site. If you know the retailer you want to shop at, you can enter the store name or even product name in the Rakuten search bar.
Once results are found, you can click the “Shop Now” button or on the product selected to activate the rebates and go to the store for your shopping session.
Using the Rakuten browser extension (favorite option)
If you don’t want to try and remember to go to the Rakuten site every time you shop online, then you’ll want to install the Rakuten browser extension.
This is my favorite option because I am one to forget about activating rebates without a reminder. This extension adds a button on the browser that gives a pop-up or flashes red when I’m at a site that offers a rebate. I can activate the session with a click and continue shopping.
Even better, at this time the extension is available for Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge browsers.
Using Rakuten In-Store
If you’ve been under the assumption that Rakuten is only for online shopping, you would be mistaken. Believe it or not, Rakuten offers in-store rebates at select retailers.
To use this feature, you first want to go to your account settings and find “My Wallet.” There you will add your credit card to your account.
Then, before you go shopping, either from the app or on your computer go to Rakuten In-Store Cash Back Offers and link offers you like to your card.
Once the offers are linked to your card, then you can go shopping and earn cash back in-store!
Other questions you may have
How much cash back can you get?
Rakuten offers both flat rate and percentage based cash back rebates. It all depends on what the retailer offers. You may find offers of anywhere from 1%-40% cash back! Most retailer offers are percentage based.
There are some retailers that offer a fixed dollar amount, such as this one I found at the time with Blue Apron.
How long until the Cash Back shows up in my account?
Your cash back will normally show up within a few hours to a few days. There are, however, some retailers that will not credit Rakuten your cash back until their return period has expired. Travel purchases, such as reservations and booking flights, earn cash back after the trip has been completed and the company confirms payment.
When do I get Cash Back?
This is something you will want to know. Rakuten sends out cash back rebates 4 times a year, or once a quarter. Here is their schedule:
You Get Paid On
|Jan 1 – March 31||May 15th|
|Apr 1 – Jun 30||Aug 15th|
|Jul 1 – Sep 30||Nov 15th|
|Oct 1 – Dec 31st||Feb 15th|
You can get paid with either a check in the mail or via PayPal and only if your balance is over their $5 threshold (so, $5.01 or more). If your balance is $5 or less, no worries! It will carry over to the next period.
Is there a Rakuten App?
Do you prefer shopping on your tablet or phone? You are in luck. There is an app available for Android, iPhone, and iPad.
Are there downsides to Rakuten?
It is free, easy, and they even provide a blinking button to remind you of available discounts!
Despite all of that, of course there are downsides, but they are small.
- The discounts vary. One month your favorite retailer may be offering a 6% rebate and the next month it is 2% or even no longer in the program
- The discounts are great, but may not always be the best. There is a chance a different program or app offers a better discount at the time. I’ve found Rakuten usually has better offers and covers more retailers. It is up to you to figure out how you want to shop and the program you are most likely to reach payment thresholds.
- If you don’t like registering your credit card with apps, then you’ll miss out on potential in-store discounts.
- Some stores exclude certain purchases or brands. The terms will be noted in the Cash Back Terms for each retailer.
Is Rakuten worth it?
In short, yes! We use it all the time and having the browser extension makes it so easy to snag great rebates.
It’s free. It’s easy. Sign up and give it a try!