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Rakuten Review 2020: Is this cash back app legit?

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Rakuten Review

This review will cover Rakuten, the cashback site formally known as Ebates. First, let's clear up any confusion on the name change. Ebates was acquired by Rakuten in 2014, but they have now recently re-branded the Ebates service as Rakuten.

But has anything really changed for users? Other then the logo change on the site and in the app, it is basically still the same service. That really sums that up, but you can get all the details about the name change from Rakuten here.

Chances are though if you are reading this review, you are probably less concerned about the name change, and really just want to know if Rakuten is a legit way to earn cash back on your purchases.

For those in a rush to get started, let me cut to the chase. Rakuten is the real deal. Its free to join, and there are no hidden cost.

I have been a member for over 1 year, and in that time I have earned over $700 in cash back. Hint: The holidays and major house hold purchases are a good time to rack up on your cash back earnings.

Ready to join? Be sure to use our $10 Rakuten sign-up bonus link

If you want to learn more, read my detailed Rakuten review below. I will cover how it works, why you should use it, and share my own tips on how to max your cash back.

What is Rakuten?

If you shop online, you are basically passing up on free money if you are not using Rakuten. Like most people new to cash back apps, I was skeptical at first. However, I became a believer shortly after I signed up.

I earned my first $10 on the first day. But that was just the beginning.

Rakuten is a free cash back service that allows you to earn 1% to 40% on your in-store and online purchases.

You can earn $10 when you first join Rakuten by making a $25 purchase within 3 months through Rakuten.

Now think about that? How many things do you purchase online that total over $25? Rakuten allows you to earn cash with over 2,500 online stores. With that many stores to choose from,  it's not hard to make some money cash back on your purchase.

Rakuten $30 Sign-Up Bonus (Through 5/1)

Here is an example of how I scored my $10 sign-up bonus with Rakuten.  I earned my first $10.48 after purchasing a few household items from samsclub.com using the Rakuten app.

ebates $10 Bonus
$10 Sign-Up bonus Redeemed via PayPal

You may be thinking, that $10 sign up-bonus is excellent, but is Rakuten worth using after the initial $10 reward? 

Quick Answer: Definitely

Since my sign-up bonus, I have been able to rack up an additional $89.71 in cash back using Rakuten for my online purchases from stores like Macy's, Kohl's, and Old Navy. That is over $100 earned in a little over 1 month since I first joined. Now that's what I call smart shopping! 

Ebates Cash Back Balance
Rakuten Cash Back Balance and Recent Cash Back Earned

So you might be thinking that cash back sounds great, but how does Rakuten work and are there any gotchas?

Keep reading my Rakuten review to see how it works and why you should sign up for a free account.

How does Rakuten work?

The Rakuten business is based on a simple concept. When you visit an online retailer via a Rakuten link, they earn a commission on any purchases you make. Rakuten then turns around and shares a portion of this commission with their members in the form of a cashback offer. It's a win-win for all involved.

The popularity of Rakuten allows them to drive significant traffic to their retailer partners.  In response to all that traffic, they are happy to give a percentage of the sale. Since each retailer has a different relationship with Rakuten, the cash back offered by Rakuten to their members also varies.

Is Rakuten Legit?

Ebates was founded in 1999, and their site states that they have over 10 million members who have earned over 1 Billion dollars back in cash back offers. In 2014 Ebates was purchased by Rakuten (rhymes with Gluten), a large Japanese e-commerce company.

In 2019 they started using Rakuten as the official name of the service. However, you will still see the Ebates references online since the branding is so strong.

Rakuten has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and has good customer reviews from its members. Also, Rakuten has an excellent user rating on popular user review site Trustpilot. With all that positive feedback, Rakuten trustworthiness surpasses similar services that offer cash back. With that legacy, and with so many happy members earning money (including myself), you can be sure they are legit.

Rakuten is 100% free to join, and all you need to get started is to create an account with your email address. While Rakuten does have to track all your shopping trips to give you cash back on your purchases, they have a strict privacy policy. The policy states that they will not sell your personal information to any third parties.

How to earn cash back with Rakuten

Everybody likes ways to to make extra money, but no one likes it to be complicated. I do a lot of shopping online, and I love the flexibility of just hopping on and getting what I want. I will use a coupon if available but do not want it to be more complicated than that. This is where Rakuten really shines. They make it very easy to use their service to earn cash back.

Three Ways to Earn Cash Back Online with Rakuten:

  1.  Once you register for Rakutenyou can then visit the Rakuten.com site and initiate your shopping from there. If you are logged into Rakuten.com, any retailer links you click on from the Rakuten.com site will automatically open in a new window. Your shopping session will be tracked to give you cash back credit for your purchase.
  1. A more straightforward method to earn cash back is to just download the Rakuten Cash Back Button plugin for your browser. When you first register and sign in for the first time, they will prompt to install the Rakuten plugin. It is effortless to install, and my preferred method because it will remind you to use Rakuten even if you forget.
Ebates Chrome Plugin

Currently, Chrome, Edge, FireFox, and Safari are supported. With the browser extension, you can just shop the way you usually do by going directly to the web site of the retailer. If Rakuten has a cashback offer for that retailer, you will automatically get a drop down box like the one shown below. All you need to do is just click on the Activate Cash Back button to track your shopping trip.

Ebates Activate Cash Back
Activate Rakuten Cash Back with Browser Plugin
  1. Once I started using the Rakuten app, I saw why users love it and have given it over a four-star rating both on Apple and Google Play Store. I tend to do a lot of my simple shopping on my iPhone since it's always with me and so convenient. Using the Rakuten mobile app, I can still earn cash back and not lose that flexibility.

    The shopping process on your mobile is similar to the computer experience. To get started, you can choose the retailer from within the app to start your shopping trip. You will then get a notification within the window to let you know that the cash back has been activated. After that notification, you will be directed to the retailer site. From here, you would just purchase as usual. Any cash back will be tracked and added to your account upon completion of the purchase.

Save More With Rakuten Coupon Magic

Rakuten not only gets you cash back,  but they help you stack the savings by seeking out the best coupons for your transaction. Here is an example of the Coupon Magic feature of Rakuten that popped up when I was shopping online at Gap.com. 

I have found this feature to be reasonably  accurate. It even sometimes found coupons that I was not able to find on other sites.

After I selected Apply Coupons, the Rakuten Plugin started applying the coupons to the order. Then I got the confirmation shown to the right. The Rakuten plugin had stacked a coupon code to the cash back offer to result in $25.38 in savings! 

ebates coupon magic applied

How do you get your money from Rakuten?

Tracking your balance.
You can track your cash back balance by logging into your Rakuten account, and selecting the My Accounts option. It can take up to five days for cash back to appear in your account.

Qualifying for a payment.To receive your payment, you must have an accurate mailing address set up in your “Big Fat Check Settings” in the account settings section. This is required whether you choose to receive payment via PayPal or via regular check in the mail.

Rakuten sends payments out quarterly. You must have at least $5 in your balance to receive your earnings. If you earn less than $5 in a quarter, your balance will carry over to next quarter.

Rakuten payment schedule.  Rakuten sends out payments on the 15th of the following months: February, May, August, and November.

More ways to Make Money with Rakuten

Take advantage of Double Cash Back Stores and Special Events

From time to time, retailers that work with Rakuten offer double cash back and more. For instance, during Black Friday and Cyber Monday week, retailers like Gap and Macy's were offering 10% cash back bonuses. If you use the mobile app, you can get alerts when there are special events like this.  When I am calculating which retailer has the best deal on an item, I often check which retailers are offering special cash back as well. Combining double cashback with store sales is a great way to maximize your savings.

Buy Online & Pick up In-Store

Many stores offer a free in-store pickup option for items purchased online. So even if you need an item right away, buy it online instead and choose to pick up in store option. This will allow you to earn the online cash back bonus, and still have that item you need on the same day. You can find a list of stores that offer buy online-pickup in store option under the “Hot Deals” section on their website. 

Rakuten In-Store Cash Back Offers

For those of you that still enjoy shopping in the actually store, Rakuten has you covered there as well. By linking your credit cards with the Rakuten app you can earn cash back on your purchases from several popular stores like American Eagle,Nike, Gap, Bed Bath & Beyond and more. 

Rakuten Referral Program - Earn $25 Per Referral

If you have a lot of friends, relatives, or just a big social network, this can be a significant source of earnings for you. When you sign up for Rakutenyou will get a referral code that you can share. You will earn $25 for each individual that uses your referral code and makes a qualifying purchase of $25 or more. The only condition is that they must make that purchase within one year of signing up. Since they also get a $10 bonus for making that first purchase, they usually are eager to get started with Rakuten.

Rakuten Review 2020 Verdict

  • Choice of Stores
  • Ease of Use
  • Earning Redemption Process
  • Pay Per Time Spent
Overall
4.8

Why I like Rakuten


Rakuten has been around for a while, and that has allowed them to get partnerships with over 2,500 retailers.  Their service is easy to sign up for, and it's 100% free. Their browser plugin and mobile app offer hassle-free options for both PC/MAC and mobile, so they have you covered no matter what you use for doing your online shopping. If you shop online, you are missing out on free cash if you do not give it a try. Like Ibotta, Rakuten has been very accurate in the delivery of the cash back rewards, and their website and app are top notch.

Rakuten Cash Back Lifetime Earnings
I joined in October 2018 and did all my Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping through Rakuten. Since then I have earned nearly $800 with basically no extra effort. The only thing keeping me from giving Rakuten a full 5 stars is that Rakuten pays you quarterly rather than allowing you just to request payment when you meet the threshold. While this may be considered a con for those eager to get paid right away, I think of it more as a quarterly bonus that I can look forward to.

OUR VERDICT: It's SAVVY

AUTHOR

Nermeen Ghneim

Nermeen Ghneim

Hi, I'm Nermeen! As a wife, mother of two, and a full-time bank manager, I know how hard it can be to juggle family, career, and still make smart financial decisions. My mission is to help others learn how to save more, earn more, and still maintain a healthy work-life balance. I have been featured in numerous online publications, including Yahoo Finance, MSN, US News & World Report, Business Insider, Fit Small Business, Consolidated Credit, Go Banking Rates, and more.

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