While I’ve talked about the power of cashback websites in the past, I figured it was time for a stand-alone Rakuten review (formerly Ebates). After all, they are the granddaddy of all cashback sites and have been around the longest. So in this review I talk about how Rakuten works, how you get paid, along with some insider tips to help you get the most out of using Rakuten when shopping online as well as in-store.
Exactly How Does Rakuten Work?
In a nutshell, Rakuten is a cashback website that pays you whenever you shop online.
The cashback rate varies from 1% all the way up to 40% depending on the retailer. Expect somewhere between 4%-8% as that seems to be about the average.
They literally offer cashback at thousands of stores and the best part is they’ll actually pay you a $10 bonus when you sign-up and spend $25 or more at any store on their site.
Is Rakuten Legit? How Do They Make Money?
Raktuen is absolutely legit and has been writing checks to shoppers since 1998.
Founded in San Francisco, Rakuten currently has close to 3 million registered users.
So how does Rakuten make money? Whenever a user goes through their website or app to make a purchase at one the retailers they list, Rakuten gets paid a referral fee by the retailer.
The fee could be 8%, 12%, or 2% of your order total. Depends solely on the affiliate contract in place. Rakuten then uses this fee to give their users “cashback”.
Based on some of the cashback percentages they offer, it appears they keep somewhere between 1/3 to 1/2 of their referral fee as profit and gives the rest to their users in the form of cashback.
Popular Store Cashback Examples
To give you can idea, here are some current cashback rates at these popular retailers:
- Amazon (up to 10% back)
- Dell Consumer (8% back)
- Kohl’s (3% back)
- Nike (8% back)
- Petco (4% back in-store)
- Expedia (up to 10% back)
- Target (2% back)
- Macys.com (3% back)
- American Eagle (2% back)
- Lowes.com (2.5% back)
- Lancome (8% back)
- Sears (8% back)
- Walmart (1% back)
- Barnes & Noble (up to 3% back)
I’ll be sure to keep this list updated.
How Often Does Rakuten Pay Me?
Rakuten pays out your cashback on the above payment schedule.
So basically Rakuten will pay you once per quarter, 45 days after your earning period ends.
Not the best system as it would be nice to get paid immediately after you request a payout, but we can live with it.
Look for Rakuten to improve this in the future.
How Do I Get Paid?
Rakuten currently has three forms of payment available to its users:
- Big Fat Check – When it comes to my cashback earnings, I’ve always opted for the direct mailing of a Big Fat Check. Rakuten will pay for the stamp so make sure you have the correct mailing address in your account settings.
- PayPal – You can also opt to be paid directly to your verified PayPal account with Rakuten picking up the sender fees.
- Charity/Organization/Family Member – If you’d rather donate your cashback to a deserving charity, organization, or even a family member in need, Rakuten gives you the option to do so.
Is Rakuten Only For Online Shopping?
While most cashback websites focus only on online shopping, Rakuten has reached out to those who prefer to shop in-store via their In-Store cashback program.
They’ve done this through their In-Store Cashback Program.
It works by adding your credit or debit card to your Rakuten account. Then you simply peruse the in-store cashback offers currently available and when you find one you like you just link it one of your cards.
Next, just pay with your linked card when in-store and the cashback will automatically head your way.
How Do You Make Sure You’re Earning Cashback?
Once you go through Rakuten and place an order, your cashback should show up in your account within 2-3 business days.
If for some reason you don’t get your cashback within that time window, you can can file a ticket with Rakuten and they’ll investigate the issue for you.
What Popular Stores is Rakuten Missing?
As of this writing, Rakuten doesn’t provide cashback at these stores:
- Home Depot
- Pottery Barn
- American Apparel
Rakuten is always working on new affiliate contracts so hopefully these stores will start earning cashback in the near future.
BONUS: Rakuten Tips for Success
Here are some insider tips and hacks to get the most of your Rakuten membership.
Beware of “Up To” Wording – Some retailers offer a tiered cashback schedule. So when you see Amazon offering “up to 10%cashback”, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get 10% back, or anything close to that. As a matter of fact, the only thing that actually pays 10% is “Home Services”.
The Power of Being a “Giant” – Because Rakuten is such a large player in the cashback field, with over $15 million in annual profits, they have a fat cash-roll which they can use to give you cashback even when your purchases do NOT track properly. This is a big plus when comparing Ebates to their competition.
Look for Double Cashback Stores – On a recurring basis, Rakuten offers approximately 20 retailers with double-cashback. Makes for a great way to double your cashback at popular stores like Nike, Sephora, Ulta Beauty, and Neiman Marcus.
Don’t Forget the Cashback Button – If your browser of choice is Chrome, Firefox, or Safari you’d be wise to add the free “Rakuten Button” browser extension. It’ll allow you to automatically activate cash back at store sites without visiting Rakuten.com first.
It will also allow you to “double dip” your savings by adding any available coupon codes to your purchase for even more savings. The button is a great tool for those, like me, who’d often forget to go through the Rakuten site before shopping online.
Check Out the Rakuten Visa – Apply for their Visa and if you get approved you’ll earn an extra 3% cashback with Rakuten and 1% everywhere else.
They Have a Handy Smartphone App Too – It’s also worth mentioning that they have a clever smartphone app for Android and iOS. It’s free to download and allows you to shop via you phone and still collect your cashback.
Did I Convince Ya?
The bottom-line is that Rakuten is free money on shopping you’ll be doing anyways. You might as well take advantage as the cashback you’ll earn will go a long way towards paying for your Christmas shopping every year.
If this review convinced you to give it a try, remember that they’ll pay you a $10 bonus when you sign-up and spend $25 or more at any retailer they list. You have exactly 1 year to spend $25 in order to collect your $10. Gotta love free money.
By Kyle James
Disclaimer: While I didn’t get paid a cent to write this Rakuten review, and all opinions are my own, I do get a small kickback (referral fee) if you give Rakuten a try and create an account. Money I use to keep this blog running and feed my Krispy Kreme addiction.