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Rakuten Review 2020: Scam Or Legit Way To Save Money Online?

Rakuten Review 2020: Scam Or Legit Way To Save Money Online?
Jennifer Leach Mar 7, 2020
Want to Earn Some Extra Money?

Interested in learning about Rakuten and reading our full Rakuten review to see if it’s a scam or a real way to save money?

I’m going to show you all about Rakuten and you’ll find out how to save money with Rakuten plus, I’m also going to show you how you can make some extra money with Rakuten in others ways, besides using it to shop online so make sure you read this entire post all the way to the end so you get these great Rakuten tips.

Keep reading our Rakuten review and don’t forget to bookmark this post so you can come back to it later!

What is Rakuten?

Formerly Ebates, Rakuten is a website that has thousands of different websites where you can actually earn cash back off your purchases.

It was founded in 1998 and for decades, they’ve been helping customers save money by getting cash back up to 40% on their almost anything they purchase!

Since their start, they have grown to 12 million members in the U.S. who have earned over $1 billion in cash back through their platform.

So, it’s like being paid to shop!

How Does Rakuten Work?

The entire process is super easy.

When you visit the site, the home page of the website features some examples of stores you can buy from and include retailers like:

  • Amazon
  • Walmart
  • Macy’s
  • Old Navy
  • And, more stores!

You’re going to be shopping anyway so why not go through the Rakuten site to score some extra cash back?

How it works?

First, you sign up for a free Rakuten account.

Once you’re logged in, you can search the site to find stores that you want to shop from.

You can use the search bar or their list of stores, sorted alphabetically, to easily find the retailer of your choice.

Once you find and click the store, it takes you right to the store website, through the Rakuten portal.

So, you’re on Rakuten and you click a store, like Old Navy and then you’re instantly taken to the Old Navy site to start shopping.

Easy!

You’ll be taken to the site you’ll shop from, straight from Rakuten, so it’s really not a much different experience than going to the store directly.

But, the main difference is that this is how you qualify for cash back so, make sure you use the Rakuten portal to take you to your online store so you get your discounts!

And then, there’s the Rakuten browser extension/button, which we’ll share more about down below!

Here’s what the scenario will look like if you buy from a Rakuten partner like Old Navy.

For example, if you need to buy your kids a few tops from Old Navy, you can head to Rakuten and click Old Navy, which is currently showing 4% cash back.

That means if you spend $40 on Old Navy, you’ll qualify for 4% ($1.60 cashback).

It might not sound like a lot, but it can definitely add up!

Or, you might need to buy protein powder from GNC, or other recurring purchases like:

  • Printer cartridges
  • Supplements
  • Makeup
  • Household cleaners

This can really save you so much money, every single month.

Rakuten also sends you their latest promo codes for various retailers to remind you of cool deals and sales going on, giving you even more opportunity to shop and save.

Using the Rakuten Extension

Another cool feature you’ll want to take advantage of is the Rakuten browser extension, which they call the cashback button.

This is an easy way for you to earn cash back and apply coupons in just one click!

You can save at over 2,500 stores using the button.

How the Rakuten Extension/Button works?

Once you install the button/extension, it will automatically activate when you land on a Rakuten-partner site.

So that means you don’t have to only be on the Rakuten site to be eligible to get cash back and discounts.

You can browse partner sites without first accessing the Rakuten websites (provided you have the extension/button installed) and you’ll get a popup in the upper corner of your screen, sharing what your eligible cash back is!

You can click the button to accept and apply the coupons, in just one click.

Then, enjoy checking out and completing your online purchase at the lower price!

It takes the coupon hunting process out of online shopping.

Rakuten Review: My Personal Experience Using Rakuten

If you’re like me, you’re always up for a deal.

Before I started using Rakuten, I’d always be on the hunt for coupons for my online purchases.

I would spend 10 minutes online shopping on a retail site then 30 minutes hunting for online coupons before checking out, at places like Retailmenot and other coupon sites.

Now I get that time back with the Rakuten extension.

It activates automatically when I land on a partner site and allows me to save time and get the best price online for my purchases.

This is really unique because many times when you visit the store in person, the same discounts do not apply so it really incentivizes the experience, encouraging you to shop online and get a discount in the process.

How Much Cashback Will You Get?

The amount of cashback available is up to 40% back!

It will vary from store to store.

It might be 3% from Walmart and 8% from Best Buy, for example.

You can learn the cashback percentage by checking out the store on Rakuten or viewing the popup from the browser extension when you land on the website.

How Do You Get Paid Through Rakuten?

So, you’ll use Rakuten to get cash back and it’ll accrue on your Rakuten account.

Once you reach a balance of $5.01, you qualify for getting a payout.

Payout happens 4 times per year:

  • May 15
  • August 15
  • November 15
  • February 15

You choose between a check being mailed or being sent funds to your PayPal account.

In order to get your cash back payout, you want to make sure you’ve followed these steps:

  • Add a mailing address to your account (required for all forms of payments) which can be done in your Account Settings
  • Have a balance greater than $5.00 before the next Cash Back payment period

Note: If your cash back balance is below the payout minimum ($5.01) then it will be rolled over to the next payment period.

Why Does Rakuten Give You Cashback on Purchases?

So, what’s in for Rakuten?

Rakuten is referring you to stores so they get a kickback for doing so and they split those earnings with you.

For example, they may get 10% for referring consumers to Walmart and they offer you 5% to shop at Walmart, passing on half the savings to you.

So, it’s a win-win for everyone.

This is just an example, the exact amount they earn from each retailer is unknown.

What Stores are Rakuten Partners?

They work with over 2,500 stores which include retailers like:

  • Amazon
  • Walmart
  • Target
  • Ebay
  • Best Buy
  • Staples
  • Groupon
  • Nordstrom
  • Macy’s
  • Old Navy
  • Sephora
  • Kohls
  • QVC
  • Postmates
  • Neiman Marcus
  • And, more!

Rakuten really suits the needs of virtually every kind of online shopper.

You’ll find discounts and retailers from all industries to suit the needs of just about everyone.

This is a neat feature of Rakuten and something that people truly love.

Regardless if you are looking to buy online hosting for your business, printer cartridges for your home office, clothes for your kids, pet supplies for your dogs, or beauty products for yourself, you can find a store on Rakuten to buy online and get a cashback discount!

You’ll find discounts to stores for your everyday purchases, specialty buys, and everything in between!

Birthdays, holidays, weddings, everyday essentials, office supplies, pet goods, you can find it all through stores in the Rakuten portal!

What is Double Cash Back?

Head to the Double Cash Back part of the website (which you can find in the menu) and you’ll be greeted by a page full of incredible deals of double cash back stores!

These stores have agreed to double the cash back they’re offering to Rakuten members.

For example, right now, there are deals on:

  • Old Navy 4% cashback (normally 2% back)
  • Macy’s 6% cashback (normally 3% back)
  • Shoes.com 15% cashback (noramly 5% back)

This is an awesome opportunity to save even more and all you have to do go through the same process, getting a steal of an offer, at double cash back!

You can check back on this part of the site whenever you’re ready to shop through Rakuten again to see if your store or competitor store is offering a deal.

For example, if you’ve run out of protein powder for your protein shakes and normally get your powder through GNC with 3% back, if Vitamin Shoppe was offering 6% back, that would be an opportunity to get double savings through a competitor.

Or, if you were planning on getting a puzzle for your child through Walmart which is offering 5% back and Melissa & Doug ( a toy brand that makes puzzles) is offering 15% cashback, it might be worth it to get your puzzle through that retailer instead.

It’s smart shopping and really makes sense.

Getting the Rakuten App

The Rakuten mobile app makes it easy for you to conveniently check your Rakuten account, balance, offers, and get in-store cash back.

You can do things like get in-store cash back, earn cash back for Lyft rides, get 5% cash back for restaurants you dine in, choose how you get paid (check or PayPal), and more.

You can head here to get the process rolling and get a download link sent to you so you can install on your Android or IOS device.

What About Shopping In Store?

There are times when you just need to make it into a store versus shopping online.

Well, Rakuten has still got you covered with their in-store deals!

How In-Store Cash Back Works?

You can earn cash back shopping in person at select Rakuten partner retailers, the same way you get cash back online.

Here’s how it works:

  • Select your offer
  • Link the offer to your card
  • Pay with your linked card to get your in-store cash back

It works similarly to Dosh.

Recommended reading: Dosh App Review

First, make sure you have the Rakuten app.

You can download it for Android and iOS.

See their “in-store” offers on the app and click “Link Offer” for the store where you’d like to shop.

Next, link your card to the offer.

Add a debit or credit card to the app and link it to the offer.

You can add an unlimited number of your cards to the app.

Then, pay with your linked card and earn cash back.

It’ll be applied to your Rakuten account.

Note: For debit cards, make sure to pick the “Credit” option when you’re paying so you can sign a receipt instead of entering your pin.

Quick Tips to Maximize Your In-Store Cash Back

  • Relink the store offers after you shop since linked offers are only good for one purchase. 
  • Use the app for easy in-store cash back (you can do this right in the store you’re shopping in).
  • Turn on push notifications for the app so you can be notified of exclusive in-store cash back offers in your area.

What is the Rakuten My Wallet?

My Wallet is your virtual credit card holder.

When you take advantage of Buy Now or In-Store Cash Back offers, your credit/debit card information is stored in My Wallet for convenient access and use.

All cards are securely stored in accordance with industry standards.

Next, we’ll dive into the advantages and disadvantages of Rakuten.

Advantages of Using Rakuten

  • Easy to use
  • Tons of stores
  • Generous cashback
  • Attractive referral program

Easy to Use Website

You will really enjoy browsing through Rakuten.

It’s easy to navigate through and you’ll have no trouble checking your cashback balance, looking at your referrals, finding stores to buy from, and more.

Sign up, find your store, shop and get cash back.

That’s all there is to it.

Huge Number of Stores Available

You can shop from over 2,500 stores including big, popular retailers like Amazon, Target, Walmart, and Best Buy.

Generous Cashback

You’ll be able to get cashback up to 40% back which is super generous.

The website is free to use so there really isn’t any reason why you shouldn’t be using Rakuten to save money!

Easy-to-use Referral Program

They also have a referral program that pays you to refer your friends and family.

I referred my sister last year and earned $25 and she earned $10!

I love how this is set up because it rewards both parties, the referrer and the referred!

How does the Referral Program Work?

Head to the Refer and Earn $25 section in the menu and you’ll be taken to the referral center where you can enter the email of friends/family to automatically send a referral link to, check your balance, get links to share on social media like Facebook and Twitter, and more.

Rakuten members are each assigned a unique referral link, found on the Refer and Earn page.

Just send your link to friends via email, text or social media.

If they sign up to Rakuten using your referral link and make a qualifying purchase, you and your friend both earn a reward.

As shared above, you get $25 and your friend gets $10!

For your friend, they just need to sign up to Rakuten using your referral link (or by providing the email address used on your Rakuten account) then, make a minimum purchase that qualifies for cash back within one year of signing up.

That’s it!

You can refer an unlimited number of friends and check your history under your referral activity.

Disadvantages of Using Rakuten

  • Cashback checks paid out quarterly
  • It can prompt excessive spending

Quarterly Cashback Check Payouts

Cashback checks are sent out 4 times per year and you have to have a balance of at least $5 to qualify for your payout to be issued.

This means that you won’t get your cashback distributed directly to you (in a payout) immediately, you have to wait until the payout period ends.

Possible Overspending 

Yes, Rakuten can possibly lead to overspending.

Like with other coupon sites, people can overspend because of deals that are available.

I had a childhood friend whose mother was like this.

She loved shopping and if there was a sale happening, she would shop it!

Reckless shopping does exist, even if you get stuff on sale so remember to shop smart and try not to overspend.

Shop when you need to.

Earning Cash Back Through the Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card

For even more savings, you can look into getting the Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card.

It’s a way to earn unlimited additional cash back rewards plus, there’s no annual fee.

You can use your Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card everywhere else Visa credit cards are accepted and be on your way to earning cash back.

Qualifying purchases earn you an extra 3% cash back, while all other purchases are eligible for 1% cash back.

Check out some of the features of the Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card:

  • Extra 3% cash back on qualifying purchases made through Rakuten.com, In Store Cash Back Offers, Rakuten Hotels and Rakuten travel
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases
  • $10 first purchase bonus
  • Zero fraud liability policy
  • No annual fee

Learn more and discover more ways you can stack Rakuten offers with this credit card to get maximum cash back!

Frequently Asked Questions About Rakuten

1. What are bonus offers and how can I qualify for them?

You can find Bonus Offers under My Account.

  • Bonus offers for making a qualifying purchase with select retailers.
  • A Welcome Bonus for new members after making a qualifying purchase.
  • Refer-A-Friend bonuses, received after your referral makes a qualifying purchase.
  • A First Purchase Bonus for making your first qualifying purchase with the Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card, either with Rakuten or anywhere Visa is accepted.
  • Many other bonuses.

2. When will I get paid?

Payments are sent out every 3 months via PayPal or check mailed, your choice.

You can read more about payments and the payment schedule here.

3. What benefits are included with the Rakuten Cash Back Visa Credit Card?

You can earn an extra 3% Cash Back on qualifying purchases made through Rakuten using the Rakuten Cash Back Visa Credit Card.

You can also earn 1% Cash Back on non-qualifying made everywhere Visa credit cards are accepted. 

4. What are Hot Deals?

This is a section of the Rakuten site where you can find the hottest coupon codes and deals of the day!

If you’re looking for the best savings, head to Hot Deals, which can be found in the navigation menu.

Some featured daily deals currently showing include:

  • Up to 50% off and 3% cash back at Lucky Brand
  • 45% off and 3% cash back at Lenovo
  • 20% off your whole order plus 2% cash back at Michaels
  • 25% off with free shipping plus 15% cash back at Shoes.com

5. How do I get the Rakuten extension/button?

It’s a Chrome browser extension that you can get from this page.

The button has over 3 million users and 45,000+ reviews!

6. How can I find out all the stores/brands available?

You can see all partner stores on this page and all partner brands on the this page.

Some examples of stores are:

  • Amazon
  • Best Buy
  • Target
  • Shoes.com
  • Kohls

Some examples of brands include:

  • AMER Rugs
  • Napoleon
  • Yeti
  • STX
  • Studio 1

7. What are Rakuten Travel/Vacation Deals?

Head to the Travel & Vacations part of the Rakuten site and you’ll find opportunities to earn cash back on hotels, flights, and more.

You can search for hotels, cars, and more using the search bar, which takes you to Booking.com.

Some current travel cash back offers include:

  • Up to 5% cash back from Travelocity
  • Up to 8% cash back from Expedia
  • 10% cash back at Hotelstorm
  • Up to $5 off Zipcar
  • 2.5% cash back at Wyndam Garden

Rakuten Review: Final Thoughts

Our final determination is that Rakuten is not a scam – you really can earn free money when you shop using their portal, browser extension, and app.

There are over 2,500 stores to choose from to suit every kind of shopper, helping everyone earn cash back on their purchases!

Keep in mind, every item on the retail site may not qualify for cash back so be aware of that.

Use Rakuten wisely and don’t fall victim to overshopping just because you can get cash back.

You still need to make smart purchases.

If you’re interested in learning more about Rakuten and you’re interested in joining, you can go to Rakuten to sign up and get $10 when you use this link.

What do you think?

Would you use Rakuten to score free cash back on your online purchases? Anything you’d like to add to this Rakuten review?

Share your thoughts below in comments to let us know!

Jennifer Leach

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