I’m a firm believer of earning some form of reward whenever I shop. Whether it’s through coupons, sales, airline miles, cash back, or reward points; there are many ways for you to pay yourself back whenever you buy something online or in-store. Stop leaving money on the table, folks. You worked hard for it, so you should be using all available avenues to maximize your dollars.
One of my favourite ways to earn cash back is through Rakuten, formerly known as Ebates. I’ve been using it since 2012, and it hasn’t failed me yet. It’s quick, easy, and free!
What is Rakuten (formerly Ebates)?
Rakuten (pronounced RACK-uh-ten) is a rewards website that offers you cash back whenever you make a purchase online with a participating retailer. In early 2019, the company name was officially changed from Ebates to Rakuten Rewards. They also expanded its operations to Canada, where it is still known as Ebates.
How does it work?
Retailers pay Rakuten a commission whenever a registered customer (like yourself) makes a purchase on their website; and in return, Rakuten shares a portion of that commission with the customer (that’s you). Think of it as a referral fee that Rakuten collects on your behalf at no extra cost to you.
For example, let’s say you shop at your favourite retailer online and Rakuten is offering a cash back of 5%. You then complete your order and spend a total of $100. The retailer will pay Rakuten a referral fee based on the total order amount, and Rakuten in turn shares this with you and pays you 5% of the order (or $5). It’s a win-win situation for everyone – the retailer gets paid, Rakuten gets paid, and you get paid.
How do I sign up and get started?
Signing up is really easy. Go to www.rakuten.com and click on the “Join Now” button.
Sign up using your email address and create a password, or sign up through Facebook or Google. You can even earn a $10 Welcome Bonus as long as you are a new member and make minimum qualifying purchases totaling at least $25 within 90 days of becoming a member. And that’s it! You’re ready to start shopping and earning.
Sign up for free here.
To shop, search for the retailer of your choice on Rakuten’s website, and click on the “Shop Now” button. Rakuten will automatically redirect you to the retailer’s website where you can start shopping. On the backend, a Shopping Trip ticket will be opened to keep track of your shopping visit so that the total spent can be recorded and so the commission can be calculated. Continue shopping on the retailer’s website as normal, and you’re done! You can always go back to your Rakuten account under “Shopping Trips” to view and monitor all your open tickets and see when the commission hits your account.
How do I get paid?
Excellent question, and again, it’s easy! Once you’re all signed up, go to your Account Settings under “Big Fat Check Settings” and select whether you want to be paid by Check or by PayPal. I suggest choosing PayPal as it’s the faster option of the two. If you choose to be paid by Check, it doesn’t matter where you live, as they mail out worldwide. This was a huge plus for me, since I live in the Caribbean and I oftentimes find that programs are geared towards U.S. residents only. And, yes, I have successfully received a check from Rakuten mailed to me here. To qualify for a payment, your Cash Back balance must be more than $5 by the end of the posting period, otherwise, it will be carried over to the next posting period until you pass the $5 threshold.
Payments are sent to you every three months based on the below schedule:
|POSTING PERIOD||PAYMENT SENT|
|Jan 1 – Mar 31||May 15|
|Apr 1 – Jun 30||Aug 15|
|Jul 1 – Sep 30||Nov 15|
|Oct 1 – Dec 31||Feb 15|
What stores can I use it with?
Tons! I use Rakuten with most of my favourite stores. A full list of participating stores is listed on their website, here. You can earn cash back on anything from Travel & Vacations, to Baby & Kids Gear, to Auto & Tires.
Is it legit?
Absolutely! I know there may be some persons that are skeptical, but I’ve never had any problems using Rakuten. As a matter of fact, take a look at the cash back I’ve received over the years. Awesome, right?
Other cool features
To enhance the customer experience, Rakuten has lots of additional cool features to maximize your earning potential.
- Rakuten Button – This is my favourite feature of them all. As great as this website is, there are times when I forget to login to Rakuten before completing my online order, therefore losing out on tons of cash back. The Rakuten Button solves this problem for me. It’s a Chrome extension that you can install on your browser that will prompt you to activate the cash back when you visit a participating retailer’s website. For example, if I go to www.oldnavy.com, the Rakuten Button will automatically pop up and remind me to active my cash back.
- Automatically apply coupons at checkout – Rakuten does it for you and lists all available coupons so you don’t have to go looking for them.
- In-Store Cash Back – Cash back earnings are not just for online purchases. Rakuten can be used in-store by linking your debit/credit card to your account. Learn more about this feature here.
- Refer & Earn – Another great way to earn is by referring others to sign up with Rakuten. I don’t know about you, but whenever I learn about a great offer, I love sharing it with my family and friends (which is what I’m doing right now). When you invite someone to join Rakuten and they spend $25, you’ll get $25 and the person gets $10. Everyone wins! Sign up through my link here.
- Mobile App – Of course there’s an app for this. Download the mobile app for iPhone, Android, and iPad and use Rakuten whenever you shop using your mobile device.
***TIP: The Rakuten mobile app sometimes offers a higher cash back than what it offers online for a limited time. Be sure to compare the cash back offer for a given store on the website vs. the app before completing your order.***
- Ebates Cash Back Visa Credit Card – I know what some of you might be thinking: “Why would I want to open another credit card?” I agree with you to an extent. Credit cards can put you in financial ruins if you don’t use them wisely. However, it’s worth it to consider the Ebates Visa Credit Card and how it can benefit you.
- Extra 3% cash back on qualifying purchases
- 1% cash back everywhere else Visa credit cards are accepted
- Unlimited cash back on all purchases
- $10 first purchase bonus
- No annual fee
For example, get 10% cash back from a select retailer using any method of payment. But, use your Ebates credit card and earn an additional 3% for a total of 13% cash back! Learn more about the Ebates Visa Credit Card and sign up for it here.
***IMPORTANT: Be sure to be financially responsible when reviewing and applying for any credit card.***
- Travel & Vacations – With Rakuten, you can earn cash back on hotels, flights, car rentals, and vacation packages. Rakuten partners with popular sites such as Expedia and Booking.com to offer you cash back opportunities whenever you travel. Simply go to the Travel & Vacations link on the Rakuten website, or go directly to the specific travel website and activate your Rakuten Button and start earning. Imagine how much you can earn if you activate your Rakuten cash back for your next family vacation! Believe me, it’s worth it for these big-ticket purchases.
- Double Cash Back – This is something I look forward to all the time. Rakuten often has double cash back offers, especially at times like Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and other U.S. holidays. It is a great opportunity to earn double the cash back than what you would normally earn.
To be honest, there aren’t many disadvantages.
- Cash back payout is every 90 days, so you may have to wait some time to receive your Big Fat Check. But it’s worth the wait and you won’t even realize the time that has passed. What would you rather – wait 90 days to receive your payout, or receive nothing altogether because you were impatient in getting paid? The choice is yours.
- Cash back is reversed if you make a return. When you think about it, this makes sense. This is another reason why the cash back payout takes some time. Rakuten has to give retailers enough time to process any customer returns, and each retailer has a different return period. So if you earned cash back on a purchase and then returned all or a portion of your order, your cash back will be adjusted accordingly.
- On very rare occasions, you may need to contact Rakuten to follow-up on a cash back. This doesn’t happen often, but keep in mind that no system is 100% foolproof. Always monitor your pending cash backs to ensure you get paid.
As you can see, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks. With all of the features that make it easy for you to earn cash back by doing something you were already going to do, it’s kind of a no-brainer why you should sign up. I only recommend things that I personally use, and Rakuten is something that I’ve been using for years.
So there you have it, my review of Rakuten (formerly Ebates). Remember, if you sign up, you will earn a $10 Welcome Bonus after spending $25 within your first 90 days, and I will earn $25. Sign up here.
Don’t leave all this money on the table. Start earning your cash back today!
Keeping it Classy ~ Janell