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What is Rakuten & How Does it Work? Save Money on Gift Shopping

In this article, I break down Rakuten, how it works, its pros and cons, and how you can get the best out of it when gift planning and organizing for the year, especially during the holidays. 

In an earlier article about holiday shopping tips that save time and money, I briefly mentioned the pros of shopping via Rakuten and promised to expand on it in a later article. 

Rakuten is a great way to save money while also earning some extra cash to go further in your gift giving budget

This post may contain affiliate links, meaning we will make a small commission if you purchase through those links. Read full disclosure HERE.

What is Rakuten Cash Back?

Rakuten (formerly Ebates) is a cash back site where you earn back some money on every purchase you make through them.

You don’t have to do any work tracking your purchases either. All you have to do is click the store links within your Rakuten dashboard and any purchases you make will be credited to your account. 

And with over 3,500 brands across many categories available on the Rakuten platform, you will be spoilt for choice.

Additionally, when you sign up for Rakuten through this link, you will also receive a $30 cash back bonus when you spend $30. 

You can earn anything from 1% to 20% cashback on your purchases plus extra cash back during sales events.

It Pays To Shop with Rakuten

Rakuten Pros and Cons

Pros of Shopping Through Rakuten

1. Earn Cashback

The most obvious advantage of Rakuten is the cash back rewards. 

And if you’re shopping for the holidays or some other event, your cash back rewards can stack up quite quickly.

2. You Don’t Have to Spend the Cashback on Rakuten

Some shopping apps want you to spend the cash back on their website and won’t let you cash out but this isn’t the case with Rakuten.

You are paid via a check (known as Big Fat Check) or Paypal every quarter according to their payment schedule below.

3. Comparison Shopping is Available

You can easily comparison shop on the Rakuten website. You can compare various brands in the same category to see what kind of cash back is available. 

You can then make an informed decision about where you want to spend your money to earn. 

4. Refer Friends & Earn

You can earn rewards when you refer your friends to Rakuten. No, it’s not an MLM.

If you don’t want to refer anyone, that’s fine. You can still shop and earn cash back. 

If you’re interested in the rewards, you can just send your friends your referral link to sign up for Rakuten

You can send the link via email, SMS, social media, WhatsApp, etc. 

Once your friends sign up and join Rakuten, they have to make a minimum purchase for you to earn the reward.

Under “Your Referral Activity” in your dashboard, you can check to see if any of your friends signed up with your link. 

5. Opportunities To Earn Even More

At various times during the year, Rakuten has several events where you have the opportunity to earn extra cash back with different merchants. 

Higher purchases with these merchants mean a bigger commission for Rakuten which translates to extra cash back for you!

You can keep track of these events via the Daily Deals page. However, don’t buy stuff you don’t need just to earn extra cash back.

If you were going to buy the items anyway, then it makes sense to grab the chance at extra cash back. 

Earn Cash Back In-Store with Rakuten

6. Browser Extension Makes Shopping Easier

With the Rakuten browser extension, you’re less likely to miss any sales events and opportunities to earn extra cash back. 

Additionally, if you head over to a website where you can earn cash back through shopping with Rakuten but you’ve forgotten, the browser extension will remind you to log in to your Rakuten account for cash back. 

7. Cash Backs Are Also Available In-Store

Though it’s an online venture, you can still earn cash back through Rakuten when you shop in-store. 

Head over to the in-store cash back app in your dashboard to see all the available offers.

Select the relevant offer, link your card to it, and enjoy shopping. There are a few more details to make sure your purchase is tracked for cash back as well.

Join Rakuten & Claim Your $30 Bonus

8. Very User Friendly

Rakuten is easy to set up and use. Sign in to your account, search for the store you want to shop at, check the deals and start shopping. 

9. You Can Donate Your Change

Once you opt-in, every quarter, Rakuten will donate the change portion of your Big Fat Check and send you the rest. 

How does this work? If your payout is $80.50, Rakuten will donate the 0.50c and send you the balance. 

The donations are evenly distributed between 3 nonprofits – Direct Relief, Eat. Learn. Play. and Girls Inc. of Alameda County. 

Donate Your Change with Rakuten

Cons of Shopping Through Rakuten

1. Cashbacks Can Be Reversed

If you return items purchased through Rakuten, any cash back earned will be reversed. 

2. Limited Availability

Rakuten is only available to certain countries – Canada, the US, France, and Japan.

3. Can Encourage Unplanned Spending

If you have an issue controlling the impulse to shop, signing up for Rakuten can turn into a nightmare. 

It only works to your advantage if you were going to buy the items anyway. 

4. Cashbacks Don’t Apply to Everything

Not everything on a retailer’s website is subject to cash back so pay attention when you clip a coupon or click on a store site to shop. 

What Kind of Stores Are on Rakuten?

There are a wide variety of stores on Rakuten – from small and specialized retailers to big name brands known to everyone. 

Some of the biggest brands on Rakuten include Amazon, Walmart, Sephora, Macy’s, Ulta Beauty, Adidas, Nike, Neiman Marcus, and more. 

There are brands in 18 categories including clothing, electronics, travel and vacations, sports, food, drinks and restaurants, health and beauty, and more.

You can see categories of all the stores available on Rakuten HERE

Share Rewards from Over 3,500 Stores

How Does Rakuten Work?

Head over to the Rakuten site HERE to set up your free account. It takes less than a minute to set up.

Start shopping on the Rakuten website or app. You can also add their browser extension to Chrome. 

Watch as your cash back piles up in your account and once you have the minimum balance, you’ll automatically receive payment via Big Fat Check or Paypal!

It’s that simple and everyone wins all around. 

How To Get Rakuten Cash Back After Purchase?

Your Rakuten cash back is available to withdraw after 3 months with the minimum qualifying amount for payment being $5. 

If you have less than $5 cash back, the amount will roll over into the next payment round. 

Rakuten sends out payments 4 times a year – February 15, May 15, August 15, and November 15.

However, your first cash back payment on Rakuten will be paid via PayPal or Big Fat Check within 15 days of your qualifying purchase. 

Afterward, you will be paid on the regular quarterly schedule. 

How Does Rakuten Make Money?

You don’t have to pay Rakuten anything to shop on their platform. They make money from the companies available on their website. 

Rakuten will earn a commission from the retailer when you shop through their website. 

Rakuten then gives you back some of the money they earn as cash back. There’s no funny business going on and this is a standard way cash back sites earn money. 

FAQs About Saving Money with Rakuten

Does Rakuten Have an App?

Rakuten has an app that is rated an average of 4 stars. The app is available for iOS and Android users.

You can activate the app by clicking any shop links within the app once you sign up

A window will open up within the app notifying you that the cash back offer has been activated. 

Does Rakuten Have a Membership Fee?

Rakuten does not have any membership fees. The service is free to use and there are no hidden costs.

You don’t have to pay for anything except what you buy on store websites and Rakuten is the one that gives you cash back on your purchases. 

Who Was Rakuten Before?

Rakuten was previously known as Ebates. Ebates was acquired in 2014 and rolled into Rakuten.

Rakuten now has a user base of over 15 million members worldwide and has paid over $2 billion dollars in cash back rewards!

Does Rakuten Work with Amazon?

Amazon is just one of thousands of stores Rakuten works with. You can see all the stores available with Rakuten when you sign up.

Does Rakuten Work With Gift Cards?

Unfortunately, there’s no cash back issued when you make your purchases using a gift card or certificate.

Is There a Limit to Rakuten Cash Bask?

There’s no limit to cash back you can earn with Rakuten. No matter how much you spend, you will earn and accumulate cash back rewards where available. 

How Rakuten Works Video?

Below is a quick video showing how Rakuten works:-

Alternatives to Rakuten


A similar website to Rakuten is Swagbucks. Instead of cash back, Swagbucks pays in points that can be redeemed for gift cards. 

You can also earn points by taking surveys and watching videos. I will write an in-depth review of Swagbucks shortly. In the meantime, you can learn more about Swagbucks HERE.

Capital One Shopping

I don’t know too much about Capital One Shopping but I’ve heard good things about it. I will review it after some more research. 

The holidays are a great time to rack up those cash backs with Rakuten so keep that in mind when you get started on gift organizing for the year!

Pin it for Later – How To Save Money Gift Shopping With Rakuten

How To Save Money Gift Shopping with Rakuten

Abi started 365 Gift Guide as a hobby to curate the best gift ideas for all occasions. It has become a popular online destination where you can find gift ideas for every occasion from the usual to the unusual. You’ll never be stumped for a gift idea again! Popular categories – AMAZON WISHLISTS | CHOCOLATE GIFTS | COUPLE GIFTS | CHARCUTERIE GIFT BASKETS

This post may contain affiliate links which means we will make a small commission if you purchase through those links. Read full disclosure HERE.