Rakuten has been a big hit ever since it re-branded from Ebates. If reviews on platforms such as Site Jabber and Trust Pilot are anything to go by, then indeed Rakuten has fully transformed from being just another random platform online to a top go-to site for budding shoppers.
But what exactly is Rakuten and how does it work? Can you benefit from it or will you lose your money and waste your time altogether?
In this detailed Rakuten review, I’ll tell you everything you should know about the platform so you can decide whether it’s a good fit. I’ll also share some alternatives that compete head to head with Rakuten in its niche space, so you can weigh your options and make an informed decision.
Let’s get started.
What is Rakuten Exactly?
Rakuten didn’t just rebrand because it wanted a name change. It did so, too, to become better than what it previously was.
Today, it’s one of the most popular shopping platforms for the folks that prefer shopping online to standing in long queues in local malls. And by extension, it doubles as a cashback platform that earns you something small back to your account for every dollar you spend.
One thing that stands out about Rakuten, besides being a professional and reliable shopping platform, is its partnership with thousands of shopping brands. There are currently over 2,500 online stores working with Rakuten, so whichever your favorite store or brand you just might find it on Rakuten.
While Rakuten isn’t the only cashback platform on the Internet, it’s undeniably one of the most reliable options right now. You just might even put it at the top of your list of cashback platforms as soon as you know more about it.
How Does Rakuten Make Money?
If indeed Rakuten earns you cashback for shopping online, how then does it make its money?
While Rakuten is free for shoppers, it’s not exactly the case for the thousands of stores on the platform. In other words, Rakuten makes money by earning a commission for referring you to the different online shopping brands it works with.
As affiliates of big stores like Macy’s, Walmart, and Amazon, Rakuten seems to be making a killing for themselves. That’s why they’re able to pay you a certain percentage of cashback from what they earn.
It’s a win-win business in my opinion. Rakuten earns, you get a small share of the earnings, and you both go home happy.
How Does Rakuten Work?
Rakuten works in exactly the same way as other cashback platforms. To benefit from the platform, you’ll need to sign up for an account, shop at your favorite brands through via Rakuten, and earn some cash back after purchase.
Go to Rakuten and sign up for an account if you don’t have one yet. Login to the website or app and browse different stores to see how much cashback percentage they offer on your purchases.
As soon as you find and click a store, Rakuten will automatically generate a tracking cookie to monitor your shopping activities.
Keep in mind that while some stores offer up to 40% cashback, many offers on Rakuten will generally fall between 1% and 3%.
Who Should Use Rakuten?
Rakuten is a good platform for anyone who wants to shop online and actually get paid for doing so. It doesn’t matter if you shop regularly or once in a while, Rakuten will pay you some cashback provided you shop via their website or mobile app.
They also have the option of in-store offers, which is suitable for the folks that don’t shop online frequently.
Rakuten Cashback Tools
My personal take on Rakuten is that it’s a business that cares about you as a shopper. That’s why they provide useful tools to help you get the most out of their platform.
1) Cashback App
Built based on modern app design standards, Rakuten cashback app feels responsive, it looks clean and very well organized, and it’s easy to use.
If you’re someone who’s always on the move or you love doing shopping on your online shopping via mobile, and you’d like to earn some cashback while at it, the Rakuten app is unquestionably an important tool to add to your arsenal.
2) Chrome Button
The one thing that can go wrong with Rakuten is you forgetting to take advantage of the tracking cookie.
You don’t have to worry about the tracking link if you use the mobile app, as Rakuten tracks this automatically. If you use your computer, on the other hand, it can be quite easy to forget to use this link.
Fortunately, Rakuten helps to make sure you never miss your cashback by providing a cashback browser extension for Chrome browser. Also known as the browser button, the free extension, once installed, will light up green to indicate cashback cookie tracking.
Switching from one tab to another sometimes turns the tracking link off. If this happens, the reminder bar will light up red to notify you that Rakuten system isn’t tracking your cashback cookie link.
The alert is important especially because it ensures you take advantage of the cashback tracking before checkout. You want to ensure this code is active, because you can’t go back to racking once you finalize your purchase at any brand’s online store.
How You Can Benefit from Rakuten
1) Earn Cashback When You Shop Online
At its very foundation, Rakuten is a monstrous cashback platform that promises and gives. Like Drop, which allows you to redeem cash points for online and in-store gift cards, and Ibotta, which pays you money for shopping online, Rakuten lets you benefit from its cashback offers on every dollar spent.
Given its massive database of more than 2500 online stores, Rakuten gives you the freedom to choose where to shop and earns you cashback immediately after checkout.
To be clear, Rakuten doesn’t exactly earn you 40% cash back for every purchase you make, but you can earn some couple of thousands per year if you shop on the platform on a regular basis.
2) Double Cashback
Who exactly wouldn’t love the double cashback offer by Rakuten? In my take, it’s one of the features that many cashback platforms lack, which is why Rakuten takes the lead.
Double cashback is exactly as it reads. You earn twice the amount of cashback you get from your regular shopping, so you’re able to save more money from time to time – especially if you’re a regular online shopper.
If you login to the site from time to time, you see, on the landing page, the online stores that offer double cash back. The best part is that these offers are regularly available, so you can take advantage of the offers if the stores have something that you want to buy.
Double cashback can be a big deal on holidays and special occasions because Rakuten can pay you as much as 10%, or more, if you shop at certain stores.
3) Coupon Codes
Coupon codes aren’t part of the tools per se, but they’re part of the arsenals that makes Rakuten worth using.
Think about it like this:
You find a product online, you badly need it, but you can only manage to buy it at a discounted price. So you begin your coupon code hunting from one site to another, and by the time you find an active code for your next purchase, you’ve probably spent a lot of time.
Rakuten comes to your rescue, again. It populates tons of coupon codes all in one place, so you can easily find working codes that you can use to save money on your next purchase.
Here’s the kicker:
Once you grab an active coupon that offers say 20% off and you use it to shop at your favorite brand, you’ll not only get the discount but also earn some cash back depending on the percentage that the store offers.
And there’s more:
Rakuten ensures that all the coupon codes are always up to date, so you don’t have to worry about a coupon code not working at all.
4) Earn Some Cashback from In-Store Shopping
You can still benefit from Rakuten platform even if you don’t exactly shop online. That’s because they have an in-store shopping program, which awards you cashback for purchases you make from local stores.
To be clear, this offer doesn’t work on just any store. Therefore, if you want to earn some cashback with this approach to shopping, you can do so only if you shop at stores that have work with Rakuten.
The first best thing to do if you choose to go this route is to familiarize yourself with the select retail stores that work with Rakuten.
- Add an American Express or Visa credit card to your Rakuten account
- Connect in-store cash back offers with your credit card
- Use the credit card for shopping and earn cashback for every purchase you make
If you’d like to see how it works, Rakuten has put together a short video that walks you through the process. You can watch it here.
It’s important to keep in mind that Rakuten doesn’t charge your credit card to set up the in-store shopping option. You don’t even have to upload any receipt.
All you have to do is to set up everything in your online account, shop in-store, and earn your cashback. Only keep in mind that it can take up to 7 days for your cashback to reflect in your online account.
Is Rakuten a Scam or Does it Really Pay?
Knowing that you can earn some of your shopping cash back sounds great. If anything, it means you can save some money and use it in the future for more shopping.
The real question, however, is on whether these cashback apps even pay you to begin with. As someone who questions the legitimacy of online money, I understand why it’s important to question the legitimacy of cashback websites.
So where does Rakuten stand as far as brutal scrutiny is concerned?
Let me say this with absolute boldness:
Rakuten is one of the most reliable cashback websites on the planet and therefore a good platform to use if you want to earn cashback on every penny you spend shopping on the web. The best part is that the company pays you real money.
How Does Rakuten Pay?
First, understand that you won’t make a lot of money with Rakuten. But every dollar you get can make a big difference.
Rakuten dubs your payment as a Fat Big Check, which they send to you in the form of a check, PayPal money, or direct deposit to your bank account.
Checks do take time to arrive. So if you want the money sent to your account fast, you should consider using the direct deposit option or PayPal.
And no, Rakuten won’t pay you every month. Instead, they’ll send you payment four times a year, provided your account balance hits the minimum threshold of $5.
Are there Alternatives as Legit as Rakuten?
Yes, there are other legit cashback websites and apps that you can use if you’re looking for the best alternatives to Rakuten. These include Drop, which let you redeem gift cards, and Ibotta, which pays you via PayPal for total amount of cash earned.
If there’s one thing I sincerely admire about Rakuten, it’s that it’s a legit and reliable platform that you can use if you want to save money on shopping. Not only is the platform easy to use, it also pays you on time for what you’ve earned.
Thousands of verified users say that it’s a powerful platform, and numbers don’t lie. So if you’re interested in a cashback website that you can start using right away, Rakuten is the way to go.