Rakuten Review: I Earned Over $1,500 in Free Money Shopping Online

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In this Rakuten review, I share what’s to love about this free tool to earn cash-back on all your online spending, no matter what bank or credit card you use!

What is Rakuten?

Rakuten used to be known as Ebates, and the only thing that’s changed is the name! You can still enjoy all the same cash-back perks as before, just with a harder-to-say name. It’s pronounced rack-ooh-tin, but you don’t need to know that to earn money!

Rakuten Review

Rakuten Review Summary

In a rush? Here’s everything you need to know about Rakuten:

  • Rakuten lets you earn cash-back from shopping online
  • you can earn anywhere from 0.5% to 15% cash-back from retailers
  • Rakuten is free to sign-up and free to use!
  • cash-back is paid out quarterly as a Big Fat Payment
  • you can receive your cash-back by cheque or PayPal, or as an Amazon gift card

Rakuten, previously known as Ebates, helps you earn free cash-back for shopping you were going to do anyway. You can then spend or save and invest that cash back however you want!

A 100% honest Rakuten (Ebates) review

Many people have questions about Rakuten because it seems too good to be true. Why would you get free money just for online shopping? Why isn’t there a catch? Well, it actually IS that good and there’s NO catch. When shopping online, if you click through the Rakuten website, you’ll earn cash-back on your purchases. It really is that easy. Rakuten is legitimate, and a great way to earn extra money without doing much extra work!

This post is not sponsored by Rakuten but I am an affiliate. If you sign up using one of the links below I do get a small payout for that! However, you can also get free money from referring friends to Rakuten once you sign up!

How do you make money with Rakuten?

All you need to do to make money with Rakuten is to visit Rakuten and click-through to the store you intend to buy something from. Yes, that’s it! 

Rakuten Review

For example, let’s say you’re planning to place an order from Amazon. Instead of going directly to Amazon, you’d visit Rakuten first, click on Amazon, and they’ll redirect you. Then you’ll make your purchase. A little while later, you’ll get a notification in your email that you’ve earned money by shopping through Rakuten. Ta-da! That’s all it takes to earn a few extra dollars for shopping you were going to do anyway. 

Is Rakuten legit or a scam?

Rakuten is 100% legit. I’ve personally now earned over $1,000 clicking through Rakuten to shop online. 

ebates review
my lifetime Cash Back earned through Rakuten is over $1,000!

I’ve been a member of Rakuten since 2013, so that’s an average of $170 per year.  Keep in mind that in 2013 I was a student, so I didn’t spend as much as I do now so the cash back amount I earned was much lower. Now almost all of my quarterly Big Fat Cheques are over $100.

eBates Big Fat Payment
my last Rakuten Big Fat Payment was $120!

One of the reasons I earn so much more from Rakuten now is because I’ve learned how to shop the site. I know they don’t offer the same amount of cash-back for every store all the time. There are days when they offer huge cash-back amounts for some of my favorite shops, like Sephora, where I often earn as much as 8%!

I’ve also lucked out in often having to make expensive regular purchases, like contact lenses, when there’s high cash back. For example, I just placed a $394 order on Clearly and got 12% cash-back. That’s $47 in cash back on just one single online shopping order. I can’t say enough good things in this Rakuten review!

How does Rakuten make money?

If you’re confused why Rakuten can give so much cash away and still stay afloat as a company, it’s important to remember that they function like any other affiliate partnership. They’re making money on referring you to retailers, and the hope is by enticing you with deals (ie. more cash back) you’ll be motivated to buy something from a store they’re featuring. This is why you’ll see the cash-back amount fluctuate for your favorite stores. 

Rakuten is also working towards driving sales through their own online retailer. They want you to buy directly from them so they can capture your business, instead of referring you elsewhere. 

How to use Rakuten cash back

All you need to do to start using Rakuten is sign up! To earn cash back, start shopping. 

Rakuten Review

To actually receive your cash back, you’ll have to do a bit more. Under “Account Settings”, choose how you’d like to receive your Big Fat Payment. I opt for PayPal, because I like to get my money quickly, but you can enter your mailing address and Rakuten will mail your Big Fat Payment directly to you. You can also choose to be paid in Amazon gift certificates. Rakuten will email your Big Fat Payment as an Amazon gift card each quarter. 

Is there a downside to Rakuten?

This wouldn’t be an honest Rakuten review without a discussion about the downsides. Other than having to remember to visit Rakuten to click-through to your favorite online store, there are virtually no drawbacks to Rakuten. This seems like a minor thing, but one of the mistakes I frequently make is placing an order through the Amazon app instead of clicking through Rakuten on the web, missing out on cash-back.

The only real downside of Rakuten is sometimes there is a lag in getting your cash-back from certain retailers. Some stores I buy from credit me instantly, but others can take days or weeks before I finally get an email notifying me that I’ve earned cash-back. If you’re waiting for a quarterly payout and a cash-back deposit arrives late, this means you’ll have to wait another 3 months before you finally have your money.

Finally, the only other downside is Rakuten doesn’t serve every store, so sometimes you can’t earn cash-back on something you’re purchasing online. However, more and more retailers are being added regularly so it’s possible your favorite shop is still to come!

How to hack Rakuten for the most cash-back possible

It’s true that earning cash-back through Rakuten is as simple as visiting the website and clicking through to your ultimate online shopping destination, but there are some hacks to earn even more. Here are a few ways to truly maximize your cash-back from Rakuten:

Choose your favorite stores

I have marked all my favorite stores so I can view them and their current cash-back offerings in one glance.

This is important not only so you know which of your favorite stores are on Rakuten, but also so you can start watching for when they are offering the best cash-back. I know that Clearly goes up to 12% and Sephora offers as high as 8%, so I typically don’t buy unless I see those numbers on Rakuten. Being patient and waiting for the right opportunity is the easiest way to earn the most money through Rakuten. 

Use a cash-back card when you shop online

If you really want to maximize cash-back on your spending, use a cash-back credit or debit card when you buy online. I have the Tangerine Money-Back Credit Card for whenever I book travel through Expedia, and then I use KOHO for everything else. I earn anywhere from 0.5% to 3% through my cash-back cards, so when you add this to Rakuten cash-back offerings, sometimes I’m getting as much as 15% back on my purchases. 

Refer your friends!

Once you sign up for Rakuten, start using it and loving it as much as I do, you might want to share it with the people closest to you. You’ll earn $10 for every person you refer. This will be added to your cash-back balance, and paid out in your next Big Fat Payment. 

Put your Big Fat Payments towards a specific financial goal

Because the money you earn through Rakuten probably won’t be life-changing, it will be tempting to let it trickle into your chequing account as extra spending money. However, because this is free money, you should put it to good use! Here are some ways to use your Big Fat Payment to improve your financial health:

Little amounts can really add up over time. Imagine the power of getting out of debt ahead of schedule!

Rakuten Review

Happy rich shopping!

In conclusion, Rakuten is an awesome tool to earn cash-back on your online shopping. There’s nothing like free money, so make sure to click-through whenever you’re buying something on the internet.

I hope you enjoyed this Rakuten review. And I hope you enjoy using Rakuten as much as I do! Leave a comment below letting me know how you’re planning to spend your next Big Fat Payment. Tell me if there are any other financial reviews you’d like me to do next!

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