Rakuten Review: Earn Cash Back On Your Purchases

Rakuten Review: Earn Cash Back On Your Purchases

Written by Lisa Rennie
Fact-checked by Caitlin Wood
Last Updated May 12, 2021

Formerly known as Ebates, Rakuten is a popular cash back online shopping platform where users receive cash back for every purchase made. Ebates was started in California in 1998, and in 2014 it was bought out by Japanese-based Rakuten. The site was renamed Rakuten in 2019. Today, the company operates in six countries, including Canada. 

Many cash back sites like this exist, but Rakuten is the largest and perhaps the most popular. They advertise extensively on television. Right now, there are about 5 million registered users on the site and over 750 merchants affiliated.

Retailers and merchants use platforms like Rakuten to advertise sales and discounts. To maintain their competition, these retailers will offer commissions to Rakuten in exchange for referring shoppers to them. When a consumer makes a purchase at a retailer, the consumer will receive a portion of the commission paid out to Rakuten. Anyone who already shops online can take advantage of a site like Rakuten to get some cash back on purchases that already would have been made anyway. 

How Does Rakuten Work?

To use Rakuten, you’ll need to create an account. Once you’re logged in, you can peruse the website to find a deal, look through different categories, or search for specific retailers that you want to shop with and click through the link. All purchases you make with that retailer through Rakuten will be recorded through the use of cookies to track your activity, and the advertised cash back offer on those purchases will be paid out to you. In addition to the cash back earned, there are also coupon codes and promos that you can apply to your purchase for discounts to save even more money. 

You can also install and use the Rakuten Express browser extension to get deals as well. Whenever you’re on a specific retailer’s web page, a cash back button will pop up to alert you of any cash back offers available on that particular page.

As mentioned, when you make a purchase, Rakuten earns a commission. But rather than keeping all of it, Rakuten shares part of it with you, the consumer.

Key Product/Service Features

Rakuten comes with plenty of useful money-saving features, including the following:

  • Chrome extension. Install the Rakuten Chrome extension to your browser and get notified of cash back deals and discounts on purchases. 
  • Cash back rebates. Get cash back for purchases made at various retailers.
  • Shop essentials and hot deals sections. Find the latest deals offered by your favourite merchants.
  • Referral fee. Earn $25 when you refer a friend to Rakuten.
  • Browse by category. There are dozens of categories to choose from to streamline your deal-finding experience.
  • Double cash back promo codes. In addition to the traditional cash back offers, there are also opportunities to double your cash back rewards.
  • Gift cards. Get friends and family a Rakuten gift card on their next special occasion and earn cash back on gift cards.
  • Mobile app. Shop from your mobile device on the go with the Rakuten app.

How Do You Earn Money/Points?

After signing up with Rakuten and logging into your account, you can browse the Rakuten site and look at the different categories, stores, or hot deals that interest you. When you make a purchase at a partner retailer through Rakuten, you’ll receive the posted cash back offer associated with that deal, which will be applied to your Rakuten account. 

You can also earn money when you sign up and by referring friends and family to Rakuten. When someone signs up for Rakuten and makes a purchase after you refer them, you will both earn a bonus. There are also coupons, discounts, and promo codes on Rakuten, which can add up when combined with cash back offers.

How Do You Redeem Money/Points? 

Rakuten will send you a cash back payment every three months for purchases posted over the previous quarter. Any balances less than $5.01 will be carried over to the next cheque (excluding sign up and referral bonuses). There are several ways to receive your cash back payment, including the following:

Cheque. A cheque can be mailed to your home, and Rakuten will cover the mailing fees. 

PayPal. Your cash back rewards payment can be sent directly to your PayPal account, and the sender’s fees will be covered by Rakuten. 

Amazon e-gift certificates. Redeem your cash back rewards with an electronic Amazon.ca gift card. 

Do You Get Cash Back From Any Store/Purchase? 

Cash back rewards earned are paid out by Rakuten after they earn a commission from the merchant you make a purchase from. Rakuten acts as the affiliate or referral platform that directs you to various retailers. When you make a purchase, the retailer will pay Rakuten a commission. And as an affiliate, Rakuten will split that commission with you. 

Pros and Cons of Using Rakuten

Pros

  • Cash back rebates. Earn cash back rewards on purchases you would have made anyway.
  • Vast marketplace. With over 750 merchants, there’s no shortage of retailers to shop with on Rakuten. 
  • Widely recognized. There’s something comforting about using a site that’s well-renowned and has been around for two decades.
  • Referral bonus. Earn bonus rewards when someone you refer signs up and makes an eligible purchase. 
  • Deal alerts. Install the Rakuten chrome extension to receive automatic alerts on deals. 
  • Variety of products and categories. In addition to all the available merchants, there are also plenty of products and offers to take advantage of through Rakuten.
  • Mobile app. Shop and save on the go with the Rakuten mobile app. 
  • Free to use. There’s no charge to use Rakuten.

Cons

  • Long wait to get paid out. 

Overview

CostFree
PerksCash back referral bonus
Sign up bonus
Cash back from hundreds of merchants and current deals
AccessibilityWebsite Browser Extension App
LimitationsLong wait for payout

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Rakuten safe? 

Yes, Rakuten is safe to use. The platform safely and securely stores credit card information in an encrypted environment. None of your information will be given away or sold to third parties. 

How do you become a member?

Signing up with Rakuten is quick and easy. All you need to do is enter your email address and choose a password, or you can log in through your Facebook account. You’ll also have the option to subscribe to email newsletters, coupons, and special offers. 

How much does it cost?

Using Rakuten is completely free.

Who Is Rakuten Best Suited For?

Anyone who is looking to get the best deals on products they are already intending on buying will find Rakuten a great platform to shop on. It’s also great for shoppers who appreciate being rewarded with a little cash for making online purchases through partner merchants. Canadians who are on a budget and want to pay the lowest price possible on items while earning some cash back will find Rakuten a fabulous tool when shopping online. Start earning some money for your online purchases with many of your favourite retailers.

Lisa has been working as a writer for more than a decade, creating unique content that helps to educate Canadian consumers in the realms of real estate, mortgages, investing and financial health. For years, she held her real estate license in Toronto, Ontario before giving it up to pursue writing within this realm and related niches. Lisa is very serious about smart money management and helping others do the same. She's used a variety of financial tools over the years and is currently growing her money with Wealthsimple, while stashing some capital in a liquid high-interest savings account so that she always has a financial cushion to fall back on. She's also been avidly using her Aeroplan TD credit card to collect as many Aeroplan points as possible to put towards her travels!

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