You may have noticed that the cash back site Ebates is now Rakuten, and you may be asking what is Rakuten? Put simply Rakuten is the same cash back shopping site that Ebates always was. It’s just that Ebates is now Rakuten, named for the company that owns the site. From herein I will refer to the cashback site as Rakuten.
With the name change and back-to-school and back-to-college shopping in full swing, now was a good time to revisit the topic of cash back shopping. Call it cash back hacks, if you will. The bottom line is how to earn money while you shop.
In addition to offering basic information on how Rakuten works, I wanted to share tips on using cash back stores on the Rakuten so that you can earn money as you spend money on things you were going to buy online anyway.
What is Rakuten?
Rakuten is an online portal where you can start your online shopping for most stores. Then, you’ll get cash back for a percentage of your purchase. This makes the most sense if you had already planned on shopping on the sites that participate with Rakuten–because you’ll get cash back rebates for stuff you were going to buy anyway.
Founded back in 1998, it is one of the largest, free member-based savings programs in the U.S. To date, 12 million members in the U.S. have earned over $1 billion in cash back at their favorite stores. I’ve been this site since almost the beginning. Right now Rakuten lets you get cash back from more than 2,500 different store sites.
How does Rakuten work?
Rakuten saves you money by using a simple business model: stores pay Rakuten a commission for sending shoppers to their websites. Rakuten then splits that commission with you, in the form of a cash back rebate.
You don’t have to pay to use the site–it’s always free. And Rakuten makes its money through those commission fees that the stores pay to it.
In the past you needed to start all of your online shopping at the Rakuten website, and then click through to the store where you want to buy. One of the great cash back hacks with Rakuten that saves you from this step is installing a browser button. When shopping online, it automatically “glows” or you get a pop-up when you’ve landed on a site that offers cash back.
Even better when you go to check out, Rakuten will let you know if it has found coupons that you can apply to your purchase. Yes, that’s right. In addition to getting cash back when you shop, the Rakuten browser add-on can find coupons that will save you even more money.
Using Rakuten in store
Rakuten’s primary business model is cash back for online shopping. However, since it’s founding more than 20 years ago, it has evolved. Now you can use Rakuten for in-person shopping, too. You do this by linking your credit card to your Rakuten account via the Rakuten app. Once you’re in store, you select the offer you want to cash in. As long as you pay with the credit card you’ve linked, you’ll get your cash back.
Another way to get cash back on in-store shopping is by using the Ibotta app. For that, though, you’ll need to scan your receipt after the fact. With Rakuten you don’t need to do any scanning after the fact.
What is Rakuten cash back rebate?
A cash back rebate is basically money you get back on your purchase. It is very different from product rebates. That’s when you have to send in your receipt and maybe the barcode you cut out from packaging.
With cash back rebates you are getting a percentage of your purchase back. Rakuten sends you your cash back statement every three months or every quarter. You can choose to get your big fat Rakuten check as a paper check or you can have it direct deposited in your PayPal account.
My lifetime cash back with Rakuten is $2,573.31. That’s more than $2,500 on things I was going to buy anyway. Most recently I got cash back on purchases from Fabric.com, Staples.com and my Wantable subscription box–see below. Yup, you can even earn money while you shop for a clothing subscription service like Wantable.
How can I get maximum cash back?
One of the best ways to get maximum cash back is to choose to shop at stores that offer the best cash back offers. Rakuten usually lists stores under the heading “double cash back offers” which is pretty obvious what the benefits are. You’ll get double the cash back that you normally would on the site.
Sometimes getting maximum cash back might mean shopping at stores you’re not the most familiar with or have never shopped on before. But don’t worry: just because you’re not familiar with a store doesn’t mean the cash back won’t work.
What is Rakuten referral code?
Here’s one of the things I love about Rakuten: it offers every shopper a referral code. What that means is this: when you make a Rakuten referral–that is, you send a friend, family member, colleague or anyone else to the site–you can earn extra money for yourself. Actually, you earn $5 for every referral.
Rakuten rewards you with this referral fee the first time anyone you directed to the site makes a purchase. From time to time the site bumps up the referral fee so that you can make incrementally more with each referral you make. You’ll usually find this referral bonus during the holiday season. Refer more people using your unique referral code, and you’ll earn more money.
You get this money from the referral code when you get your cash back payment. You get those payments every three months. Layering referrals with your money back for your shopping is one of the best ways to get the most cash back.
Can you get cash back using a credit card?
As I explained earlier, the best way to earn money while you shop in person with Rakuten is to link your credit card. It’s the only way the site allows getting cash back when you shop at a brick-and-mortar store. However, there are other ways to earn cash back.
When shopping Rakuten or any other store online, for that matter, I always pay using my credit cards with rewards and cash back. So it’s like I’m getting double the cash back or the maximum cash back that I can. If you have credit cards that offer similar benefits, definitely use them to double your cash back potential.
Final thoughts on What is Rakuten
I hope this overview answers the question “What is Rakuten” for you and explains why Ebates is now Rakuten. Definitely use these cash back hacks whenever you’re buying something so that you can always earn money while you shop.