Options to make money online are countless.
Among many others, you might have heard of Rakuten. Millions of people around the world earn cashback using this platform. But is the enthusiasm from Rakuten’s fans well-grounded? Is Rakuten really worth it?
Let’s find out. I invite you to read this honest Rakuten review.
What is Rakuten?
Rakuten is an affiliate marketing platform that offers money-back services. When you sign up with them you can start earning cashback when shopping online.
How is it possible? Rakuten simply gets a commission from the stores that you visit through their site, and then it shares the commission with you, the customer.
When you use Rakuten, you can get from 1%-40% cashback on purchases you’d make anyway. Through Rakuten, you can get almost all the things that you buy on an everyday basis.
“Rakuten” is a Japanese word for optimism. In fact, Rakuten lets you be more optimistic when you fulfill your needs, as it allows you to gain huge savings on everyday purchases.
How Ebates changed its name to Rakuten
Rakuten, based in Japan, was founded in 1997 by Hiroshi Mikitani. Today this e-commerce site is the biggest in Japan and one of the largest in the world.
The greatest internet bank in Japan is also operated by Rakuten company. Besides, they own the credit card company, which, taking into account transaction value, is the country’s leader.
Over one million of Rakuten’s members from 29 countries and regions in the world use its communications, digital content, fintech, and e-commerce services.
The worldwide expansion of Rakuten began in 2005 when it started to acquire businesses outside Japan. Rakuten now owns, among others, Buy.com, Play.com, Kobo, Viki, Ikeda, and Tradoria.
In September 2014, Rakuten bought one of the world’s largest internet marketing platforms, Ebates. In 2019 the name Ebates was replaced by Rakuten Rewards.
After the change of the name active Ebates users noticed almost no difference when utilizing the platform. The domain name was new and the presentation of the app changed slightly due to the rebranding of the site, but that was all.
Today Rakuten is considered to be the world’s leader in affiliate marketing and its cashback program has over 12 million members. They have earned more than 1 billion in Cashback.
How Does Rakuten Work?
To be able to earn cashback through Rakuten first you need to sign up.
Then you find the shop that you want to visit. You can either use the search bar on the Rakuten site or use the alphabetical list. Click on the store’s icon, and you’ll be directed to their website.
From that moment, shopping will be no different than if you accessed the shop directly. But you’ll get cashback on eligible products. This way you can start accumulating funds on your Rakuten account.
How do you get paid from Rakuten?
The cashback payment will be sent to you quarterly in the form of a check or will be transferred to your Paypal account. The payment schedule is as follows:
|For purchases made between:||You’ll get paid on:|
|January 1st -March 31st||May 15|
|April 1st – June 30th||August 15th|
|July 1st -September 30th||November 15th|
|October 1st – December 31st||February 15th|
To get paid on a given quarter, you need to accrue at least $5 on your account. If you have less, you won’t get the money yet but the amount will be added to your balance in the next quarter.
What stores are part of Rakuten?
Over 3,500 stores are affiliated with Rakuten. This is a remarkable number. Anyone who needs to shop for something will find their deal on Rakuten.
Here’s a list of some of the shops that have partnerships with Rakuten:
- JC Penney,
- Old Navy,
- Best Buy,
- Bath and Body Works
- Ace Hardware
Is Walmart on Rakuten?
Yes, Walmart is one of the most popular stores on Rakuten. In March 2020 Walmart announced that it suspends its affiliate program with Rakuten but as of now the affiliation has been reinstated.
Features of Rakuten
Rakuten gives you several different possibilities to earn cashback and additional benefits:
Shopping through Rakuten’s website
You can go to their website, and from there, using their link, access your favorite online store.
When on the Rakuten site, choose the icon of the store that you want to visit, and you will be directed to the website.
You can also type the name of the shop in the search bar or go to the “All Stores” tab and choose it from the list. If you buy something from the shop, Rakuten will give you cashback.
Rakuten Cash Back Button Browser Extension
The browser extension is a very comfortable solution. After installing it, you no longer have to access the store through Rakuten’s site, but you can go there directly.
On the shop’s website, when you click on an item that you are interested in, a little pop-up will appear to inform you how much cashback will you get when you buy the product.
Many people mostly browse the internet on their phones, so they eagerly use mobile apps. The Rakuten app, accessible for both Android and iPhone, has several useful features.
You can use it in a similar way as the website: to see the most profitable offers presently available or check the offers at your favorite store.
It will show you all the in-store and online cashback opportunities, as well as discounts and sales. App users get direct sales alerts from stores. You’ll be notified about special opportunities such as flash sales.
Rakuten app will also be very convenient if you prefer shopping in-person. When in the shop, it shows you available offers. Your phone is always with you, so it is much more convenient than coupons.
The app also helps you to find the best price after you scan a product with your phone.
Not everyone is into online shopping. Some people won’t buy anything until they see it, touch it, or try it on. If you prefer to shop in-store, log in to your Rakuten account using a browser, or use the Rakuten app on your Android or iPhone.
You’ll find a section called In-Store Cash Back Offers with plenty of opportunities to choose from. Select the offers that you want to embrace and link the offer to your credit card. When already in the store, make sure you use that credit card.
For instance, a shop may occasionally offer a 2% cashback for all purchases. Make sure you’ve linked this offer to your credit card before you visit the store to earn 2% cashback on anything you buy. Also, check if Rakuten has any exclusions on that offer.
Be aware that the cash-back balance on your Rakuten account won’t be changed right away. Sometimes you’ll have to wait a few hours or even days.
Rakuten Cash-Back Visa Card
As mentioned earlier, you can link a credit card to your Rakuten account to be able to earn cashback when shopping in-store. But Rakuten offers you even more benefits when you use their own credit card product.
Using Rakuten Cash-Back Visa Card enables you to earn 3% extra cashback on qualifying products when you shop via Rakuten.com.
For example, Macy’s currently offers 10% Cash Back, and if you use the Rakuten Visa, your cashback amount will be enlarged by another 3% and you will earn 13% cashback in total.
At any other place that accepts Visa cards, the use of Rakuten Cashback Visa will earn you 1% cashback. You’ll also get 1% for non-qualifying Rakuten purchases.
There’s no limit on the cashback amount you can earn with Rakuten’s credit card. And when you use the card for the first time, you will get a $10 bonus.
Your original Rakuten portal lets you track all the cashback earned with Rakuten Visa. All the rewards earned this way will be sent to you just like other cashback rewards from Rakuten in form of a check or through your Pay Pal account.
There’s no annual fee for using Rakuten Cash Back Visa.
Double Cash Back
Occasionally, some shops partnered with Rakuten will offer double cashback. Click on the “Double Cash Back” tab to see all stores that currently offer an increased amount of cashback.
Very often it is more than double. If you’re not determined to buy at a particular shop, this will help you to discover the best offer.
There’s also a Hot Deals section, where all the special discounts active on a given day are listed. Hot deals may include:
- Free gifts. Some stores will add a free gift to your purchase.
- Buy online, pick up in-store. Instead of waiting for the product to be shipped, customers can collect it from the shop.
- Free shipping. Certain stores will offer you zero fees for the product shipment.
- Buy one, get one free. Popular stores will give you another exact same item for free in addition to the one you bought.
Is Rakuten free to use?
Yep. Absolutely no financial risk on your part. To start earning with Rakuten you need to make a purchase, but it can be something from your regular shopping list.
All you have to do is sign up with your email address. You can also join using your Google or Facebook account.
The further use of Rakuten is also free, with no hidden maintenance fees. You just shop and wait for Rakuten to share with you the commission that it gets from retailers for sending you their way.
Though it may take months before you get your check or your earnings from Rakuten are added to your Paypal account, the cash-back product is hard to beat.
It offers so many features and possibilities to earn additional cashback, coupons, promo codes, and deals that it leaves its competition far behind.
How to join Rakuten?
Joining Rakuten is a breeze. Submit your email address and create a password. That’s it!
As a new Rakuten member, You’ll receive a welcome email. You’ll be also notified that there’s a welcome $10 bonus for you. To get it, spend at least $25 within 90 days after you join.
If you don’t feel like creating another password, you can join Rakuten using your Google or Facebook account. As soon as you sign up, you are ready to shop and collect cashback. The world of best deals and rewards is now open for you.
If you’re not going to redeem cashback in-store, you don’t even have to link to your credit card or bank account.
Get even more money with the Rakuten Referral Program
With Rakuten, you don’t only earn cashback.
Share with your friends the good news about the possibilities of making money with Rakuten, and both, you and your friend, will be rewarded.
The only condition is that the person you refer to Rakuten must make a qualifying purchase within 90 days.
The reward amount is changeable but you can always check it on the Refer-A-Friend page. At the time of writing this article, Rakuten offers you a $30 reward for referring a friend.
The friend will also get $30 as long as they spend at least $30. A win-win for everyone.
There’s no limit to the number of people that you can refer, so spread the word among your family members, friends, and coworkers. When your referral makes a qualifying purchase, you’ll receive your bonus within 60 days.
How to refer a friend? Send them the unique link that you’ll find on the Refer-A-Friend page after you sign up. Share the link with them by email, social media, or text.
They should sign up via your link. After they make a qualifying purchase, both of you will be rewarded.
Is Rakuten a Scam or Legit?
Whenever someone is promising easy money online, a red flag appears in people’s minds. That’s why so many people ask if Rakuten is a scam or legit and search online for a Rakuten review.
BBB (the Better Business Bureau) eases up the uncertainty, as it rewards Rakuten with one of the highest ratings which is A-. That is a good sign for anyone thinking about saving money with Rakuen.
Scamadviser also evaluates Rakuten quite highly – they give them the trust score from average to good. They say” We think rakuten.com is legit and safe for customers to access.”
Is Rakuten Safe?
Rakuten’s site is fairly secure. When you sign up, you are not required to give out any of your payment information, only an active email address.
When you want to shop in-store and decide that you will link Rakuten to your credit card, you can also stay calm. All the credit card information is sufficiently encrypted and secured.
Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council certifies Rakuten as a company that is compliant with its standards.
If you read the fine print, you’ll learn that Rakuten also collects your localization data and sells it to a third party. Today it’s a standard practice and people are generally used to it.
However, if you don’t feel good about it, you can choose opt-out of the location tracking. You should only remember that, as the result, some features will not be available to you.
Thanks to cookies the companies that you shop at know that you have approached their site through Rakuten.
Is Rakuten Worth It? Pros and Cons of using Rakuten.
Though there are many benefits of using the Rakuten program, nothing is ideal. It has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s good to consider all of them before joining the program.
Pros of using Rakuten
- There is a vast number of stores on Rakuten. Whatever you need to shop for, there is a huge chance you’ll find it on Rakuten and be able to earn cashback on your purchase.
- Rakuten is easy to use. You sign up with your email, click on the icon of the store that you want to visit, and then, when you are directed to the shop’s site, you continue shopping as you normally would.
- It allows you to save a lot of money by granting you cashback rewards. By using Rakuten and purchasing things you’d buy anyway, you make part of your money come back to you.
- Rakuten’s Referral Program is also very profitable. By sharing with your friends your positive experience of using Rakuten, you add more money to your Rakuten account.
- There is no big risk connected with using Rakuten.
- Many users report that Rakuten has excellent customer service.
Cons of using Rakuten
- Rakuten’s cashback system is not an immediate type of reward. You have to wait up to three months for your money, as payments are made quarterly.
- To earn with Rakuten you need to spend money first. This might be an incentive to spend more in order to be eligible for bigger rewards.
- Not everything is on promotion. Some products are excluded, so you won’t get any cashback if you purchase them.
It happens that some users lose access to their Rakuten account and Rakuten is not liable for its termination. People who have experienced this are fairly disappointed.
However, there is a way to avoid such a procedure. While shopping through Rakuten make sure that you read the fine print and carefully watch for all the “exclusions” from cashback deals.
It seems that the users who pay attention to the fine print and make sure they play by Rakuten’s rules are happy with their use of the site.
Not sure if Rakuten is for you? Check out these Rakuten alternatives
Swagbucks, just like Rakuten, allows you to earn cash back when you shop online. If you buy from online stores like ASOS, eBay, Wilko, Argos, and access them via Swagbucks, you earn points that you can then redeem for gift cards or cash.
Swagbucks also has a referral program, where you can earn 300 SB (swagbuck points) if your friend signs up to Swagbucks using your referral code. Then, as long as they remain a member, you’ll be awarded 10% of their SB points.
Apart from giving you cashback points, Swagbacks offers a bunch of other features. You can earn SB for:
- surfing the net as normal, by setting Swagbucks as your default search engine,
- completing online surveys,
- playing games online and on your smartphone,
- watching videos.
Ibotta is like a new way of couponing. With Ibotta, you don’t have to collect points. You get cashback for purchases that you make using their app or their browser extension.
Users of Ibotta can earn cashback by integrating loyalty cards or scanning recipes. To get your cashback, you need a bank account or a Paypal account.
As soon as you earn $20 you can cash out. Referring a friend gives you an additional $5.
You only need to remember to keep your Ibotta account active. Ibotta is generally free to use, but if you don’t redeem an offer for 180 days, they will deduct you $3.99 from what you’ve earned with them so far.
But it’s easy to avoid: before they deduct the $3.99 maintenance fee from you, you will get plenty of reminders and warnings to redeem offers so that you can keep the Ibotta maintenance free.
Top Cash Back
Topcashback Similarly to Rakuten and other cashback sites, TopCashback shares a commission with you if you shop online through their site. The site that you make a purchase on has obviously to be a TopCashback’s partner.
Additionally, TopCashback obtains coupons from the best retailers. When you shop through their site, the coupon code pops up, which is an additional benefit to your cashback.
Topcashback offers you three payout options: via PayPal, Amazon.com, and Automated Clearing House (ACH). Anywhere you go, you can also use their mobile app, that among other features offers you attractive in-store vouchers.
Honey is a browser extension available for all the major web browsers. Once you download Honey, it will automatically start searching for coupons when you shop on the most popular websites.
Honey scans the items you put into your cart and then checks if there are any appropriate coupon codes available. If it successfully finds active codes, it fills them in automatically. You don’t have to bother and search for them or enter them by yourself.
When you shop as normal at one of your favorite online stores, add items to the cart. Before completing the purchase, click on the Honey icon. You will find it among other add-ons in the section of your browser.
Choose “apply coupons” from Honey’s menu and the app will find working coupons for you. If it finds them successfully, you’ll be notified of how much money you save. After that continue the purchase as you normally would.
Wikibuy, just like Honey, is a browser extension that searches for relevant coupons while you purchase things online. It also compares prices automatically.
When you, for instance, shop at Amazon and add an item to your basket, Wikibuy will automatically search the net to check if there’s a better price elsewhere.
What’s more, if there are any applicable coupon codes, it will tell you that right away, so you can get an even lower price.
Wikibuy is also available for mobile devices, both iOS and Android. With your mobile, you can scan an item while you are in store and Wikibuy will show you if you can buy it at a better price somewhere else.
Boom25 If you want something different from traditional cashback sites and are eager to add a bit of tingle to your shopping routine, try Boom25.
Basically, what it gives you is a 1 in 25 chance to win a 100% refund on your purchase. Every 25th purchase wins.
There’s no certainty that you will win, and the odds aren’t high but you can try Boom25 if there’s no cashback for a certain product elsewhere or you haven’t found a discount code.
When luck is on your side, you can win some decent amount of cashback. The money will be transferred to your Paypal account. And the nice thing is that there are no fees for using Boom 25.
Conclusions on the Rakuten review
Affiliate marketing is one of the best ways to earn money online. To start making money this way, you don’t need to be an influencer or even own a blog.
You can become a member of the world’s leading affiliate marketing platform – Rakuten, and start earning cashback on purchases you’d make anyway.
It won’t make you a millionaire overnight, but you can save a decent amount of money when shopping through Rakuten.