TL;DR: Rakuten is a fun and nifty cashback rewards service that offers users good incentives. You can get money back on every qualifying purchase and you actually get paid in cash, unlike many other rewards programs.
“Free money.” Sounds like one of those phrases that is too good to be true, right? Whenever I hear “free money” I instantly get suspicious. Most of the time, companies that offer money for nothing are scams.
However, there are some services out there that can help you save money and get discounts elsewhere. That is where Rakuten comes in. Rakuten is an affiliate marketing company that lets users earn nice rewards and cash back when you purchase things through their site.
That all sounds well and good, but is Rakuten legit? We will answer that and many more questions in our Rakuten review. We’ll cover Rakuten’s pros and cons, cost, and any other important details. Then we will give our verdict on whether Rakuten is worth it.
Rakuten is an affiliate marketing site that will give customers cash rewards for buying things through their service. Rakuten has listings for some of the biggest online stores and marketplaces. Whenever you buy something through Rakuten, the partner companies pay a referral fee to Rakuten and you get a small portion of that payout. So in other words, Rakuten will pay you to shop through their marketplace.
The real benefit of Rakuten is the rewards you get for shopping. Rakuten offers between 1% to 40% cashback on anything purchased through the site. Rakuten partners with over 2,500 partners, including some of the biggest names in the business, such as Amazon, Wal-Mart, Sephora, and Target. So instead of shopping like normal, why not shop through Rakuten and make some cashback?
If you have not heard of Rakuten before, that is probably because the name is new. Rakuten used to go by “Ebates” and changed its name back in April 2019. Since Rakuten/Ebates was founded way back in 1997, they have paid out more than $800 million in cashback rewards. Rakuten has recently expanded its product list to include novel services such as food delivery apps and rideshare services like Uber and Lyft.
Rakuten is also known for its excellent customer service. If you have any trouble, you can call the knowledgeable and friendly customer service team to help you out.
EASY TO USE
Rakuten makes it super easy to use the platform and shop through its retail partners. You can use the website, mobile app, or you can download and install the browse extension.
Rakuten has over 2,500 partners which includes some of the biggest retail brands out there.
ACTUALLY PAYS YOU CASH
Unlike a lot of cashback apps, Rakuten actually gives you real money instead of gift cards or promotional deals.
How Does Rakuten Work?
Rakuten is very simple to manage. First, you need to create an account to get started. You have to be at least 18 years old to make an account but other than that, there are no restrictions on membership.
Once you create an account, you can search the marketplace for your favorite stores. Click on your desired store, and the linke will take you to the company’s official store via the Rakuten portal. This part is important because if you do not use the portal, then Rakuten will not track your purchases and you won’t get the cashback benefits.
Once you get to the store through the Rakuten portal, shopping is just the same as it is on the normal store. Qualifying purchases are tracked through the Rakuten browser and you will get cashback rewards.
You can also use the Rakuten browser extension for shopping. This extension works exactly the same, you just don’t have to go through Rakuten’s website first.
Whenever you make a cashback eligible purchase, a popup will show up in your browser. Click on the button in the pop up and you can claim your Rakuten rewards.
Am that’s all there is to it. Simple, right? Rakuten makes it extremely easy to shop and get cashback rewards.
How Do I Claim My Cashback Rewards?
When you are searching for stores on the Rakuten website, you will see a small bar that shows you the cashback percentage you can get from store purchases. Each store has a different cashback percentage and different products do too. For example, Target might offer 4% cashback on regular store purchases but might offer 10% cashback on electronics or home goods. These percentages change all the time so make sure you check back regularly.
Rakuten also makes it easy to claim your rewards. Unlike a lot of other services, Rakuten actually gives you money instead of gift cards or coupons.That is one feature that distinguishes it from other cashback apps such as Shopkick.
After you make a purchase, the store notifies Rakuten and they will add rewards to your account. It can take just a few hours or up to a few days for the rewards to hit your account, depending on which store you buy from.
Every three months Rakuten will send you your cashback rewards, either via a physical check mailed to your address or through PayPal (recommended).
Keep in mind that you have to purchase goods through Rakuten’s portal or through the browser extension. If you buy something but forget to do it through Rakuten, there is no way to get those rewards added to your account. You have to have at least $5 in rewards to get paid. If you have less than $5 in your account or a purchase is pending, Rakuten will carry over that amount to the next pay period.
Overall Raluten has 4 payment periods each month:
|Purchase Period||Pay Date|
|Jan 1 – Mar 31||May 15|
|Apr 1 – June 30||Aug 15|
|July 1 – Sept 30||Nov 15|
|Oct 1 – Dec 31||Feb 15|
Rakuten also has a feature so you can track your check in the mail if you opt for that payment method. Unfortunately, Rakuten does not yet allow for direct deposits to a bank account.
Also; you should be aware that Rakuten reserves the right to rescind any cashback rewards or terminate your account if they think you are abusing the program. So if you make a lot of purchases and returns, your account may get banned and you won’t get any money.
Also, you don’t actually have to make purchases online to get Rakuten rewards. You can activate the in-store offer through the app and have the retailer confirm the purchase. You will also have to link a credit card, or else it cannot track your purchase. You will have to reactive in-store purchases each time to buy something in a retail partner’s physical location, but it’s still a way to earn cash back rewards if you are actually in a physical store.
How Much Does Rakuten Cost?
Here Is the real kicker: Rakuten is completely free to use. You don’t have to subscribe to anything and you don’t get charged for any purchases you make. Given that it’s completely free to use, there is really no reason to not try Rakuten.
You may be wondering though: If Rakuten doesn’t charge customers, then how do they make money?
Rakuten gets paid through its retail partners. After all, they are an affiliate marketplace. So every time you buy something on Rakuten, retail partners pay them and they give you a small chunk of change.
Referrals & Special Deals
Rakuten also gives you incentives to invite others to the platform. For every customer you refer to the service, Rakuten will credit your account $25. Also, whenever someone you refer to the site makes $25 or more, you get an extra $5 in your account.
Rakuten also offers special promotional offers, such as double cash back or discount for select retailers and products. Recently, Rakuten has partnered with a diverse array of services like Expedia so you can get discounts and referrals for buying plane tickets and booking hotels.
In other words, Rakuten gives customers a ton of incentives to keep buying.
Is My Information Safe With Rakuten?
Yes, Rakuten is safe to use, or at least, as safe as any other affiliate marketing platform. You will not have to enter any payment information so there is no risk of hackers stealing your bank info. The most secure piece of information you have to give is your email address. Rakuten is also compliant with the Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council, so you can be sure that your data is properly encrypted and secure.
There are a few caveats though. Rakuten does use some personal info so make sure you read the fine print in the agreement. Specifically, Rakuten uses location services to track your behavior and sells this info to third party companies. You can opt out of location services, but that will limit some features. At the very least, you are given a choice in the matter.
Rakuten’s customer service is paradoxically good and lacking at the same time. First off, they have a pretty thorough knowledge FAQ page that will answer most big questions about how the service works. You can contact a customer support specialist for more specific queries, but they use a ticket system, which many people are not fond of.
However, once they get a hold of you, the customer service is pretty good and helpful. Either way, Rakuten is pretty simple to use so you likely won’t have too many problems.
What Are People Saying About Rakuten?
Rakuten has very positive reviews on several consumer report websites. For example, they have a very high 4.1 out of 5 rating on Trustpilot. The vast majority of reviews are very happy with the service and many point out that the customer service representatives are helpful.
However, we should mention that there were quite a few reviews where people say that they did not get the cashback rewards that they were entitled to. Fortunately, most of the time it seems like the company contacted those customers and quickly resolved the issue.
Rakuten Pros & Cons
- Easy to use. Rakuten makes it super easy to use the platform and shop through its retail partners. You can use the website, mobile app, or you can download and install the browse extension.
- Large list of retail partners. Rakuten has over 2,500 partners which includes some of the biggest retail brands out there.
- Actually pays you cash. Unlike a lot of these cashback apps, Rakuten actually gives you real money instead of gift cards or promotional deals.
- Irregular payment periods. Rakuten only pays members 4 times a year. So it’s not a good service if you want instant reward for the purchases to make.
- The app has some bugs. For the most part, the service runs pretty smoothly. However, we noticed that sometimes it has trouble updating your account with rewards. As long as you contact customer support though, you should be able to fix any issues.
So, is Rakuten worth it? We say yes. Rakuten is a nifty and easy-to-use rewards program if you want to earn some extra money when you should. You won’t be able to get rich using Rakuten, but getting ever 2% back on qualifying purchases can add up over time. If you are a frequent shopper, you can make a couple hundred dollars per pay period for virtually no effort. The only downsides we would mention are the irregular pay periods and problems the app has updating your account with rewards. Otherwise, Rakuten comes highly recommended.