Most People don’t realize there’s a tool that can literally pay them cashback for the online shopping they’re already doing. It’s called Rakuten (formerly Ebates) and this Rakuten review will show you what that tool is and how to get the most out of it.
- Get Rakuten App
- Shop Online Normally
- Get Free Cash Back Regularly
When was the last time you shopped online? If you’re anything like me it was about an hour ago or less. In today’s day and age, it’s almost impossible to find a retailer that doesn’t have an online presence and 99% of all things are just a click away from arriving at your doorstep. A digitalcommerce360.com article states that $517 Billion was spent online in 2018 and that figure is only going to rise with time.
Chances are, you do most of your shopping online and what you don’t realize is that you can be getting paid to do it by using a simple app called Rakuten on your phone or computer. Rakuten used to be called Ebates until about halfway through 2019. However, this hasn’t changed the way they do business because Rakuten bought Ebates back in 2014.
It just took them until 2019 to change the name. It is a website that partners with popular retailers to provide their users with cashback on just about everything they buy. It’s totally free and the prices you pay through Rakuten are the same as what you’d pay if you shop direct.
If Rakuten only exists to give me money and the prices are the same, what’s the catch?
There is no catch. Rakuten is able to stay in business because they are what’s known as an affiliate marketer. In addition to paying you, they also get paid when you shop through them. How it works is that they partner with an online retailer that you normally shop with, and when you enter the retailer’s online store via the Rakuten website, Rakuten gets credit and earns a commission on everything you buy.
What Rakuten then does is split that commission with you, the buyer.
That’s where the money they pay you comes from. The terms of how things get split will never be public, but what you’re getting is a percentage of Rakuten’s affiliate commission.
For example, let’s say Amazon.com is paying a 10% commission (they don’t, it’s much less) to Rakuten for every customer they bring to the store. You end up buying $100 worth of items when you shop. Amazon then pays Rakuten $10 for bringing in the sale. Let’s assume things are an even 50-50 split. Under this arrangement, Rakuten pays you $5 as a thank you for shopping with them. You get the Items you wanted at a good price, Amazon gets a sale, and Rakuten earns a commission for bringing the two together. It’s a win-win-win.
Now that I know Rakuten Is Legit, How Do I Use It To My Advantage?
How the process works is very simple. Let’s say that you’re looking to buy some clothes from Kohls. Rather than directly opening the Kohls’s website on your computer or phone, you would go to Rakuten.com or open the mobile app first. Then, you would select Kohls from the app or website to be taken to Kohls.com and shop as you normally would.
About 24 – 48 hours after your checkout, you’ll get an email from Rakuten telling you the amount of cashback you earned. It’s about 3 minutes’ worth of work and you get paid for everything you’re already buying. Pretty cool huh?
How Much Cashback Can I Earn With Rakuten?
Before you get the email telling you how much you’ve earned, you should already have an idea of how much you’ll be earning because Rakuten is very transparent in telling users how much each store pays. They list it in big red letters under the store logo.
The cashback amounts vary from retailer to retailer and even month to month, but the average amount for consumer items is around 5%. However, if you’re looking to purchase software or some type of subscription service, the cashback can be significantly higher. For instance, the NordVPN service is offering 40% cash back at the time of this writing.
How Often Do I Get Paid by Rakuten?
Rakuten Pays its users on a quarterly basis. Each time you log in, you’ll see the amount you’ve earned to date in the top right corner of your screen next to your name. You can also view what you got paid on each transaction in the history section. At the end of every quarter, they mail you a check for the amount you’ve earned.
How do I maximize my Rakuten “Big Fat Check?”
Here is the section I think you’re most interested in. How do I make the most of this? There are a couple of ways to maximize what you earn.
Install the Chrome Extension
First off you can’t earn anything if you don’t use the service. You have to go to Rakuten’s website first if you want to earn cashback online. There is no way around that one. It’s going to be tough to form the habit, but once you do it’ll become second nature. To help you remember to do this, Rakuten offers a free chrome extension that you install in your browser that will remind you when you’re on a store’s website that they do business with.
Then, it will pop up in the top right corner. All you have to do is then click the button and activate your cashback. This is very helpful when you’re on a store and you don’t already know they’re affiliated with Rakuten.
Download the App
Second, when you’re not on a computer, have the Rakuten App on your phone’s home screen. I have it front and center and it’s bright purple so I can’t miss it. When I go to buy something, I click that instead of my browser button. It’s a very simple training of your thumbs that makes a big difference.
Use the App Before Heading to the Store
If I need something the same day, I take advantage of the order online and pick up in-store whenever I can. Most big retailers do this and it’s the easiest way to shop. Not only for the cashback but also for the time and money saved. I spend ten minutes on my couch clicking through the app and adding what I need to my cart, then select the “pick up today” option at checkout.
In about an hour, I get an email saying my order is ready and I then just go to the store, go to the pickup counter, get my things and leave. It saves me not only from wasting time walking the aisles, but it saves my wallet from impulse purchases that I’ll later regret. “Did I really need that ridiculous thing that was on sale?” is a question I never have to ask again.
Some retailers even allow you to link your credit or debit card to Rakuten and give cashback when you’re purchasing in-store. This is a great way to make sure nothing slips through the cracks. You simply store your payment info in the app (a lot less scary than it sounds, you do this in many other places) and then select the stores to which you want to link your card to. This way, when you pay with that card in the store, you’ll still receive your cashback.
Look For Promotions in Rakuten
You can also plan your purchases around the promotions. I don’t personally recommend this one because it seems to promote needless spending, but every once in a while Rakuten will double or triple cashback amounts on certain stores but it seems to be random. Some people will put off shopping until they see this, but I can’t be bothered. I added it anyway because I have seen people have success with it despite my personal feelings about it.
Book Vacations with Rakuten
Another way to boost your cashback is to book vacations through Rakuten. They’re affiliated with a surprising number of travel sites. Don’t go on vacation simply to get cashback though. You still have to pay the other 95% of the trip you didn’t get back.
Tell Your Friends About It
All of the listed methods listed above are great to increase your cashback, but none are more effective than simply sharing the app with your friends. When you refer people to Rakuten, you get paid when they make their first purchase. There is no limit to the number of people you can refer and everyone gets a link. It’s located in the “My Account” section of the app. This can earn you the most cash back by far because each person you refer can earn you $25. The person you referred gets $10 as well. Cue shameless plug: Join Rakuten with my link and get $10 in cash back FREE!
Rakuten REview: My Main Takeaway
My takeaway from this Rakuten review is a simple app that will put a little bit of cash in your pocket without much effort from you. You’re not going to retire on the cash you earn from Rakuten, but it will certainly pay for a night out here and there.
It doesn’t cost you anything and I feel no harm can happen from using the app on purchases you’re normally making anyway. Just remember, achieving financial freedom doesn’t come from one big windfall overnight, it comes from changing your day-to-day habits and the effects of compounding small changes.
With enough small changes like this one, they start to add up and turn into something significant.