Wouldn’t it be nice to get paid to shop? Well, with Rakuten, you can. This review of my experience with Rakuten will show you the different ways you can use Rakuten to earn cash back on both online and in-store purchases. Plus, learn why it might be better to cash out for a gift card instead of cash.
Rakuten Review: How To It To Earn Gift Cards
(Links in this post are affiliate links. I will be compensated when you make a purchase by clicking those links. See my disclosure page for more information)
Rakuten Was Once Called Ebates
Rakuten is not a new company but instead a rebranding of Ebates. I don’t know all the details as to why they changed the name, but I do know that the change hasn’t negatively affected the way the cash back program works. I have been a member of Ebates for several years and don’t see any reason not to continue using it now that it has been renamed Rakuten.
If you were not a member of Ebates then make sure you sign up for a Rakuten account, new members get a $10 bonus when they spend a certain amount on purchases through Rakuten in a limited amount of time. Go here to create your Rakuten account.
You Can’t Cash Out Whenever
My only frustration with Rakuten is that you can’t cash out whenever you want. Your account has to have a balance of $5 in it before you can be eligible for a cash out and cash outs are only done once a quarter. It can be super frustrating to get significant cash back right after the “big fat check” is sent for that quarter, knowing you are going to have to wait three months to cash out your earnings.
Here Is Why You Want To Pick The Gift Card Option
When you go to the Rakuten website, you will see that you can pick a PayPal deposit or a check for your cash outs. Those may appear to be the only two cash out options, but when your account reaches the $5 minimum and the time for a “big fat check” is growing close, you will receive an email saying that you will receive a bigger cash out if you choose a gift card instead.
The gift card selection is usually relatively limited, however, if you shop at one of the stores that a gift card is offered for I would go for it! I have seen them offer as much as a 15% bonus for choosing a particular gift card over a check or PayPal deposit and that can add up to more than a few pennies extra earned.
Download Both The Browser Tool And The App
Yes, you can go directly to the Rakuten website and then enter the store you want to shop online at and follow the link to that store–but if you’re like me, you will forget. My earnings went way up when I took just a minute or two to download the Rakuten browser extension for Chrome.
Now if a cash back is available at the website I am about to shop at, the Little purple R symbol on my toolbar flashes and most times a box pops up alerting me to the available cash back rate for that site. All I have to do is click the box or the flashing purple R to activate the cash back.
If you prefer to shop on your phone, you can download the Rakuten app and head to the online store you want to make a purchase at through the app.
3 Ways To Earn Gift Cards Using Rakuten
1. Shop Online
As I said above, I use the Rakuten Chrome extension tool to alert me to all available cash back deals. And since Rakuten offers cash backs at over a thousand retailers, my chances of receiving Rakuten earnings where I am shopping online is pretty good.
2. Shop In-Store
If you are willing to connect your bank card or credit card to your Rakuten account, you can earn cash back for in-store purchases at various retailers. To do so, you need to first click on the retailer you want to shop at, and then link the offer (the amount of cash back they will give you) to your card. Then make sure you pay with the linked card. If the card you linked is a debit card, you need to push the “credit” option while purchasing for the offer to go through.
3. Refer Friends
Once you have tried out Rakuten for a while, you are going to want to share it with friends–because a good friend shares excellent deals. When you do, be sure to use the referral link that Rakuten gives all their members found under the “refer and earn” tab on their website or when you hit the gift icon located at the bottom of the app. When they make a purchase through Rakuten of $25 or more, you earn a referral bonus.
There is one more way to earn with Rakuten, and that is to apply for their cash back visa card, but I don’t recommend doing that for two reasons. First, I am not a big fan of credit cards; I genuinely believe that only a select few can budget well enough to use a credit card without getting into financial trouble. Second, the cash back amount is only 1% on all purchases, and I have seen way better reward plans for credit cards.
Bonus Tip: Sweeten Your Savings Using Rakuten And This Browser Tool
Not a lot of people realize this, but often you can receive both a promo code discount and cash back on the same order. Here is how I do it. I have both the Rakuten cash back button and the Honey button installed on my chrome toolbar. When I am finished shopping online, I first click the Honey icon to see if there are any promo codes to apply to my order. Once Honey is done searching for a code, I then click on the Rakuten icon and see if I can activate a cash back.
Recently, this stacking discounts trick saved my son $65 on his new smartphone. Honey gave him a promo code that took $50 off the price, and Rakuten gave him a $15 cash back. Not bad for less than 5 minutes of work!
If you want to learn more ways to stack deals, read my book Thrifty And Thriving: More Life For Less Money.
For a list of 52 different websites, apps, and stores our thrifty family uses to help us keep our expenses low, click here to visit our Thrifty Tools Resource Page.
Do you want to save or earn money? Join my Thrifty People Of Snail Pace Transformations Facebook page where I share tips for doing both.
3 More Posts That Will Help You Save Money On Everyday Purchases
- How To Use Honey To Save Money: So Simple And It Really Works
- How To Nickel And Dime Your Way To A Debt Free Life: Stretch Your Income To Its Maximum
- Don’t Throw Out Your Receipts: Here Is How To Earn Money From Them
Get snail-e-mail in your inbox each week!
A weekly email with the feel of snail mail. A peek into my week, a few deals so good I just have to share, and links to all of Snail Pace Transformations latest posts!