Vital Dollar may receive compensation from companies, products, and services covered on our site. For more details, please read about how we make money.
While there are a lot of apps and websites that help you to save money or earn cash back, Rakuten is easily one of my favorites. I only started using Rakuten within the past year because I always assumed it would take more effort than it was worth, but I’m happy to say that I was wrong.
Rakuten is very easy to use and has very little impact on my shopping experience, aside from saving me money.
If you haven’t tried Rakuten yet, I’d like to show you how you can potentially save a few hundred dollars per year with almost no effort. And if you already use Rakuten, hopefully you’ll find a tip or two in this article that will help you to get more out of it.
→ Related reading: 15 of the Best Cash Back Websites and Apps
The Basics of Rakuten
Rakuten is a website/app that makes it easy to earn cash back for your purchases at thousands of websites and stores. The amount of cash back that you earn will vary depending on the website or store, but it can range anywhere from 1% – 40%. There are more than 2,500 online stores that participate with Rakuten, including favorites like Amazon, Walmart, Groupon, Ebay, Macy’s, Kohls, Best Buy, Target, Lowe’s, and many others.
To earn cash back all you need to do is log in to Rakuten and click through to the site that you want to shop at. And the even easier way is to use their browser extension so you will be notified whenever you’re browsing a website that has a cash back offer through Rakuten. I love the Chrome extension because it has reminded me several times when I otherwise would have forgotten to use Rakuten.
You can also earn cash back through Rakuten for in-store purchases, although at this point there are far more offers for online purchases. To get credit for in-store purchases you’ll need to link a credit or debit card to your account, and then view the available offers from the Rakuten website or mobile app. You can select any offers that you want, and then after you’ve made the purchase with your linked card you will get the cash back in your Rakuten account.
Right now Rakuten is offering a $10 bonus just for signing up! All you need to do is create a free Rakuten account through this link and then make a qualifying purchase of at least $25 within 90 days of opening your account. With so many great stores and websites participating with Rakuten, getting the $25 purchase is easy.
Another great thing to love about Rakuten is that you get paid in cash! You can choose to be paid by check or PayPal, and payments are made quarterly.
Getting Started with Rakuten
If you’re looking for a great way to save money on things you’re already buying, be sure to try Rakuten. Here are the steps for getting started:
Create a Free Rakuten Account
The first step is to simply create your account. It takes just a minute and you’ll be all set to start earning cash back for most of your online purchases. Use this link and you’ll get the $10 sign up bonus.
Make a Purchase to Get Your $10 Bonus
After you create your account be sure to make a qualifying purchase so you can get the $10 bonus. Just head to Rakuten to see a list of websites that offer cash back, and I’m sure there will be some things that you need within the next 90 days. Be aware that the offers on some websites will only earn cash back for products in specific categories (Amazon, for example). At the Rakuten website, or in the mobile app, you can see the details of the cash back offers for each website.
If you’re going through the website all you need to do is click on the “shop now” button and your activity will be tracked so you can earn the cash back.
Install the Browser Extension
Rakuten has a browser extension that will remind you of cash back offers as your browsing. I highly recommend using this if you want to maximize your cash back because it will prevent you from forgetting to go to Rakuten first before you make a purchase. Also, it cuts out a step since you can go directly to the website where you want to shop rather than going to Rakuten first.
If you’re using the browser extension you will be notified when you’re on a website that has a cash back offer. Simply click on the “activate” button and you’re all set. The shopping trip will now be tracked and you’ll earn cash back for your purchase on that site.
Ways to Make Money with Rakuten
Once you start using Rakuten, here are some of the ways that you can make money.
→ Related reading: 100 Amazing Websites for Saving Money
1. Shop at the Websites You Love
My favorite thing about Rakuten is the selection and quality of the websites and stores that are a part of their program. Most likely many of your favorites websites where you already shop are offering cash back through Rakuten. This means that you don’t need to alter your shopping habits or buy things you don’t want or need just to try to earn cash back.
2. Install the Browser Extension
Installing the Rakuten browser extension is one of the easiest things you can do to make or save money. All you do is click a button to install it, and once it’s installed you won’t miss out on opportunities for cash back.
3. Let Rakuten Find Coupon Codes for You
Rakuten will also help to save you money by finding coupon codes for you, thanks to the browser extension. If Rakuten is aware of an eligible coupon code it will notify you when you’re checking out, and you can simply click a button to apply to coupon code.
→ Related reading: 20+ Realistic Ways to Get Free Amazon Gift Cards
4. Apply for the Rakuten Credit Card for More Cash Back
Rakuten also offers a credit card that will give you an additional 3% cash back for all of your purchases through Rakuten. It also pays 1% cash back on other purchases.
For full disclosure, I don’t have or use this credit card myself. I’ve been tempted to apply for it, but I get 2% cash back on every purchase with my current credit card, and the extra 1% on Rakuten purchases hasn’t been enough to sway me to get another credit card.
5. Take Advantage of Limited-Time Offers
Every day you can find great limited-time offers on the Rakuten website or on the app. They are constantly running promos that give you extra cash back at certain websites and stores, and in some cases you can even get a discount on the purchase in addition to the cash back.
On the website you can find “hot deals” in the navigation menu.
You can also find featured daily deals right on the homepage.
→ Related reading: 10 Easy Ways to Get Free Starbucks Gift Cards
6. Order Online, Pick Up in Store
Although there are options for earning cash back on in-store purchases through Rakuten, there are far more offers for online shopping. One easy way around this is to place an order online to be picked up in the store. You’ll earn cash back just like you would for an order that would be shipped to your home or office.
7. Purchase Gift Cards
Likewise, you can also earn cash back by purchasing gift cards online, and then you can use those gift cards in the store (not all stores offer cash back for gift card purchases, but Rakuten provides a list of the ones that do).
→ Related reading: 14 Simple Ways to Get Free Walmart Gift Cards
8. Use the Smartphone App
If you do much shopping from your mobile phone be sure to install the free Rakuten app for iOS or Android. You’ll have the same cash back earning potential from your phone as you do from the desktop.
9. Don’t Forget About Travel Savings
Rakuten also has excellent options for saving money on travel. You can book hotels, flights, and car rentals and earn a pretty good percentage of cash back. With booking sites like Expedia, Orbitz, Priceline, and Hotwire participating in the program, there are plenty of options here.
10. Stack Rewards
One of my favorite things about Rakuten is that you can use it to stack rewards. For example, you can purchase with a cash rewards credit card and earn cash back from both Rakuten and your credit card company. Take advantage of other things like coupon codes, limited-time offers, and customer loyalty programs and you can stack the rewards even further.
→ Related reading: How to Stack Rewards and Cash Back
11. Refer Your Friends
Last but not least, you can make money by telling your friends about Rakuten. Right now Rakuten will pay you a $25 bonus for each friend you refer (your friends need to make the qualifying purchase of at least $25 in order for you to earn the bonus).
→ Related reading: How to Save Money with Discounted Gift Cards
Let’s take a look at a few common questions.
Is Rakuten Safe?
Yes, Rakuten is safe. Rakuten doesn’t need to see your credit card details for online purchase. You’ll be making the purchase through a third-party website, like Amazon.com or Walmart.com. In that way, using Rakuten brings no added risk to online shopping. If you do want to take advantage of in-store cash back opportunities (optional) you will need to provide your credit card information to Rakuten so they can track your purchases. Rakuten uses the same type of security as banks and large e-commerce websites to keep your data protected.
Do I Have to Scan Receipts?
No! All online purchases are tracked and credited by clicking on the “shop now” buttons at Rakuten or by clicking on the “activate” button on the browser extension. Once you do that, you can shop as normal and it will be tracked. For in-store cash back you’ll need to claim the offers that you want before making the purchase, and then it will use your credit info to track.
How Does Rakuten Make Money?
Rakuten has an affiliate relationship with the websites that participate in its program. Rakuten earns a referral fee for your purchase and then they pass on part of that money to you.
How Do I Get Money from Rakuten?
When you login to your Rakuten account you will be able to see your current balance. In the settings you can choose to receive either a check or payment by PayPal. Of course, you’ll need to provide your mailing address or the email linked to your PayPal account. Rakuten pays users once per quarter.
What Stores are on Rakuten?
There are more than 2,500 stores and websites that participate, so it is impossible to list them all here. Many of your favorite sites are probably a part of their program, and you can see a full list or search for participants at the Rakuten websites.
How Much Money Can I Make with Rakuten
It really depends on your shopping habits, but saving $100 per year, or more, is very reasonable. Some participating websites pay a pretty small percentage of cash back, but if you happen to make a few purchases at sites that pay a higher percentage of cash back you can rack up the rewards pretty quickly. Also, Rakuten can save you more money with coupon codes.
Get Started with Rakuten Today
If you don’t already use Rakuten, go to this page to sign up and get the $10 bonus.