Online shopping has become more and more popular over the years and often times, we are able to get better deals by comparing retailers’ prices quickly and shopping conveniently from home.
Did you know that you could earn cash back from everyday online shopping? Rakuten formerly known as Ebates is a free website which offers over thousands of coupons you can use at checkout for over 2,000 online retailers along with 2% to 40% cashback promotions.
If you already shop online regularly to buy anything from electronics to everyday items you need, you might as well try out Rakuten formally known as Ebates so you can earn cash back on those purchases. I’ve been using Rakuten this entire year and it’s really easy to use and earn extra money.
I recently used Rakuten to book a small getaway for my wedding anniversary earlier this year and I was pleased to see that they helped me save $15 on an overnight stay thanks to cashback and automatically finding coupons to apply.
In this review, I’ll explain how Rakuten works along with the pros and cons so you can determine if it’s right for you.
While Rakuten does provide free coupons and cashback promotions, each coupon and promotion will be for a particular category, like a purchase from a particular department (say, jewelry), and/or for a certain quantity threshold, such as spending a certain amount. In order to cash in, you will have to meet that particular offer’s requirements.
Ebates makes it easy, however, to know exactly how you can earn cash back, as the site clearly states requirements for all of their listed deals.
Signing up for Rakuten is also simple, and as a sign-up bonus, you can choose between a $10 Walmart gift card or a $10 Rakuten cash bonus as soon as you shop online at a qualifying store and make a purchase of $25 or more.
Once you create your account, you can browse through Rakuten’s Hot Deals section or search for a retailer of your choice. After you locate your store and read their current offers and promotions, you can click on their link to shop directly at the separate website.
By clicking the link from the Rakuten website, Rakuten can track the offer and credit your account once you make your purchase. Be sure to use the deal by the expiration date (which listed on Rakuten).
Ebates typically updates your account cashback credit within 48 hours. However, some retailers will not validate your purchase until after the return period has elapsed, which could be up to 30 days. Rakuten will then update your account appropriately.
There is a minimum threshold you have to meet before Rakuten provides you with a payout–you have to earn at least $5.01. Rakuten also pays its members every three months for the purchases credited to their account at that time:
Jan 1 – March 31, check sent: May 15
Apr 1 – June 30, check sent: Aug 15
July 1 – Sept 30, check sent: Nov 15
Oct 1 – Dec 31, check sent: Feb 15
You can choose to receive an Rakuten “Big Fat Check”–a check mailed to your home at no cost, receive payment via PayPal, or request to send it to a person of your choice or even a charity. You can choose your method and change it under your Account Settings. Remember to properly document charity donations for tax season!
Getting The Most Bang For Your Buck
There are a few ways to get the most out of using Ebates.
1. While Rakuten offers stand-alone coupons, by selecting a combo deal–a coupon with a cashback promotion–you can save even more.
Let’s say Rakuten has a promotion for Walgreens, which expires in two weeks. You get 30% off Same Day Pickup photo gifts PLUS up to 7% cash back. These kinds of deals are available for many retailers on Rakuten, so why not take advantage of the coupon and earn cash back? By choosing these kinds of Rakuten deals, you can save, purchase, and earn. My favorite kind of combos!
2. Next, you just need to make sure you’re using Rakuten each time you shop online. You can either head to the Ebates website to search for the store you intend to shop at so you can earn cash back, or you can download the Rakuten browser extension.
Downloading this extension makes it so much easier to use Ebates because you just need to visit the website you wish to make a purchase on as usual, then a popup from Rakuten will automatically show up if there’s a cash back offer so you can opt in without having to leave the website. This way, you can earn cash back and use coupons even if you forget about Rakuten for the moment.
3. If you shop online using a cash back credit card already, you can earn even more cash back by using Rakuten as well. While many credit cards offer cashback on general purchases, some cards, like Discover, require you to sign-up or activate a deal, and only lasts for a certain amount of time.
For credit cards that allow you to earn 1% cash back on everything, you can boost your cash back earnings by using Rakuten and get paid out quarterly. As always, don’t rack up debt on your credit card or it will defeat the purpose of earning cash back.
Pros and Cons
For those who use online shopping often, Rakuten is one of the best websites to use to get more bang for your buck. However, it’s not completely perfect so here are some pros and cons to consider before you decide to try it out.
Pro: Easy to earn cash on your online purchases.
Con: You can only get paid a maximum of four times per year and there’s a minimum balance requirement of $5 in order to get paid.
Pro: Combine coupons with cashback bonuses to maximize earnings.
Con: The cashback you can earn varies store, so your earnings will most likely not be consistent.
Pro: No need to worry if the deals are real or if the links can cause harm to your computer. Rakuten is completely safe and 100% legit.
Con: You must remember to opt in to earn cashback and use coupons when you shop online. Downloading the browser extension can help with this.
I personally don’t consider Rakuten a side-hustle because what you earn can vary and it’s not going to help you pay any major bills. However, it’s a pretty cool tool for online shopping and comes in handy around the holidays and busy shopping seasons when I tend to spend more money.
Have you ever heard of Rakuten before or tried it out? What is your favorite place to do online shopping? I’m slightly obsessed with Target and Amazon.
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