Rakuten Review: How Rakuten Works and if it’s a Scam or Legit?

Rakuten Review

You might have heard of Rakuten as a cashback site, but you need more information to understand whether you should use it.

I get it. I’m also the type of person who needs to know the full picture before I can start using it.

This article will go into:

  • What Rakuten is
  • Is Rakuten legit
  • How Rakuten works including how you save and make money through Rakuten
  • Other lesser-known tips to maximize your earnings on Rakuten

Let’s jump into this Rakuten review…

Is Rakuten Legit?

if you make a purchase, I may earn a small commission, at no cost to you.   

What is Rakuten?

Rakuten (formerly Ebates) gives you cash back for shopping through its affiliate partners like Amazon, eBay, Expedia, Best Buy, Groupon etc.

They have over 2500 affiliated companies (in the U.S.) and 750 companies (in Canada). You can get up to 40% cash back!

I love using Rakuten because it is one of the EASIEST ways to make money online.

Since you’re probably already shopping for everyday household items on these sites, you might as well get paid for it.

Note: It might be confusing to see “Rakuten” and then “Ebates”.

Just to clarify, Rakuten bought Ebates and they’re going through rebranding.

It doesn’t impact previous Ebates members. All the Ebates accounts have moved over to Rakuten with the same services. The only thing that’s changed is the name.

Is there a membership fee for Rakuten?

It’s completely FREE to sign up for a Rakuten account.

When you sign up in the U.S., you’ll get a welcome bonus of $10 after making your first online purchase of $25 or more!

If you’re Canadian, sign up here at Rakuten.ca where the welcome bonus is $5.

Is Rakuten a scam or legit?

You might be wondering, is Rakuten legit?

Can I trust Rakuten? Is Rakuten a good company?

It just sounds too good to be true…

When I first found out about Rakuten, I was also quite skeptical.

I’ve been using Rakuten since 2017 and I’ve gotten over $150 from them. I can tell you with certainty that it is not a scam.

Rakuten also has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau.

Here are 2 common concerns people have about Rakuten (I certainly did!) and why you should feel safe to use it.

How does Rakuten make money?

How does Rakuten work? Is there a catch with Rakuten?

Rakuten is a site that companies can advertise on. These companies pay Rakuten a commission for sending customers to them. Rakuten then shares that commission with customers.

Why would big companies advertise on Rakuten since they have recognizable brands? Why share their sales with Rakuten and its customers?

Here’s why:

If a company’s not on Rakuten, chances are their competitor is. They could be losing out on sales on Rakuten.

Also, everyone loves a good deal. Sometimes customers spend even more money because of the savings.

Does Rakuten sell your information?

With any site where you enter in information, it’s natural to wonder, “What does Rakuten do with my information”?

Rakuten has stated that it does not sell your personal or payment information. It only uses it to operate and improve their services so you can rest assured that your information is secure.

Okay so now that we’ve addressed some common concerns, I’m going to walk you through how to use Rakuten.

Topics include what stores are affiliated with Rakuten, how it works, and how to maximize savings with it so you can feel comfortable and confident to make money using Rakuten!

What stores are on Rakuten?

Rakuten has over 2500 affiliated companies in the U.S. and 750 companies in Canada.

Here are some of the stores on Rakuten.com in the U.S.:

  • Amazon
  • eBay
  • Kohl’s
  • Macy’s
  • Barney’s

Here are some of the stores on Rakuten.ca in Canada:

  • Amazon
  • Expedia
  • Sport Chek
  • Sephora
  • Indigo
  • Home Depot

Keep in mind that stores might change, but this just gives you an idea of what type of stores are available. Check Rakuten.com or Rakuten.ca if you’re looking for a specific store.

How do you make money on Rakuten?

There are 2 ways:

  1. You can shop at any of their affiliated companies
  2. You can make money by referring a friend to shop through Rakuten.

1. How do you shop through Rakuten?

1. The first thing you have to do is sign up for an Rakuten account, which is FREE and only takes a minute!

When you sign up in the U.S., you’ll get a welcome bonus of $10 after making your first online purchase of $25 or more!

If you’re Canadian, sign up here at Rakuten.ca where the welcome bonus is $5.

2. Once you’ve signed up, use their search bar at the top of the page to find the store you would normally shop at. Let’s say you normally shop at Amazon so type in “Amazon”.

3. Once Amazon comes up in the search results, click on it.

If the store you normally shop at doesn’t show up then unfortunately Rakuten is not affiliated with it. Not to worry, there’s got to be at least 1 among the many available stores that you frequent on a regular basis.

4. Now you’ll see the Amazon logo and underneath it, the cash back % you’ll get back.

For example, if you see “up to 5% back”, for every $100 you spend, you’ll get $5 back. It’s not a whole lot of $, but it’s something!

5. Click on “Shop Now”, which will redirect you to the Amazon site.

6. Now shop how you would normally shop!

One important thing is TO STAY WITHIN THAT TAB when you complete your shop because that is how Rakuten will track that you’ve made a purchase through them. Don’t open up a separate tab and shop!

7. When you’ve completed your purchase, Rakuten will credit you the cash back within a week on your Rakuten account.

8. Once the cash credit has been in the account for at least 3 months (they do this to avoid people buying and then returning items), you’ll get paid. You can set your account preferences to receive the cash as a physical check or through Paypal.

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You might be wondering if you can still use the store promos or coupons when you shop through Rakuten…

The answer is yes!

Rakuten cash back % is completely separate from the store promos and coupons.

Side tip: If you’re using an ad blocker, don’t forget to whitelist Rakuten so you get the cash back credit you’re owed.

Other tips to maximize savings on Rakuten

1. If you can’t find a specific store on Rakuten, buy a gift card through a Rakuten partner that sells gift cards!

If you’re in the U.S., you can find discounted gift cards at Raise. Go through Rakuten and type in Raise to ensure you get proper credit!

If you’re in Canada, you can use the Rakuten.ca Gift Card store and get discounted grocery store gift cards.

I’ve seen Loblaw/Superstore/No Frills/Zehrs gift cards for up to 2.5% off. I’ve also seen discounted gift cards for IGA, Safeway, Longo’s, Sobeys and Fortino’s.

2. Within Rakuten, there are also coupons that might also apply.

This is in addition to the cash back %! Check those out before you navigate to your chosen store. This could result in double the savings!

3. If you think you’ll forget to go through Rakuten, download the Rakuten browser extension.

When you download the extension, you’ll see the Rakuten icon at the top right hand corner of your browser.

As long as you keep the extension on, anytime you visit an eligible store, you’ll be alerted to “Activate up to _% cash back”.

Once you activate it, Rakuten will be tracking your order. It’ll also automatically apply the best Rakuten coupons at checkout! You don’t have to go through the Rakuten website to get your cash back.

4. Use the Rakuten app.

If it’s easier to use apps, sign up and download the Rakuten app instead!

Rakuten cashback

5. Rakuten now has the option to get “in-store cash back”.

You can get cash back while shopping at brick and mortar stores!

Unfortunately, this only applies to a limited number of stores – they haven’t rolled this out to all of their affiliate partners, but it’s still a great option!

All you have to do is go to their offline cash back page and link your credit card or debit card.

Before buying something in store, go to the Rakuten website, navigate to the store, and then click on “Link Offer”.

When you make the purchase on your linked credit card or debit card, Rakuten will automatically recognize the linked offer and credit your Rakuten account.

6. Get the Rakuten Cash Back Visa Credit Card.

This gives you an extra 3% cash back on qualified purchases made through Rakuten, Rakuten Hotels and Rakuten Travel.

For other purchases, you get 1% cash back which is not bad! For your first purchase on this credit card, you’ll get a $10 bonus. There is no annual fee!

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Can you get Rakuten dollars after purchase?

The answer is no. Rakuten does not work retroactively. You have to go through Rakuten BEFORE you make a purchase to get the cash back.

If you find yourself forgetting to use Rakuten , download the Rakuten browser extension so you’re automatically alerted when you’re about to make a purchase at a qualifying store.

Now that you know how to save money shopping using Rakuten, here’s the other way you can make money on Rakuten…

2. How do you refer a friend to Rakuten?

  1. Now that you’ve already signed up for an Rakuten account, when you’re on the home page, click on “Refer and earn $25+”
  2. You can now see all the ways you can introduce Rakuten to your friends, family etc. and each referral will make you AND the person you refer money!
  3. As you can see, Rakuten often has additional bonus promotions if you refer multiple people.

Are there other cashback apps similar to Rakuten?

Here are the other cashback apps and sites I use:

  • Be Frugal: There’s a $10.00 sign up bonus!
  • Dollar Dig: There’s a $2.50 welcome bonus for signing up!
  • Great Canadian Rebates (only in Canada): They have a “Credit Cards and Finance”. This section has cash back rebates for savings accounts, credit cards, mortgages etc. Along with the welcome bonus that often comes with a credit card, for example, you get additional cash back.

They’re all FREE to sign up.

Something to keep in mind is that each one of these sites has slightly different merchants so it’s worth checking out each one.

The stores and percentages are constantly changing. Before you do any online shopping, a best practice is to check each site to see which one has the highest % back.

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Final Thoughts On This Rakuten Review

I discovered Rakuten in 2017, but it started in 1998. I can’t believe I left $100’s of dollars on the table because I didn’t use Rakuten.

Don’t forget to use Rakuten with every transaction!

If you’re in the U.S., sign up now and receive your welcome bonus of $10 after making your first online purchase with Rakuten!

If you’re Canadian, sign up here at Rakuten.ca where the welcome bonus is $5, but still worth signing up to start earning easy money!

Happy shopping!

Other Saving Money Resources

Here are some of my favorite resources for saving money:


Honey is an application that looks at the items in your cart and helps you search for coupon codes. If it finds relevant codes, it enters them automatically! You never have to search for coupon codes online again!

It also has other money saving features like cash back, price drop notifications, and a price history. It’s also FREE to use.

Sign up for Honey here!


Checkout51 is an app that gives you cash back for your groceries!

If you purchase any groceries on their list (which sometimes includes everyday essentials like bananas), you can snap a picture of your receipt on your app (they make it super easy). The approval takes roughly a few days and then cha-ching – you’ll get money in your Checkout51 account!

Sign up for Checkout 51 – it’s FREE!

$5 meal plan

If you spend hours meal planning every week only to stress out some days and eat out, you might be interested in the $5 meal plan. For $5/month, they send you a weekly meal plan where every meal will cost approximately $2/person!

They save you time and money so that you can focus on doing things you enjoy like hanging with your kid!

They offer a 14 day FREE trial (approximately 40 recipes) – regular or gluten-free – that you can cancel at any time with no questions asked.

Amazon Prime

This membership has 2 great benefits: free 2 day shipping and free access to movies, TV shows, music and books. You no longer have to worry about last minute items. You can cancel your other movie, music and book subscription services.

You can also get 20% off diapers and baby food when you have more than 5 subscriptions.

Get the Amazon 30 day FREE trial here. You can cancel at anytime. No questions asked.

Related Rakuten and Saving Money Articles:

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