Online shopping is a convenient way to buy the things you need. But the prices aren't always as low as you may think, and the final bill can take the wind out of your sails.
If getting the best deal possible is a priority, you may want to consider using a cash back app to do your shopping.
The best cash back apps offer generous discounts at hundreds of popular retailers, provide a smooth shopping experience, and make it easy to get paid. In this Rakuten review, I'll cover the ins and outs of this top cash back rewards app, to help you make an informed decision.
- Rakuten is a browser extension that helps you earn cash back on your online purchases.
- You must activate the Rakuten network before making your purchase to receive cash back.
- Some in-store purchases are eligible for cash back rewards.
Number of Retail Partners
Cash Back Rewards
1% - 12%
$30 per referral (Limited time)
What Is Rakuten?
Rakuten is a shopping rewards website that has been helping people earn cash back rewards on their purchases as far back as 1997. According to the company, over 17 million members in the United States have earned more than $2 billion in cash-back from their favorite stores.
Rakuten was previously known as eBates. However, the company merged with Rakuten, which is based in Tokyo, and adopted the Rakuten name. While the name is different, the basic functions of Rakuten are very similar to eBates.
What Does It Offer?
Rakuten allows you to earn cash back from your favorite stores. Whether you view Rakuten as a way to save money or make extra money with an easy side hustle, here’s a closer look at what you can expect.
Cash Back Rewards Online
Rakuten's main product is its cash back rewards program for online shoppers. You can shop at more than 3500 retailers through Rakuten's website, mobile app, or by using their browser extension. When you make a purchase, you'll earn the cash back discount that's displayed.
The amount of cash back you can earn on your purchases varies. I’ve seen cash back offers ranging from 1% to 12%, but the rewards can change on a daily basis. Depending on how much you spend, those rewards can add up fast. You’ll have the option to turn these funds into savings.
In-Store Cash Back Reward Offers
With Rakuten, you can also earn cash back from select in-store purchases. The process starts by linking one or more of your credit or debit cards to your Rakuten account.
When you see an in-store cash back offer you want to use, you must add it to your card. If you make the purchase with a linked card, you’ll earn cash back on your purchases.
As you earn cash back, the funds are added to your cash back balance. Each quarter, you'll receive payment via a check in the mail.
You can choose to receive your quarterly balance via PayPal or physical check. While you won’t instantly receive your cash back, the quarterly payments make it easier to save the funds or make a purchase you’ve been waiting for.
You’ll also have the option to donate a portion of your cash back balance each quarter. For example, if you have a cash back balance of $20.90, this automatic option would donate 90 cents to charity and send the rest to you.
Huge Number of Retail Partners
No matter where you shop, there's a good chance Rakuten has a discount for you. According to their website, they offer cash back at more than 3500 retail partners, including Walmart, Macy’s, shopDisney, Old Navy, Kate Spade, Advance Auto Parts, Camping World, Harley-Davidson, and more.
Beyond your typical retail outlets, you can also score cash back rewards from travel-related companies, like Best Western, Hotels.com, Hertz, Hilton, Viator, and more.
Are There Any Fees?
Rakuten is completely free for shoppers, so there's no need to worry about Rakuten taking fees off the top of your earnings.
So, how does Rakuten make money? They have an affiliate relationship with their retail partners. Whenever you purchase an item through Rakuten, they get paid a small commission from the retailer. Rakuten then passes a portion of that commission to you in the form of cash back rewards.
The amount Rakuten earns per sale isn’t consistent across the platform, but that doesn't impact its members. You'll always receive the advertised cash back amount.
How Does Rakuten Compare?
Capital One Shopping is another free app that helps you save money and earn cash back rewards. Unfortunately, you can only redeem your rewards in the form of a gift card.
Not Yet Rated
PayPal or Check
Gift Cards or PayPal
How Do I Open An Account?
It’s easy to get started with Rakuten. You’ll just need to provide an email address and password to create the account.
Once your account is active, you can download the browser extension. It’s important to check that you’ve activated the Rakuten app to make sure you receive your cash back. Sometimes it takes a few days for the cash back to hit your account.
Is It Safe And Secure?
If you add your credit card information to Rakuten, the company takes steps to protect that information. The data is encrypted and stored in a secure place that meets the Payment Card Industry’s security standards.
How Do I Contact Rakuten?
If you need to get in touch with Rakuten, you can email email@example.com. In general, you should expect a positive experience with this company. It has earned a 4.5 out of 5 star review on Trustpilot, with over 20,000 positive reviews.
Is It Worth It?
Overall, Rakuten offers a relatively easy way to earn cash back rewards. Personally, I’ve been using Rakuten for several years. I like that I can easily earn cash back without too much hassle. Even as a relatively infrequent online shopper, I’ve earned a few hundred dollars in cash back from Rakuten. Depending on your shopping habits, you might earn more or less.
If you are looking for an easy path to cash back that hits your PayPal account or mailbox automatically, then Rakuten is worth signing up for. Want to push your savings father? Consider opening a cash back credit card.
Cash back shopping rewards
# of Retail Partners
Cash Back Amount
PayPal or Check
iOS and Android
Customer Service Email
$30 Referral bonus (Limited time)
Number of Retail Partners
Ease of Use
Rakuten is a cash back rewards app and browser extension that lets you earn valuable rewards when you shop in-store or online at over 3,500 partner stores.
- Valuable cash back earning opportunities
- User-friendly platform and browser extension
- Thousands of participating stores
- Paid via PayPal or check quarterly
- Must activate to receive your cash back
- Payment is only sent out quarterly
Sarah Sharkey is a personal finance writer covering banking, insurance, credit cards, mortgages and student loans. She has written for numerous finance publications, including MagnifyMoney, Business Insider and ChooseFI. Her blog, Adventurous Adulting, helps young adults get a handle on their finances.
Editor: Colin Graves Reviewed by: Robert Farrington