If you’re like me, you’ve been seeing ads for a site called Rakuten, which bills itself as a site where you can shop your favorite online stores and get cash back. They even sponsor the Golden State Warriors, and if you’re an NBA fan, you’ve probably seen the name on the jerseys. They must be a hugely profitable company to be able to sponsor an NBA team, and yet they can still give you cash back?
Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it? Is Rakuten a scam?
How does it work?
You create an account at Rakuten.com. From there, you use their website or their app to find the store where you want to shop. Connect through to the shop, and then shop like normal. You can also install the Rakuten button in Google Chrome, which is what I like to do.
Different shops will have different cash back percentages, sometimes as low as 1%, sometimes as high as 8% or more. Within a few days of your purchase, the cash back amount will be applied to your account. And during big shopping times, those percentages can be significantly increased. Sometimes the cash back is even doubled.
Every quarter, you will receive your cash back rebate to your PayPal account or by physical check. To qualify for a payment, you need to have earned $5. Otherwise, your cash back will roll over to the next quarter.
There are a lot of online businesses out there and they all want your money. These businesses pay Rakuten for referring you their sites. Rakuten then pays you some of that money (and keeps some for themselves – businesses have to make money, of course). There are other sites that do similar things. For example, I know that Southwest Rewards has a shopping portal where you can earn miles. Personally, I like the cash back option.
Ebates is now Rakuten too
Rakuten is also the rebranding of Ebates, a cash back shopping site that was around for years. Rakuten purchased Ebates in 2014, but the site continued to run under the Ebates name until 2019. During the beginning of 2019, all previous Ebates accounts transitioned to Rakuten. The cash back process, terms, and interface are all identical. It was just a simple rebrand.
Do they really pay you?
From personal experience, I can say yes. Absolutely, yes. Rakuten is not a scam at all.
I have had an account since 2007 and have earned over $1500 in cash back rewards, just for purchases I would have made anyway. Anytime I shop online, I check whether or not the store is on Rakuten. It’s a simple added step that has clearly been worth my time. So if you shop online, I definitely recommend checking out Rakuten. After all, who doesn’t want to get a little bit of money back?
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Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.