An Awesome Way to Get Cash Back When Shopping Online

I could teach you how to be an extreme couponer. I’ve had a lot of experience including the time I demonstrated how to do it, on location, live on TV from a large supermarket. It’s a great way to save money but it’s a lot of work and limited mostly to grocery and drug stores.

Imagine a world where you had the equivalent of a big stack of coupons for all the other places you spend money—like Target, Amazon and Kohl’s, Groupon, Old Navy, even LifeLock.

You do and it’s called Rakuten.

Young man using internet computer and counting coins at home. Asian man relaxed and sitting on sofa indoor.

What is it?

At Rakuten, instead of presenting a coupon, you have a digital account that earns you cash. Think of it as the grocery store clerk handing you that 25 cents when you bought the can of soup with a $.25 coupon and you putting that quarter straight into a savings account.

With Rakuten, you earn those small cash-back amounts by using the Rakuten online shopping portal, by adding the Rakuten button to your computer toolbar or the Rakuten app to your mobile device. It is so easy. You don’t have to search and clip, you don’t pay any fees. You don’t have to mail in forms or keep track of points to get your money.

Isn’t it a scam?

I must confess that for quite some time I mistakenly assumed Rakuten was something it is not—some kind of scam. Then I wised up. I looked into it. I asked the questions, did the research and hit myself in the forehead. Why hadn’t I been using Rakuten all along?

I shop online. I spend money at more than a couple of the 2,500 retailers that make up Rakuten. I can’t imagine how much cash-back money I’ve left on the table over the years since Rakuten (formerly Ebates, only the name changed) launched in 1999—they started out offering up to 25% cash back from about 40 online retailers.

Sign up

First, you sign up for Rakuten with an email address or Facebook or Google. Two seconds later you’re a member.

It’s free so no one will ask for a credit card number. You don’t give your Social Security number or any other personal information, either.

Now you’re set up to receive cash back from more than 2,600 online retailers—and in brick and mortar stores, too (more on that in a bit). Next, you’ll see your sign-up bonus—$10 Rakuten cash in your account after your first purchase of $25 through Rakuten when you sign up using this link.

Last, you need to add a mailing address to your account so Rakuten knows where to send your “Big Fat Check,”—love that!—or you can opt to get your cash sent to your Paypal account. Personally, I’m old school and love to get a check in the mail. I like cash.

How it works

Instead of going directly to Amazon or Old Navy or the store where you want to shop, go to Rakuten and type the name of that store in the search bar. Or just click on a shopping category. Hit the “shop now” button and you’ll be at that site in a flash. When you check out, a percentage of your purchase will go to your Rakuten account—the percentage that retailer is offering on that day.

As I write, Macy’s is 6% cash back, JCPenney 10%, Kohl’s 6%, Amazon 5%, Sephora 8% and—hold onto your hat—LifeLock is offering 40% cash back (not a typo, yes 40%). That means, by way of example, if you grab my Best Inexpensive bed sheets from JCPenney for $67 (what I paid for Calif King size not long ago), $6.70 will be funneled into your Rakuten account. You won’t have to do a thing for that to happen.

Install the Rakuten Button

I can nearly guarantee that if you access cash back by entering first before heading to Old Navy, JCPenney, Amazon etc., there will be times you forget to do that. Installing the Rakuten button on your computer toolbar will tell you if a site is connected to Rakuten and what the cash back percentage is. All you have to do is click it and any purchase will get credited to your Rakuten account

The Rakuten button is available for Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. You can add it to your browser here.

Pro tips:

  1. Make sure you have created your Rakuten account first. Then install your browser’s extension to get the Rakuten button.
  2. Extensions only work on non-mobile devices—laptop and desktop computer browsers.

In-Store cash back

You can earn cash back when you shop in person at select Rakuten retailers. You will need to set this up either on your mobile device or computer by following these simple steps to link your credit or debit card to your Rakuten account.

Where’s my money?

You can watch your account grow because you can see your current balance right there at That’s kinda’ fun!

Once each quarter, in February, May, August, and November, Rakuten pays by sending you the entire balance with no fees deducted (did I say that already?). Coolest thing ever.

What’s the catch?

It doesn’t take a genius to wonder how Rakuten makes its money. Lots of people (OK, me) assume it’s a big fat scam to get our personal information and do us harm. We’re wary of stuff like that because we’ve been warned for so many years to maintain our personal privacy, right? Trust me, I steered clear of Rakuten for many years for that very reason. Dumb.

You can relax. I’ve done my due diligence and am fully convinced that Rakuten is legit. Rakuten is huge and has a great reputation. Retailers spend much of their advertising dollars with Rakuten.

All of those retailers pay Rakuten a commission every time you go to its portal to reach a retailer and then make a purchase. Rakuten then shares that commission with you. Think of Rakuten as your personal salesperson who arranges the contract, collects the commission and puts your share right into your cash-back account. Granted, your commissions won’t be huge amounts, unless you are a huge shopper (Rakuten does have a $50 cap for how much you can earn on a single purchase). But all those small amounts add up. It’s a great way to build a cash stash.

Should you?

I can’t be certain that Rakuten is right for you. I can assure you it is not a scam. If you’re an online shopper, you might as well get paid a commission on the things you are buying anyway. Just be careful. It’s so much fun to earn a commission, you could find yourself buying things just because you’ll get that cash-back rebate. Don’t do that. Buy only what you would buy normally.

Sign up now

Go ahead and sign up now so your $10 bonus is ready to jump into your account when you make a purchase. You have 90 days to your Rakuten account the first time to get the bonus.

One last thing: You may discover that you don’t really shop online enough for this to work well for you. But there is no harm or penalty at all for giving it a test run.

Do you have a Rakuten account? How is that working for you? Let us know in the comments area below.

First published: 3-07-19; Republished  with correct and current information: 11-27-19


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22 replies
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  1. Beth says:

    I have an ebates account and have earned over $500 back since I joined a few years ago. I like that I am in control and that if I only slowly earn ebates it still accumulates and they pay it to you once you hit the lowest amount required (I think $10). I get mad when I forget to use it. I hope they continue to add more stores because I love it.

  2. Sherie says:

    Is there an easy way to use ebates on your iphone when ordering things? If I use my laptop it automatically comes up and has me order through the ebates, but not on my phone.

    • Lisa Wilson Reichard says:

      Download the Ebates app on your iPhone. Go through that app first then search the store you want to shop at. It will take you directly to the store site. You will get your cash back credit just as you would on your laptop.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      Browser extensions that power the Rakuten Button are available only on laptop and desktop computers. The Rakuten app is what you need for your mobile device.

    • Mary Hunt says:

      You have to actually use the account to get the bonus … and you will! Use it to buy anything and that qualifies. You have 90 days to do that …

  3. Meledstick says:

    Love Ebates!! I have a button installed on my toolbar that tells me if a site is connected to Ebates and how much the days rebate percentage is. All I have to do is click it and any purchases I make get credited on Ebates. I have earned over $950.00 over the past few years!

  4. lisamolina says:

    I love Ebates! I use online & in-store. And, another app I love is Ibotta (in-store coupons)…. helps pay for Christmas gifts 🙂

  5. Mindy Sames says:

    If your using a fundraiser through a site, can you still shop that site? For example, my amazon acct gives a % to a fundraiser I am supporting – I have a special link to it.

  6. Deb Westmoreland says:

    Don’t know if you have seen it, but you can now download an app and add your credit cards and when you shop in the stores that they cover (actual stores, not online) it automatically give you cash back, just like online.

  7. Rhonda M says:

    I have used ebates for years! Love it! I also want to mention that during certain times of year, ebates will double or triple the cash back percentages. Very nice, especially during the Christmas shopping season.

  8. Johnna Richardson Matthews says:

    I love Ebates and don’t forget to mention that you also have the option to register a credit card and use Ebates on in store purchases at certain retailers. I’ve done this a few times and it has put some extra cash in my Ebates account for something I was going to buy anyway!

  9. Honeywest says:

    I love Ebates, too. I’ve earned over $1100 over the last few years. And to think without Ebates I would have left all of that on the table! It may seem like a tiny amount with each purchase that you receive back, but it sure adds up over time.

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