Rakuten

Rakuten Review: How This Cash Back Website Works

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Last updated on April 22, 2021

Cash back has become a popular reward for many Canadians. We see plenty of credit cards that are great for online shopping on the market but there are some great cash back websites out there available to Canadians as well. One of these programs is Rakuten.

Rakuten is a Japanese company that came to Canada in 2019. They purchased another cash back company, Ebates, and rebranded. Today, Rakuten claims to have more than 5 million members in Canada and is considered to be the most popular cash-back website in the country. With partners like Indigo, Lululemon, Rona, People’s Diamond, and more, it might be worth your while to sign up. Here’s everything you need to know about how Rakuten cash back works.

What is Rakuten?

Formerly known as Ebates, Rakuten is one of the many cash back websites for online shopping available in Canada. There are over 750 partnered businesses and retailers that you can shop with, many of which are places you probably shop at regularly. When you make a purchase through one of these stores via Rakuten, it gets a commission which is shared with you, the buyer. If you prefer shopping on a mobile device, Rakuten also offers one of the most popular money-saving apps you can use in Canada. Becoming a Rakuten member is free of charge, all you need is an email address or a Facebook account to sign up.

How Can You Earn Cash Back?

To earn cash back through Rakuten you need to be a member (again, it’s free) and shop at Rakuten’s partners via the Rakuten website or app (you can also download the Rakuten browser extension). Rakuten will keep track of your purchases as you make them and, within about 48 hours, you will see the cash back registered. According to Rakuten.ca, you can earn up to 30% cash back at partner retailers.

You can also earn cash back through the Rakuten referral program. These are called Bonus Awards and you’ll earn $5 per referral but sometimes additional bonuses come into play as you refer more people.

Where Does the Cash Back Go?

Cash Back App

ImageSource: Shutterstock

There are three different options for receiving your cash back. You can have your cash back reward:

  • deposited directly into your PayPal account (Rakuten covers the fees)
  • paid out in the form of an Amazon e-gift card, or
  • mailed to your home in the form of a cheque.

You should see the cash back earned registered to your account within 48 hours. With some vendors, it may take up to 30 days (the return period) for the cash back to show. If you don’t see your cash back registered to your account within 30 days of making your purchase, then get in touch with the Rakuten team.

How to Redeem Cash Back?

While earning cash back is pretty easy, getting your cash back paid out takes a little longer.

Cash back is sent out four times a year:

  • May 15th, for purchases made between January 1st to March 31st
  • August 15th, for purchases made between April 1st to June 30th
  • November 15th, for purchases made between July 1st and September 30th
  • And February 15th, for purchases made between October 1st and December 31st.

To see these payouts, you will need to have earned at least $5.01 within the purchase period. If you have not made this amount, the value of what you do have will be transferred to the next pay period.

How to Sign Up

Ready to sign up to Rakuten and start earning some cash back? The signup process is easy, can be done online, and should only take a few minutes. Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Visit Rakuten.ca and click the black join now button in the top right-hand corner.

Step 2: You will see a pop-up asking if you want to create your account using your Facebook account, your Apple account, or your email address. Choose whatever option you prefer, they all work the same way. Note that if you choose Facebook or Apple, Rakuten states that they will never post anything without your permission.

Rakuten Sign Up

Step 3: Congratulations, it’s that easy. You now have a Rakuten account.

Once your account is created you will see a number of listed stores and the current cash back rates available. Remember, these change regularly so if you see a good deal, act on it fast. Just click through the Rakuten link. Remember to come back to this platform every time. Rakuten cash back rates

When you click through, you will see a pop up congratulating you for grabbing that deal (in this example, it was up to 4% at Indigo.ca) then you will be redirected to the vendor’s website where you can browse and make your purchase. Keep in mind, that the earn rate (4% in this case) may not be applicable to every item in the store.

Rakuten.ca is Canadian, however, there is an American version as well with more than 2,500 partner vendors. Canadians can also create an account on the American version which might be beneficial if you are someone who shops frequently via US stores. Your accounts will be separate and your earnings won’t be combined.

Does Rakuten Cost Money?

Nope! There are no fees or registration costs to use Rakuten. It’s a free website and app that anyone can use. As stated above, all you need is an email address or Facebook account to get started.

Pros and Cons

Like every other product on the market, Rakuten isn’t perfect. Here’s a breakdown of the main pros and cons of Rakuten.

Pros

  • Rakuten is free of charge, anyone can sign up and use it
  • Easy to use via either the website (there is also a browser extension) or the app
  • You can earn cash back on some of your favourite brands
  • You can choose to receive your rewards as actual cash or on an Amazon gift card
  • There is a referral program in place that will allow you to earn some extra cash back

Cons

  • Cash back payouts only happen four times a year
  • Not all products available under partner vendors will earn you cash back
  • Cash back rates are advertised as up to 30% but most are actually less than 5%
  • Rewards fluctuate regularly, which can be helpful if you can wait for a deal, but if you are in a rush and need something right away, then you could miss out on earning more cash back
  • You have to actually remember to shop directly through the app or via Rakuten.ca to earn your cash back

How Does Rakuten Earn Money?

Rakuten acts almost like an affiliate partner for its retail partners. The website attracts buyers (such as yourself) and redirects them to the partner websites where they can make their purchases. As a reward, Rakuten partners pay out a commission to Rakuten for sending over the business. Rakuten keeps some of that commission for themselves (that’s how they earn money) but also pays a portion of it out to its members as cash back.

Is Rakuten Worth It?

It is. While the rewards probably won’t be as lucrative as they are with cash back credit cards (it’s hard to do a direct comparison since Rakuten cash back rewards constantly change), Rakuten is a completely free program.

If you take a look through the Rakuten partner businesses and notice that you are a frequent shopper for some of them then why not sign up and earn a little cash back? Yes, the payout schedule isn’t ideal and yes, remembering to go through the Rakuten website might take a while to get used to, but it’s still an easy way to save money while online shopping. Even if it only amounts to $20 a year, that’s still an extra $20 in your pocket.

The key takeaway here is that Rakuten is legitimate. It’s not a scam. So even if you aren’t sure, it might be worth giving it a try and finding out if it’s worth it for yourself.

Author Bio

Hannah Logan
Hannah Logan is a freelance finance and travel writer/blogger based in Ottawa. Her stories have appeared on Fodor’s Travel, Livestrong, World Nomads, Intrepid Travel, and more. You can keep up with her at Eatsleepbreathetravel.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram: hannahlogan21.

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