How to Make Money With Rakuten [Ultimate Guide 2023]

This article may contain affiliate links. Read the full disclosure.

Sharing is caring!

Last Updated on September 7, 2023 by Rebecca Lake

Looking for an easy way to make some extra money? The Rakuten app is one of the easiest and best ways to make money on the side with minimal effort. 

Rakuten (formerly E-bates) is a website and app that lets you earn cash back when you shop. You can earn cash back for online purchases or in-store purchases when you shop at partner merchants. 

If you’re spending money at your favorite stores, creating a Raktuen account can be a great way to get some of it back. But maybe you’ve seen people talking about it on social media but don’t know how it works. 

No worries!

Today, we’ll walk through how to make money with Rakuten step by step.

What Is Rakuten?

Rakuten (pronounced Rack-uh-ten) is a Japanese fintech company based in Tokyo. In 2014, the Rakuten Group acquired E-bates for $1 billion and the cash-back site has operated under the Rakuten name ever since. 

Fun fact: the Japanese word ‘rakuten’ means optimism.

The app has approximately 17 million users in the United States alone, who have earned approximately $3.7 billion in cash back. As one of them, I can definitely say that Rakuten is one of my favorite ways to get free money from cashback rewards. 


Want to Get Cash Back When You Shop?

Making extra money is easy with Rakuten!

Rakuten is a free app and browser extension that helps you find coupons and discounts when you shop online or in stores. You can earn up to 40% cashback when you shop at hundreds of partner retailers, plus get a $10 sign-up bonus and up to $30 in bonus cash for each person you refer!

How Does Rakuten Work?

Rakuten works by allowing its members to earn a little money back each time they shop with Rakuten partners. When you use your Rakuten account to shop at online retailers (or in selected stores) you can earn a certain percentage of your purchase back in cash. 

For example, you might earn 2% cash back when you shop with Instacart or 10% back at Urban Outfitters. Some retailers might pay a flat rate instead, like $10 or $15 for every qualifying purchase. 

So, how does Rakuten make money if it’s paying cash back to members? 

​It’s simple. Rakuten uses a commission-based business model. 

how does rakuten make money
How Does Rakuten Work?

Rakuten partners with over 3,500 stores that use the Rakuten website to run advertising campaigns. When you shop at partner retailers through the Rakuten website, those companies pay Rakuten a commission. 

In turn, Rakuten takes some of that money and pays a small commission back to you for shopping. It’s basically a form of affiliate marketing. 

It’s a great deal for both sides since Rakuten makes money by driving shoppers to a specific store and shoppers get some cash back when they make a purchase. And of course, the retailers benefit from the sales they’re getting through Rakuten link clicks. 

How to Make Money With Rakuten

It’s super easy to make money with Rakuten once you’ve got your account set up. And there are different ways to earn cash back, one of which doesn’t require you to do any shopping at all!

make money with rakuten
Guide to Making Money With Rakuten

Ready to make money with Rakuten? Here’s how to get started, step by step.

Step 1: Create your Rakuten account

The first thing you’ll need to do if you do is become a Rakuten member if you’re not one already. Rakuten makes it incredibly easy for new members to join. 

  • Navigate to the Rakuten website (clicking this link will take you to a new window)
  • Scroll down until you see the purple ‘Join Now’ button
  • Enter your email address and create a password (you can also join by logging in with your Facebook, Google or Apple ID)
make money with rakuten
How to Make Money With Rakuten

You have the option to add a credit card or debit card under ‘My Wallet’ but you’re not required to do that to earn cash back if you’re shopping through the Rakuten site or using the browser extension.

You will, however, need to link your cards to earn cash back if you’re shopping deals through the mobile app or earning cash back in stores. 

We’ll break down how all of this works in the next steps. 

Step 2: Decide how you want to get paid

While you’re in your account settings dashboard, you’ll need to choose how you want to get paid for any cash back you earn. 

Rakuten gives you these options for getting your cash back:

  • ​Paypal
  • Paper check
  • Convert cash back to American Express Membership Rewards points

Linking your Paypal account to Rakuten is the fastest way to get paid since you can transfer the money straight to your bank account. But you can get a physical check in the mail if you’d prefer, or if you don’t have a Paypal account.

Just note that if you’re opting for a paper check you’ll need to make sure your mailing address is correct. 

You can track your payouts in your Rakuten dashboard by clicking ‘Big Fat Check’ from the menu. 

Pro tip: You can donate the change from your cash back earnings to partner charities through Rakuten. 

Step 3: Shop offers through the Rakuten website

Once you’ve created your Rakuten account, you can start making money! The next step is finding cashback deals at your favorite stores.

You’ll see plenty of cash-back offers listed on the Rakuten homepage. At the very top of the page, you’ll see a navigation menu that includes:

  • Double Cash Back stores
  • For You deals, which are tailored to your spending habits
  • Hot Deals
  • In-store cash back offers
  • Travel and vacation offers
Tips to Make Money With Rakuten

If you’re looking for a deal in any of those categories, you can click on the unique link to see all of the available offers. That could make finding deals a little less overwhelming if it’s your first time using the site. 

What if there’s a specific store you’re looking for that’s not listed on the homepage? You can type it into the search bar to see if the company is running any good deals through Rakuten. 

Offers are updated regularly and some may only last for a limited time. So if you’re planning a shopping trip for a specific item, you may need to act fast to score the best deal. 

Step 4: Download the Rakuten browser extension

​Don’t have time to browse the Rakuten website? You can let the Rakuten browser extension do the work of finding deals for you. 

When you download and install the Rakuten browser extension (it’s free), you’ll be notified of available cash back offers when you navigate to a partner store’s website. 

For example, say I’m buying concert tickets through Ticketmaster (something I do a lot). Once I land on the homepage, I’ll see a box popup telling me that I can earn 3% cashback on eligible purchases. 

Make Money With Rakuten Browser Extension

All I have to do to activate the offer is hit the Rakuten Cash Back button. It’s as simple as that to earn back part of when I’m spending!

Step 5: Get the Rakuten app

​If you prefer shopping on your mobile device versus a laptop or desktop, then the Rakuten app is a must-have.

You can download the app for free through the App Store or the Google Play Store. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll want to make sure you’ve linked a debit card or credit card to your account.

You’ll need to do that to earn cash back when you’re shopping app-exclusive offers or activating offers for in-store purchases. 

monthly budget freebie printables

Take Control of Your Budget!

Grab these FREE budgeting printables and get your finances on track when you join the weekly newsletter!

    Step 6: Earn cash back when you shop in stores

    ​Plenty of people prefer to shop online. It’s convenient, you can do it on your own schedule and you don’t have to waste time driving to and from a local store. 

    However, Rakuten still gives you the option to earn cash back in stores which might come in handy if you’re trying to buy something you can’t find online. 

    Here’s how to get cash back with Rakuten from in-store purchases:

    • Download the Rakuten app if you haven’t already
    • Add your credit card or debit card
    • Browse and activate cashback offers through the app
    • Make your purchases with your linked card

    That’s really all there is to it! Keep in mind that some Rakuten offers are exclusive to the app, so if you haven’t downloaded it yet you might be missing out on more opportunities to earn money back. 

    Step 7: Claim your welcome bonus

    Referral bonus apps are an easy way to make money since they pay you for signing up. Who doesn’t like free gifts, right? 

    With Rakuten, you can get a $10 cash bonus when you make your first purchase when you place a qualifying order of $25 or more within the first 90 days of joining. Even if you don’t shop online that often, that shouldn’t be too hard to do. 

    Step 8: Refer friends and family members to Rakuten

    Here’s one more way to earn cashback with Rakuten: tell others about it!

    Rakuten offers a generous Refer-A-Friend program that lets you earn $30 in cash back each time someone you refer joins and makes a qualifying purchase.

    And it’s easy to share your unique referral link via text, email or social media. 


    Want to Get Cash Back When You Shop?

    Making extra money is easy with Rakuten!

    Rakuten is a free app and browser extension that helps you find coupons and discounts when you shop online or in stores. You can earn up to 40% cashback when you shop at hundreds of partner retailers, plus get a $10 sign-up bonus and up to $30 in bonus cash for each person you refer!

    How Much Cash Can You Earn With Rakuten?

    In terms of how much money Rakuten members make, the collective total is in the billions of dollars. How much money you might earn can depend on how frequently you shop, which cash bonus offers you’re taking advantage of and how much you spend.

    As a general rule, the more you spend the more cash back you can earn.

    So, a regular online shopper who spends $2,000 a month is likely to earn more cash back than someone who makes the occasional $100 purchase. A good way to gauge how much money you could make with Rakuten is to look at cash back offers from your favorite stores, then calculate your potential earnings based on what you typically spend with those retailers.

    I personally have made close to $1,500 using Rakuten. That’s cash back combined from shopping and from referring people to the app.

    Even if you only shop online a few times a year for holidays or special occasions, it could still be worth your while to join Rakuten. Otherwise, you could be leaving free money on the table!

    Which stores does Rakuten work with?

    You can use Rakuten to earn cash back at select stores, including online stores and brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart. Rakuten also works on travel purchases as well as dining out.

    Can You Make Money With Rakuten?

    Some of the retailers and merchants Rakuten partners with include:

    • PetSmart
    • Staples
    • Walmart
    • Macy’s
    • The Children’s Place
    • Sephora
    • Ticketmaster
    • Expedia
    • Sam’s Club
    • Kohl’s
    • Lowe’s 
    • Target
    • Gap
    • GrubHub
    • Temu
    • Safeway

    Again, there are more than 3,500 stores that offer cash back through Rakuten. So if you don’t see your favorite online stores listed here, it’s worth paying a quick trip to the Rakuten search bar to see if there are any deals to be had. And that can include both cash-back offers and promo codes for coupons. 

    The sheer variety of merchants is just one of the things that makes Rakuten a top cashback site. 

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

    Can you really make money with Rakuten?

    Yes, and it’s actually really easy to earn cash back with Rakuten on everyday purchases, travel, dining and purchases for special occasions. All you need to do is find deals, click the link offer and make an eligible purchase to get back a percentage of what you spend.

    You can also save money on purchases by applying Rakuten coupon codes at checkout and earn extra cash by sharing your referral link with friends and family. 

    How often do you get paid with Rakuten?

    Rakuten accumulates cash back earnings and pays them out on a quarterly basis. So, you’ll get cash back delivered to your Paypal account (or mailbox if you get a paper check) every three months. That’s the only thing that might be considered a downside if you’d prefer to get cash-back payouts monthly instead. 

    Here’s what the payment schedule looks like. 

    Purchases Posted BetweenBig Fat Check Sent
    January 1 – March 31May 15
    April 1 – June 30August 15
    July 1 – September 30November 15
    October 1 – December 31February 15

    So, for example, if you’re using Rakuten to earn cash back on holiday shopping, you’d get that money in February of the following year.

    Can you use Rakuten to earn cash back at Amazon?

    Unfortunately, no. Rakuten and Amazon are no longer affiliated. You could, however, save money on Amazon when you shop with Honey. The Honey Chrome extension automatically scans Amazon to help you find the best deal for items in your shopping cart. 

    Is Rakuten safe?

    Rakuten takes protecting the personal data of its members seriously and does not sell personal information to any third party. The company also implements technological and organizational security measures to keep your information and private data safe. 


    Want to Get Cash Back When You Shop?

    Making extra money is easy with Rakuten!

    Rakuten is a free app and browser extension that helps you find coupons and discounts when you shop online or in stores. You can earn up to 40% cashback when you shop at hundreds of partner retailers, plus get a $10 sign-up bonus and up to $30 in bonus cash for each person you refer!

    Final Thoughts on How to Make Money With Rakuten

    If you do a lot of online shopping, using Rakuten is one of the easiest ways to earn cashback. You can also earn in-store cashback if you have the Rakuten app and link your credit or debit card. Like anything else, you’ll want to be sure to read the fine print before signing up. But if you’re interested in a simple way to make money, now could be the perfect time to create your Rakuten account

    Need more money tips? Read these posts next:

    What are your best tips for how to make money with Rakuten?

    Sharing is caring!

    About Rebecca Lake

    Rebecca Lake is a Certified Educator in Personal Finance, freelance writer and homeschooling single mom of two. Since 2014, she's paid off nearly $100,000 in debt and grown her net worth to seven figures. Her work has appeared online at top personal finance websites, including Forbes Advisor, Bankrate, Investopedia, The Balance, and U.S. News & World Report. Find out more.