How to Make Money With Rakuten (Complete Guide)

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Last Updated on May 6, 2024 by Rebecca Lake

Looking for a simple way to earn 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. There are multiple ways to earn cash back with Rakuten, including:

  • Linking your credit or debit card to your Rakuten account (for in-store purchases)
  • Using the Rakuten Cash Back button (available in the Rakuten browser extension) to earn money back on online purchases at partner merchants
  • Activating cashback offers with the Rakuten mobile app
  • Shopping offers on the website
  • Clicking links to cashback offers from Rakuten sent to your email

You can also earn cashback by referring friends and family to Rakuten.

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.

Key Takeaways

  • Rakuten is a cashback app that allows its users to earn a percentage back of what they spend at partner merchants.
  • You can make money with Rakuten when you shop online or in stores using the Rakuten mobile app.
  • Rakuten also offers a referral program as well as an introductory cashback bonus, which can help you earn even more money.

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 over 20 million users in the United States alone, who have earned approximately $3.2 billion in cash back. As a Rakuten user, I can tell you that it’s one of my favorite ways to get free money with minimal effort.


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. In short, it’s 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. 

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
  • Walgreens
  • TurboTax
  • Adidas
  • 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 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. 

Note: Rakuten no longer partners with Amazon to offer cashback deals.

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
Make Money With Rakuten Today

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

Step 1: Create your Rakuten account

The first step to making money with Rakuten is creating your free account. Rakuten makes it incredibly easy for new members to join. Here’s how to do it.

  • 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 cashback:

  • ​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 cashback 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 cashback 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 runs 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 what 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. 

Guide to Making Money With Rakuten

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 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 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. 

You can get your link by signing up now!

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 cashback 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, and then calculate your potential earnings based on what you typically spend with those retailers.

I’ve made more than $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, joining Rakuten could still be worthwhile. Otherwise, you could be leaving free money on the table!

Tips for Making the Most Money With Rakuten

Want to maximize your Rakuten earnings? Here are a few hacks for making the most of your Rakuten account.

  • Disable ad blockers. Using Adblock or other ad blockers when browsing the web on your PC could cause you to miss out on opportunities to earn cash back. So be sure to turn them off when you plan your next online shopping trip.
  • Enable cookies. You’ll also want to make sure you have cookies enabled in your browser. That way, Rakuten can track where you’re shopping online to apply cash-back offers.
  • Get the browser extension. Rakuten’s browser extension is free to use and it’s a must-have for finding all available cash-back offers online. You can download it for free once you set up your Rakuten account and activate cashback deals with just one click.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you really make money with Rakuten?

Yes, and it’s 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 quarterly. 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.

Pro tip: You’ll need at least $5.01 in cash back to get a payout.

Can you make money with Rakuten 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. 

Is Rakuten a scam?

Rakuten is a 100% legitimate website, not a scam. I’ve personally used it to earn cashback on purchases and I’ve referred plenty of others to the app who are using it to earn money back when they shop.

And in case you’re still skeptical, consider Rakuten’s track record. The company has been around for over 25 years so if it were a scam, that probably would have been proven by now.

Rakuten has more than 39 million users in Japan alone, which attests to its legitimacy and acceptance as a proven way to earn cashback while shopping. And if you check Rakuten’s profile on Trustpilot, here’s what you’ll find:

  • 27,959 reviews
  • 4.4 star rating (out of 5)

The bottom line? Rakuten has earned an excellent reputation among the majority of shoppers who use the app.


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: Rakuten Makes It Easy to Make Money

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?

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.