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Rakuten Review: How to Earn Cash Back or Amex Points by Shopping Online [Formerly Ebates]

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Katie Seemann
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Katie Seemann

Senior Content Contributor and News Editor

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Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, F...
Edited by: Kellie Jez
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Kellie Jez

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Kellie’s professional experience has led her to a deep passion for compliance, data reporting, and process improvement. Kellie’s learned the ins and outs of the points and miles world and leads UP’s c...

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If you have shopped through Ebates recently, you might have noticed that it looks a little different. That’s because Ebates is now known as Rakuten.

In actuality, not much has changed; Ebates has been owned by Rakuten since 2014. The site still offers cash-back just by clicking through their portal, and the service is still free.

Here is what you need to know about Ebates/Rakuten including how it all works, how to earn cash-back, and some tips to supercharge your earnings.

Ebates/Rakuten History

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Ebates has been around since 1998 and is one of the biggest and most popular cash-back portals. Rakuten is a Japanese e-commerce and internet company based in Tokyo and has been around since 1997.

In 2014 Ebates was acquired by Rakuten, and in early 2019, the Ebates name was officially changed to Rakuten. If you have been using Ebates for a while, you shouldn’t have noticed much of a change. Your account will remain exactly the same, so there is no need to update anything or make a new account.

How Does Rakuten Work?

Rakuten is a shopping portal that allows you to earn cash-back for shopping at your favorite stores. When you click from Rakuten’s website to an online store, Rakuten earns a commission from that online store. Then Rakuten uses a portion of that commission to pay you.

While it might seem too good to be true if you aren’t familiar with this type of website, it’s totally on the up-and-up and a great way to help you save money.

How to Earn Cash-Back With Rakuten

If you are new to Ebates/Rakuten, here’s how it works:

  1. Visit Luckily, still works too, if you’re still in the habit.
  2. Find the store you want to shop. You can type a store’s name into the search bar, search by category using the drop-down menu under All Stores, search all of the Double Cash-Back Stores, or click on one of the featured stores on the homepage.

    Rakuten home page
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  3. Then click on any of the Shop Now buttons. This will take you to your selected store’s website. From there, simply complete your purchase as you normally would.

    Rakuten Shop Now button
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Bottom Line: You must shop via the link through to your chosen store right before you make your purchase. If you click through, then go back to the shopping site directly, you won’t earn cash-back!

Rakuten Cash-Back Button [Chrome Extension]

If you think you might not remember to click through Rakuten each time you make a purchase, you need the Cash-Back Button. This button is a browser extension for Chrome that alerts you to cash-back opportunities at over 2,500 stores.

Rakuten Button
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You may see a prompt to add the button at the bottom of your screen. If not, just go to any store’s webpage and scroll down. On the bottom, left-hand side of your screen you’ll see info about the button. Click Get the Button to install.

Double Cash-Back Stores

Double Cash Back Stores
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The amount of cash-back being offered by each store can vary day-to-day. Sometimes, stores will even offer double cash-back! You can find these great deals by clicking on Double Cash Back Stores in the main menu bar.

These double cash-back deals are usually featured on the home page as well.

Hot Tip: Before you use Rakuten to earn cash-back, be sure to check to see if that’s the best deal you can get. CashBack Monitor is a free tool you can use to easily and quickly check which shopping portal is offering the most cash-back or bonus points.

Cash-Back on Travel and Vacations

Did you know that with Rakuten you can also earn cash-back on your next vacation?

Rakuten Travel and Vacations
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Rakuten offers cash-back on many travel sites that you already use. You’ll find these under the “Travel & Vacations” tab:

Do note that the list above isn’t all-inclusive. For all partners, check out Rakuten’s website.

All you need to do is click through Ratuken to any of the travel sites listed and then complete your booking on the travel site.

You’ll notice a search box that looks like one you would find on an online travel agency. While you can input your destination and travel dates, Rakuten will just transfer your search to your chosen website, so it’s really unnecessary. Plus this search box doesn’t list all of your available options, so it’s probably best to just scroll down to the full list.

Right below the search box, you’ll be able to see the day’s featured deals. You can also search for travel companies by category or name.

Hot Tip: Don’t forget to use a great travel rewards credit card for your purchases so you can earn points on top of your cash-back!

Rakuten Refer-a-Friend Program

If you love earning cash-back from Rakuten, you can share it with your friends to earn bonus cash.

When you refer a friend who joins Rakuten for the first time and makes at least $25 in purchases through the site in the first year, you will receive a $25 bonus. Plus your friend will get a $10 bonus.

How To Refer a Friend to Rakuten

To invite friends to Rakuten, click on Refer & Earn link in the main menu. Then, you will be able to invite your friends in a few different ways:

  • Enter your friends’ email addresses to send an invitation email
  • Share on Facebook
  • Share on Twitter
  • Copy your personalized link to send to friends

You can earn multiple bonuses if you refer multiple friends. If your friend already had an Ebates account, you can’t earn a bonus by referring them to Rakuten since they’ll already have a Rakuten account

Bottom Line: You can refer your friends and family to join Ratuken. When they make their first $25+ purchase, you will earn a $25 bonus and your friend will earn a $10 bonus!

In-Store Cash Back

If you prefer to shop in-store, Rakuten has got you covered. You can earn cash-back in stores, as well as online! Here’s how it works:

  1. Add a credit card to your Rakuten account. Go to your account and click on My Wallet. Then click on Add a New Card and input your credit card information.

    Screenshot of Rakuten account
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  2. Find in-store offers. On, click on In-Store Cash Back in the main menu.

    Rakuten in store cash back
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  3. Link in-store offers to your credit card on file. Next, you’ll see all of the available in-store cash-back offers that are available. You can sort this list alphabetically, by cash-back offer, or by using a map. Click on Link Offer to add the offer to your account.

    Rakuten In Store Cash Back
    Image Credit:
  4. Shop in-store. Simply use your linked card to make a purchase in your selected store to earn cash-back.

Hot Tip: Rakuten in-store cash-back offers are only available in the U.S.You can link as many Visa, Mastercard or American Express credit cards as you wish. Rakuten encourages you to use the physical card and not a mobile payment service like Chase Pay, Apple Pay, or Android Pay because Rakuten doesn’t always receive mobile wallet transaction details, so you may miss out on cash-back.

Be sure to look at each offer’s details. Offers will have a limit to the number of times they can be used and will have an expiration date. Most links are only good for one redemption. So, if you want to use the offer again, you will most likely need to re-link the offer.

Hot Tip: You can double up your rewards; both online cash-back offers and in-store cash-back offers from Rakuten can be used along with any Amex Offers or Chase Offers you may have.

Rakuten Mobile App

Rakuten offers a mobile app so you can earn cash-back on the go. To download the app, go to the App Store, Google Play, or enter your mobile number on the Rakuten’s sign-up page to receive a link.

Rakuten Mobile App
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Once you download the app, you’ll have access to Rakuten’s mobile-only deals — look for these in your notifications. To access notifications, click on the bell icon in the upper right-hand corner of the app.

The Rakuten mobile app has the same functionality as the website. You’ll be able to access cash-back offers online, in-store cash-back offers, and links to refer your friends.

If you click on My Account in the lower right-hand corner, you’ll be able to see your transaction history, cash-back balance, add a credit card, or change your payment method.

Hot Tip: Look out for the new offer of 5% cash-back at restaurants — only available through the Rakuten mobile app!

Rakuten’s Big Fat Check

If you are used to getting a Big Fat Check from Ebates, don’t worry, you’ll still be getting the same Big Fat Check from Rakuten. If you aren’t familiar with the Big Fat Check, this is just the fun name that refers to your cash-back earnings.

You can choose to receive a physical check, or you can have your earnings deposited to your PayPal account. To set up your preferences, go to your account in the upper right-hand corner and click on Account Settings. From here, you can enter your mailing address or link your PayPal account.

Big Fat Check settings
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Payments are sent every 3 months.

For Purchases Posted Between These Dates:Your Big Fat Check Will Be Sent On:
January 1 – March 31May 15
April 1 – June 30August 15
July 1 – September 30November 15
October 1 – December 31February 15

How to Earn Amex Membership Rewards Points on Rakuten

You can now earn American Express Membership Rewards points in lieu of cash-back through Rakuten. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Sign in to your Rakuten account and go to Account Settings.
  2. Scroll down to the How would you like to get paid? section and select Switch to Membership Rewards points.
  3. Then you’ll be prompted to sign in to your American Express online account. Once you verify your account, you’ll be all set up to earn Membership Rewards in lieu of cash-back.
How to switch from cash back to earning membership rewards on Rakuten
You’ll be able to switch your earning preference to Amex Membership Rewards in your Rakuten online account. Image Credit: Rakuten

Once you’ve set up your account to earn Membership Rewards points, you’ll earn 1 point per $1 for each 1% cash-back. So, if a store is offering 2% cash-back, you’ll earn 2 Membership Rewards points for each $1 you spend.

Any cash-back you have earned at the time you switch to Membership Rewards will still be paid via check or PayPal.

Hot Tip: American Express Membership Rewards points are valued at about 2.2 cents each, so opting for points instead of cash-back more than doubles your return.

American Express Membership Rewards Transfer Schedule

In order to have your Membership Rewards points transferred from your Rakuten account, you need to have earned at least 500 points in an earning period. If you haven’t earned at least 500 points, they will carry over to the following earning period.

Points are transferred every 3 months.

Rakuten purchases postedPoints transferred to Amex account
January 1 – March 31May 15
April 1 – June 30August 15
July 1 – September 30November 15
October 1 – December 31February 15

Bottom Line: You can now earn Membership Rewards points in lieu of cash-back for your purchases made through Rakuten. You’ll need a valid Amex credit card that earns Membership Rewards, and you’ll need to switch your earning preferences to Membership Rewards in your Rakuten online account. 


Final Thoughts

Ebates is now known as Rakuten. Rakuten is a Japanese company that has actually owned Ebates since 2014. Because of this, nothing is really changing except the name.

Rakuten still offers cash-back deals online and in-store. All of the functionality of Ebates will remain the same and you will still be earning the same Big Fat Check. All of your account information will stay the same too.

Using Rakuten to earn bonus cash-back on purchases you were going to make anyway is a great way to maximize the value you get from every dollar you spend.

The information regarding the Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Card was independently collected by Upgraded Points and not provided nor reviewed by the issuer.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Rakuten?

Rakuten in a Japanese e-commerce company that has owned Ebates since 2014. In early 2019, the company officially dropped the Ebates name. However, the site still has all the same functionality and account settings as Ebates, it’s just now known as Rakuten. As a user, you shouldn’t notice much difference.

How does Ebates work?

You might be wondering how Ebates/Rakuten works? How can they afford to pay out so much cash-back for a free service? The answer is affiliate marketing. Ebates/Rakuten will earn an affiliate commission from a store for referring you. They then give part of their commission to you in the form of cash-back.

Is Rakuten the same as Ebates?

Yes, Rakuten and Ebates are the same company. Rakuten acquired Ebates in 2014. In 2019, the Ebates name was dropped in favor of Rakuten. So, Ebates is now known as Rakuten, but everything else has stayed the same. Your account will be the same and will still include all of your Ebates history. There shouldn’t be any difference from the user perspective.

Does Rakuten work with Amazon?

As of March 2020, you can no longer earn cash-back at Amazon through Rakuten. You will, however, still be able to find Amazon coupons on Rakuten.

How can I earn Amex Membership Rewards points through Rakuten?

You can now choose to earn Membership Rewards points from your purchases through Rakuten in lieu of cash-back. To change your earning preferences, go to your account settings and select Membership Rewards instead of a check or PayPal. You’ll be prompted to sign in to your American Express online account and verify your account, then you’ll start earning points instead of cash through Rakuten.

Does Rakuten have a credit card?

No, Rakuten doesn’t offer a credit card anymore. The Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card was discontinued in September 2022.

Katie Seemann's image

About Katie Seemann

Katie has been in the points and miles game since 2015 and started her own blog in 2016. She’s been freelance writing since then and her work has been featured in publications like Travel + Leisure, Forbes Advisor, and Fortune Recommends.


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