Most people like saving with simple tools, shortcuts, and apps—and there are some formats that allow you not only to save cash but to earn it, too. If you’ve been in the couponing game for a few years, you’re probably familiar with Ebates and the advantages it can offer.
However, Ebates recently rebranded as Rakuten—and with a new name and logo, you could be wondering if you’ll ever see a big, fat, cash-back check again. Fortunately, we’ve done some research to help answer your questions about the cash-back service. Here’s what you need to know about Rakuten/Ebates.
Who, or What, Is Rakuten?
Rakuten Inc. is a Japanese company that has been doing business since 1997. The firm operates a major e-commerce platform that competes with Amazon to be the biggest online retailer in Japan.
The Japanese term “rakuten” means “optimism” in English.
Although the name change from Ebates to Rakuten happened in 2019, Rakuten actually acquired Ebates for $1 billion in cash in 2014. Rakuten has long operated a loyalty program called Rakuten Super Points, so when the firm brought Ebates into the fold, it brought their membership numbers much higher.
“Rakuten and Ebates have a unified vision of empowerment: Empower our members with the best loyalty incentives possible; and empower our merchant partners by providing them with the tools and know-how they need to succeed at e-commerce,” Ebates CEO Kevin Johnson said in a press release at the time of the merger.
How Do I Earn Money Back via Rakuten?
The program works through affiliate marketing. This means Rakuten has partnerships with more than 2,500 retailers from which you can get cash back just by shopping. You don’t have to pay anything for your Rakuten membership.
The company makes the money it disburses to you by earning commissions from participating stores. You then get to share in those commissions in the form of cash back.
If you’ve never used Rakuten (or Ebates) before, go to Rakuten.com and hit “Join Now.” After entering your information, you’re ready to shop. You can either use the search bar at the top of the page to search for stores where you want to buy items, or you can use the navigation buttons at the top of the page to find stores with double cash back, in-store deals, hot deals, and more.
For instance, suppose you plan to buy shoes, an outfit, and a set of pillows at Macys.com. You can click on the Macy’s “Shop Now” button on Rakuten’s website or app and earn 6% cash back on your purchase. So if you spend $200 at Macy’s, you earn $12 cash back in your Rakuten account, which you receive at the end of the quarter.
These rebates can really add up. Some users have reported earning $250 or more from Rakuten (when it was Ebates) after shopping via the site.
You’ll also find Rakuten-exclusive deals on the company’s website because the site operates not only as a rebate purveyor but also as a discount code curator. When you click the “Shop at Macy’s” link on the Rakuten site, it shows deals specific to Macy’s, such as an extra 20% off already-on-sale fine jewelry. The best part is that you get that discount on top of the 6% cash back Rakuten already offers.
I Had Ebates Cash—Where Will It Go?
If you earned points through Ebates, the transition from the Ebates name to the Rakuten one will not affect your balance. You’ll still get the money you’ve earned every quarter in the form of a “Big Fat Check” or a disbursement into your PayPal account.
Will the Transition Go Smoothly?
The two companies have arranged it so shoppers don’t need to do anything to ensure their accounts remain the same during the transition. You will have the same account and username as before. You’ll have access to the same stores as in the past, and the cash-back process is unchanged. In fact, Rakuten has even retained its Wisconsin-based customer service staff for users with questions or issues.
It will remain to be seen whether Rakuten ends up making changes to the former Ebates program, but for now, you can continue earning cash back for shopping just as you always have.