Rakuten (formerly Ebates) Review: The Granddaddy of Cash-Back Services

A person using the Rakuten/Ebates app on their phone

Ebates-Rakuten is a cash back and shopping rewards company based in Silicon Valley.

Before it was acquired by Rakuten, Inc. for $1 billion in September 2014, Ebates had been in business since 1998.

It grew quickly over those 16 years by buying a handful of online businesses including Cartera Commerce and ShopStyle. Rakuten is Japan’s largest internet portal, with a portfolio of more than 70 businesses across e-commerce, fintech, travel, digital content, and communications.

The combined businesses say they have more than 10 million members that have earned over $1 billion in cashback.

On the iTunes App Store, Ebates has amassed more than 17,000 reviews, with an average rating of 4.5/5.0.

What is Ebates?

Ebates offers coupons, free shipping codes, promo codes, and cashback at over 2,500 stores, boasting cashback bonuses up to 40 percent. Its retail partners include popular stores such as Amazon, Postmates, Lyft, eBay and Sephora.

Alongside offering cashback for purchases at specific retailers, Ebates also has deals with big brands like Nike, Samsung and Levi’s. Other partnerships for cashback on travel, hotels and car rentals include travel and vacation companies like Expedia, Hotels.com and Travelocity.

The platform makes money through commissions when its users make a purchase. Ebates splits its commission with its members in the form of cashback rewards.

Compared to its competitors, including a growing number of receipt scanning and savings apps, Ebates is fairly straightforward. The app gives you cash back directly, instead of using a “points system” which is popular among rival platforms.

How Does Ebates Work?

  • First, download the Ebates app (available for iOS and Android devices), and create an account with a valid email address and password. You can also sign up with Facebook.
  • You can then browse the app by tapping “Featured,” “In-Store,” or “Search” to find a specific store or look at categories. Once you find the store you want to shop at, tap “Shop” and continue as you normally would shop on the store site.
  • Ebates offers a “Cash Back Button” for web browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge. The browser extension reminds you to activate cashback before checking out. It also applies coupons automatically at checkout.
  • After making eligible purchases through the affiliate links found on the app, customers will automatically receive cashback into their account.
  • In-store cashback rewards are available at retailers including Bed Bath & Beyond, Cost Plus World Market, Macy’s, and more. Add your credit card to the app, link the offers of the stores you shop and pay with your card. Cash will then automatically be added to your account.
  • A unique offering from Ebates is its Cash Back Visa Credit Card, which boasts 3% cashback on qualifying purchases and 1% cashback everywhere else, with certain limitations and exclusions. New sign-ups receive $10 after their first purchase. This card may be attractive for those who find that the app works well with their particular spending habits.

How to Get Your Cash

After making qualifying purchases, it typically takes anywhere from a few hours to a couple of days for a store to confirm the sale. Once confirmed by the retailer, Ebates adds cashback to your account and sends you a confirmation email. The cashout minimum for Ebates $5. Payments are made every quarter in the form of a check or PayPal payment.

It’s important to note that the only way to receive cashback on Ebates is by starting a Shopping Trip. To do this, you must click the Ebates link to the store of your choice before you make an online purchase. Earning cash back retroactively is not possible.

What You Need to Know Before Using 

New customers receive a $10 Ebates Cash Bonus or Walmart Gift Card for signing up and spending at least $25 or more within 90 days of becoming a member. For every friend who signs up and shops on Ebates within 12 months, you will receive $25, with no limit on how much you can earn on referrals.

Ebates’ newest partnerships include a Lyft deal in which users get $20 cashback on their first Lyft ride through the app, and 10% cashback on every food delivery via Postmates.

Final Thoughts on Ebates Rakuten Rewards

Ebates Rakuten Rewards is a well-established, very dependable provider of cashback rewards. Their platform is easy to use on both mobile phones and desktop computers.

See all our favorite cash back apps here: Best Cash Back Shopping Apps for Every Shopper.