Looking for a way to save money on your online shopping? Look no further than Rakuten! Formerly known as Ebates, Rakuten is the largest cash back shopping site in Canada.
Rakuten works by giving you a percentage of your purchase at specific retailers back in the form of a cash rebate, which can be redeemed either as a cheque or PayPal payment.
So how does it work? And is it worth signing up for? In this Rakuten Canada review article, we’ll take a closer look at Rakuten and answer all your questions!
What is Rakuten Canada?
Rakuten was founded as Ebates in 1998 in California as a way to help Canadians save money on their online purchases. The company has since grown to include over 12 million members worldwide, with over 2500 retailers available on the site. They were eventually acquired by Rakuten Inc, a major Japanese e-commerce internet company, which rebranded them to Rakuten.ca.
In Canada, Rakuten works with popular retailers such as Amazon, Best Buy, Dyson, Lenovo, Dell, HP, and Sonos. When Rakuten members make a purchase at one of these retailers through Rakuten’s shopping portal, they earn a certain percentage of the purchase back in the form of a rebate. For example, right now Rakuten is offering 10% cash back at Lenovo!
The amount of cash back varies depending on the retailer and the time of year. You can also earn bonus cash back by meeting certain spending thresholds, and by referring friends to sign up for Rakuten.
How to Use Rakuten Canada for In-store and Online Purchases
Method 1: Click Through on Rakuten.ca or the Rakuten App
Simply select your retailer, being careful to read the terms and conditions on the offer page, and then click ‘Shop Now’ to be directed to the retailer’s website to make your purchase.
Ensure you don’t have multiple tabs open on the retailer’s website. I recommend starting a fresh browser session with a browser you don’t normally use and/or ensuring your ad blocker is disabled before you initiate the shopping session.
Method 2: Use the Rakuten Button Browser Extension
The Rakuten Button is a useful extension that allows you to earn cash back without ever clicking through Rakuten.ca or having to initiate a browser session.
Once you’ve added the button via the Chrome extension (or Edge web store), you can navigate directly to the retailer website without having to click through Rakuten.ca.
Once there you will be reminded by a popup in the right-hand corner of the browser to activate your cashback offer.
Once you activate, you will be redirected to a new tab and back to the retailer’s website with the offer activated.
Method 3: Add Your Credit Card and Shop In-store
Rakuten also has in-store cash back offers, but only for specific retailers. Navigate to this page and enter your postal code to see eligible retailers near you.
To apply for in-store cash back, you must do the following steps:
- Add your credit card information to your Rakuten.ca account.
- Find your store on this page and select ‘Link Offer’ on the store you will be shopping at.
- Go and make your purchases at the selected store.
- Wait for seven days for your cash back to appear in your Rakuten account.
In-store cash back is an interesting proposition from Rakuten, and while there aren’t a lot of stores available compared to online stores, I am excited to see the feature expanded further.
How to Get Paid on Rakuten Canada
You can choose to have your earned cash back paid out as one of three options:
- PayPal: money is deposited into your PayPal account. Fees are covered by Rakuten. Your PayPal account must be verified.
- Amazon Gift Card: electronic Amazon.ca gift certificate. Rakuten sends a code with instructions to your email address.
- Big Fat Cheque: a personal check sent directly to your mailing address. Rakuten will pay the mailing fee.
Cheques typically take a few weeks to arrive in the mail, however, PayPal and Amazon will be received the same day as the payout.
There is no minimum amount required to trigger a payout, however, payments are only issued quarterly according to the following schedule:
|Purchases Posted Between||Payment Sent|
|Jan 1 – Mar 31||May 15|
|Apr 1 – June 30||Aug 15|
|July 1 – Sept 30||Nov 15|
|Oct 1 – Dec 31||Feb 15|
Pros and Cons of Rakuten Canada
So, what are the pros and cons of using Rakuten? Let’s take a look:
Pros of Rakuten Canada
- Earn cash back on your online purchases
- Large selection of retailers available
- No minimum amount required to redeem cash back
Cons of Rakuten Canada
- You have to remember to go through Rakuten in order to get the cash back (i.e. it’s not automatic)
- Cash back sometimes doesn’t track
- Money payout only occurs once per quarter
- Some categories of products are excluded from being eligible purchases (read the fine print on the offer page)
Rakuten Refer a Friend Program: Get $30 for Signing Up
Rakuten has a Refer a Friend program, where both the referrer and referee get $30. To qualify, the referee must sign up for a Rakuten account using the referral link, and then spend $30 through a partner retailer. Then, you each get the cash bonus.
If you are considering signing up for Rakuten Canada, don’t forget to use a referral link to get your free bonus. And if you are already a Rakuten member, you can then share your link to earn your own referral bonuses.
To find your link, navigate to ‘My Account’ once logged in to Rakuten.ca. Then click on the big black button on the left-hand menu -> ‘Add $30 to your account’.
From there you can copy or share your personal link, or send a pre-generated email to the email addresses of specific friends if you wish.
Referral bonus promotions on Rakuten (Ebates) are subject to change from time to time. But the bottom line is you can earn free cash for helping your friends to save money!
Combine a Credit Card with Rakuten Canada to Earn Even More Cash
On average, Rakuten retailers offer 3-4% cash back on purchases. But why stop at that when you can double dip? Combining the right bonus rewards credit card with Rakuten shopping can result in even greater cash back (or points) earnings.
Below are some examples, but with over 2500 retailers the possibilities are endless!
Amazon.ca Rewards Mastercard
|Hudson’s Bay||2.5%||2% (4 points per $)|
Hudson’s Bay Mastercard
American Express Cobalt Card
|Sport Chek / Atmosphere / Canadian Tire||2%||4%|
Triangle Rewards Mastercard
Walmart Rewards Mastercard
Alternatives to Rakuten Canada
If you’re looking for alternatives to Rakuten to earn cash, there are a few other cash back shopping sites available in Canada.
One of the most prominent is GreatCanadianRebates. However, Rakuten is larger and, in my opinion, easier to use. It is still worth checking both before making a purchase.
Something else to consider: GreatCanadianRebates, as well as our very own FlyerFunds Rebates program, has offers on financial products like credit cards and bank accounts.
On the other hand, there are also several shopping portals offered by Airline rewards programs, such as the Aeroplan eStore, which award you with points instead of cash for clicking through to various retailers. These can provide significant value as well.
Refer to this article for a more comprehensive listing of all Canadian cash back shopping portals and frequent flyer eStores.
In this Rakuten Canada review we’ve gone over how Rakuten is a great way to save money on purchases you’re likely already making at your favourite stores. At Frugal Flyer we highly recommend it to everyone. At the very least, plan to use Rakuten for your large purchases on major shopping holidays (Black Friday, Boxing Day, etc.), as these tend to see the most generous cashback rates. Up to 10% or more even sometimes!
If you decide to join, please consider using Frugal Flyer’s referral link, as a way to say thanks and to help us keep producing useful content for Canadians.
Have you used Rakuten before? Let us know in the comments below!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I sign up for Rakuten Canada?
You can sign up for a free account on the Rakuten website.
How do I earn cash back with Rakuten Canada?
You can earn cash back by making purchases at participating retailers through the Rakuten website or app.
When do I get paid by Rakuten Canada?
Payments are issued quarterly, and there is no minimum amount required to redeem your cash back.
Is Rakuten Canada worth signing up for?
If you're looking for a way to save money on your online purchases, we say absolutely! With a large selection of retailers and no minimum amount required to redeem, Rakuten is a great way to earn some extra cash. Sign up today to start earning cash!
What is the Rakuten Gift Card Shop?
Rakuten.ca also has a gift card shop, where you can buy physical and electronic gift cards to select retailers and earn cash back on these gift cards.
Whereas many retailers exclude cash back on gift card purchases, the gift card shop is designed for exactly this.
Available retailers on the gift card shop include Air Canada, Canadian Tire, Cineplex, Esso, IGA, Loblaw, No Frills, Petro Canada, Safeway, Shell, Shoppers, The Keg, Uber, etc. See a complete list of retailers here.
What are Rakuten Hot Deals?
In addition to cash back, retailers on Rakuten sometimes offer deals and coupons that save you money on purchases but are not percentage-based.
For example, you might save $15 if you spend a minimum of $200. These types of deals can be found on individual retailer pages or curated here.