10 Genius Rakuten Hacks (Ebates Hacks) to Save *Even More* This Holiday Season

Already use Rakuten to get cash back on everyday purchases? You could be missing out if you don't use these 10 genius hacks to help you save EVEN MORE! holiday shopping tips | tips to save money on holiday shopping | save money this holiday season | save money on holiday shopping | save money on Christmas gifts

Another holiday shopping season is upon us. Black Friday is only a few short weeks away, but the stores, catalogs, and advertising industry are already in full swing, doing their best to separate YOU from as much of your hard-earned money as possible.

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Wouldn’t it be nice if you could get some of that money – YOUR MONEY – back into your pocket?

Are there really hacks I can use to save EVEN MORE money with Rakuten (formerly known as Ebates)?

In one word, YES!

As some of you know, I try to spread my holiday shopping throughout the year. It’s easier on my budget, and it helps me avoid the temptation to (over)spend throughout November and December.

The one exception to this rule is strategically planned “last minute” (for me that means Black Friday and Cyber Monday) deals on specific items. Things like electronics and travel gear, that I KNOW will be on sale around the holidays.

And a key part of this maximize-my-savings strategy is careful, planned use of Rakuten (formerly called Ebates). Because with Rakuten, I can get more money back into my bank account.

Want to know my secrets for making sure I get back every penny I can with Rakuten (formerly Ebates)? Then read on!

Originally published November 11, 2017; last updated November 2023.

Genius Ebates Hacks (Rakuten Hacks) to Save You EVEN MORE This Holiday Season

First things first: Sign up already, if you haven’t!

If you haven’t already jumped on the Rakuten/Ebates bandwagon, there’s no time like the holidays. Rakuten works like this:

  • Companies pay Rakuten to get you to shop with them. (This is part of their advertising budget, just like taking out an online or magazine ad.)
  • Rakuten then splits this money with you, in exchange for taking a few simple steps to let the company know that you’re shopping there because their Ebates advertising worked.
  • The company gets your business, Rakuten gets a commission, and you get a percentage of the money you spent back in your pocket.
  • And that’s not in “points” or in “gift cards” that you may or may not be able to use. That’s in the form of a check that gets mailed to you every quarter, that you can then deposit or cash at any bank. Win-win-win!

Why sign up with Rakuten (formerly Ebates)?

I signed up with Rakuten way back in 2012 (when it was still called Ebates), but didn’t start using it much until late 2014. In the three years from then until I first published this post, I made almost $350 back on the money I spent through Ebates links (now Rakuten links). I chose Ebates/Rakuten once upon a time (vs. other similar programs, like the now-defunct Fatwallet) because they offered the most money back.

(November 2023 update: I now use other saving programs along with Rakuten; for more on my new strategy to get even more cash back, see this new post.)

Plus, it was actual money, NOT points or gift cards! Money back into my bank account. Money that I could then spend on other things (even boring things like paying bills).

So if you’re not saving with Rakuten yet, make this holiday season your year.

How do I sign up?

If you sign up HERE before November 30, and make a total of $40 in purchases within 90 days after signup, Rakuten will give you an EXTRA $40 back in your account, to thank you for signing up!

And if you’re a Canadian resident, click HERE to sign up for Rakuten Canada (Ebates Canada)!  When you sign up and spend just $30 before the end of the year, you get an extra $30 cash back when you make your first purchase through Rakuten Canada before the end of the year. Win-win!

Now that you’re enrolled, on to the hacks that will help you save even more with Rakuten (Ebates) this holiday season:

1. Install the Rakuten cash-back buttons on your web browser(s)

Signing up for Rakuten is one thing, but if you don’t remember to activate the little bit of electronic code that lets Rakuten tell the company, “hey, we referred this customer to you, so you owe us $$$ to split with the customer,” then you won’t get any cash back. (This is why I didn’t earn much with Ebates until 2014, when I finally installed the browser buttons!)

Remembering to go to Rakuten first every time is a pain. So Rakuten has made a bunch of browser extensions and buttons you can install. That way, whenever you visit your favorite merchants’ websites, if they’re an Ebates partner, you’ll probably see pop-up in the upper right corner of your browser window. Click on the red “Activate Cash Back” button to “begin a shopping trip,” and you’re on your way.


If you use multiple web browsers (as I do), install this extension on EVERY browser you use. Then you’ll never forget. To install these buttons, go to the Rakuten homepage and click on “help” in the upper right corner. Then select “more features” from the menu at the left side of the page.


After that, click on “Rakuten Cash Back Button.” The next screen will show a bunch of help-related links; scroll down to the one listing the supported browsers, and click on the link for your browser to get to the browser’s add-on installation page.


For users of Rakuten Canada, go to the Ebates Canada homepage , click on “Help Centre” under the “Help” link at the top menu bar on the right, and then look for “Rakuten Button” under the Help Centre sidebar menu.

2. EVERY TIME you visit a company’s website, click on the “Activate Cash Back” pop-up

Once you’ve installed the Rakuten browser extension, a Rakuten savings button should appear automatically for most companies that partner with Rakuten. I just click on the button as soon as I go to the company’s page, even if I think I’m only there to browse. That way, I don’t forget to click on it before checkout.

Note, though, that some companies don’t allow these pop-ups. So if you don’t see the little pop-up in the upper right-hand corner when you visit a company website, look at the little Rakuten button above your browser window and see if there is a number or a tiny exclamation point next to it, which indicates that the company has a cash back offer and/or coupons you can use with Rakuten.



Or you can always just go to the Rakuten site directly (rakuten.com or rakuten.ca) and search for the name of the company you want to shop with. If you have to search for a store manually and its name appears in the search results, just click on it, then click on the big purple “Shop Now” button to activate your shopping trip with Rakuten. (That’s lingo for saying they’ll record your purchase, so you can get your cash back.)


3. Let Rakuten scan coupons for you

This is as easy-peasy as letting the Rakuten pop-up do its thing at checkout time. Once upon a time, using company-offered promo codes would negate your Rakuten cash-back earnings. (Companies usually only allow one promo code per order, and advertising with Rakuten was, like promo codes, part of their advertising budget.)

But many companies have started submitting special deals and coupons to Rakuten to use WITH their cash back! This means you can save even more than ever before by shopping through Rakuten.

You can always browse through the merchants section of the Rakuten website. There you can see what coupons and promos are currently active with a given merchant, if you like. (You can also see this info when you search for a particular store – just scroll down a bit.)


Otherwise, when Rakuten offers to check for special coupons at checkout time, just let it do its thing. If you’re lucky, you might save even more on your Rakuten purchases.

4. Complete your purchase ASAP, while you’re still in that browser – and reactivate your Cash Back as needed

Let’s say you’re a parent with small kiddos at home. You’re trying to finish a Christmas purchase when the baby wakes up from her nap. Or the kids come home from school. Or the phone rings and it’s something you have to deal with. Whatever it is, you’re about to complete your purchase – and next thing you know, a couple of hours have passed.

Or maybe you got otherwise distracted, clicked away from that open browser window, THEN went back to complete your purchase.

If you do this, you will need to REACTIVATE the Rakuten Cash Back button to get your cash backOtherwise (as I’ve learned the hard way, more than once), it won’t count.

This is easy to do. You can click on the pop-up if it reappears in the top right corner of your browser window. OR, you can click directly on the Rakuten button at the top of your browser. When a Rakuten “shopping trip” is active, the appearance of the Ebates button at the top of your browser changes. For example, in Safari you’ll see a little checkmark next to the “R” when you have an active shopping session:


In Chrome, the button may not change for stores without pop-ups. But if you click on the “activate cash back” pop-up in Chrome, the “R” button will change from being in a purple box (cash back NOT active) to being a blue R with a little blue square around it (cash back active):



5. Always save your confirmation emails!

Usually companies will send your cash back to Rakuten (and thus back to you) in a timely manner. Especially if you’re careful about following the steps outlined above.

Other times, a company may have a waiting period of up to 30 days. (Sometimes they want to make sure you don’t return your purchase before they fork over the money.) This is particularly true during the holiday shopping season, when cash back bonuses often double.

If the company doesn’t automatically credit your cash back to Ebates, you can request credit for that purchase. But in order to do this, you’ll need to have the purchase confirmation email from the company. This will help Ebates match up your purchase to an open “shopping trip” in their system for that day. Then they will know how much cash back to give you, based on that day’s deal with the company.

So save that email. Put a flag or star next to it, to make it easier to find later on. Then you can go back and request credit if needed.

6. Keep a running list of Rakuten purchases, and check back on it periodically

As noted above, I’ve realized that some companies aren’t as good as others at crediting your cash back to Rakuten.

This especially seems to be a “problem” during the holiday season. (Particularly if you end up making more than one purchase from the same company in a 24-hour period.)

When you sign up with Rakuten, you’ll give them your email address. Then they’ll email you every time you earn cash back. (And also send you lots of shopping advertisements.) Because I don’t want ads, I gave them a “shopping” email that I use to collect things like promotional coupons. I can check that email account for a specific coupon if I want, but the coupons don’t clutter my everyday inbox.

Since I therefore don’t see their regular “cash back” updates after I make a purchase, I login to my Rakuten account every few months. Then I can make sure I’ve gotten credit for all my Ebates shopping trips. If necessary, I follow up with Rakuten through their “Missing cash back” section under the Help menu. (For Ebates Canada, it’s called “Where is my cash back?”)

This is why I keep a running list of my purchasesAs a Mac user, I have a Notes file where I do this. But any old text file, or note in your favorite organizing system, will do.

Whenever I purchase through Rakuten, I record the date, company, percentage cash back I’m owed, what I paid, and the order confirmation number.

7. Follow up with Rakuten if you don’t see the Cash Back that’s yours

If my Rakuten Cash Back summary doesn’t show everything on my Sticky, I submit a “Missing Cash Back” request. This is one option you’ll see after you click on the “Help” button at the upper right corner of the Rakuten home screen.


On Rakuten Canada, you’ll want to look for “Where’s My Cash Back?” on the Help page.


To submit a “Missing Cash Back” / “Where’s My Cash Back?” request, you’ll need to enter the store name, purchase date, order confirmation number, and amount spent. Then copy/paste the text from your confirmation email.

With everything but the email in my Rakuten Note file, it’s easy to enter this info, then find the email by date.

Sometimes Rakuten credits my account for the missing cash back immediately. Other times (e.g. if making multiple requests at once, or for larger dollar amounts), it may take a few days. Rakuten investigates your request, then emails you once they’ve credited your account. Every time I’ve followed up like this, I’ve gotten cash back that I otherwise would have missed out on.

So I don’t forget, I usually record the date I request cash back, so I can check back if needed.

8. Plan your holiday purchases strategically, and use Rakuten to help you decide how and when to shop

A lot of merchants now include Rakuten in their holiday marketing plans. This is partly because Black Friday and Cyber Monday are no longer as profitable for merchants as they once were. Therefore, offering you even more cash back through Rakuten is one way to regain your business during the holiday season.

What this means for you is that during the holiday season – especially around Black Friday/Cyber Monday – many companies offer EVEN MORE cash back than usual through Rakuten. Often double their usual rate, if not higher. This means you can save even more.

Even though I try to complete most holiday shopping by November, I know that certain retailers will offer their biggest percentage-off sales of the year during this window. Often in conjunction with their highest Rakuten cash back offers of the year:

Same company, two days apart, but the cash back amount DOUBLED because the second purchase was during the Cyber Monday Ebates promotional window.

And others will raise their Rakuten holiday cash back amounts so high that it makes sense to defer planned purchases (say, a new suitcase for use early in the new year, or purchases to give as Christmas gifts) until this window opens up around Cyber Monday.

This is what happened when I waited to purchase a new suitcase I needed until the Rakuten holiday promotion season. Well worth the wait!

Depending on what you want to purchase for holiday gifts, it can even make sense to decide WHERE you’re going to purchase that gift based on your Rakuten returns. A store with a bigger sale may look like the better option on the surface. But if you can save even more when you factor in a higher percentage of Rakuten cash back, you’ll end up with more money back in your pocket.

9. Save time AND money by rethinking everyday purchases with Rakuten

Our local home-improvement chain store is a mile from our house, and halfway between home and school/church. This means I have to drive by there multiple times a week anyway.

But if I need, say, new hardware for a shelving project, I DON’T want to add a long errand into my day. Especially if a) I know exactly what I want but DON’T know which aisle it’s in, and/or b) holiday shopping crowds will slow me down.

So instead of schlepping my kids through the whole store, I order online and request “in-store pickup.”  When I’m ordering online, the little Rakuten “activate savings” pop-up reminds me to open an Rakuten shopping trip.

Then my 30-60 minute errand becomes a 10-15 minute one. The store staff pulls my order, and sets it aside at the Customer Service desk. I park in the spots reserved for online order pickup, grab my order at Customer Service, and I’m on my way,

Oh, yeah, and I also score Rakuten cash back on that purchase!

Give it a try. If you already save time with local brick-and-mortars through online ordering, Rakuten will help you also save even more money on every purchase.

And my final genius hack to help you save even more this holiday season with Ebates is a new one:

10. Use Rakuten’s program for saving on in-store purchases

One of the best-kept Rakuten secrets is the option to save money on in-store purchases, not just online ones. (Again, companies use Rakuten to attract customer dollars; Rakuten then splits their percentage with customers via cash back. Since brick-and-mortar stores are struggling to keep up with online merchants, it’s not surprising they now use Rakuten to attract in-store sales, too.)

I admit I still don’t remember to do this as often as I should. But the Rakuten website gives a super tutorial on how this program works. Learn more by clicking “Help” in the upper right corner of the Rakuten home page. From there, enter “in-store cash back” in the search bar, then click on the “In-Store Cash Back FAQ” link.


Your turn:

How about you? Have you used Rakuten to save on holiday purchases (or everyday purchases)? What are your favorite hacks to save even more with Rakuten? Let us know in the comments!

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79 thoughts on “10 Genius Rakuten Hacks (Ebates Hacks) to Save *Even More* This Holiday Season”

  1. Oh my, I’ve been missing out!I joined ebates probably 10 years ago and I just forget about it. I had no idea about the helpful ways to remember to use ebates. I’m going to install the button on my browser. You’ve inspired me!

    1. IF you’re going to buy something anyway, I figure you might as well get some extra savings back on it if you can! 🙂

    1. I’m not sure if they’re available in the UK yet, but they’ve been expanding to more countries every year, so worth looking into!

  2. This is such a thorough post. I haven’t signed up with Ebates yet and I’m not sure why. This post helped answer a lot of questions!

    1. It’s a must, because sometimes merchants are pokey about sending over those big cash-back bonuses. (Especially, I’ve noticed, around the holidays and other times when they have super-high promotional rates on with Ebates…)

  3. I just recently learned about ebates in store and can’t wait to use it next time I go shopping! I didn’t know you can request reimbursement for purchases that don’t go through.

  4. I’ve heard about eBates, but I’ve never actually used it. I think I might go ahead and sign up for it. I wouldn’t mind making some money back from what I’m already spending.

    1. You’ve got to try it! Especially if you save a lot of your holiday shopping for right before the holidays. So many retailers have massive cash-back offers right now, there’s really no better time to try it than around the end of the year. (PLUS the cash-back bonus if you use the links in the post. PLUS the fail-proof tips in the post itself for making sure you don’t forget to use it, like I always did for the first few years I was signed up lol…) 🙂

    1. Then definitely 1) join Ebates if you haven’t yet (use link in post to get a bonus in your first Big Fat Check!), and 2) do all of these, starting with the top and working your way down. Each time I moved down to the next one, I got even more money back in my next check 🙂

    1. Oh, my goodness, you totally should, Jessica! It’s an amazing program, but only if you USE IT (which I mostly didn’t the first few years after I signed up, because I forgot – hence the first few hacks on this list!)

  5. Wow, I look always to save some money via the deals and apps. Seems Ebate is perfect to make the festive season more sweeter. Shall register the way you’ve shared!

    1. So glad you found these hacks useful, Camesha! I myself can’t wait to give in-store shopping with Ebates a try sometime! 🙂

    1. DO try it on your holiday shopping, so you can get the $10 cash-back bonus with the links above! It’s one of the best-kept secrets I know!

    1. DO start right away, so you can collect your before-the-end-of-year shopping bonus with the links above! It is SO worth it to get cash back in the mail several times a year! 🙂

    1. That’s where I was at a few years ago. Installing the extensions was the game-changer for me; and once I’d made it easier to remember to use it, the rest of the hacks came to me one by one. It is SO nice getting an extra bonus back, especially after shopping for holiday gifts!

  6. I love this, Flossie! I’ve used eBates before, but I had no idea there were extra ways to earn money. I had to share this on my Facebook page!

    1. Aww, *thanks* for the share, Leah! It’s been like a game to me to figure out how to maximize how much I get back from them, so I’m glad to pass the tips along, and appreciate your help in doing so! 🙂

    1. Yay for you – you’re on your way! Now don’t forget to install the browser extensions – happy cash-back to you! 🙂

    1. Depending on where you live, Gabe, they may have a program in your new country (or have one coming soon) – check the links at the bottom of their website!

  7. I will admit, that I have not had success with Ebates, because I forget. I truly forget when I do online shopping. A friend shared it with me a few years ago and showed me her return check and I as shocked. I need to do that. Thank you for the post, which was a reminder. Charlene- CharleneBullard.com

    1. That was totally me, Charlene, from when I first signed up in 2012 to when I started to look for ways to hack the system and make it work for me (2014 on). The browser extensions are the start of that process, but if you also apply the other tips here, you should start to see your earnings grow each quarter. Good luck! 🙂

    1. Do give them a try, Angela! They’ve only started a Canadian program in the past few years, so it’s still pretty new, but I don’t know anyone who’s tried it who DOESN’T love it! 🙂

  8. This is such an informative post about using Ebates! I’ve been using it for a few years and am always happy when I receive my check every quarter. It’s such an easy way to earn money back on your purchases. Hopefully many people will read this post and sign up too!

    1. Me too, Lori – nothing like getting that “big fat check” in the mail! Would love to know if you’ve tried any of the tips here to maximize your earnings, or if you have other tips to share 🙂 …

    1. Absolutely! The average user gets back a little extra here and there, but if you apply the strategies above, you can definitely up your game and get back even more! 🙂 (And every little bit helps, right? 🙂 …)

    1. Glad you liked them, Xue! DO sign up before the end of the year with the links above, and you can get a bonus with your first qualifying purchase! 🙂

    1. Wow, that’s impressive, Theresa! Most of my cash-back with them comes from holiday shopping, so it sounds as if you’re off to a great start with them! 🙂

    1. Haha, that’s the point I got to a few years ago when I was reading everyone else raving about it, then realized that DUH, I’d signed up for an account a few years before THAT but never remembered to use it! Installing those browser extensions so I had the little buttons and pop-up reminders was the game-changer for me 🙂

  9. I use Ebates and loved receiving my $10 cash back earlier this year from my first purchase. I didn’t know about the new in-store purchase feature. I’ll be checking this out for sure!

    1. I can’t wait to try the in-store feature sometime either! It’s so thrilling whenever you get your cash-back check in the mail – like a little extra bonus! – isn’t it? 🙂

    1. Haha, that’s OK Ritu – I think the company has plans in the works to expand to a few more countries soon, and is just starting up in a few others – do check it out if it comes to your country someday, it’s a fabulous way to get a little back in your pocket! 🙂

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