If You’re Not Getting Cash Back When Shopping Online, Use This Trick

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Even if you don’t usually like buying things over the internet, chances are good that stay-at-home orders and store closures during the coronavirus pandemic are compelling you to do more online shopping these days.

What you may not know is that you could be saving money on almost every online purchase with one simple tool.

Rakuten

What it is: Rakuten is a cash-back portal formerly known as Ebates.

How it works: Rakuten earns a commission from retailers for referring online shoppers to those retailers’ websites, and then the portal passes some of that commission on to the shoppers. Through Rakuten, you can get cash back on purchases from some 2,500 retailers — sometimes as much as 40% to 50%.

How to get it:

  • Sign up. It’s free to sign up with Rakuten, and it only takes a minute.
  • Shop the portal: On the Rakuten site, you can browse among the hundreds of retailers that offer cash back or do a search for retailers you like to see if they are included. If you’ve signed up, your cash back will be automatically activated for any purchase made here.
  • Install the extension: If you’ve installed the Rakuten extension, it will remind you to get cash back if you go directly to one of its member retailers. The extension really is critical, at least it was for me. If it didn’t pop up to remind me each time I have a chance to earn cash back on a purchase, I would be leaving good money on the table. This link shows how to install it and turn it on — again, for free and in just a couple of minutes.

Example of Rakuten at work: I went to Athleta.com, a site that I like for its high-quality casual and workout clothes. I was in the market for comfortable pants that I can wear while working from home and when I hit the grocery store — on the occasions that I do that. (I can’t wear my pajamas all day, every day.)

Because I have installed the extension, this reminder popped up in my browser, notifying me that I can currently get 4% cash back on purchases from Athleta:

I found a nice looking pair of “Metropolis Joggers” — Athleta’s name for some upmarket sweatpants — that were priced at $75. When I got to the checkout screen, Rakuten alerted me to a 25% discount that is being offered today and applied the coupon code, bringing my subtotal to $56.99. It then calculated my 4% cash back, which amounted to another $2.28. These incremental cash-back balances accrue over time, then Rakuten sends me a “Big Fat Check” — which always feels like free money.

Here’s a sampling of some other deals you can get through Rakuten from other online retailers at this moment:

  • Shoes.com: 15% cash back on all purchases
  • 1-800 Flowers: 15% cash back
  • rag & bone: 10% cash back (Or, if you’re really shopping, get $150 off any purchase of more than $500).
  • Clinique: 8% cash back
  • Nike: 7% cash back
  • Cabela’s: 3% cash back. (The sporting goods store is also selling loads of clothing and footwear at a 70% discount.)

These deals and offerings change often, but you get the idea! If you’re going to be buying things online anyway, Rakuten offers one easy way to get cash back and not miss out on other discounts and deals at hundreds of retailers.

Extra cash: Through this Friday, May 1, if you refer a friend to Rakuten and they sign up, you and your friend each get a bonus of $30!

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