Shopping hack: Automate cash back with Rakuten

Note: this post contains personal referral links to services I use and love. Use them at your own risk…err…gain?

If you’re doing any online shopping for Black Friday 2020, you should be using Rakuten to get free money.

Yes, free money in the form of cash back rebates.

You used to have to fill out these old school forms to get cash back. I know because I helped my mom fill out a bunch of these growing up:

Thank goodness for the internet. Now all you have to do is install an extension like Rakuten and it’ll automatically tell you if there’s cash back at the store you’re shopping at.

Depending where you’re buying, sometimes there’s no cash back, and sometimes there are massive deals like 12% cash back at Dell right now.

It’s a simple user experience. After activating your cash back, you’ll see that it’s “activated” and you can go head to do your shopping.

Just this year, I’ve gotten $55 back in cash back passively shopping online.

Rakuten cash back example

That might not sound like a big deal, but it’s a decent amount of money for doing nothing but pushing a button.

To put that in context, that’s more than the interest I’d earn on $5000 sitting in a high-yield savings account.

What about Honey or Wikibuy?

It’s the internet so there’s no loyalty to which programs you use. After using Honey and Wikibuy, Rakuten has consistently given me the most money back.

Cash backThe most generous cash back program, the most integrated with retailers.Meh rewards program. Requires minimum of 1000 Honey Gold to start redeeming at $10 at only a handful of retailers.OK rewards program through Capital One Shopping. Decent for price tracking and price comparison.
CouponsDecent automated coupons, but Honey edges it out in # of coupons found.Largest inventory of coupon codes.OK but not as good as Honey.
Note: I also compared Slickdeals, but

Good news: You can install all the browser extensions and use the one that gives you the best deal.
Bad news: You have to use one extension at a time.

Rakuten and Honey give me the best and most consistent deals. I use Honey to find the best coupons, then use Rakuten for the cash back. Here’s how:

  1. When you’re done shopping, go to cart.
  2. Use Honey to find + apply the best coupons. Copy the best winning coupon code.
  3. Use Rakuten to turn on your cash back. This will turn off Honey, but paste in the coupon you found from Honey
  4. Boom! Save money.

What’s nice is that if you have PayPal, you can just link it to Rakuten to get “your big fat check” sent to you once your balance reaches at least $5.

So far I’ve used Rakuten to make the following purchases:

  • Groupon: 8% cash back right now
  • Pixel 3 phone (current phone!)
  • MyProtein: 11% cash back during the 11/11 sale
  • Walgreens: 3% cash back for medicine

Sweeten the pot: Get $40 for free signing up with Rakuten

If you’re sold on using Rakuten for no-strings-attached cash back, then you’ll like it even more that you can get $40 just for signing up with my friend link.

Rakuten Cash Back - Referral Program

What’s in it for me? You get $40, I get $40. Win win 💸

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