Swagbucks vs. Rakuten (formerly Ebates): Which Rewards Site Is Best?

Looking for an easy way to earn extra money online? Then you’ve probably considered signing up for rewards sites that promise compensation for taking surveys, watching videos, and playing games.

Two of my favorite cashback sites are Swagbucks and Rakuten (formerly Ebates). Both platforms are easy to use and loaded with ways to earn gift cards and save money at checkout.

But are either of these sites worth your time? And if so, which one is better?

In this post, you’ll learn exactly that. Keep reading to learn how Swagbucks compares with Rakuten so you can decide which is best for you.

or, jump straight to our in-depth Swagbucks and Rakuten comparison

Swagbucks Review for 2024

What is Swagbucks?

Swagbucks is a leading cashback site that launched back in 2008. It remains one of the most popular loyalty programs on the internet, with over $600 million paid out to members to date.

The site operates under the direction of Prodege, a California-based affiliate marketing and market research company.

How Does Swagbucks Work?

To put it plainly, Swagbucks members can earn points, which are called Swagbucks (SB), for engaging with ads, surveys, and shopping opportunities within the platform.

One reason why Swagbucks is so popular is that there are a ton of different ways to earn SB, which we’ll briefly explore next.

Shop Online

When you shop through Swagbucks, you can earn cashback rebates at over 7,000 online stores. You can also receive rewards for shopping in brick-and-mortar partner stores by uploading your receipts into the Swagbucks app.

Play Games 

If you’re a gamer, you’ll love being able to earn reward points for playing and downloading online games.

Swagbucks has an extensive library of popular games to choose from, including Solitaire Rush, Angry Birds Champions, Wheel of Fortune, and Travel Pursuit. 

Watch Videos 

You can also get Swagbucks points for watching partner content, such as commercials, music videos, and movie trailers. Literally, you can earn money just to sit there and watch videos. Sounds pretty dope to me.

Search the Internet 

One of the easiest ways to collect points on Swagbucks is to use its search engine.

According to the company, the Swagbucks search engine displays the same results as other leading providers. So your experience shouldn’t be too different from using a traditional search engine like Google or Bing.

By conducting your searches through Swagbucks, you can collect points for each search you make, which is a pretty sweet deal.

Answer Surveys

Swagbucks is best known for its paid survey opportunities. Expect to answer questions about your favorite foods, vacation destinations, and what type of car you drive. 

Swagbucks then sells this data to its market research clients and pays members a reward for their contributions. Most Swagbucks surveys pay out between 100 and 300 SB.

Generally speaking, the more comprehensive the survey is, the more it pays.

To be clear, you aren’t going to get rich by taking surveys on Swagbucks. But you can earn a few extra bucks in your spare time.

Rakuten Review for 2024

What is Rakuten?

Ebates became Rakuten back in 2014 when the Japanese e-commerce company purchased the site for $1 billion. Rakuten then phased out the Ebates brand in 2019.

Today, the company remains a major cashback rewards portal, providing incentives for customers who shop at select partnering brands.

According to Rakuten, the company has 12 million members, with over $1 billion in cashback distributions since its inception back in 1997.

That’s a lot of dough!

How does Rakuten work?

Shop Rakuten Deals

Rakuten is super easy to engage with. All you have to do is install its cashback button as a browser extension for Firefox, Chrome, Microsoft Edge, or Internet Explorer and sign up for an account.

After that, you can shop on your desktop device and use the Rakuten button to find deals. You can earn cash rewards any time you take a deal from Rakuten.

Participate in Online Surveys

In addition to collecting deals from Rakuten, you can also take paid surveys through Rakuten Insight.

After you sign up, you’ll receive a notification whenever a new survey opportunity becomes available. The company issues points for completing them, which you can exchange for cash rewards.

Comparing Swagbucks and Rakuten

Now that you have a basic understanding of Swagbucks and Rakuten, let’s take a closer look at how these two rewards sites compare.

Cashback Network

Winner: Swagbucks

Swagbucks has a much larger network of partnering stores, with over 7,000 retailers working with them. By comparison, Rakuten only has about 2,500 partners. So, if you’re looking for a wider network of participating retailers, Swagbucks is the better option.

That said, both companies provide access to a wide variety of merchants. At the time of writing, some of Swagbucks’ featured retailers include Gap, Sam’s Club, Old Navy, Befitting, and Athleta.

At Rakuten, you’ll find companies like JCPenney, Nordstrom, Priceline, Target, and Kohl’s, to name just a few examples.

My advice: Sign up for both sites to access an even larger network of partnering retailers.

Signing Up and Getting Started

Winner: It’s a Tie

Here’s some good news: Neither one of these companies is difficult to join. As long as you meet the minimum age requirements for each (13 for Swagbucks and 18 for Rakuten) and have an email address, you can sign up and start using these services—and making some money along the way. 

For both companies, the signup process only takes a few minutes. So, once inspiration strikes and you want to try your hand at Swagbucks or Rakuten, you can sign up and start collecting cashback rewards that same day.

Mobile App

Winner: Rakuten

Cash rewards portals tend to vary in terms of mobile app performance. Quite frankly, many of their apps suck. But as it turns out, Swagbucks and Rakuten offer amazing apps for both Android and iPhone users.

Both apps have an impressive 4.2-star rating in the Google Play store. Rakuten takes the cake, though, with a slightly better rating of 4.8 stars in the App Store versus 4.4 stars for Swagbucks.

Earning Potential

Winner: Swagbucks

In terms of earning potential, Swagbucks is the better option. Aside from having a larger network of partnering retailers, the company also provides more ways to make money.

While Rakuten offers a cashback rewards program and paid survey opportunities, Swagbucks offers both of those things in addition to a wide range of other rewards offerings. For example, you can get paid to watch online videos, play games, and browse the web.

So if you’re looking to maximize your take-home rewards, Swagbucks is the way to go. That’s not to say you won’t make money on Rakuten. It’s just that there are simply fewer opportunities. 

Again, there’s no reason why you can’t use both apps and maximize your earning potential.

Referral Promotions 

Winner: Swagbucks 

Both companies offer referral programs, which reward you for signing up friends and family members.

Rakuten provides the Refer-A-Friend program. If you sign someone up for Rakuten and they make a purchase, you can both collect a cash reward.

In my opinion, the Swagbucks program is the better deal because you can earn points and Amazon gift cards whenever the person you refer to the site makes a purchase. Should that happen, you can collect 10% on whatever they earn—for life.

So unlike Rakuten, there’s the potential to collect passive rewards from Swagbucks. And as my long-time readers know too well, there’s nothing better than passive income.

Customer Support

Winner: Rakuten

Occasionally, you may need to contact customer support to inquire about payment or an issue that you’re having with the Swagbucks or Rakuten app.

If you have an issue with Swagbucks, you can create a transaction inquiry, submit a general request, or message the company on Facebook. Unfortunately, the company’s website does not list a phone number.

On the other hand, Rakuten provides a help portal and more personalized customer service through its app. I also like that the company lists a telephone number on its website. You can reach them at +1 (650) 383-1328.

In my opinion, being able to talk to a live agent is always a major plus.

Cashing Out 

Winner: Swagbucks

To cash out on Rakuten, you have to provide a mailing address and tell the company how you want to receive your payment—via check or PayPal account.

With Rakuten, you have to rack up at least $5 in rewards before you can cash out. If your approved cashback amount is less than $5, it will carry over into the following pay period.

The company issues cashback payments every three months, specifically on May 15, August 15, November 15, and February 15.

It’s much easier to cash out on Swagbucks. All you need to do is collect 300 points ($3), and you can redeem your reward points any time. You can cash out via PayPal or turn your Swagbucks points into gift cards.

Best Cashback Sites to Consider

Here are a few more cashback sites that are worth looking into.


Ibotta is a leading cashback site offering rewards for users who shop at partnering stores. This is a popular service for Amazon users, and it’s a convenient way to earn rewards from grocery store purchases.


TopCashback is another free service that rewards users for shopping through its network. According to TopCashback, its frugal members are earning an average of $345 annually.


Groupon, which was once known as the king of the daily deal, provides free cashback deals and special offers for local dining, spas, and entertainment.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Swag Codes?

Swag Codes are promotional coupon codes that you can use on Swagbucks to apply for rewards.

Can I Still Use Ebates?

No. As mentioned above, Ebates was purchased by Rakuten in 2014, and the brand was retired in 2019. If you try to go to Ebates.com, the site routes you to Rakuten. So in short, you can no longer use Ebates—but Rakuten is fully functional.

The Bottom Line

As a disclaimer, the payouts from Swagbucks and Rakuten aren’t going to pad your bank account. That said, you can still collect free money with very little effort.

Whether you’re making online purchases, taking surveys, or browsing the internet, you’ll be able to find decent cash back offers.

From where I stand, Rakuten is the better option for earning rewards from online shopping. On the other hand, Swagbucks is the winner for paid survey opportunities.

So the next question is this: Do you really want to take surveys or are you simply hoping to earn some extra cash back at stores like Walmart, Best Buy, or Macy’s?

Once you can answer that question, it will be easy for you to identify which site makes more sense for you.

On the journey to financial independence, never forget that inch by inch is a cinch. Here’s to making smart purchases and saving every penny that you can until you arrive at your destination: financial freedom.

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