If you’re looking to save money when shopping online, you’re probably familiar with two leading shopping platforms: Honey and Rakuten.
I’ve been using both companies for over two years. In this time, I’ve saved more than $5,000 in coupon codes and cashback rewards between both companies.
However, since money saving browser extensions conflict with each other when shopping, how I use Honey or Rakuten varies based on what I’m doing. And there are some significant differences between each extension that influence how much you save.
That’s why this Honey vs Rakuten breakdown is covering the features, differences, and pros and cons to help you choose the best shopping extension for you
Honey is a leading coupon-finding extension that’s owned by PayPal
Rakuten is better for earning real cash back and pays you quarterly
Honey is better for finding upfront savings through coupons
Rakuten has a better sign up bonus, but Honey is better for international shoppers
Honey is a free shopping platform that started in 2012. Since its inception and being acquired by PayPal, Honey has grown into a leading rewards platform that has over 17 million users worldwide.
Honey is best known for their automatic coupon codes, and overall, I’ve really enjoyed using Honey over the past two years whenever I’m trying to find discounts online.
To date, I’ve also received more than $400 by shopping with Honey, taking advantage of Honey Gold bonuses, and referring some friends/readers.
Honestly, Honey coupons have been the least lucrative part of the platform for me, and I’ve found shopping for gold bonuses has been more lucrative. BUT, I’ll get into all those details later in this Honey vs Rakuten breakdown.
Rakuten, previously known as eBates, is a cashback shopping platform that lets you get paid to shop at thousands of popular brands.
On Rakuten, you earn real cashback for shopping online with thousands of partners…no catch, just pure cash savings and joy.
Overall, Rakuten has fewer bells and whistles than Honey. However, to date, I’ve earned over $7,000 by using it to shop online and from referring readers/friends.
If you’re a serious online shopper, I think Rakuten could easily save you a solid amount of money per year. However, you should read about both platforms to make sure you’re using each extension/platform the right way.
Honey vs Rakuten – The Features
In a nutshell, Honey focuses on coupon codes and free gift cards while Rakuten prioritizes cashback rewards. But you can use both extensions to maximize your savings depending on the type of shopping you’re doing.
So, let’s take a deeper dive into each type of feature to see if you should use Honey or Rakuten the next time you shop.
1. Availability & Stores
Both Honey and Rakuten do a great job at letting users from multiple countries save more money at thousands of retailers:
Honey – Supports retailers in Canada, the United States, Australia, the UK, and websites that support international shopping from these countries.
Rakuten – Supports retailers in Canada, the United States, and the UK.
Additionally, Honey works with 40,000+ stores according to their website, whereas Rakuten states it works with over 3,500 stores.
Take Honey’s claim with a grain of salt…they “work” with 40,000+ stores but you can’t always find savings or rewards! The reality is, both platforms are available for users around the world and work with thousands of partners.
Verdict: Honey and Rakuten are tied in terms of availability.
2. Automatic Coupon Codes
Both Honey and Rakuten offer coupon codes to help you save money when shopping online. However, Honey is better than Rakuten when it comes to coupons because of its automatic coupon codes at checkout.
With the Honey browser extension, Honey notifies you when you’re shopping at a Honey partner with potential coupon codes. All you have to do is hit “try codes” and Honey will quickly test each code at checkout to see if you get a discount.
As you can see in the screenshot above, Honey helped me find some coupons to H&M and a free shipping offer, which is pretty nice. This doesn’t always work, but it only takes a few seconds and I’ve found discounts occasionally.
In contrast, Rakuten doesn’t focus as much on coupons. While some retailers on the platform have coupons you can use, cashback is the name of the game for Rakuten.
Verdict: Honey has a better coupon system than Rakuten, especially since it’s automatic.
3. Cashback Rewards
While it might surprise you, both Honey and Rakuten have a form of cashback rewards you can earn from when shopping online.
With Honey, you can earn Honey Gold, the platform’s currency, for shopping online at eligible partners (the extension notifies you when there’s a Gold opportunity).
Now, unlike Rakuten, which pays a specific amount of cashback for each retailer, Honey Gold is random.
For example, when I order things on Fiverr, I often see that my purchase is eligible for 1% to 5% Honey Gold in the form of cashback. Once my purchase is verified, a random amount of Gold in that range appears in my account as pending for about 60 days.
Now, with Rakuten, you know exactly how much cashback you can earn because partners clearly advertise the amount.
Honestly, I think this fact makes Rakuten better than Honey because you can calculate your savings and shop with greater accuracy. Plus, if you don’t really care what merchant you shop from, you can simply pick the merchant with the best cashback percentage and keep things simple.
Yes, Honey does have some lucrative Gold rewards, but I dislike the random factor.
On the bright side, Honey offers time-sensitive bonuses which you can claim and complete within 7 days to earn a specific amount of Gold, so that’s an improvement. You can also search for eligible retailers on Honey’s explore page, which is very similar to the desktop version of Rakuten.
That said, I’ve earned over $7,000 with Rakuten over the years and find it has way higher-paying offers than Honey.
Verdict: Honey excels at coupons, but Rakuten has the better cashback system.
This point will have a bit of contention, so it’s hard to really pick a winner between Honey or Rakuten.
Honey is awesome because you get upfront savings with coupons and can redeem Honey Gold for a range of free gift cards to retailers like:
Additionally, Honey lets you redeem rewards at 1,000 Gold, or $10, which is pretty low in the world of reward apps. Furthermore, Honey has rewards for users living in Canada, the United States, Australia, Great Britain, and the EU.
Recently, Honey also added the option to redeem gold for PayPal cash, which is a massive upgrade. The only catch is your PayPal rewards apply as a credit for future purchases, so it’s not like PayPal is depositing $30 right in your account.
In contrast, Rakuten pays cash rewards through PayPal or check on a quarterly basis as long as you have $5 or more in your account.
This is a lower redemption minimum, but you can’t redeem your balance whenever you choose. And you need a PayPal account unless you want to wait for a check to arrive.
If you want free gift cards, use Honey. Otherwise, I’d say Rakuten wins out in the Honey vs Rakuten debate.
Verdict: Rakuten is less flexible but pays out actual PayPal cash whereas Honey has more redemption options, so it depends on which rewards you value most.
5. Browser Extensions
Honestly, there’s not a lot to say here in terms of one company having an advantage over the other. The purpose of Honey and Rakuten’s browser extensions is to automate things and save you time.
With Honey, you get notified of coupons and Gold opportunities. Rakuten does the exact same thing, albeit with fewer coupons and better cashback offers.
The main difference is that Rakuten has a nifty comparison shopping feature that sometimes notifies you if another retailer has a better price than the retailer you’re currently shopping at.
However, Honey does this for Amazon sellers, which definitely gives Honey the edge if you’re a frequent Amazon patron (especially since neither Honey nor Rakuten currently pay rewards for shopping on Amazon).
Ultimately, I think this is another tie because both extensions mostly accomplish the same thing.
6. Mobile Apps
While it might surprise you, these browser-focused shopping platforms both have mobile apps you can use to take your savings on the go.
Honey’s app is called the Honey Smart Shop Assistant, and it’s a tad different than the desktop version. Currently, Honey’s Smart Shop Assistant lets you:
Buy products from 300+ stores (including Amazon)
Apply mobile coupon codes at checkout
Earn Honey Gold for shopping and add products to a price watchlist
In a nutshell, the app is basically a centralized version of Honey that’s designed to make online shopping fast and ripe with deals.
In contrast, Rakuten’s mobile app feels a bit more unique when you compare it against the desktop version and browser extension.
With the Rakuten app, you unlock:
Exclusive cashback deals for mobile users (including for Uber and Lyft rides)
5% cash back at thousands of restaurants
The fact that some offers are exclusive to the app is a pretty awesome perk, and in-store coupons means you can save both online and in-person.
Honey is a better mobile app if you frequently shop from your smartphone and want to centralize your deals. However, as an independent app, Rakuten has more functionality and exclusive deals.
Verdict: Rakuten’s exclusive cashback deals and in-store coupons are tough to beat.
7. Referral Programs
While I don’t think referral bonuses are deal breakers, it’s one last factor to consider before you choose Rakuten or Honey.
Here’s the referral details for each company:
Honey. Invite a friend to Honey and you both get 500 Gold ($5) whenever they earn their first Gold. You can refer up to 200 friends and there isn’t a time limit for your friend to earn their gold.
Rakuten. Invite a friend to sign up and you both get $30 when your friend spends their first $30 on Rakuten. If you want an invite, you can use my link to help support This Online World. 🙂
The fact that Rakuten gives both people $30 for signing up and spending money on shopping is a massive advantage over Honey. If you and a friend have an upcoming shopping trip, this deal is an absolute no-brainer.
I’ll admit, Rakuten sometimes changes the signup bonus to $5 or $10, but I’ve also seen a $40 bonus before at Christmas so you never know what you’ll get.
Verdict: Rakuten has a better referral program than Honey.
Pros & Cons
Works in several countries and 40,000+ stores
Wide variety of gift card rewards
You can now redeem PayPal credits if you prefer cash
Cash-back rates aren’t always as high as Rakuten
PayPal credits aren’t upfront cash
The Honey mobile app isn’t as useful as the shopping extension
Incredible referral program
Earn actual cash for shopping
Works with thousands of stores
Rakuten only pays you quarterly and you need at least $5 in your balance
Honey has a better coupon system than Rakuten
Is Honey Or Rakuten Better?
In my experience, Honey is better than Rakuten if you want to find online coupons or do a lot of shopping on Amazon. And it has better international coverage than Rakuten. However, Rakuten is better for earning real money since it has higher cashback rates. It also has a much better referral program than Honey.
You can always test out both shopping platforms to see which one helps you save the most money on an upcoming purchase.
But personally, I use Rakuten for most of my shopping needs and only check Honey if I’m looking for coupons or can’t find deals.
Can YouUse Rakuten And Honey At The Same Time?
No, you can’t use Rakuten and Honey at the same time to double-dip on rewards. Retailers pay cash back to the website where the cookie was last used, so whatever site you use last for your purchase is the one that will credit.
Our advice is to disable the Rakuten and Honey browser extensions while shopping. Once you know the site that pays the best rate, turn on that particular extension and complete your purchase.
You can also toggle Honey on to check for coupon codes and then disable it if you want to shop with Rakuten if you can’t find coupons.
What Are Some Other Alternatives?
In my opinion, Rakuten and Honey are two of the best shopping rewards platforms out there. However, I also use plenty of other extensions and apps to save.
Some other useful tools you can have in your money-saving toolkit include:
None of these extensions are going to cover your entire purchases. But you can easily save a quick $5 to $50 a month or more depending on your shopping habits without much effort.
I know this was a bit of an intense Honey vs Rakuten showdown, but here’s the thing…both platforms are completely free to use.
This is why I’ve used both Rakuten and Honey for the last two years and have over $1,000 in free money.
Really, the key is to download both extensions and to test out which one works best for you. After all, both extensions have unique deals and savings, so you can toggle between them to ensure you save as much as possible.
If you want to support This Online World, you can also sign up for each platform using the links below:
Note: Capital One Shopping provides us with compensation when you use the links provided.
Tom is a full-time blogger and freelance writer with a passion for side hustling, passive income, and the gig economy. His work has appeared on dozens of personal finance websites like Money Crashers, The College Investor, Investor Junkie, and more. This Online World is all about providing people with honest ways to make and save more money by using technology. To learn more about Tom, read his About Page!
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