Caution: No Ebates in-store cash back for GC purchases

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Rakuten (formerly called Ebates) in-store offers provide you with chance to earn rewards on in-store purchases with a linked credit card. We recently received some reports indicating that in-store gift card purchases are not earning cash back / rewards. One reader inquired with Rakuten and the response indicated that Rakuten was made aware of gift card purchases and that these violate the terms of the Rakuten in-store offers. Those who value the continued ability to earn Rakuten cash back / points may want to refrain from making in-store gift card purchases with an Rakuten-linked credit card at merchants that participate in the in-store cash back program.

Again, we had received some reports of cash back / Membership Rewards earnings not posting for in-store gift card purchases. However, the bigger caution in my mind comes from a reader who reached out to Rakuten about a few such purchases. Rakuten initially requested receipts, and when those could not be produced, here was the Rakuten response:

Our merchants let us know that you are using our in-store program to purchase gift cards. This is not allowed….

…..Going forward, it would be best if you adhered to our Terms & Conditions. You can view these policies in our In-Store Cash Back page here: https://www.ebates.com/in-store-cash-back.htm

It would seem that the stores at the very least denied the payout to Rakuten. Whether or not they proactively reached out to Rakuten about the gift card purchases is unknown. The in-store offers terms indicate that rewards are not to be earned on gift card purchases. I’d recommend caution here: I could imagine a world in which the purchaser didn’t even expect to earn rewards (either because they didn’t know that the store participated or they knew the gift cards would not qualify), yet still landing in hot water with Rakuten (especially of rewards are errantly paid out on some transactions). It’s worth at least considering your strategy and whether or not it is worth the risk as some people surely value the ability to continue earning Rakuten cash back or Membership Rewards points enough so as not to want to jeopardize it.

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