Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest information.
Sticker stock by back-to-school shopping? You might consider using online shopping portals. These portals often offer perks like one-time bonuses for new members and the opportunity to earn additional rewards by referring friends and family. Rakuten is one of TPG’s favorite portals, and if you join today, you can earn a $30 one-time bonus by spending at least $30 within 90 days. This offer is valid through Sep. 30, 2023.
Existing Rakuten members can also participate by referring a friend. When your friend joins and spends $30 within 90 days, both of you will receive a $30 bonus. Or, after joining, you could even opt for American Express Membership Rewards points instead as you look ahead to your next trip. However, note that your one-time bonus for signing up today will be $30.
Rakuten usually offers $25 for each referral, with no earning limit as long as the new member spends the required amount. However, joining without a referral usually only grants a one-time bonus of $10. It’s a great opportunity to earn a bonus and share the benefits with your friends and family.
Overview of Rakuten
In case you’re unfamiliar with the site, Rakuten is an online shopping portal that used to go under the name Ebates. It partners with hundreds of online retailers, from household brands like Target and Nike to smaller merchants like Temu. By starting your purchase at Rakuten and clicking through to the merchant from there, you’ll take home a bonus on every eligible purchase you make — in addition to earnings on the credit card you use for the purchase.
You can even download the Rakuten plug-in to make things even easier. Once this is installed, just go directly to the merchant’s site. The browser extension will then notify you if there’s a rebate available:
This friendly reminder simplifies earning more rewards for your online shopping.
You may be wondering how this is possible. Rakuten inks marketing agreements with individual retailers, which then pay the site commissions on purchases that begin there. Rakuten then passes a portion of those commissions on to the customer. The retailer gets additional business, and you and Rakuten enjoy a cut of those purchases — a win-win-win for all parties.
While Rakuten is advertised as a cash-back portal, you can take your rewards to the next level by switching your earning preference to American Express Membership Rewards points. In the above example, you’d take home 1 Amex point for every dollar you spend at Target. Since we value Amex points at 2 cents apiece, thanks to the array of valuable redemption options, that could offer an even higher return for your online purchases.
However, the welcome bonus for new members who join via a referral link is only available as cash back. You can link your Membership Rewards account after joining, but the one-time bonus will be paid as $30. That said, if a friend or family member joins through your referral link (and completes the spending requirements) after you switch your earning preference to Amex points, you’ll earn 3,000 bonus points.
Note that going through Rakuten for your online purchases may mean sacrificing higher rewards through an airline shopping portal — especially if there are any bonus offers through those sites. However, Rakuten could be a good option, given the current referral offer.
Not a member? Join Rakuten today to earn a $30 bonus.
Which credit card should I use?
If you’re making purchases online, pay close attention to any potential bonus categories. However, your best bet may be to use a card that offers solid value for everyday purchases, including the following:
- Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card (see rates and fees): 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases, worth 2 cents when used for travel or 3.7 cents if you use the program’s transfer partners (based on TPG valuations; not provided by the issuer)
- Capital One Venture X Rewards Credit Card (see rates and fees): 2 miles per dollar spent on purchases, worth 2 cents when used for travel or 3.7 cents if you use the program’s transfer partners (based on TPG valuations; not provided by the issuer)
- Citi® Double Cash Card (see rates and fees): 2% cash back on all purchases (1% when you buy; 1% when you pay your bill) — with the option to combine your rewards with ThankYou Rewards-earning cards for even more value
- The Blue Business® Plus Credit Card from American Express: 2 Membership Rewards points per dollar spent on eligible business purchases up to the first $50,000 in purchases each calendar year; then 1 point per dollar (terms apply)
- Chase Freedom Unlimited: 1.5% cash back that can be transferred to a Chase Ultimate Rewards-earning card for a 3% return based on TPG valuations.
Remember that any cash back or Amex points you’d take home through Rakuten come in addition to the earnings on your credit card. You may even be able to stack an Amex Offer or Chase Offer at select merchants, so be sure to check those now to avoid leaving money on the table.
For example, holders of The Platinum Card® from American Express enjoy up to $100 in statement credits at Saks every calendar year ($50 from January through June and another $50 from July through December — enrollment is required). Since Amex applies for these credits on the back end — as opposed to via a promo code at the time of purchase — you should still earn the cash back or bonus Amex points on the full subtotal of your purchase by starting at Rakuten and clicking through to Saks.
This new customer offer is a simple one that anyone can utilize, so don’t miss out on an easy $30 for online shopping. Sign-up for Rakuten today (or refer your friends and family members) to reap the rewards of their online purchases this back-to-school season.
- How to maximize online shopping portals.
- The most generous airline and hotel dining rewards programs.
- Best cash-back cards.
Additional reporting by Benji Stawski and Kyle Olsen.