Editor’s note: This is a recurring post, regularly updated with the latest information.
Now is a good day to place some online shopping orders via online shopping portals if you want to get rewarded with increased earning rates for your purchases. 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. If you join today, you can earn an increased $40 one-time bonus by spending at least $40 within 90 days at retailers ranging from Walmart, Target, Marriott, Saks, Home Depot, Nordstrom, Instacart and hundreds of other popular retailers. This increased referral offer is set to expire on Nov. 30.
Now is also a great time to get in on the deal as it will stack with all the other increased earning rates we expect to see from Rakuten on Black Friday and surrounding shopping days.
Existing Rakuten members can also participate by referring a friend and getting $40 for themselves if the new member joins and meets the spending requirements to earn their side of the offer.
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 $40.
Rakuten usually offers $25 to $30 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. With this increased bonus, 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 by 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, go directly to the merchant’s site. The browser extension will then notify you if there’s a rebate available — like this example at Macy’s (cash-back rate accurate as of Oct. 25, 2023):
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 $40. 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 bonus points instead of cash back.
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 $40 bonus.
Stack the rewards and savings
If you still have your Saks $50 credit from The Platinum Card® from American Express for the second half of the year to put to good use (enrollment required), you could do that and earn the welcome 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: 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: 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 and 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, on 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 bit over 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 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. Enrollment is required.
This new customer offer is a simple one that anyone can use, so don’t miss out on an easy $40 for online shopping. Sign up for Rakuten today (or refer your friends and family members) to reap the rewards of their online purchases.