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TravelAct now: Earn $40 cash-back bonus at Rakuten for joining or referring...

Act now: Earn $40 cash-back bonus at Rakuten for joining or referring a friend

One of our favorite online shopping portals here at TPG is back with a new referral offer — and the deal has the potential to be even sweeter this time.

If you join Rakuten, you can earn up to $50 in cash back by shopping at retailers like Walmart, Target, Saks, Lowe’s, Nordstrom, Instacart and hundreds of others. Specifically, you’ll unlock a 10% cash-back bonus on all purchases during the first seven days of joining. This new boost applies on top of the cash back you’ll already take home for your purchases This increased referral offer expires May 13.


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 to earn American Express Membership Rewards points instead as you look ahead to your next trip. However, note that your 10% cash-back boost will be given as cash-back

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.

Read more: How to earn bonus cash back or Amex points on your online shopping purchases with Rakuten

Overview of Rakuten

In case you’re unfamiliar with the site, Rakuten is an online shopping portal formerly called 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 Monday):


This friendly reminder simplifies earning more rewards for your online shopping.

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Related: Don’t want to miss out on earning bonus points? There’s an extension for that

You may wonder how this is possible. Rakuten links 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 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 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 10% back (up to $50). 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, given the current referral offer, Rakuten could be a good option.

Not a member? Join Rakuten today to earn an up to $50 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:

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 (up to $50 from January through June and another up to $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 $50 for online shopping. Sign up for Rakuten today (or refer your friends and family members to reap the rewards of their online purchases).

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