Rakuten now lets users sub Membership Rewards for cash back.
As an added bonus, Rakuten is offering a 1,500 Membership Rewards point bonus for members who sign up and spend at least $25 in the first 90 days. If you own a Membership Rewards American Express card, this is a great way to stockpile even more points toward your next redemption.
How does Rakuten work?
Rakuten is a shopping portal with more than 2,000 participating brands, offering cash back on the online shopping you already do – just for using a special link. Membership is free, and users can find featured offers up to 10 percent cash back on brands like Macy’s, Sephora, Walmart and much more.
Once you’ve earned at least $5 back from your shopping, you can redeem it for a check directly from Rakuten.
What is changing with the new Membership Rewards offer?
Right now, the special Membership Rewards offer is only available to new Rakuten members, but it is possible that the option will be expanded to all users in the future.
Until then, Membership Rewards cardholders who would prefer points to cash back can sign-up for Rakuten through the direct offer link and link an eligible American Express card to your account. To receive the 1,500-point bonus, you’ll need to spend at least $25 through Rakuten links in the first 90 days.
Benefits of earning Membership Rewards on Rakuten
Earning Membership Rewards rather than cash back might not seem like it makes a big difference, but opting in to this offer can be very valuable for Amex cardholders. First and foremost, the 1,500-point bonus for spending $25 in the first 90 days is a nice boost to normal rewards earning, and the spend threshold is easy to reach.
Because Rakuten offers deals with so many brands, signing up for the portal also opens up all sorts of new categories for racking up Membership Rewards points. For example, if you are an American Express® Gold Card holder, you already earn the following rewards rate:
- 4 points per dollar at restaurants worldwide
- 4 points per dollar at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 in purchases per year, then 1 point per dollar)
- 3 points per dollar on flights booked directly with airlines or amextravel.com
- 1 point per dollar on other purchases
But if you sign up for Rakuten, you might be able to find a rewards rate higher than 1 point per dollar on categories that aren’t included in your typical bonuses – such as department store purchases. This boosts your overall rewards earning significantly.
If you currently use The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, you can potentially get even more out of the offer. Typically, Rakuten issues cash back for a simple dollar value. Since Business Platinum cardholders get a 35 percent higher Membership Rewards point value on a designated airline when they book on amextravel.com, you can stretch your rewards even further. So, an Rakuten purchase that would usually get you $5 in cash back can be worth $6.75 for travel.
Should you sign up for Rakuten now?
Keep in mind the new Rakuten Membership Rewards offer is only available to new members, so you won’t be able to take advantage of the partnership yet if you already use the service. However, Membership Rewards cardholders who are eager to earn more points have a lot to gain from signing up. Using a shopping portal is an easy way to boost your rewards earning, and you could potentially take home a nice 1,500-point bonus along the way.