Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information.
One of the easiest ways to make the most of your online purchases is by leveraging online shopping portals. Some of these sites even offer one-time bonuses for new members and allow you to refer your friends and family members for additional rewards as an existing customer.
And if you’re planning some purchases for Mother’s Day, graduation or any other reason over the next several weeks, one of TPG’s favorite portals has a limited-time offer for the next week.
If you join Rakuten by 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time on May 15, 2023, and then spend at least $40 within 90 days, you’ll take home a one-time bonus of $40. This elevated bonus coincides with the portal’s Big Give Week, which awards up to 15% back at many popular stores.
If you’re an existing Rakuten member, you can also get in on the action. All you have to do is refer a friend; when your friend joins by May 15 and spends $40 within 90 days, you both get a $40 bonus.
If inflation is taking a larger bite of your budget these days, this is a great way to lessen the impact of higher prices. 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 given as $40.
Typically, Rakuten offers $25 or $30 for each referral with no limit to how much you can earn, as long as the new member meets the spending requirements. However, if you join without a referral, you’re typically limited to a one-time bonus of just $10.
This is a nice way to get a bonus — and to help your friends and family members get in on the action.
Overview of Rakuten
In case you’re not familiar 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 brand names like Target and Nike to smaller merchants like Glossybox. 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.
To make things even easier, you can download the Rakuten plug-in and go directly to the merchant’s site. The browser extension will then notify you if there’s a rebate available:
This friendly reminder makes it simpler to earn 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. In turn, Rakuten then passes a portion of those commissions on to the customer. The retailer gets additional business, and both 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, that means 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 4,000 bonus points.
Note that going through Rakuten for your online purchases may mean that you’re sacrificing higher rewards through an airline shopping portal — especially if there are any bonus offers through those sites. However, given the current referral offer now available, Rakuten could be a good option.
Not a member? Join Rakuten today to earn a $30 bonus.
Which credit card should I use?
If you’re making purchases online, be sure to 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: 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 (meaning a 4% return based on TPG valuations). 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 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 $40 for online shopping. Sign-up for Rakuten by May 15, or begin referring your friends and family members to reap the rewards of their online purchases.
- How to maximize online shopping portals.
- The most generous airline and hotel dining rewards programs.
- Best cash-back cards.
Additional reporting by Benji Stawski.