Online shopping portals can be a fantastic tool for savvy shoppers looking to save money or earn rewards for online shopping, but probably the most popular one among travel hackers is Rakuten. Right now, Rakuten is offering a $30 bonus for new member signups. Signing up is free and, as detailed below, you can choose to take your bonus as 3,000 Amex points which makes creating a Rakuten account an easy decision if you don’t already have one.
Rakuten provides outsized value compared to other online shopping portals because not only does it have some of the best cash-back percentages at a wide variety of retailers, it allows you to earn your cash back as American Express Membership Rewards.
You can choose to take your rewards as Amex points and each cent of rewards will be converted to an Amex point. Membership Rewards are some of the most versatile points to earn and redeem and are usually valued at around 2 cents. That means that the actual value of Rakuten cash back is essentially doubled.
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Join Rakuten & Earn A $30 (or 3,000 Amex points) Welcome Bonus
Rakuten is currently offering a $30 welcome bonus for new member signups. If you sign up today and spend at least $30 within 90 days, you’ll receive a one-time bonus of $30.
But the offer gets better: you can choose to convert the $30 into Membership Rewards at a 1 cent to 1 Amex point ratio. In other words, Rakuten is willing to pay you $30 or 3,000 Amex points just to sign up.
That’s a fantastic deal. If you make a purchase of exactly $30 or slightly more, you’re essentially getting the items for free if you take the cash bonus. If you choose Membership Rewards, it’s the equivalent of buying Amex points at a cost of 1 cent per point while getting a free item of your choice in return, that’s very good value for points valued at 2 cents.
It’s not actually the highest offer ever seen from Rakuten. They’ve gone as high as $40 or 4,000 Membership Rewards in the past, but it’s still a good offer and there’s no guarantee that $40 will be offered again anytime soon. On the other hand, if you sign up for Rakuten you could earn as much as 20 Membership Rewards per dollar spent on purchases you would make anyway!
The current promotion expires on June 30, 2023. If you’re not already a Rakuten member, it’s definitely worth signing up for Rakuten now instead of waiting for a higher offer that may or may not come to fruition.
After joining if you’re not already a Rakuten member, or if you’re already a Rakuten member, you can also earn $30 or 3,000 Amex points under this promotion by referring friends and family. For each referral that spends $30 within 90 days, both the referrer and the referred receive a $30 or 3,000 Amex point bonus. There’s no limit to the number of referral bonuses you can earn. Amazing!
Terms of Rakuten Referral Offer
There are some terms & conditions to keep in mind while earning the $30 Rakuten referral bonus:
Referral Bonus Terms
*Offer may be modified or cancelled anytime. Qualify for a $30 Referral Bonus when anyone whom you refer (a “Referee”) signs up to become a new member using your referral link or other method supplied by Rakuten during the period beginning 12:01AM ET April 1, 2023 and ending 11:59PM ET June 30, 2023 (“Offer Period”) and makes Qualifying Purchase(s) totaling at least $30 within 90 days of signing up. You may qualify for a Referral Bonus more than one time. You and your Referee(s) must reside and be located in the 50 United States, District of Columbia, or Canada and comply with the Refer-A-Friend Program Terms. Referral Bonus(es) will be added to your next Cash Back payment, provided that your Referee(s) are Qualified Referral(s) according to the Refer-A-Friend Program Terms. A Referee will not be a Qualified Referral if they cancel, return, or exchange their Qualifying Purchase, if their Qualifying Purchase hasn’t earned Cash Back, or if their purchase is found to be fraudulent, abusive, unethical, suspicious, or otherwise inconsistent with our Refer-A-Friend Program Terms.
Referral Sign Up Bonus Terms
*Offer may be modified or cancelled anytime. Only new members are eligible for the Referral Sign Up Bonus. Not combinable with other offers including the Welcome Bonus. Qualify for a $30 Referral Sign Up Bonus when you sign up to become a new member using your referrer’s referral link or other method supplied by Rakuten during the period beginning 12:01AM ET April 1, 2023 and ending 11:59PM ET June 30, 2023 (“Offer Period”) and make Qualifying Purchase(s) totaling at least $30 within 90 days of signing up. One Referral Sign up Bonus per eligible new member. You and your referrer must reside and be located in the 50 United States, District of Columbia, or Canada and comply with the Refer-A-Friend Program Terms. Referral Sign Up Bonus will be added to your next Cash Back payment, provided that you are a Qualified Referral according to the Refer-A-Friend Program Terms. You will not be a Qualified Referral if you cancel, return, or exchange your Qualifying Purchase, if your Qualifying Purchase hasn’t earned Cash Back, or if your purchase is found to be fraudulent, abusive, unethical, suspicious, or otherwise inconsistent with our Refer-A-Friend Program Terms.
How To Earn Amex Points Instead of Cash Back
If you’re an American Express cardholder with a card that earns Membership Rewards, you can link your Amex account with Rakuten to earn Membership Rewards instead of cashback.
Once your account is linked, the cash back percentages you see on Rakuten’s membership will actually denote the number of Membership Rewards you earn for every $1 spent. (The website itself won’t update cash back percentages to display Membership Rewards but if your accounts are correctly linked, you will earn Amex points.) That’s additional to any rewards you earn from your credit card.
Points earned will be transferred to your Membership Rewards program account in accordance with Rakuten’s current payment schedule. There’s a minimum point balance of 500 points required for points to be transferred. Generally, points appear in your Amex account within 8 to 12 weeks after receipt.
Linking your Amex account with Rakuten is simple. If you’re not already a member, then you’ll first need to sign up for Rakuten. You’ll be eligible for a bonus after your first purchase. You’ll want to link your Amex account after signing up for Rakuten but before your first purchase so you get your bonus as Amex points.
To switch your earnings over to Amex, log into your account (from a desktop browser) and select “Account Settings” in the drop-down menu. The menu will appear when you hover over your name on the top-right.
From there, you’ll see a section where you can select how you’d like to be rewarded. One of the three options is American Express.
Click on that and Rakuten will prompt you to confirm your selection, then you’ll need to log into the American Express account you want the rewards to be sent. The account will need to be a U.S.-based account that’s enrolled in Membership Rewards.
And that’s it! Once you’ve completed the steps, the “Account Settings” should look like the screenshot above indicating that you’re earning Membership Rewards.
A few things to be aware of.
- The website will still show rewards as cash-back percentages not Membership Rewards. But if you’ve confirmed that your account is set up to earn Membership Rewards, earnings going forward will be converted to Amex points at a 1% to 1 Amex point ratio.
- Existing rewards don’t get converted, just future ones. That’s why it’s a good idea to link your Amex account before you make your first purchase so you earn your welcome bonus as 3,000 Amex points instead of $30.
- Rewards you earn with Rakuten will be deposited to your Membership Rewards account like any other earnings. You can use them in all the ways you usually use your Amex points.
- You don’t need to use an Amex card to earn Amex points with Rakuten. In fact, some Rakuten merchants that don’t accept Amex will still earn Membership Rewards! Simply use whatever credit card you’d otherwise use on the website you’re making the purchase and you’ll earn Membership Rewards.
Rakuten is an online shopping portal that offers competitive cash back rates at a variety of retailers, but what sets it apart for travel hackers is the ability to earn cash back as Amex points, valued at around 2 cents per point. Right now, it’s offering a $30 welcome bonus for new members, which can be converted to 3,000 Amex points. That’s an incredibly valuable and easy-to-earn welcome bonus for purchases you were probably going to make anyway.
If you’re not already a member, there’s no reason not to sign up for Rakuten now. If you’re already a member, be sure you’ve set up your account to earn Amex points and refer your friends and family to earn even more rewards