Learning which shopping portals to use for different stores is can be tough, which is one of the reasons I think Rakuten is one of the best. I like to use Cashback Monitor to use different airline portals to earn the best value of points and miles.
But, even for those who aren’t all-in on points and miles, Rakuten provides consistent cashback and also the ability to earn American Express Membership Rewards.
How does Rakuten work?
Rakuten is a shopping portal that rewards shoppers cashback for using the Rakuten link to access a specific online store. For example. Rakuten users can earn up to 5 percent cashback when shopping at Walmart.
Go to Rakuten.com
Search for Walmart (or any specific online store)
Use the specific link for Walmart that says “Shop Now”
You will then be redirected to Walmart’s website.
Shop like normal, but your cashback will post in no more than 30 days. Most will post with 48 hours of the purchase.
There are a couple of things that are important to point out.
Many of the shops will have different exclusions or special terms. The Walmart ones are:
Exclusions: Cash Back is not available on Apple Watch, newest model iPhones, Walmart Grocery, Household Essentials, cellular purchases, prepaid phone cards (Straight Talk), prescription drugs, travel, financial services, tires, Walmart Connect Internet Service, the limited edition Men’s Grooming Box, gift card/online gift cards, ShippingPass subscription, precious metal/gold coins, Revolution for Dogs, Walmart PetRx, or on orders deemed by Walmart to be for reselling purposes.
The other thing to keep in mind is that some stores, such as Walmart, have different cashback rates for different departments. This means you might earn 5 percent on beauty products but just 1 percent on video game purchases.
While not as plentiful, Rakuten also allows for in-store bonuses when storing credit cards to your account. Shop at the store when the in-store bonus, earn cash back!
Installing Rakuten browser button
One of my favorite things about Rakuten is that it supports an in-browser extension for Google Chrome. This means that if you go to a website that awards Rakuten cashback, you will get a notification to activate your cashback.
This saves you the trouble of going to the Rakuten website. Additionally, it will also allow you to add coupons to your order, if applicable.
In full disclosure, several other airline shopping portals also have browser extensions. The other one I consistently use is the Alaska Airlines Shopping Portal browser extension.
Earn Membership Rewards with Rakuten
The main reason I think Rakuten is the best shopping portal is that users have the ability to earn either cash back or points toward travel! While different airlines have shopping portals makes it possible to top of airline-specific award balances, it’s nearly impossible to earn extra American Express Membership Rewards.
As long as members have a Membership-Reward earning credit card, Rakuten allows its members to earn Membership Rewards instead of cashback at a 1:1 ratio between cashback and points.
Your Rakuten-earned Membership Rewards won’t show up in your American Express account immediately, though. They are paid out similar to cashback balances based on the payment schedule.
Using Rakuten with Amazon
Being able to earn Membership Rewards to go along with using Rakuten with Amazon makes Rakuten even better.
Other than using a Membership Rewards earning credit card, using Rakuten with Amazon is the only other way to earn points towards free travel when shopping on Amazon.
If you look at Cashback Monitor, there are several options that reward cashback. However, none of them can earn Membership Rewards.
Similar to the Walmart example we used above, different categories within Amazon earn different amounts of cashback.
You will earn $25 (or 2,500 Membership Rewards) per referral and your friend will get $10 (or 1,000 Membership Rewards)!
How to get your Rakuten payments?
If you opt to get Rakuten payments instead of membership rewards, you will either get paid via check or PayPal.
Rakuten users are paid every three months based on this schedule:
Rakuten must earn cashback of at least $5.00 before the next payment date in order to get paid. If your approved Cash Back is $5.00 or less, it will carry over to the following period.
I use a ton of shopping portals. Ever since Rakuten started earning Membership Rewards, I’ve been using Rakuten quite a bit. But if the earnings are right, I will use other shopping portals as well. I’ve even used the ANA shopping portal to help with my Around the World flight!
But, because Rakuten earns cash back at Amazon and has the ability to earn Membership Rewards, it’s one of my favorite shopping portals. It’s a great way to earn extra transferable points through shopping portals!