Earn $40 (or 4,000 Amex points) by joining or referring a friend to Rakuten

May 9, 2022

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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with the latest information.

If you’re planning some online purchases over the next week, one of our favorite online shopping portals here at TPG is offering a solid bonus for new members.

This represents a chance for existing members to take home either cash or American Express Membership Rewards points as well.

If you join Rakuten by May 16, 2022, and spend at least $40 within 90 days, you’ll take home a one-time bonus of $40. Plus, Rakuten is currently offering an elevated 15% back at hundreds of stores like Nike, Gamestop and Sunnglass Hut, as well as some travel companies like VRBO and Samsonite.

And if you’re an existing Rakuten member, you can also get in on the action. All you have to do is refer a friend, and when your friend joins by May 16 and spends $40 within 90 days, you both get a $40 bonus. This is Rakuten’s biggest referral bonus of the year.

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Rakuten referral bonus
(Screenshot from rakuten.com)

Typically, Rakuten offers $25 for each referral and referee with no limit to how much you can earn, so 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.

As a result, this is a nice way to get a higher bonus — and to help your friends and family members get in on the action.

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 well-known brands like Target and Home Depot to smaller merchants like Glossybox.com. 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.

Or, to make things even easier, you can download the Rakuten Google Chrome plug-in and then go directly to the merchant’s site. The plug-in will then notify you if there’s a rebate available:

Rakuten's browser extension shows what you'll earn when shopping at retailers like Target
(Screenshot from rakuten.com)


This friendly reminder makes it simpler to earn more rewards for your online shopping.

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

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. Rakuten (in turn) then passes a portion of those commissions on to you, the customer. The retailer gets additional business and both you and Rakuten enjoy a cut of those purchases, essentially 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.com. 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. That means the $30 or 3,000-point new customer bonus is valued at $60 by TPG if you choose to earn Membership Rewards 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.

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:

Remember that any cash back or Amex points you’d take home through Rakuten are 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, Saks Fifth Avenue is currently offering 2% cash back (or 2 Membership Rewards points) for every dollar you spend by going through Rakuten.

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 required). And since these credits are applied on the back end by Amex — as opposed to 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.

Read more: 10 gifts you can buy using your Amex Platinum $50 Saks Fifth Avenue credit

This new customer offer is a simple one that anyone can utilize, so don’t miss out on an easy $40 or 4,000 points for all the online shopping you and your loved ones are doing right now. Sign-up for Rakuten today, or begin referring your friends and family members to reap the rewards of their online purchases.

Further reading

Additional reporting by Benji Stawski.

Featured photo courtesy of filadendron/Getty Images.

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