Today only: 14x Membership Rewards (or 14% cash back) with IHG, Expedia, Dell, Saks and more
Update: Some offers mentioned below are no longer available. View the current offers here.
Before making any online purchases, you should check to see if it's possible to earn bonus rewards through a shopping portal. Maximizing online shopping portals is an effortless way to earn bonus rewards on purchases you'd make anyway. They occasionally offer promotions that deliver an impressive return -- and the bonus you earn is in addition to the rewards you'd normally earn.
Today, Feb. 14 only, Rakuten has published a flash sale which offers 14% cash back on 150+ merchants, including:
This is an even better deal for those familiar with Rakuten and know that you can switch your earning preferences from cash back to Amex Membership Rewards points with a simple click in your account settings. Membership Rewards are worth 2 cents each according to TPG valuations, meaning you can easily double your return by earning points instead of cash back.
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Notably good deals
Let's examine at a few ways to stack this deal and save a ton.
Few merchants on this list are more relevant to points and miles than IHG. Most IHG hotels offer 10 base points per dollar spent on your room rate. TPG valuations estimate an IHG points value of 0.5 cents each. However, if you also have the IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card, you'll earn another 15 points per dollar with IHG. That results in an effective return of 12.5 cents per dollar.
But if you first click through the Rakuten portal, you'll also earn 14 Amex Membership Rewards points per dollar. Because TPG valuations estimate these points to be worth 2 cents each, you're looking at an additional return of 28 cents per dollar, for a total of 40.5% back.
For example, you could book a weekend at the InterContinental: Chicago Magnificent Mile this coming June for $628.
By using the Rakuten portal, you'd earn 8,795 Amex Membership Rewards points (worth $175.91) on top of the 15,706 IHG points you'd earn by using your IHG Premier card for your stay (worth $78.53). That's an effective return of $254.44.
If you have either The Platinum Card® from American Express or The Business Platinum Card® from American Express, here's a sweet spot for you.
The Amex Platinum comes with annual Saks Fifth Avenue credits, worth up to $100. You'll receive a $50 statement credit to be redeemed between July 1 to Dec. 31, and another $50 statement credit to be redeemed between Jan. 1 and June 30. You must enroll your card to receive this benefit.
The Amex Business Platinum comes with annual Dell credits (for U.S. Dell purchases), worth up to $200. Similar to the Amex Platinum's Saks credit, you'll receive a $100 credit valid from January to June, and another $100 credit valid from July to December. You must enroll your card to receive this benefit.
Because these are statement credits (not discounts effective at checkout), you can potentially earn rewards for spending no money. And because both merchants currently earn 14% back (14x Membership Rewards points), now's a great time to redeem those credits.
For example, if you were to buy a $250 computer monitor with your Amex Business Platinum credit, you'd receive an automatic $100 rebate (provided you haven't yet used your Dell credit). You'd still earn 250 Membership Rewards points for using your card. Plus, if you shop through Rakuten, you'll earn another 3,500 points, or 3,750 points in total. That means you'd get an effective return of $75 for spending $150.
Best ways to use Amex Membership Rewards points
Of course, it's possible to receive a value might higher than just 2 cents per Membership Rewards point, especially if you know which transfer partners will give you the highest return.
For example, you can transfer 75,000 points to ANA for a round-trip flight between the U.S. and Japan. flights like these can easily cost $4,000+, giving you a return of 5.33 cents each.
Or, you could transfer 35,000 points to Singapore Airlines for a round-trip coach flight to Hawaii on partner United Airlines from anywhere in the U.S. Depending on your home airport, these flights can cost $1,000+, giving you a return of 2.8 cents per point.
If you know how to use your points, this Rakuten promo can mean a return of 70% or more on your purchases. Read our post on redeeming American Express Membership Rewards for maximum value to see how easy it is to receive outsized value from your points.