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If you’re at all savvy about online shopping, you’ve probably come across Rakuten, a diversified online merchant in the mold of Amazon if not quite as widely known. You might know Rakuten as Ebates, its former name.
Like Amazon, whose Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card is one of the most popular retailer-associated cash-back credit cards around, Rakuten has a credit card: the Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card, issued by Synchrony Bank.
This card has a straightforward and potentially generous cash-back program for regular Rakuten shoppers.
You’ll earn 3% cash back on purchases made through Rakuten.com, including the Rakuten Travel & Vacations vertical, and on eligible in-store cash-back offers. All other eligible purchases earn 1% cash back. There’s no limit to how much you can earn with this card.
The Rakuten Cash Back Visa card shares a lot in common with other cash-back credit cards, not to mention store cards like the Target REDcard. But that doesn’t mean it’s automatically a good — or not-so-good — fit for your spending needs.
Sign-Up Bonus (First Purchase Bonus)
Get a $10 cash bonus after making your first purchase using your Rakuten Cash Back Visa Credit Card. There’s no minimum spend required to earn this bonus.
Earning Cash Back
Earn an extra 3% cash back on top of the cash-back rewards you’d normally earn as a Rakuten shopper on all qualifying online purchases made through Rakuten.com, Rakuten Dining purchases, and Rakuten Gift Card Shop purchases, as well as in-store cash-back offers (store purchases) from Rakuten. This includes qualifying purchases made using special Rakuten coupons (Rakuten Offers).
All other eligible purchases earn unlimited 1% cash back, with no caps or restrictions. That means 1% cash back on purchases at gas stations, drugstores, grocery stores, and more.
Redeeming Cash Back
Rakuten issues cash-back payments on a quarterly basis: May 15, August 15, November 15, and February 15. Payments arrive by your choice of postal mail (paper check, which Rakuten calls the “Big Fat Check”) or PayPal.
Cash back earned on this card combines with regular cash back earned on Rakuten purchases, so you’ll have just one rewards balance per Rakuten account even if you use the card regularly. The cash-out minimum is $5.
This card doesn’t have any monthly or annual fees. The foreign transaction fee is 3% of the transaction amount.
Other Rakuten Cash Back Visa Card Benefits
This card comes with some other noteworthy benefits as part of the Visa Platinum benefits package.
Certain Visa Platinum credit cards offer price protection, for example, while others offer an auto rental collision damage waiver (basic rental car insurance), travel accident insurance, extended warranty protection, and return protection.
Check with Synchrony Bank for the most up-to-date information about the Rakuten Cash Back Visa Card’s specific perks.
This card requires a good to excellent credit score.
These are among the top reasons to consider applying for a Rakuten Cash Back Visa Card.
- No Annual Fee. This card does not charge an annual fee. That’s great news for frugal cardholders who don’t spend heavily enough to offset a recurring levy.
- Solid Sign-Up Bonus. This card has a pretty solid sign-up bonus that requires no minimum spend or purchase within a particular timeframe. All told, it’s great news for thrifty cardholders seeking an early break on Rakuten spending.
- 3% Cash Back on Most Rakuten.com Purchases. This card earns 3% cash back without limit on virtually all Rakuten purchases, including purchases made at Rakuten.com and in-store cash-back opportunities.
- Low Redemption Minimum. You can redeem your earned cash back once your balance hits $5. That shouldn’t be hard, as your cash-back balance includes regular cash back earned through eligible Rakuten shopping, which you’d accumulate even if you didn’t have this card.
These disadvantages might make you think twice about applying for a Rakuten Cash Back Visa Card.
- Low Baseline Earning Rate. Non-Rakuten.com purchases earn just 1% cash back. That’s a mere 1% rate of return, less than most competing retail credit cards and general-purpose cash-back cards like Chase Freedom Unlimited (unlimited 1.5% cash back) and the Citi Double Cash Card (unlimited 2% cash back).
- No Charity Donations. Rakuten Rewards Mastercard doesn’t permit you to donate points to charity. Although this certainly isn’t a standard perk in the credit card industry, it can be a nice touch that allows you to give back without much effort. And some retailer-specific rewards credit cards — including Target REDcard — do engage with charities. For instance, Target donates 1% of your REDcard purchase total to the school of your choosing.
- No Introductory APR Promotion. This card has no introductory APR promotion for purchases, balance transfers, or cash advances. That’s a big drawback for new cardholders planning major purchases or transfers of existing high-interest credit card debt.
The Rakuten Cash Back Visa® Credit Card definitely has some attractive features and perks. And, like other retailer-specific rewards credit cards, it really can save you money on purchases, including many you’d probably make anyway.
However, don’t lose sight of the fact that this card is fundamentally about encouraging you to spend money, not save it.
Then again, that’s also the case for similar fee-free cash-back store cards like the Amazon Rewards Visa Signature Card, so perhaps you’re best off avoiding the category entirely if you’re concerned about impulse buys becoming an issue.