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Easy Way To Maximize Rakuten New Member Bonus

Through December 7, 2021, Rakuten is offering a best-ever bonus for new members who are referred by existing members:

  • If you refer a friend to Rakuten and they spend $40, then both the person referring and the person being referred receive $40
  • In order to be eligible, the person being referred needs to make a purchase within 90 days

In this post I wanted to highlight the easiest way to take advantage of this offer, as it’s an option that a lot of people overlook. If you’re eligible then there’s simply no reason not to do this.

Easiest way to make a Rakuten purchase

Rakuten is an online shopping portal that partners with hundreds of retailers, offering cash back or Amex Membership Rewards points for purchases you’d make anyway. Sometimes there are even elevated bonuses, as we’re seeing right now.

Getting $40 back on a $40 purchase is awesome, though I get that a lot of people might be thinking “well I can’t think of anything I need to buy right now that costs around $40.”

In this post I wanted to highlight the easiest way to earn this bonus — buy a $40 gift card and you’ll get $40 back. Below I’ll outline the process, for anyone who may not be a Rakuten member yet.

Step 1: Sign-up for a Rakuten account

The first step is to sign up for a Rakuten account through a refer-a-friend link. You can sign-up through my link (thanks for your support!), or others are free to leave their links in the comments section.

The process of signing up should only take a couple of minutes.

One of my favorite things about Rakuten is how you can earn Amex Membership Rewards points in lieu of cash back for your online shopping. Once you’ve signed up for your account you can choose to select Amex Membership Rewards points rather than cash back as your earnings preference.

Note that this change won’t apply to the sign-up bonus, but will apply to everything else going forward. This is an excellent opportunity, since personally I value one Amex Membership Rewards point at significantly more than one cent.

Step 2: Buy a $30 gift card

While logged into your Rakuten account, you’ll need to make an eligible purchase. There are several websites dedicated to selling gift cards that partner with Rakuten, including raise.com, giftcards.com, and giftcardmall.com.

You’ll want to buy a gift card specifically through one of these websites because the terms allow you to earn credit for gift card purchases, which isn’t the case when buying gift cards through many of Rakuten’s retail partners.

I’ve had issues with raise.com (I’ve found orders are often canceled for unknown reasons), but giftcards.com works well, in my experience.

So enter giftcards.com in the search bar at the top of Rakuten’s website.

Then click the “Shop Now” button, which will take you to giftcards.com. All your purchases while on that site will automatically be tracked.

The website sells a variety of gift cards with popular retailers, including DoorDash, Uber, Delta, Southwest, Hulu, Netflix, Dominos, and many more.

For example, you could buy a $40 DoorDash gift card at face value, and the code will be delivered by email within minutes.

Step 3: Wait for your credit to post

Once the purchase is complete, you should see Rakuten automatically tracking the purchase.

Within an hour the purchase should be fully reflected — the Rakuten account will show a credit in the amount of the sign-up bonus, plus the rewards for the actual purchase (which will vary based on whether you choose to earn cash or Membership Rewards points). As a standard, giftcards.com offers either 1% cash back, or one Membership Rewards point per dollar spent.

The one major catch here is the delayed payment period. You’ll only be paid once quarterly, and there’s a cutoff for payments:

  • For activity between January 1 and March 31, get paid on May 15
  • For activity between April 1 and June 30, get paid on August 15
  • For activity between July 1 and September 30, get paid on November 15
  • For activity between October 1 and December 31, get paid on February 15

Is buying a gift card with Rakuten worth it?

Essentially new Rakuten members will get $40 cash within a few months if they spend $40 now. Based on that, I’d say:

  • This is a great deal and no-brainer if you were going to spend $40 with a merchant that you could buy a $40 gift card from anyway; if you’re going to spend $40 with DoorDash anyway, why not earn $40 in cash back a few months down the road in the process?
  • This could be especially lucrative if you can refer a friend or family member, since between the two of you you’ll be getting $80 in value (or potentially $40 and 4,000 Amex points, which is even better)

Bottom line

Rakuten is offering a best-ever $40 bonus to both the person referring and the person being referred through the refer-a-friend program. I’m a huge fan of Rakuten in general, and there’s lots of value to be had here.

If you’re looking for the easiest way to complete this offer, purchase a $40 gift card to a retailer of your choice through giftcards.com. You’ll then get $40 in cash with your next payout.

If you would have spent money with a retailer anyway and aren’t yet a Rakuten member, then this is a no-brainer. Best of all, it’ll get you into the habit of using Rakuten, and earning rewards for all your online purchases.

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