Virtual window shoppers who use Rakuten.com — formerly known as the cash-back shopping website Ebates — could be earning even more cash back on their purchases with the Rakuten Cash Back Visa credit card.
In 2019, Ebates rebranded as Rakuten, but the $0-annual-fee credit card’s rewards structure remained the same. The new name, which means “optimism” in Japanese, reflects the name of the internet service company that owns it. Rakuten is headquartered in Tokyo, but the card is issued by Connecticut-based Synchrony. Paired with deals found on Rakuten's website or app, the card can be used to double-dip on cash-back rewards for purchases ranging from everyday household items to vacation packages.
Here are five things to know about the card.
1. Cash-back rewards are stackable …
Rakuten.com is an online shopping portal that rewards you for shopping with its partners that range from department stores to travel-booking websites, and it’s free to create an account. If you shop through the portal, you'll earn cash back regardless of whether you have the Rakuten Cash Back Visa credit card. You'll earn even more cash back, though, with the card.
The Rakuten Cash Back Visa credit card earns 3% cash back on qualifying purchases made through Rakuten.com, in-store offers, Rakuten hotels and Rakuten travel. All other purchases earn 1%. You can combine cash back earned on the credit card with the rewards you earn for shopping with Rakuten's partners.
So if, for example, you’re getting 3% at a department store by shopping through Rakuten.com, you'll earn a total of 6% cash back with the Rakuten Cash Back Visa credit card.
Nerd tip: The option to "stack" rewards in this way is not unique to the Rakuten Cash Back Visa. Use any rewards-earning card on Rakuten.com and you'll double-dip, collecting rewards for the purchase both through your credit card and through Rakuten. But using the Rakuten Cash Back Visa does mean your rewards will all come in the same currency.
2. ... But you'll have to wait a while for your rewards
Cash back can add up quickly if you’re strategic about using both the platform and the card for most purchases — but it will be a while before you can redeem it. Rakuten sends your cash back quarterly, and you must earn over $5 in rewards to get a “Big Fat Check” in the mail or a “Big Fat Payment” via PayPal. If you choose the PayPal option, it will require some extra steps to create a free account if you don’t already have one.
Also of note: While you're waiting for your cash-back redemption, it's crucial to keep your Rakuten.com account open. If it's closed for any reason, you'll no longer earn rewards with your Rakuten Cash Back Visa. (With other credit cards, you typically have to worry about keeping only your card account open and active to continue to earn rewards.)
3. Introductory incentives are lean
The Rakuten Cash Back Visa credit card won’t help you offset the cost of a big purchase with a hearty sign-up bonus as some other cash-back credit cards do. You’ll have the opportunity to earn a $10 bonus upon creating a Rakuten.com account, and with the card itself, you’ll get a $10 first-purchase bonus. That's meager when compared with other rewards cards.
This card doesn't offer a 0% introductory APR period either, so it's not ideal for financing a large purchase upfront.
The only other bonus available — unrelated to the credit card itself — is a potential $25 referral bonus, earned when you get friends or loved ones to join Rakuten's platform and make their first $25 worth of purchases.
4. The high APR can be costly for balance-keepers
The Rakuten Cash Back Visa’s APR varies depending on whether you're approved for a Visa Platinum or Visa Signature version. Regardless, the ongoing variable APR will be well above 20% (as of August 2019).
It’s not uncommon for rewards credit cards to have a higher-than-average interest rate, but that means you don't want to carry a balance on the card month to month. If you do, it will eat away at any cash back you might earn.
5. The card has perks that can save you hassle and money
Benefits vary depending on whether you’re approved for the Visa Platinum or the Visa Signature version of the card, but some of the perks that both versions share include:
Price protection (a rare credit card perk these days).
Extended warranty protection.
Additional terms apply to all of these benefits.