TopCashBack vs. Rakuten: Which is Better?

While TopCashBack gets you the most for your spending, Rakuten has a number of features that work in its favor.
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TopCashBack and Rakuten are companies that will give you cash back and other benefits for making purchases with select retailers.

Basically, you can use TopCashBack and Rakuten to earn cash back and other benefits by logging onto either site, searching for stores where you plan to make an online purchase, following the links provided and making your purchase.

TopCashBack versus Rakuten — you may be wondering which one is right for you? Let us help.

Below we’ll take a deep dive into both companies — including which has better benefits for frequent travelers — so you can decide which is the better option for earning cash back from your purchases.

Pros and cons of TopCashBack

To help you decide if TopCashBack is right for you, below is a list of pros and cons of using TopCashBack to earn cash back for your online purchases.

Pros

More earnings: TopCashBack often offers more cash back than Rakuten. At writing, below were some of the cash back rates offered between the two companies (though keep in mind the exact cash back rates will vary):

TopCashBack

Rakuten

CVS Pharmacy

Up to 13.65%.

Up to 5%.

Hilton

Up to 8%.

Up to 2.5%.

Walmart

Up to 4.2%.

Up to 3%.

Amazon

Up to 8%.

No cash back.

Nike

Up to 10%.

Up to 1.5%.

Gift card bonus: Can receive up to 5% additional cash back by electing to get paid out in a gift card, with options including Walmart, Hotels.com, Target or even a Visa prepaid credit card.

Low minimums: You only need to earn a minimum of 1 cent cash back to be paid out via PayPal or ACH transfer to your bank account.

Cons

Lengthy payment durations: Date of payment can vary significantly depending on retailer, including some retailers taking longer than 12 weeks after purchase to send cash back.

Manual transfers: Rather than have cash back automatically sent to you once earned, you need to log in to TopCashBack.com and manually transfer the cash back to your selected form of payment.

Account expiry: If you don’t log in to your TopCashBack account for six months, your account is considered dormant and you’ll lose cash back that you’ve earned but have failed to transfer.

Slow customer support: Customer support is slow to answer issues you have with cash back earned (such as not receiving the correct amount of cash back or having a purchase not track at all).

Minimal referral bonuses: Referral bonuses are often lower than those offered by Rakuten.

Pros and cons of Rakuten

Now that you know the pros and cons of using TopCashBack, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of using Rakuten.

Pros

Collect AmEx points: You have the option to get paid with American Express Membership Rewards points, instead of cash.

Ease of credit card syncing: You can link a credit card and get cash back benefits for in-store purchases.

Tax-deductible donations: Rakuten gives you the option to donate your cash back, and the donations may be tax deductible.

Higher referral bonuses: Rakuten often offers higher referral bonuses than TopCashBack (at writing, Rakuten is offering a $30 referral bonus, compared to $10 with TopCashBack).

Set remittance schedules: Once you’ve earned at least $5.01 in cash back, you’ll receive earnings back on a set schedule (for instance, for purchases posted between April 1 through June 30, you should receive payment by August 15).

Cons

Minimum earning required: Need to earn at least $5.01 in cash back to get your earnings paid out.

Lower payments: Cash back payments are often lower than those offered on TopCashBack.

No gift card options: Unlike TopCashBack, Rakuten doesn’t offer customers the opportunity to earn additional cash back by converting cash back into gift cards.

TopCashBack vs. Rakuten: which is better for travelers?

If you’re a frequent traveler, TopCashBack has a number of features that make it better than Rakuten, including:

  • TopCashBack usually pays more cash back for travel-related purchases than Rakuten. While the exact amounts can vary, TopCashBack usually pays more cash back than Rakuten for purchases at travel-related websites. At writing, this includes TopCashBack paying:

    • 5.5% more at Hilton.

    • 4.5% more at Marriott.

    • 4.2% more at Qatar Airways.

    • 3% more at Expedia.

    • 1% more at Hotels.com.

  • TopCashBack pays an additional 5% cash back if you get paid out in a Hotels.com gift card. Once you have cash back that’s payable, TopCashBack gives you the option to select payment via a Hotels.com gift card where you’ll receive a 5% bonus (so if you earned $200 in cash back, you could elect to get a $210 Hotels.com gift card instead). 

  • TopCashBack in general pays more in cash back than Rakuten. Because TopCashBack will generally pay more in cash back than Rakuten, this makes TopCashBack a better option for travelers who are trying to earn cash back to put toward travel.

While Rakuten’s ability to earn American Express Membership Rewards instead of cash can be enticing for travelers who value and know how to redeem those points for significant value with an American Express travel partner (like British Airways, Delta or Hilton), the ability to earn American Express Membership Rewards with Rakuten is outweighed by TopCashBack’s higher earning rates – making TopCashBack the better choice for travelers

Is TopCashBack or Rakuten better overall?

Whether TopCashBack or Rakuten will be better for you depends on how much you’ll use each site and what benefits you value.

TopCashBack is better for you if:

  • You want to maximize the amount of cash back you earn.

  • You don’t mind having to manually transfer cash back to your bank account or a gift card, or having to check the website at least once every 6 months.

Rakuten is better for you if:

  • You place a high value on receiving American Express Membership Rewards points.

  • A lot of your shopping is in-store rather than online.

  • You plan to use the site often, as you need to earn at least $5.01 cash back before you’ll receive a payment.

  • You like having a set schedule for when you’ll receive payment.

  • You value higher referral bonuses. 

The bottom line

While TopCashBack and Rakuten both have a number of unique pros and cons, if your main goal is earning as much cash back as possible, we’d recommend using TopCashBack over Rakuten, as the payout rates on TopCashBack are often higher than on Rakuten.

However, Rakuten is likely the better choice for you if you’re OK sacrificing some additional cash back in exchange for automatic transfers of cash back earned, generally higher referral bonuses, and the ability to earn American Express Membership Rewards points and cash back for in-store purchases.


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NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1x-5x

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NerdWallet Rating
Rewards rate

1.5%-5%

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Up to $300

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2x-5x

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75,000

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