Full Review of Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature Credit Card
Lets you stack rewards to maximize cash back on online purchases
No limit on bonus cash back
Tiny intro offer
Low non-bonus rewards rate
No control over redemption
- Lets You Stack Rewards to Maximize Cash Back on Online Purchases: Rakuten is a cash-back website that offers rewards when you shop online through its platform or take advantage of its in-store offers. All of the cash back you earn from Rakuten is in addition to whatever rewards you earn with the credit card you use to make the purchase, and you can use any credit card you want. But not many credit cards will give you 3% back on online purchases like this one does (as long as you make the online purchase through Rakuten). So, if you find an offer from a retailer for 8% back, you’d get that plus 3% back from the Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature credit card, for a combined 11% back.
- No Limit on Bonus Cash Back: Some rewards credit cards cap how much you can earn in bonus rewards every year, but this one doesn’t. So if you spend a lot online and frequently go through Rakuten, you could rack up some serious cash.
- Tiny Intro Offer: When you first get the card, you’ll receive a $10 bonus after you make your first purchase. While that may sound like a nice extra, many cash back credit cards have intro offers worth $150 or even $200. So if it's bonus-value you’re after, consider cards like the Chase Freedom Unlimited or Wells Fargo Propel American Express card, which offer a substantial bonus after meeting initial spending requirements.
- Low Non-bonus Rewards Rate: You’ll earn just 1% cash back on all non-bonus spending, which isn’t uncommon for tiered rewards credit cards like this. But because the card’s bonus categories are so restrictive—only purchases through Rakuten—you’ll likely find that the vast majority of your spending will earn a mediocre rate. A potential solution to this problem is to use another rewards credit card for your other purchases. For example, you could use the Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature credit card for Rakuten-related purchases and the Citi Double Cash card—which offers 1% cash back when you make a purchase and another 1% back as you pay it off—for everything else.
- No Control Over Redemption: While some cash back credit cards require you to have a minimum rewards balance before you can redeem, most allow you access to your rewards value whenever you want after that—and many cards don’t have a minimum redemption amount at all. But with this card, you have no control over when you can use your cash back. That’s because Rakuten issues cash back just once every three months. If you’ve earned less than $5 in the quarterly period, it will roll over to the next period until you’ve reached that minimum.
This Card is Best For
Seeks to maximize cash back earnings across spending categories
Resists or refuses an annual fee on principle or due to cost
Affinity creates desire for rewards and perks with particular brand
The Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature credit card is best suited for people who spend a lot online, use Rakuten regularly, and want to take advantage of the card’s bonus rewards to maximize their cash back.
Because its bonus rewards categories include hotels and other travel purchases made through Rakuten, it can also be a solid no-annual-fee option for travel enthusiasts. You’ll also get extra cash back on some in-store purchases.
This card could be a good choice if you use it in tandem with another rewards card that pays a higher rewards rate on non-Rakuten purchases.
Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature Credit Card One-Time Offer
The card pays a $10 bonus after you make your first purchase. That bonus cash back will be added to your Rakuten cash back account and distributed along with any other rewards you earn with the site and credit card.
Compared with the intro offers on other cash back credit cards, that bonus is extremely low—many go as high as $200 or even $250 (though such offers require a certain amount of card spending during the first several months of account opening). There’s also no introductory 0% APR promotion, which is a relatively common feature among cash back cards.
Rewards Earning Details
This card offers 3% cash back on qualifying purchases made through Rakuten.com, in-store cash back offers, Rakuten Hotels, and Rakuten Travel, as well as 1% cash back on everything else. There are more than 2,500 participating retailers, so you’ll have a wide selection of options.
For online purchases with Rakuten, you can earn the bonus rewards in two ways:
- Visit Rakuten.com: Go to the cash back website and search for the retailer you’re looking to shop with. You can also compare cash back rates from competing retailers to maximize your rewards haul. Click through to the retailer of your choice and make your purchase as usual.
- Download the Rakuten Cash Back Button: If you download the website’s browser extension, when you visit a participating retailer’s website, you’ll see a pop-up. Click on it to activate the offer without ever having to visit Rakuten’s website, then make your purchase as usual.
Depending on the retailer, it can take between a few hours and several days to get confirmation and receive your cash back in your Rakuten account.
If you’re making a purchase with Rakuten Hotels or Rakuten Travel, you’ll need to do so directly through the company’s website. To get cash back for in-store purchases, link your Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature credit card to your Rakuten account, then search for and add offers to your card and use the card when you make the purchase.
Rewards Redemption Details
Rakuten issues cash back every three months, either in the form of a paper check or as a deposit into your PayPal account. Here’s the schedule for payment dates:
- May 15: For cash back earned between January 1 and March 31
- August 15: For cash back earned between April 1 and June 30
- November 15: For cash back earned between July 1 and September 30
- February 15: For cash back earned between October 1 and December 31
To qualify for a payout, you must have earned at least $5 in rewards during the quarterly period. Otherwise, your balance will be rolled over to the next period until you’ve earned enough to get a payout.
You can track how much you’ve earned both with the credit card and through Rakuten offers in your Rakuten account.
How to Maximize Your Rewards
The Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature credit card requires you to do a little legwork to maximize your rewards, but it can be worth it. To ensure you get the cash back you deserve, start every online shopping experience at Rakuten.com or download and use the cash-back website’s browser extension.
Also, make sure you’re not using other cash-back websites during the process. For example, if you visit a retailer’s website through Rakuten, then try to do the same thing through Swagbucks to get cash back from both websites, the second visit almost always disables the first, so you’d only get rewards from Swagbucks—and no bonus cash back with this credit card.
For in-store offers, plan to visit Rakuten.com before you go shopping to see if you can take advantage of any offers that align with your shopping plans.
Finally, consider using the card in tandem with another rewards card with a higher rewards rate on non-Rakuten purchases. Many cash-back credit cards offer 1.5% or more back on every purchase, making them a solid option for this purpose.
- Price protection
- Return protection
- Purchase security
- Extended warranty
- Travel and emergency assistance services
- Travel accident insurance
- Auto rental collision damage waiver
This card’s issuer, Synchrony Bank, ranked second to last among national card issuers in the J.D. Power 2019 U.S. Credit Card Satisfaction Study, with a score of 780 out of 1,000. The only issuer that received a lower overall rating was Credit One Bank.
Synchrony Bank doesn’t provide access to your credit score, which is common among major credit card companies. Also, customer service is available via phone only Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 12 a.m.
Finally, there is no mobile app you can use to manage your account, though you can do so online through Synchrony’s website.
The Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature credit card provides basic security features that are standard for the credit card industry, including zero-liability fraud protection.
Fees to Watch Out For
Overall, the Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature credit card’s fees are in line with the standard for the credit card industry. One thing to note, though, is that the card doesn’t allow balance transfers from other cards, unlike many cards from major issuers.
The Rakuten Cash Back Visa Signature credit card can be a very rewarding card for online shopping, though you may need to change some of your shopping habits to make sure you get the most out of it.
The card does have some notable drawbacks, including a small intro offer, no introductory 0% APR promotion, a low base rewards rate, and redemption limitations. If you’re interested in this card, also consider using another credit card with a higher rewards rate for non-Rakuten purchases. That way, you can always earn more than 1% back on whatever you buy and wherever you buy it.