Rakuten (formerly Ebates) now allows you to earn Amex Membership Rewards instead of cashback!!

Rakuten (formerly Ebates) is one of the first cashback portal services and has one of the largest selection of both online and in-store retailers for cashback earnings.  Their cashback rates are usually on par with their competitors, like Swagbucks, Chase Ultimate Rewards shopping, RebatesMe, etc.  Last year, Rakuten had announced that new members would be eligible to earn Amex Membership Rewards instead of cashback, which was a game changer as Amex MR are worth more than a penny each since they can be redeemed for roundtrip business class flights to Asia for as little as 95k points.  But now, Rakuten is allowing all members to switch their earnings from cashback to MR!!

To change your earnings preference, go to this page and login.  Under My Account, click on Account Settings and you will see the option to get paid with Amex MR.

Rakuten will then ask you to provide your Amex MR-associated account's login info and then verify over e-mail.  You obviously need an Amex card that earns MR to be eligible to earn MR with Rakuten.  My personal favorite Amex MR card is the Amex Gold card, which earns 4x at supermarkets and restaurants and 3x on airline tickets purchased directly with the airline.

Cashback or Amex MR?

This will always be an ongoing debate as some users like the simplicity of cash and others the ability to redeem MR for trips.  When redeemed for travel via www.amextravel.com, MR are worth at least a penny each, making them equivalent in value to cashback with Rakuten.  But this would represent one of the worst uses of MR as the points can be transferred over to partner airlines like ANA, British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, and Avianca Lifemiles at a ratio of 1:1.  These carriers have overall good award charts and you can score long-haul first class trips on ANA like SFO-NRT roundtrip for as little as 85k points.  Given that MR are worth a bare minimum of 1 cent each and exponentially more when redeemed for premium class travel, I would highly recommend changing your Rakuten earnings to Amex MR instead of cashback provided that you have an eligible Amex MR card.

Redeem Amex MR for travel on ANA first class

Quick thoughts

This is an awesome change for Rakuten given the value of Amex MR.  Amex doesn't have its own shopping cashback portal in the way that Chase Ultimate Rewards and Citi ThankYou do, so this makes Rakuten a great shopping portal.  Given the option of either earning 2x with Rakuten or 3x with RebatesMe on a purchase, I would likely choose Rakuten because I value Amex MR at over 1.5 cents each.  Those with the Rakuten Cashback Visa card would also greatly benefit as well with the additional 3x on Rakuten portal shopping.  Yes, you can earn Amex MR by using a Visa card.  If you don't already have a Rakuten account, you can sign up for one using my referral link and you'll get $10 after your first purchase through their portal.


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